One Child’s Art Experience From Early Childhood to Now

January 14th, 2014

From Noe Valley to the San Francisco Children’s Art Center – My Daughter’s Experience in Art Education from Early Childhood to Now

By Carol Berghen
SFCAC Board of Directors

The San Francisco Children’s Art Center (SFCAC) is a non-profit art studio in Fort Mason Center on the north side of the city. My daughter attended weekly classes there for 10 years which meant that I drove to Fort Mason every week for 10 years!

When she was 3 years old we made going to art class an adventure. She would attend class and I would go for a run or do some errands. She loved her teacher, drew, painted, explored a variety of media, and participated in conversations about her art and daily life with the other students and the teachers. It was incredible to watch her have an idea and express it on a piece of paper. After class we would have lunch and explore Fort Mason, the Marina, and Crissy Field.

Once in elementary school she continued to attend SFCAC after school where she worked in depth on a number of projects such as photography and mixed media, puppet theatre, painting, and drawing. She developed a special relationship with a different teacher, her art and her classmates, and grew in confidence in her creative abilities. At the end of a structured school day it was amazing to see the calming effect the creative process provided for her.

Today at age 18, she credits the San Francisco Children’s Art Center with fostering her creativity, critical thinking, concentration, and how she views the world.

Would I cross town weekly again? Absolutely! Please visit us on the web at

Join us at our Happy Hour Fundraiser!

October 24th, 2013

Gather your friends and raise a glass to the Children’s Art Center at our Happy Hour Fundraiser! Enjoy the outdoor ambiance of Bin 38 Wine Bar & Restaurant and a glass of wine while the heatlamps and an outdoor fire-pit keep things warm for those chilly San Francisco nights. 40% of proceeds will go to the SFCAC. For more details about Bin 38, click here. RSVP on Facebook!

When: Monday, November 4, 2013
Time: 5:00-10:00pm
Bin 38 Wine Bar & Restaurant
3232 Scott St. (at Chestnut)
San Francisco

I wonder what would happen if…

January 17th, 2012

Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking are three terms pop up with ever-increasing frequency in mission statements, presidential speeches, the media, and countless other educational sources. Although largely accepted as the three skills children will need to compete in the 21st Century, they can be a bit slippery, with their merits and exact definitions subject to debate. While many of us might conjure at least a basic mental image when we picture creativity or collaboration, what exactly does critical thinking look like?

This past fall, teaching artists Erik Parra and Kaari Gerber attended a professional development session at Performing Arts Workshop focused on just that. They returned with a useful list of questions that help facilitate the reflective reasoning associated with this skill. These kinds of open-ended questions have long been used in our studio, and we encourage you to try them with your child.

Can you describe what happened?
Can you think of a new way to do it?
Do you have any other ideas?
How could we make it work?
How could we work together to solve this?
How did that happen?
How did you know how to do that?
How did you work it out?
How could you do it differently?
Tell me how you worked together.
Tell me about it.
What could we try next?
What did you see happening?
What did you learn?

These are just a few examples. When young learners formulate their own solutions, make connections, or consider another’s point of view, critical thinking is at work. When after school students evaluate or reflect on their own or another’s artwork, they are honing their critical thinking skills. Open-ended questioning supports children’s efforts to communicate their ideas, guide their own learning, and reflect on their actions, helping them to become imaginative and discerning critical thinkers and doers.

It’s Over Your Head

September 16th, 2011

After a summer break, a returning student looks around the art studio, familiarizing himself with the setup of our classroom and makes a comment while viewing photographs of work done last spring.

“I remember the overhead projector, it’s over your head!” Archie 4 3/4 years

Gail Tarantino

NAREA Conference

July 16th, 2011

With the support of SFCAC’s board, I was fortunate to attend the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance conference at Asilomar in Pacific Grove in mid-June. This year’s summer conference, Valuing Early Childhood: An Invitation for Community Dialogue, hosts a confluence of educators and administrators, meeting to share educational context. Highlights of this experience, involved interacting with fellow educators from North America, who are passionate about their work with young children, and the presentations made by two Italian educators from Reggio Emilia were inspiring. We attended the exhibition, “The Wonder of Learning” in collaboration with First Five, Monterey and Reggio Children, in downtown Salinas at the National Steinbeck Center and visited two schools for migrant and agricultural families in the Salinas Valley, King City Child Development Center and Alegria Head Start. To further develop program quality, each school worked with First 5 Monterey County, to integrate a more creative curriculum into their teaching practice.

The Wonder of Learning: Narrating the Possible, will be on tour throughout North America, changing locations every 6 months. It is well worth the trip to Salinas, and can be viewed until November 15, 2011. This expanded and updated version of the “Hundred Languages of Children”, is an exhibition of the infant-toddler centers and preschools in the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, Italy. The exhibition is a wonder! Go see it.

Gail Tarantino