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Albany Preschool Coop (Albany, CA)
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Re: Pros & Cons of Parent Co-ops
My kids are happy co-op kids and I am a proud co-op parent (Albany Preschool). I love the co-op model and I think it really benefits my children to have a large community of caring parents embellish their play and education. We moved to Albany just before my first began preschool and we were immediately welcomed into an amazing community of APS families and have made many wonderful friendships. Another wonderful aspect of the co-op is the rich cultural influences and traditions my kids have been exposed to by having other parents in our community act as their teachers. I also love that as parents we are able to truly participate in our children's growth and development and work with like minded teachers and parents. APS Parent
Re: Pre-K Preschool in or around Albany?
Albany Preschool is a perfect place for meeting kids heading off to kindergarten in AUSD! We are about to enter our fifth year (with two kids) at APS and love the community of families at the school. One of the best things is getting to know other kids and families who will travel with you into elementary school and beyond. APS is a parent cooperative, which means you often see parents at the school so kids and parents really do get to know each other. I often recognize older kids and their parents from our first year at APS at the elementary school now. It's definitely been a great way to get to know Albany families. I also love the play-based philosophy and caring teachers. I highly recommend Albany Preschool!
I know there are openings for the PM program (1-4:30) for the fall. There is a short waitlist for the AM program (9-12:30). Please check out the website for more information:albanypreschool.org A Happy APS Parent
Re: Any preschool openings or short wait lists?
If he will be 3 by Sept. 1, you might try my son's school, Albany Preschool. My son goes in the afternoon and loves it. I bet even if it's full at the moment, there will be a space by fall. People change their minds, drop days, and so forth. It's a great school! Anon
My almost 4 year old daughter has been accepted to the PM program at Albany Preschool for Fall 2012, and I would love to hear from families who have or had their children at APS in the afternoons. She's currently at a school that has a pre-k program for next year and I'm still debating whether to keep her there or try something new. I stay home with our kids, so initially I was interested in the morning co-op program, but we also have a 1 year old daughter who is just entering that one-nap-a-day phase and so the afternoons at APS might just work perfectly for us. I'm wondering if afternoon families are able to get to know each other without the parent participation aspect, and maybe what the overall energy is like in the afternoons there. On the tour it seemed quiet, maybe with fewer children than the morning, but overall a really lovely school. Thanks very much! Afternoon program
APS has many opportunities for parents to meet each other outside of class participation. A lot of the socializing happens at parent meetings, after parent meetings (without kids), and at monthly social events or playdates (with the kiddos). I'm really happy to be a part of the APS family since 2008!! Happy Former APS PM parent (2009 and 2010)
As for the vibe in the afternoons, it all depends on the day and what mix of kids are there. I've seen it pretty rowdy in the play yard when Teacher Cindy has a large group of kids building baking soda volcanos or the weather is hot so it's Beach Day and kids can put on swimsuits for water play, and other times the kids are pretty spread out through the school and it's mellower. One thing I think is fantastic about the school is that during free play time the outdoor areas are open, unlike other schools where because of their set-up there is a ''recess'' where everyone goes outside together for a set amount of time. So those kids that need to run around and expend more energy can go outside and do it, which means the other kids that want to focus on something more mellow inside can do so with out being disturbed.
In short, I highly recommend the program. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk further, my family job is coordinating tours so I can be reached at tours atalbanypreschool.org Happy APS Parent
Most importantly, my son couldn't be happier. A couple of months into the fall term, he said to me one day, apropos of nothing, ''Mommy, I really LOVE my school.'' And it is true. He has cried when he had to stay home sick. He is always gushing about something his school has or does or whatever. The teachers do a wonderful job of making the boundaries and structure very clear, so the kids can relax and explore in an open yet secure environment. Socially, the atmosphere is very inclusive and supportive. I highly recommend it! Anon
I'm a mother of an active and energetic 2.5 year old boy. We are new to the Bay Area as we just relocated to Albany last fall. My son turns 3 this summer and we're looking for a preschool for him to start in the fall. This is the first time for us entering the preschool hunt so I'm rather nervous about finding the right school for him and our family. What I do know is that we're looking for a really loving, low-key place for our son to socialize and be around other kids. And for a school that doesn't mind a kid with lots of energy! Does anyone have any recommendations for preschools in and around Albany? Also, any insight into the Albany Preschool co-op and what kind of responsibilities parents have. I stay at home but I have a younger child so I'm worried about how much work a co-op might be. Thank you for your help.
I have a shy daughter, but can tell you there are many boisterous boys at APS and the wonderful thing about the play-based philosophy of the school is that the kids have the choice of doing the things that interest them. The teachers and parents also use a lot of redirection and gentle reminders to diffuse conflict between kids.
When my daughter started at APS, my son was only 3 months old. Siblings are often seen at drop off and pick up and sometimes are sitting along side the ''big'' kids at circle times. The school has many events where the whole family is invited -- potlucks, play dates at parks, and special events at the school. My son loves going to APS to drop off or pick up his sister and I have had to drag him away from the train table many times when it's time to go. The teachers are always welcoming to him even though it's not yet his time to be at APS.
I love the community and wonderful friends I've made through APS. We became fast friends with a family who have children the same ages as ours. The moms have traded care of the younger siblings so we could participate in the classroom and give each other some free time. We've also had many, many play dates with APS friends and I can also rely on these parents for childcare. Perhaps most importantly for me as a SAHM is the community of other parents for support and to just hang out with other adults. It is such a wonderful community and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.
When you apply to APS you are given the opportunity to list your preferences for a family job that you will be performing throughout the year. These vary quite a bit but many are very easy to accomplish while watching other children at home. Our first year we were in charge of making the play dough for the school on a weekly basis. I was able to do this on Sunday night after the kids had gone to bed. Other jobs include laundry, cleaning and maintaining different areas of the school, planning the fundraising and special events. It's quite easy to choose a job (and you can list several that you would prefer as well as ones you would not like to have) that will work with your family and schedule.
The other commitments the co-op asks you to make are for a parent to attend a monthly meeting in the evening, a parent to participate in two different maintenance days for the whole year, and to participate in one or two fundraising events for the whole year. Our family has really enjoyed all of these events and don't feel they are a burden at all.
I hope you'll consider APS for your son next year. I really can't say enough about the wonderful community at the school. There's an open house coming up on Jan. 28 10-12 so you can check it out. Maybe we'll see you there next year. Tamara
Re: Preschool with lots of part-time students?
We go to Albany Preschool and the vast majority of the kids are part time. There are a few that go all day every day, but most kids go 3 mornings or afternoons a week. It's a cooperative, so you really get to know other kids and families. It's a great school! www.albanypreschool.com happy Albany Preschool family
Re: Wanted - Nurturing, high-quality preschool
Albany Preschool (APS) is a culturally diverse play-based parent cooperative in the heart of Albany. We have a morning program with parent classroom participation and an afternoon program without parent classroom participation. Our cultural diversity is always celebrated in our school. We have native Spanish, Cantonese, and Urdu speaking teachers as well as families (and kids) who are bi-lingual and in addition to English speak German, Hungarian, and Mandarin. The children are exposed to many languages at APS.
My son recently graduated and was very prepared for kindergarten. He flourished socially and emotionally at APS and has been thriving in his kindergarten class. My 4 year old daughter is currently enrolled and I plan to send my youngest son next year. The teachers are supportive, loving, sensitive to the children's feelings and needs, and really understand where ''the child is''. The teachers are respectful of the children as unique individuals. Together with the teachers, the parents and families make for a strong and wonderful community. You're welcome to check the school out during a tour (during school hours) and at the Open House on Saturday, January 8. Check out the school's website at www.albanypreschool.org for more details. Joy, Happy APS Parent
Re: Albany parents, which preschool did you pick?
I'm sending my 2 youngest children to Albany Preschool, the cooperative preschool that's just off of Solano on Masonic. We love the school and my girls are thriving there. The are so excited to go to school there. The teachers and the program are amazing. There families are diverse but yet there is a strong sense of community. www.albanypreschool.org A Happy Albany Preschool Parent
Re: Summer preschool for entering kindergartener
Albany Preschool has a preschool summer program. It is a cooperative preschool but I'm not sure if there is parent participation in the summer. More info at www.albanypreschool.com anon
I'm another overwhelmed parent regarding the preschool
process. I'm probably too late because my child will be 3
this spring, but I was wondering about what people thought
about Albany Preschool (afternoon program) or Redwood Garden
- Are these schools highly competitive to enter? I live in Albany, but I'm also thinking about sending my child for just 1 year due to budget reasons... But I also have a younger child who'll most likely follow the older one's path.
- Any recent reviews on either of those schools?
- Do most kids from Albany Preschool go on to Albany's kindergarten?
- Estimated cost for Redwood Garden? (There doesn't seem to be a website, but that's understandable for a home-based Waldorf school.)
Thank you in advance for your replies. daunted by preschool apps
I currently have two children at Albany Preschool (morning program) and we are so happy. The kids look forward to going to school and I look forward to seeing that. I've seen my kids grow extensively in how they socialize -- how they negotiate challenging situations and how they express themselves. And it's all because of their time playing and socializing at preschool! I also enjoy the co-op model which creates community and welcomes parents and families as members of the educational team. These unique qualities of a parent cooperative ultimately leads to the success or our kids and school.My 3 year old daughter will attend Albany Preschool for another year and then my youngest son will enter in 2011. I'm enjoying the experience at APS so much that I joined the Parent Board and will be on it through next year.
The majority of children go off and attend kindergarten in the Albany school district. With only 3 elementary schools in Albany it's very likely to have a friend from Albany Preschool in the same kindergarten class. So it's comforting to know that my son (off to kindergarten in the Fall) will have familiar faces around him and a built-in network even in a new school.
Albany residents have enrollment priority at Albany Preschool and there are openings available for Fall. I encourage you to take a tour of the school, see the great play spaces, meet the teachers and perhaps talk to other parents. To schedule a tour you can contact Jenny Blattner at firstname.lastname@example.org and for enrollment questions you can contact Ebba De La Rosa at email@example.com. Feel free to contact me as well if you have any further questions. I'd be happy to get you in contact with folks in the afternoon program as well.
Happy Parent from APS, Joy
And yes, since Albany residents are preferred at this school, almost all kids move on to one of Albany's elementary schools. It's a fun, low-key program with lots of outside play. Nancy
Re: Afternoon Preschool Programs
Albany Co-op Preschool has an afternon-only program. And if you are enrolled in the afternoon program you do not have to do parent participation. anon
Re: Is the number of adults a problem at a co-op?
I really relate to your question. My son has now been at a co- op preschool for two years and, particularly before beginning PS, was very slow to warm up to new situations and was extremely shy with new people. In fact, I had officially enrolled him in a small, home based PS for this reason. The closer it came to Fall though, the more I had the instinct that he was ready for something a little bigger with more options and I loved the idea of being involved in his school in the way a co-op allows. So, with some hesitation about the rotating adult situation, we enrolled him in a co-op PS that we had really liked, Albany Preschool.
Despite my worries, it has been an extremely positive experience for him. He has become much more confident and comfortable with new adults as well as with new kids and situations and I attribute at least some of this growth to getting to know new adults in a safe situation and being able to think of them as a friend's parent. The comfort, though, has definitely extended to his life outside of PS. All that said, it did take him a while to get used to this situation and, despite absolutely loving PS, he stuck quite close to the head teacher for the first year. (Thankfully, she really understood his approach to new situations and was extremely patient and loving towards him.)
He still will often choose to do an activity that is led by a parent he knows well, rather than one that seems quite up his alley, but is led by a parent he doesn't know as well. But, having the chance to get to know new parents at his own pace has been a very important experience for him and now (at age 5) he really likes to tell people about how he ''used to be really shy with people he didn't know.'' Good luck with your own decision. APS parent
Can some current families enrolled in Albany Preschool provide some comments about the enrollment process? How long was the line on enrollment day last January? How early did you get in line? Do you wish that you had gotten in line earlier? If you didn't get in, is there anything you would do differently in order to get in? Or is this just not a big deal? Albany Mom
We have heard a lot of generally positive things about Albany Preschool/Coop recently but I haven't heard much yet about the teachers there or about the way that they coordinate with the parents volunteering in the classrooms. I was wondering if the parents serve in more of a support (more hands to help) role, with the teachers still clearly in the lead or if it is more of an equally shared responsibility. I think in general, I'm wondering about pros and cons of coop situations, particularly the degree to which the kids' experience is driven by the head teachers vs. the parents who happen to be there on a particular day. Interested Parent
- Each family has a job in addition to in-class participation. These vary widely from laundry to being part of the fundraising committee.
- For morning program students, there is a classroom participation component. If your student attends 5 days/wk you are in the classroom one morning each week (always the same day of the week.) If your child attends 3 days/wk it works out to every second morning.
- The wonderful director, Terry, is in charge of curriculum. It is very well-planned and targeted to the n! eeds of the students. Suzy the head teacher is there in the morning as well along with 4 or 5 parents. On your day you must arrive 20 minutes before the start of the day to set up and meet with Terry. She directs you about your specific job and also about what bigger concepts are being worked on in the school and what to keep in mind or watch for.
- You are given a monthly calendar that tells you when you participate in class and what your station will be that day. The stations are well-defined down to the cleaning tasks for the end of your shift. The stations are South Yard, North Yard (yes, we have 2 yards!), Cooking Table (the cook brings the food and helps the kids make their own snacks!), and when there are 5 parents, Games Room.
It is always easy to get support from a teacher if you encounter a situation that you don't know how to handle. I think participating at the school makes me a better parent. I know what my son is doing and I really see how he is at school. I also see other kids his age exhibiting the behavior characteristic of his age -- which makes me understand that he's just being 4 sometimes! I also get to do things with kids that my son would never do -- like girlie dress-up and art! The other advantage of the co-op is the price, of course. In my experience the other parent's styles and variety is an advantage. Some of us are mellow and some more boisterous (just like the kids). I suspect it took my son longer to come out of his shell because of the variety of teachers, but he has always loved it. Sometimes I wonder if a non-coop school would model problem solving and conflict resolution more, but my son seems to have learned in those areas on par with his friends at other schools. I hope I have addressed your questions. If you want to talk some parents at the school you can call and talk to the membership chair (a family job -- right now I think it is Louise). She can answer questions or hook you up with another parent if you wish and you can visit too. Good luck with your preschool search. Sharon
I would like to know what opinion parents have regard the afternoon program at Albany Preschool. I've seen some posts at the website, but all of them are related to parents participation (which has to do with the morning program). I would like to know what your opinion is specifically about the afternoon program where you don't have parents participating, only teachers. When I went to the tour (in the morning) I loved the school, and left decided to enroll my daughter. However, as I return to look closer the afternoon program, I didn't see the same nurturing environment that I saw at the morning program. I'm interested to know others opinion even if your child is no longer at the school. Thank you. Ina
We were very happy with Albany Preschool 2001- 2003 and
plan to send our youngest child there next year. We found
it to be a very well run coop, and the ''play is the work of
the young child'' philosophy matched our own. The best part
was meeting and getting to know other Albany- Berkeley
families who place a priority on their child's education,
and really feeling a part of the community.
Re: What's it like in the Coop world?
We had our son in a co-op (Albany preschool) for one-and-a-half years, and we felt that it was a very positive experience. The children do not seem at all bothered by the presence of many adults; in fact, it was a bonus to have so many willing hands to help, and I think even the small kids developed a sense of real community. We did not find the requirements for participation to be a big drain on our time -- but I switched off with my husband on the participation day. The extras (family job, weekend work days) were not at all time-consuming. Generally you can make many decisions, great and small, about how much you want to do. You can choose a family job that fits your schedule and doesn't make unreasonable demands, or you can throw yourself wholeheartedly into the process and volunteer to be fundraiser or some such. I would highly recommend the co-op situation for getting to know people in your community, for establishing ties that will last as your child starts school, for having close-up experience with your child's education and socialization, etc. In short, we found it to be a good thing. Good luck with your decision, a satisfied co-op parent
Re: Preschools with good playgrounds
Albany Preschool, 527-6403, 850 Masonic Avenue in Albany, has all the things you list, and it's a lovely school. It is a cooperative, however, which means you will have to invest a significant amount of time helping to run the school. It is significantly cheaper than non-cooperatives. Louise
Re: Preschools with good playgrounds
The Albany Preschool (Cooperative) has a super play area; two yards, both with gardens. The south yard, which is the biggest and has the best sun, has a great working garden where the kids help to plant flowers, peas, berries, etc. There are also fig trees there. The north yard is a little cooler, but it also has a wealth of flowers and greenery. Both yards have play structures and lots of toys (riding toys, sand toys, trucks, etc. etc.) to use; the north yard has a popular little play house as well. Both yards are safely fenced,though the north yard's fence is chain link (with some privacy features like greenery and a cut-out train). Outdoor play is encouraged (including water play), and if your child is energetic, he could well spend almost all of his day outdoors -- it's his choice. My son only goes inside for the required circle times, ''story and rest,'' and lunch/snacks.
Two provisos it's hard to get in (your child is a little young for this year), so you would have to apply early (Albany residents have preference, though kids from other communities do get in). And the elevated BART tracks are right across the street, though this doesn't seem to bother any of the kids in the slightest. Good luck! Linda
More accolades for Albany Preschool! (850 Masonic, 527-6403) I just wanted to point out that they also have an afternoon program, which does not require parental participation in the classroom, and is excellent. The teachers are all very dedicated and caring, and most have been teaching there for many years. My son has been in the afternoon program for over a year, and he loves it. Suzanne
I highly recommend Albany Preschool. My children went there, and still (they are teenagers) speak fondly of their years there. Also, I am a preschool teacher, and I think Albany Preschool is one of the best schools I have ever seen or worked at.
My daughter's wonderful preschool, the Albany Preschool, still has openings in both the morning and afternoon programs for Sept. 98. The morning is a co-op (9-12), the afternoon program(12-3 or 12-5) is run as a regular (non-co-op) program. Located at 850 Masonic Avenue near Solano, there are two play yards as well as a cooking & art projects everyday, guinea pigs and even a gecko. The school is remodeling the bathroom to meet ADA guidelines starting next week, so we will be wheel-chair accessible when school opens on September 14th! For information, please call: 527-6403. Roxane
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