The Children’s School in San Diego county has a proud history as a pioneer in progressive education. It was founded in 1972 by Dave Ulrey and John Dodgen as a child-centered private school for students ages 3-11 that focused on developing the whole child. The founders believed in accomplishing this through a hands-on integrated curriculum rich in academics, social development, art and physical education. The private school was based on the belief that stress inhibits learning and that children learn best when actively and joyfully engaged in meaningful activities. Competition was replaced with cooperative learning. Letter grades were replaced with individualized written progress reports.
The private school’s curriculum and educational philosophy drew inspiration from the work of numerous scholars including John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Lev Vygotsky, and Howard Gardner. This approach to education distinguished The Children's School from traditional public and private schools, and remains a hallmark of the school to this day.
Originally housed in Point Loma, the school was relocated to Sorrento Valley in 1974 where it enrolled Preschool - Eighth Grade students.
In 1983, the private school
moved to its present location in La Jolla. It operates in its current location under a lease from San Diego City Schools.
Along with the move to La Jolla came an expanded commitment to the private school's social curriculum and its parent education programs. TCS’s Parent-Toddler program, which was based on a model from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena and includes a parent education component, was expanded to include parents of children of all ages.
In the late 1980s, as the standalone middle school
movement grew in popularity, TCS dropped its Seventh and Eighth Grade programs. Current research, however, shows that students learn best in an elementary school that goes through Eighth Grade. In response to this research and as a result of tremendous community support, The Children’s School has returned to a Toddler through Eighth Grade model and graduated its inaugural Nelson Middle Years eighth grade class in 2011.Photos (at right) are courtesy of the San Diego Unified School District. The site was formerly known as Scripps Elementary when it was an SDUSD campus.