Sunset Cooperative Nursery School, which began in 1940 as the Parkside Play Center, is the oldest continually operating parent-participation preschool in San Francisco. Sunset provides a trusting and caring environment for children to play, learn, and grow.
Our play-based curriculum offers a broad range of hands-on experiences, which forms a basis for learning and encourages creativity. We provide children with many choices each day, including art, music, dance, storytelling, science and math projects, nature studies, and outdoor play. This variety of activities helps to develop large and small motor skills.
Sunset’s play spaces and program are designed to promote healthy brain development. We focus on helping children to:
- Develop strong connections with parents, peers, and familiar adults.
- Learn how to handle emotions and consider the feelings of others.
- Build communication and problem-solving skills.
- Nurture their imagination, creativity, and curiosity.
- Tell their own stories and act them out as plays.
Sunset offers separate morning and afternoon sessions, with at least three permanent staff members and six parents per session to assist classes of up to 30 kids.
Director Laura Ossa has worked at the school since 1982 as a parent, teacher, and director. Lead teacher Linda Gossage is also a former Sunset parent and has been with the school since 1984. Our assistant teachers are Jackie Thurman, another former Sunset parent, and Johanna Main.
Parent participation is the backbone of Sunset’s philosophy and strength. Our community comprises 50 to 60 families, which govern the school through its board of directors. Each family commits to a half-day of work per week, plus monthly business and parent education meetings. Each family also has a fundraising responsibility and a school job, and must provide a nutritious, organic snack about once every six weeks.
The weekly workday allows us to maintain a significant presence in our children’s world while allowing for the growth of independence and social skills. We learn about other families, share the joys of child rearing, and benefit from a supportive adult community. Our children see us interacting with other families in a cooperative atmosphere.
Once a month, at least one parent must attend a business meeting and at least one of two parent education meetings. The business meeting provides the opportunity to speak to the community and to learn updates from the board. The parent education meetings entail learning from experts about our children’s education, well-being, behavior, and development.