While children are in the hospital, we encourage them to continue their education through the UCSF School Program. Part of our Child Life Services department, the program is staffed with credentialed teachers, many from the San Francisco or Oakland unified school district. On both sides of the Bay, in a dedicated schoolroom, we hold classes for children from transitional kindergarten through 12th grade and for special education students of all ages. (On the San Francisco campus the classroom is called the Marie Wattis School.) Kids who can't attend classroom sessions receive bedside instruction.

Our program serves as a reassuring bridge between home and hospital. By sustaining a healthy and vibrant part of life in the midst of medical treatment, it lets kids know they can eventually return to their previous school experience. Our general and special education teachers offer school activities and classes in all academic areas. They work closely with each child's school to ensure that class requirements are met, and students can receive attendance and school credit for work they complete in the hospital.

In addition, when kids return to regular classes, our teachers serve as liaisons between the hospital and school to support individual needs. If a patient is unable to return to school after discharge, they help coordinate homebound teaching services.

Special programs

We've partnered with a variety of local organizations to provide ongoing extracurricular programs for children in the hospital. Most of these special guests pay monthly visits to the schoolroom to give our students unique hands-on learning experiences. Here's a look at our regular visitors:

  • The Exploratorium, a San Francisco science museum, has designed and installed hands-on exhibits throughout UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, creating opportunities for patients and their families to engage in scientific exploration and discovery. Exploratorium team members also make monthly visits to the hospital schoolrooms in both San Francisco and Oakland to guide students through science and engineering activities.
  • Professional poets visit the hospitals to help young patients and their siblings express themselves creatively – bringing voices to their ideas and emotions.
  • The California Academy of Sciences provides programs at our San Francisco campus.
  • Play-Well TEKnologies offers engineering instruction using LEGO materials for our patients in both Oakland and San Francisco.
  • Dancin Power provides interactive dance lessons to children at our Oakland campus, including to kids facing chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
  • Bernie Peyton, an internationally celebrated origami artist, provides weekly origami-making workshops at our Oakland campus.
  • The San Francisco Police Department assists with our interactive quiz shows on the hospital's Kaleidoscope channel.
  • The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) offers dog safety education and its Puppy Dog Tales Reading Program for our San Francisco patients.