Early childhood education program All Five opens new classrooms

by Contributed Content on June 21, 2022

With immense community support All Five, an early childhood education (ECE) program, opened their new classrooms earlier this month. Located on the Belle Haven School campus in Menlo Park, All Five’s socioeconomically-diverse programming serves families from varied backgrounds and income levels.

All Five’s enrollment expansion project has enabled the program to serve more children including opening the Kriewall-Haehl Infant Toddler. Opening in 2015, All Five served 24 preschool children for the first six years, is now serving 51 children ages 0-5, and will ultimately serve 88 children!

Pre-pandemic, San Mateo County was experiencing an early childhood care shortage that has been exacerbated by many ECE programs reducing capacity or closing due to COVID-related health, financial, and economic challenges. All Five is the area’s only National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited program serving children from low-income families.

All Five’s socioeconomically diverse enrollment model means 75% of enrolled families earn at or near the poverty line and 25% of families have means and recognize All Five’s program quality is so exceptional they pay the full cost of their child’s tuition at $2300 per month for preschool or $2500 per month for the infant-toddler program. Thus, all children experience high-quality early childhood care and education regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

All Five’s founder Carol Thomsen is often asked, why not provide all spaces for only low-income families? Two reasons: segregation and accountability. All Five challenges the traditional segregated models in ECE, where children of high-income families experience the best environments, highest paid teachers, quality curriculum, and robust family/community support. Lower income families experience lower paid teachers and limited environments resulting in lower outcomes for their children. How can an inequitable start provide children with the same preparedness for kindergarten or for life?

All Five was inspired by founder Carol Thomsen’s decades of early childhood teaching in high — and low — income communities. She experienced young children, in their first five years of life, being treated very differently. Children from high-income families were nurtured using the latest research, showing that children are inherently curious, and when given the opportunity to direct their own learning, the learning sticks. Children from low-income families were assumed to need to be told how to learn, even though research shows that approach does not work and does not last. Beautiful environments were considered essential for high income children, but not for low-income children.

Photos courtesy of All Five

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