early childhood education

Theater of the Oppressed

Child Development staff from Wu Yee Children's Services and other San Francisco early childhood education organizations convened at the First 5 San Francisco offices to participate in week-long seminar to foster the development of bicultural and bilingual educators.  The workshop, Theater of the Oppressed, "is a collection of practices and exercises where participants rehearse with their bodies a solution for oppressive situations," said Ronald Rosario, co-facilitator of the workshop.  "It is a way to gain critical consciousness through reconstruction of their narratives," he said.  

Theater of the Oppressed is a series of theatrical analyses and critiques that use theater techniques, exercises, and games as a vehicle for transforming  communities and effecting social and political change. It is a method of harnessing theatrical forms to heal communities and stop cycles of oppression.  

The workshop is co-sponsored by Wu Yee Children's Services and First 5 San Francisco, and designed by the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Democracy.  Rosario, and his co-facilitator, Pedro Adorno, discussed with participants their external and internal barriers toward moving forward in their jobs and professional development.  Adorno addressed the need for emotional support in performing the important job of educator, saying, "we need to be listened to, only then can we listen to others.”  Theater of the Oppressed’s framework is used to address repressive/oppressive cycles and can help break destructive habits, that sometimes inadvertently are passed on to children. 

Participants asked and answered questions such as, who are we as teachers?  An anonymous participant said, "I like working with kids because I can be myself.  I know they will accept me for who I am."  Another participant spoke of the sacrifices she made to do her job, saying," I took a risk. I gave things up to be here."  These testaments are methods of asserting one's self and addressing hardships, fears, and barriers to moving forward in one's career.  Participants identified values such as inclusion, cultural sensitivity, and critical thinking as essential to bicultural and bilingual educators.  

Rosario and Adorno studied with Augusto Boal, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and creator of Theater of the Oppressed. Rosario, a philosopher and poet, and Adorno, a theater and film director make a perfect team as co-facilitators.  With Adorno cleverly coaxing the shyest participants out of their shells, and Rosario providing support, people spoke honestly, thought critically and  interacted enthusiastically.  Wu Yee Child Development staff will return to their centers next week inspired and motivated to put concepts such as creating an emotional response, upending the traditional power dynamic, and breaking destructive behavioral habits to good use in their work.

Research Finds It Pays to Play in Early Childhood Education

In a recent blog post published in the Washington Post, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an expert in early childhood education, argues that focusing on the “achievement gap” should take far less precedence over focusing on what she calls the “play gap” in preschools and kindergartens across the country.


Carlsson-Paige who has been a leader in early childhood education for decades says that ever since the No Child Left Behind act, there has been a growing emphasis on rote learning at the pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten level. The problem with this, says Carlsson-Page, is that children best learn naturally, through playing, when “they are fully engaged-body, mind and spirit.”


According to the article, playing benefits children in many ways including boosting “problem solving skills, social and emotional awareness, self-regulation, imagination, and inner resilience.” These benefits are even greater, says Carlsson-Paige, to low income students who often don’t have time to have fun and learn outside the classroom, compared to their more well-off peers, contributing to the overall education gap.  

“Many urban, low-income children have limited play opportunities outside of school, which makes in-school playtime even more vital for them. But what studies now show is that the children who need play the most in the early years of school get the least. Children in more affluent communities have more classroom play time. They have smaller class sizes and more experienced teachers who know how to provide for play-based learning. Children in low income, under-resourced communities have larger class sizes, less well-trained teachers, heavier doses of teacher-led drills and tests, and less play.”


At Wu Yee, we agree with Nancy Carlsson-Paige that playing is an integral part of not only early childhood education, but childhood in general. That’s why Wu Yee Children’s Services offers a unique learning environment where children can learn through play and practical life experience. We are proud to offer the benefits of play to low-income children in neighborhoods across San Francisco to help them reach their full potential both in school and later on in life.

Want to learn more about how Wu Yee helps low-income families across San Francisco? Visit our website today!

Wu Yee's San Francisco Impact

Did you know that Wu Yee is the largest single provider of Early Head Start infant care and preschool services in all of San Francisco? Did you know that 600 children in San Francisco are served directly through Wu Yee’s Child Development Programs? Did you know that "wu yee" means "protector of children?"

Learn more about Wu Yee's programs and commitment to healthy children, thriving families and strong communities in this video produced by BAYCAT.


Help us write more San Francisco success stories

“I love Wu Yee. I’m so grateful. I don’t know what I would do without it.”

A single mother of three, Tala has two children at one of Wu Yee’s child development centers in Bayview/Hunters Point, and another child in elementary school.

Every morning is a timecrunch for Tala, who first drops off her son and daughter at Wu Yee and then heads over to her oldest daughter’s school, all so she can get to her job as a medical receptionist by 8:30. 

Before hearing about Wu Yee’s Head Start program from a coworker, Tala struggled to find enough hours of care for her children during the day. Sometimes her mother could watch them, sometimes she’d have to take them into work with her. The Head Start programs she did qualify for only allowed her children to have care for five hours each day. Because of these restraints, Tala could only work limited hours and had difficulty making ends meet. Now enrolled at Wu Yee, Tala’s children receive extended hours of care, and she can work full-time. 

“I’m very appreciative of everything,” she said. “Being the sole provider is so difficult. But I do appreciate the help I get. I love the staff here. I’m pretty comfortable with them. They talk to me, they greet me, see if I’m okay, because they know my situation. I don’t know what I’d do without this program.”

Without access to child care assistance, a single parent like Tala, working full-time at California’s minimum wage would spend nearly half of her income on full-time, center-based care for just one preschool-aged child. Child care assistance allows parents like Tala to succeed on the job by reducing the chances that she’ll have to miss work or cut back on her hours. 

Each family’s situation is unique, and we want to continue to provide the care and services that fit their needs. Demand for subsidized child care far exceeds supply – in San Francisco, there are over 2,000 infants and toddlers on waiting lists for care. We want to continue to provide high-quality early child care, building a foundation for children’s success and helping lower-income parents find and keep jobs. But our funding only goes so far.

Your donation will go directly toward funding Wu Yee’s programs, which directly impact the lives of San Francisco’s children and families through center-based child care, family child care homes, home-based programs, child care subsidies, child care resource and referrals, the Joy Lok Family resource center, public benefits assistance, and training and support for child care providers.

With your help, we can write more success stories for San Francisco’s families. 

2015 Walk Around the Block for early education

On Friday, April 17, Wu Yee staff and students went for a “Walk Around the Block” in various neighborhoods and at San Francisco’s City Hall to help bring awareness to the importance of early childhood education. This year’s focus was on supporting higher wages for early educators.

Walk Around the Block has become an annual event where teachers, directors, child care providers, parents, and advocates join together in a citywide advocacy campaign to bring awareness about early childhood education and to urge our local legislators to continue to invest in and support San Francisco’s

This year was the 5th annual Walk Around the Block, and its main focus was ensuring that early education teachers get paid what they deserve – not just the minimum wage, but a living wage. The average early educator in San Francisco has a degree, yet only earns around $32,000 per year – this is less than half of what a public school teacher in San Francisco makes ($78,000) and significantly lower than the city’s average self-sufficiency wage ($57,658).

Right now, San Francisco’s early educators and supporters are asking for signatures on a petition to ensure that the $1.5 million needed to implement the minimum wage increase for all ECE programs in San Francisco is fully funded.  

Join Wu Yee's growing team!

Wu Yee Children’s Services is looking for dynamic and  passionate individuals to join our growing team. Are you interested in building a brighter future for children and families in San Francisco?

Wu Yee is rapidly expanding to meet the demands for child care, family services and child care provider support in San Francisco, and we're looking to fill a variety of critical roles throughout our organization. As a member of our highly-diverse team, you'll get the opportunity to foster the future success of our city's children and families.


Wu Yee delivers a comprehensive range of Child Development, Family, and Provider Services — including Early Head Start, Head Start, and State Preschool programs, the Joy Lok Family Resource Center, Single Stop benefits assistance, child care Resource and Referrals, child care subsidies, child care provider training, a food program for child care providers, and the Family Child Care Quality Network (FCCQN). For more information, visit our About page. 



If you or someone you know are interested in joining our dynamic team, please visit our Careers Page or contact Wu Yee's Recruiting Specialist, Stephanie Guinasso, at stephanie.guinasso@wuyee.org.