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BlueSkies for Children (Oakland, Ca)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Preschools & Daycare > BlueSkies for Children


[Note: BlueSkies was formerly called Association of Children's Services (AOCS)]
Oct 2013

Re: Play play play!! Is there a school?
A truly excellent play based preschool is Blue Skies in Oakland (formerly AOCS), a non-profit that offers infant care-preschool. It's based on Reggio Emiliano and our daughter had a great experience in the almost five years years she spent there. Our younger daughter went to the Child Study Center at Berkeley, also an excellent play based program, but of the two I preferred Blue Skies. A Blue Skies fan


Sept 2013

Pros:
- Large play areas for each age group.
- Children are split by age so other children around them are at similar developmental stages.
- Each classroom and play area are developed with a lot of thought and consideration. They are designed specifically for the age group and developmental stages (i.e. sand boxes in parallel so children can feel like they are playing together but not fighting over toys).
- Teachers seem caring.
- Great families and children.
- Organic food and snacks.

Cons:
- Not the greatest neighborhood in Oakland (although never has there been a violent crime associated with the school).
- High cost.
- High parental participation requirement.
- As with any group childcare situation, very frequent illnesses the first year.
Anon


August 2013

Re: Looking for daycare near Montclair for 6 month old
I'm sorry that you have had two tough experiences with nannies. I can't speak to Chatham but, since you also asked for other infant and preschool recommendations, I thought I would suggest BlueSkies for Children. I know many BlueSkies families that live in Montclair.

My daughter has been at BlueSkies for Children for the past year. She started at 4 months and we have been nothing but happy. I was sold on BlueSkies early on as it is known as a leading daycare and is the only Oakland preschool that is fully accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. When my husband and I toured, I held my breath as we left, hoping that he was as impressed as I was. As we walked out of the gate, he turned to me and said, ''I cannot imagine having our child at any other place.'' Boy, was I relieved!

BlueSkies is geared towards working parents and open 51 weeks of the year. They offer anywhere from 6.5-10.5 hours of care each day. The family and teacher community is diverse (racially and ethnically, family structure, LGBT families, age of families, parenting approaches, etc.), kind, thoughtful, and respectful of children.

Tuition includes healthy, organic meals: hot breakfast and lunch as well as snacks and organic formula (if needed). Tuition also includes compostable diapers all day long, parent education events, a beautiful and large facility and a top-notch group of early childhood teachers who keep children cared for, safe, engaged, and growing each and every day. Though tuition is expensive, it is very clearly worth the investment. I honestly cannot think of any better use of our money than providing our child with this type of environment for her first years of life. I have not had one day since going back to work that I have been the least bit worried for my daughter. She practically jumps out of my arms (or toddles away!) when she arrives in the morning, she is just that excited to get started with her BlueSkies day! BlueSkies often has a waiting list but people move every now and then--it is worth checking out! Amazed by BlueSkies


May 2013

BluesSkies is the only place for your baby. They have an amazing program for working parents which assists you with all the important things: (1) they have year around care; (2) they provide diapers, food, parent education (at no additional cost); and (3) provide you with much needed advise about development and assisting you and your baby in teaching and learning. BlueSkies does amazing things including reading to your child, brushing their teeth, teaching them to eat with a cup and spoon, involving them in painting and music. Also, the teachers are very caring and have great parenting advice. The children are encouraged in what they do and are very confident in their abilities as they move through the program. The BlueSkies community is also really wonderful. The parents are extremely involved parents but also they have an understanding of all the pressures of working and having a young child. I have two children at BlueSkies and everyday i am amazed at what they learn and how excited they are about school. If you are thinking about daycare, this is the place you should apply.
Jen


March 2013

One of my biggest worries when I was pregnant was finding a wonderful daycare for my son. I can't even begin to express how lucky I feel that we found Blue Skies for Children. From a practical standpoint, Blue Skies makes life easier for working parents by providing diapers, formula, and nutritious meals. I love not having to pack a lunch, and somehow my son will eat things at school (zucchini, for example) that he won't eat for me. From an emotional standpoint, there is nothing better than dropping off my kiddo and knowing that he will be well cared for. We've been at the school for 3 and a half years, so we've been in every classroom from baby to preschool, and we have loved it at each step. The teachers and staff are truly the heart of the school and absolutely know what they are doing. I have relied on their knowledge and experience to help guide me as I learn how to be a parent. They've pretty much seen it all, and so they kindly and confidently help you when you aren't sure how to handle a new behavior, etc. I know that at some point we'll hit the real world of kindergarten and all that comes after, but for now, we are so thankful to feel well cared for at Blue Skies. Erin


March 2013

Re: Childcare center for 14 mo old with food allergies
BlueSkies for Children - http://www.blueskies4children.org/ 510-261-1076 - in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland is a wonderful daycare/preschool (infant through pre-K) that is very adept at caring for children with serious food allergies. BlueSkies serves breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and all of the food is prepared in house. Teachers are well aware of the food restrictions of each child (be it allergy, sensitivity, religious based, vegetarian/vegan) and in the kitchen/eating area for each classroom, there is a chart posted that lists each child's specific restrictions (and includes a list of which children have epi-pens). While my child does not have food allergies, one of her classmates is seriously allergic to most of the foods you listed, and that family chose and has stayed at BlueSkies in large part because they are confident that the program can safely handle their child's food allergies. There are many other reasons to check out BlueSkies: excellent teachers, diverse community, great facilities, thoughtful curriculum. Happy BlueSkies Family


Feb 2013

Re: Any Oakland area preschools that serve lunch?
BlueSkies for Children in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland (http://www.blueskies4children.org/) serves a full lineup of nutritious meals--breakfast, lunch, and snacks--all made from scratch in house (with different menus for the different age levels). Most BlueSkies parents work full time and the school is set up to serve working families. Providing meals is part of this, but also being open from 7:30am to 6:00 pm, only closing for one week of vacation a year, and scheduling school meetings in the evening (with childcare). While these conveniences come in handy for working parents, the best thing about BlueSkies is that it is a wonderfully nurturing and engaging environment for the kids. Our daughter has been at BlueSkies since she was 5 months old, and we intend for her to stay through Pre-K. The teachers are amazingly committed and skilled; the facilities are designed to meet the developmental needs of children; and the community is diverse and welcoming. I toured all of the full service childcare centers in Oakland and BlueSkies was absolutely the best around. Happy BlueSkies Family


July 2012

I have written a review of this wonderful daycare facility on yelp also, but figured I'd share with BPN as well. My daughters (ages 2 & 5) have been going to Blueskies since they were infants. The teachers are loving and educated and very importantly, have a long tenure with the school so the children have consistency with their caregivers and parents have folks with a WEALTH of knowledge to help us navigate the ins and outs of moods and feelings of our little ones. The parent community is fantastic and I can honestly say that the last 5 years have been made so much easier through the help of this wonderful daycare center. My oldest is getting ready to start kindergarten this year (and they have a great way of getting kids ready for the transition over the summer by making the class seem more like kindergarten than it has traditionally been...which is play-based). Luckily I still have one child at the school so I don't have to give up the great community and resources just yet. For anyone looking for wonderful childcare where you really don't have to worry about your child from the time of dropoff to the time you pick them up, Blueskies is it. Blueskies Parent


August 2011

Why I Choose BlueSkies

In response to the posts in this week's childcare digest by parents seeking a nurturing and stimulating childcare program for their infants, I'd like to recommend BlueSkies for Children. Rooted in essentials of childhood development, BlueSkies meets each child at his or her own level, and provides structured support so that they can learn and grow.

The BlueSkies approach is timeless--instead of televisions and cartoon toys, kids play with blocks, dress-ups, things with wheels, sand, wind, and water. Bundled warmly or in broad brims and sunscreen, all but the very youngest children spend a good part of each day in vibrant outdoor play areas.

Kids who start in the program as babies will move through six distinct age groups before they leave for kindergarten. Each group gives the children developmentally appropriate ways to play, to interact, to observe, and to express themselves. Teachers speak respectfully to the children at all times. It's clear that they believe, as any good teacher should, that all children are valuable.

If you are even vaguely considering BlueSkies, I encourage you to take three minutes to watch the Virtual Visit video on their website at http://blueskies4children.org/about/virtual-visit/. The thoughtful, professional care you see in the video is what you would see if you popped into any BlueSkies group at any time. It's real, and it's very good.

Though the program has limited openings, due to the ''wait pool'' system, there's always a chance that your child will be the perfect fit for an open space. Call or email BlueSkies to learn more! (510.261.1076 / monairet@blueskies4children.org)
Lara


Nov 2009

Re: Nanny vs. day care for 5-month-old 2-3 days/week
I missed the original post on this topic but wanted to respond when I saw all 4 responses recommended a nanny over daycare. This is a very personal decision for every family, but I strongly believe that both options can be good ones, and that daycare can be the better choice.

My husband and I chose a high-quality daycare (BlueSkies for Children, which I strongly recommend) over a nanny for the following reasons:

- Our daycare is structured to be developmentally appropriate for children as they grow. The environment is safe, the toys are appropriate, and the activities are geared towards the needs of the children. There is no TV, no personal phone conversations, no exersaucers, no bouncers, no sitting in strollers -- infants are free to move and explore.

- The teachers at our day care have far more experience, education, and supervision than most nannies would.

- I agree with the poster that said infants are too young for ''group settings,'' if group setting means coordinated play or instruction. But infants and young toddlers who are free to explore and move about on their own are perfectly content to ignore the other babies. They bond with their caregivers and do their own thing. Sometimes they watch and interact with other kids, sometimes they don't. Well-run infant (and preschool!) programs do not force group activities on those not developmentally able to partcipate; they allow the babies the space to be babies. It just happens that there are other babies next to them doing the same thing.

- I personally am uncomfortable with not paying social security for or providing health care to someone as important to my family as a primary caregiver. By using a quality daycare center, I know our caregivers have sick leave, vacation time, health care, and even some retirement benefits.

- While this is not universally true, I have found that my daycare does help take care of my whole family. Our daycare provides homemade food and cloth diapers, so I don't have to worry about those things. The teachers and co-directors are a knowledgable resource for parenting questions. This doesn't help with home chores, as (some, not all) nannies might -- but it does provide a great deal of relief.

- I have never worried about either of my children, even once, while they were at our daycare. For me, this piece of mind is priceless. Good luck with your decision. Happy Daycare Parent


Oct 2008

Re: Full-time, playbased, preschool near Glenview
We live in Glenview as well, and send our daughter to BlueSkies in the Fruitvale district. It is a full-time daycare and pre- school program geared toward families with working parents. The focus is on developmental play and socialization, and the environment is amazing. The teachers are highly qualified professionals. They have an amazing understanding of what is developmentally appropriate for each age, and gear each classroom to that in an incredibly thoughtful manner. I wouldn't say it specifically emphasizes art, but the kids have lots of opportunities for creative expression on a daily basis. The outdoor spaces are great (the whole school was just renovated). We moved our daughter there after a less positive experience with another pre-school, and our daughter has thrived. Please don't hesitate to contact me for more information, and check out their website at: http://www.blueskies4children.org/
T


March 2008

Hi Parents, I'm considering placing my 3 year old daughter in BlueSkies for Children preschool. I've toured the school and it looks lovely and the kids seem really happy and relaxed. There's not a lot of recent feedback on BPN and it would be great to hear from parents of children who are either among the older kids (3-5) or who have graduated. They don't have projects or themes or much in the way of group activities, just a strong focus on developmental play according to the child's interest. It is the most play-based school I have toured to date, and I'm just wondering if the children are stimulated enough on an ongoing basis?


Our 4-year-old has been at Blue Skies since last summer. We've been very happy with the program.

One of the things that I find most admirable about BS4C is that the entire program is run in a very thoughtful, conscious way. This is a marked contrast with other preschools we've experienced.

I mention this because I believe that the relative lack of structure is very deliberate. My understanding is that the relative lack of structure in the BS4C program for kids this age is based on the belief that the main thing kids at this age need to be working on is how to develop and manage relationships with peers, and that they do this best without a lot of structure. That would have sounded a little far-fetched to me a year ago, but after having our child in the program for about a year, it sounds exactly right. When our child entered the program, she was rather shy and cautious. In less than a year, she's really come into her own. For example, we recently observed her very politely but firmly holding her ground with an older, somewhat dominant classmate who wanted her to switch to a different activity.

One more thing I want to mention: BS4C is extraordinary in that it is run in an extremely professional manner. We've had experience with two other preschool programs, and in both cases things fell apart for us when the administrators were unable or unwilling to address issues that came up. In contrast, I see the co-directors of BS4C anticipating issues before they've become serious, and taking appropriate action. Parent


I switched my son from our Jewish preschool to Blue Skies For Children when he was 4 years old and it was the best decision I've ever made for him. He was struggling to complete the ''projects'' and reach the ''benchmarks'' that so many pre- schools judge kids progress by and he simply wasn't happy. Blueskies welcomed my son with complete non-judgement - ready to follow his cues and help him by working from his strengths. Blueskies follows the developmental track of each child, they won't ever compare how your child fits with the group- they will honor and appreciate her as an individual. Blueskies not only provides developmentally appropriate play opportunities for the kids, but, more importantly, teaches kids self-reliance, reslience and respect for oneself and others. In the classroom, the teachers provide a safe, loving and supportive atmosphere that encourages communication and creativity, thus the atmosphere is relaxed and the kids are very happy because the theachers don't hover over and constantly direct the kids - rather, they watch, listen and help guide them to make the right choices for themselves. So, your daughter may not bring home too many themed art projects but she will be a happy, communicative, well-adjusted, adaptable child who loves school. We held our son back from Kindergarten last year for many reasons - Blueskies staff were totally supportive of this and our son was thrilled to stay an extra year at Blueskies. My son LOVES Blueskies and so does our family - I really can't say enough good things about Blueskies - they are the gold standard for Early Childhood in the Bay Area. We will be very sad to leave this fall when he starts kindergarten. I hope this helps! Happy Blueskies Mom Jenn C
Both of my children went to Blueskies, my older one starting when she was 15 months old, and my younger one starting when she was 7 months old. (Now they are in 3rd grade and kindergarten.) It is a fantastic program and my children were happy and thrived there. The directors, Claire and Liisa, are amazing and they are experts at what they do. The teachers are also great and they tend to stay at the school for years and years. The school has just completed a major remodel and it's quite nice. I found the other parents to be supportive and friendly. My children were well prepared for elementary school. I'd be happy to answer more questions in person. Andrea G
We have a 5 year old daughter about to ''graduate'' from BlueSkies in August who has been there since she was 6 months and a 20 month old daughter who has been there since she was 5 months. There is so much thought, experience, and detailed planning that goes into setting up the play environment that I think the description ''play-based'' doesn't do the program justice. The kids are getting constant stimulation and learning/developmental opportunities from practicing their fine and gross motor skills in the play itself, developing confidence and a sense of mastery in their self-directed play, learning social skills when interacting with each other, using their imaginations, working out feelings, etc. I think this kind of program is more enriching than if they had lots of directed activities. There is also a routine which makes them feel safe--a predictable schedule of rotating into different play areas (inside, outside, etc.), snack times, lunch time, nap time, etc.

I encourage you to come by the school at the 3:30 pick up time. There is always a group of friendly parents in the school courtyard who stay to talk while their kids play. They would be happy to talk to you about their experience at the school and give you their impressions about the program. Also, the directors are wonderful to talk to and are very approachable. They have each child's best interest in mind and will give you honest, straightforward information about the program so you can make the best choice for your child. Our kids are very happy there and I am so grateful for all the dedication of the directors, staff and parents at BlueSkies. It is such a wonderful place. Good luck! Helen Thomas


I highly recommend BlueSkies for Children, the new name for Association of Children's Services. This center is by far the best, in my opinion, daycare in Oakland. It is NAEYC accredited, has low teacher turnover, a great support staff (teachers don't have to prepare meals, giving them more time to plan and schedule daily activities), teachers have either their BA's or the highest level of units in ECE units, freshly prepared meals daily, food, milk, formula provided! The best part is that children learn through play, thus the new logo, a duck squared, which means that while it may seem they are only playing, the activities are well thought out and they are actually learning their basics, reading, math, writing, and most important their social skills. I have two daughters who attend and I couldn't be happier!
Re: Preschool in Alameda or Downtown Oakland (Sept 2004)
You might check out AOCS. It's right off Fruitvale, near 580, so pretty accessible to both Alameda and downtown Oakland. (There are several Alameda families who attend.) It's a very well-thought out, play-based preschool that focuses on social development. There's no 'circle time' or 'lessons', just lots of age-appropriate activities for the children to choose from (with careful assistance/direction from great teachers). It's a full- time daycare center, so geared toward working families. But, most kids start there as infants, so it can be tough to get in as an older child. There are a few openings each year, though, so it would be worth contacting them. 261-1076

August 2003

Re: Best Daycare Centers for Infants

I highly recommend AOCS in Oakland. It is an incredible child care facility. Both of my children started there around 3 months of age. They received (and continue to receive) loving, respectful care in a wonderful setting. Several of the caregivers in the ''baby house'' have been there for 10+ years. AOCS offers a supportive environment for both kids and working parents. They have a long waiting list, and it's expensive, but worth it. I'd recommend you sign up for a tour. Even if AOCS doesn't work for you, seeing it will let you know what to look for in other infant/childcare centers. worry-free working mom


July 2003

Re: Preschool for 4-year-old who needs lots of support
Have you looked at Association for Children's Services on Brookdale in Oakland? I am not sure if they have room for a child in that age group as there is usually a waiting list, but the directors are very helpful and may be able to discuss options/ideas of what to do with you. The school itself is terrific.
A special needs parent

March 2003

I highly recommend AOCS (Assoc. of Children Services) 510/261-1076 or aocsweb.org. We have 2 children there & love it; both kids started in the ''Baby House'' at 8 mos. Classrooms are designed by age. AOCS has been in existance for over 20 yrs., and is a ''model'' day care center, meaning AOCS trains caregivers thru a program at Cal State Hayward. Students & parents can observe kids thru one-way mirrors (so as not to disrupt children & caregivers). Caregiver turnover is extremely low. Directors have masters degrees. AOCS supplies meals & kids spend lots of time outside (no TVs). Caregivers don't discuss kids in front of the them. Get on the waiting list and check back frequently. The more flexible you can be with your start date the better chance you probably have of getting in, but really it is sort of a lottery--selection is based on birth date and what the school needs at any particular point in time. Anon

February 2003

Re: Preschools run by Mills College Grads
The Association of Children's Services (AOCS) in Oakland is a wonderful preschool and daycare co-run by a Mills grad and founded by one of the people who taught child development at Mills. They provide full-time care for children from infancy until they are ready to go to kindergarten. They can be reached at 261-1077.
Parent of 2 AOCS graduates


2001

Association Of Children Services (AOCS) is a nice preschool, particularly for the younger children. It's near Fruitvale south-west of 580. They don't stress `academics', and certainly don't use workbooks or flashcards, but they have very skilled management and know what they're doing. The son of a good friend attends it, and we almost sent our daughter there ourselves (she ended up at Lakeview Preschool, near the Grand Lake Theater). Luigi

2000

I highly recommend: AOCS (Association of Children's Services) 3021 Brookdale Avenue Oakland, CA 94602 261-1076 ask for Lisa Hale My daughter, Charlotte, is two and a half, has been at AOCS since September, and we love it.

Sept. 1998

My son's childcare center, Association of Children's Services (AOCS) is having their annual Open House on Sunday Sept 27th 2-5pm on its campus at 3021 Brookdale Ave. at Coolidge in Oakland. The public is invited to attend, enjoy a potluck meal, meet AOCS families and learn about this wonderful childcare center. My son Keith 18mo. has been attending AOCS since he was 4 months old and I can highly recommend them. Keith has thrived at AOCS, I can't say enough wonderful things about the care he has received. The staff is wonderful and loving and treat the children with respect and warmth. AOCS is nonprofit and I believe pay their staff a livable wage and provide health benefits so they have a very low turn over in staff which I feel is important to good childcare. On the flip side I believe we pay a little more than at most centers but I've always felt the security of knowing Keith is getting the best care is worth it. If you are looking at childcare options in Oakland I would highly recommend AOCS. Their phone number is 261-1076. I would also be happy to speak directly with anyone interested. Shoshana
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