About First Step


First Step Nursery School was founded in 1977 by Ina Sinsheimer.  Grounded in a deep respect for children, the teaching of independence, and caring for others, the small Santa Monica preschool has remained consistant for over 40 years.  Children dig, swing, paint, climb, think, create, play and sing every day, while being supported by loving and nurturing teachers.  Parents often say that the preschool creates a sense of belonging and feels like a second home. 


At First Step a developmental program means following the needs of the child.  Knowing that children develop at their own pace, the teachers listen to, observe, and get to know each child individually.  This hands-on approach allows the teachers  to present opportunities for growth, as the children are ready.  Children are accepted for who they are, with every developmental stage being respected and valued.  Teachers provide love, support, and a hand to hold as children mature.


Children are encouraged to be independent.  After they put away their lunchbox upon arriving at school, they have the freedom to make choices for themselves.  Each day the First Step teachers set up a stimulating environment both inside and outside.  Where to play, what to play, and who to play with are decisions made by the children.  The children inspire the learning, and the interests of the group determine the curriculum. 


Mixed-age grouping at First Step provides countless opportunities for children to learn about themselves in relation to others.  The benefits for the older children include learning how to help and care for others and an incredible building of confidence.  The younger children build skills in every area of development by modeling themselves after the older children. 


In Ina’s words “I hope that when a child walks out of the gate they will climb any mountain they wish to climb, educational or otherwise.  I hope they have learned to question the world, ask 'Can you explain that to me?' or say, 'I do not understand' or 'I do not agree'.  More importantly, I hope they choose for their life’s work something that will make this a better world.”