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My wife and I looked at a number of preschools for our son - the number of options in our area is pretty overwhelming, and it was a stressful experience - but after we visited Berkeley Hills, she summed it up perfectly: ''This is exactly what preschool should be.'' That is, a warm and welcoming place filled with loving teachers, happy kids, myriad opportunities for learning, and plenty of play, play, PLAY!
Unlike many other play-based preschools we visited, where it sometimes felt like the inmates were running the asylum, there's a well-ordered calmness to Berkeley Hills that brings a healthy balance and structure to the freedom and exuberance of the kids' play. The classroom is always tidy and well-organized, and kids quickly learn routines that foster self-reliance and help their mornings run like clockwork. The teachers have fantastic new projects for the kids every day, and many of their activities focus on seasonal themes (as I write this in January, the kids have just completed their exploration of penguins, which involved many penguin-oriented art projects and books). It's a great balance of structured activities and free time that allows the kids to explore their own interests and develop friendships.
So halfway through our son's year in the Red Room, we couldn't be happier. He's a shy kid and something of a homebody, but he can't wait to get out the door to school in the morning, and he comes home happy and energized every single day. He has bonded like crazy with his teachers, and I am particularly grateful to them for their calm and loving handling of the mild separation anxiety he had in the early weeks of school (they were especially reassuring with me as well, and I probably needed it more than him!).
Berkeley Hills also manages to attract really great families - fun kids who have become close friends to our son, and great parents we have really enjoyed getting to know. It's a wonderful community, and we encourage any prospective parents to contact Terry and come by for a visit. Berkeley Hills Dad
After seeing a few posts on BPN from parents looking for an excellent, warm, play-based preschool for their children, I felt compelled to put in a plug for Berkeley Hills Nursery School.
We moved to the Bay Area this summer, so finding a good match for our soon to be 3 year-old was a definite concern of mine. I was so pleased to find Berkeley Hills - and even happier that they were glad to accept my two year-old to the program (pre-potty training and all!).
Well, three months in and I feel like we have found a surrogate extended family down here. The teachers are insightful, well-versed in child development, and most importantly LOVE our child. He is greeted with hugs and enthusiasm when we arrive every morning. The day is filled with regularly scheduled activities like circle time, stories, and lunch, as well as creative activities the teachers (and even parents) come up with to support what the kids are currently interested in. When I come to pick up my child in the afternoon, I always hear a funny or touching story about something he did that day. Literally every day for the first three weeks of school, he would walk out at the end of the day declaring ''Mom, school was great!'' And this is a child who had previously never been away from me more than a few hours at a time.
Other things I love about Berkeley Hills: parent involvement is welcomed and encouraged, but not to an extent that demands too much of mom and dad's precious time. The community of parents is wonderful and quite social. The days/hours are flexible if you sometimes need a little extra time. Honestly, I just can't say enough positive things about the school. If you are looking for a supportive, close-knit community for your child next fall, please check out Berkeley Hills Nursery School. You won't be disappointed. Happy BHNS parent
I would like to encourage anyone in need of a Pre-k or 3-4 year old program for their child to look into Berkeley Hills Nursery School! Both of my children have flourished there. Every morning they eagerly ask if it's ''a school day.''
The teachers have created a warm, nurturing environment that my children have always felt extremely comfortable in since day one. The atmosphere is upbeat and fun, with numerous activities to satisfy all the children's interests.
The teachers more than adequately prepared my oldest child for kindergarten. Important kindergarten readiness skills were cleverly woven into their everyday activities. The children learn to focus and listen during circle time and work out various social dilemmas during group discussions.
This has been an extremely happy place for my entire family. The sense of community is great, and we've made connections that will last a lifetime. Happy Parent
I am pleased to let you know that Berkeley Hills Nursery School has openings this fall for children who will be 4 years old by September 2012.
I am the father of 2 kids who went through Berkeley Hills, the second of whom will finish this summer.
We could not be happier with our experience here. The teachers are extremely dedicated to their mission and seem to be constantly adding to their skills in providing a well-rounded play-based experience for all the children in their care. Our children could not wait for each school day to begin and bolted out the door to get there.
Our oldest child is in now in 1st grade. Her experience at Berkeley Hills Nursery School more than prepared her for elementary school. Her transition was seamless and she entered kindergarten confident, ready to learn and better prepared than most of her classmates.
I strongly encourage you to consider Berkeley Hills Nursery School. Visit their classes, speak to the teachers and any of the parents.
I could go on and on but feel free to contact me with any questions. Jay
Re: Pre-K going horribly for almost 5 year old boy
Just wanted to put in a good word for Berkeley Hills Nursery School. I know from personal experience that this school works with children and families to meet the needs of each child. There are current openings in the 4-5 year old room. The program in play based and very aware of the energy that 4-5 year old boys (and girls!) have. The teachers' approach to the children is very hands on and they quite successfully engage the children in play, allow for creative exploration, and redirect behavior in a loving, yet firm manner. Check it out...it might be perfect for your son! Happy BHNS Parent
Re: Preschool in North Oakland or surroundings?
Have you discovered Berkeley Hills Nursery School? (1161 Sterling Ave., Berkeley; http://www.berkeleyhills.org/; (510) 849-1216). We've had one child there the last 2 years and another entering this fall. We have loved every day there, as has our older child! The directors are fantastic, the teachers enthusiastic and the parent community supportive and fun. We highly recommend Berkeley Hills Nursery School and strongly encourage you to contact them. BHNS Fan
Re: Preschool in North Oakland or surroundings?
Hi! My son, who recently turned 4, has been attending Berkeley Hills Nursery School for the past year and we love it. The 3 teachers in each of 2 classrooms are very good--engaged, caring, and experienced. The program is balanced between free play and structured projects, which become more elaborate in the 4- and 5-year-old classroom, and what we've especially appreciated is the social development. The teachers are excellent at facilitating the interactions between the kids, teaching them how to get along and work things out, and making their behavior expectations clear. The kids seem so nice and well-adjusted, and I really do chalk a lot of it up to how the teachers handle the classes. It's a charming little school, not too big, and the play yard for the 4- and 5-year olds has a really neat structure built into the hillside! They happen to have some openings in the 4-and-5-year-old room for fall, because a bunch of the kids from last year are staying in the younger kids' room as they are not turning 4 in time to move up. School goes from 9-1, but on Tues, Wed & Thurs you can do extra hours (''cozy time'') till 3 pm, and on Monday afternoons the 4- and 5-year-olds go to their own class at Lawrence Hall of Science. The school is next door to a cute little park where parents and kids tend to hang out after school, so it's easy to get to know the other families. Check out their website and give them a call! Happy BHNS parent
Re: Play based pre-school for 2.9 year old
I can highly recommend Berkeley Hills Nursery School (www.berkeleyhills.org). We were very impressed with our child's play-based development in the Red Room (ages 2.9-4) and are even more thrilled by the progress we see in the Blue Room (ages 4-5). The directors, Terry and Franca, are very experienced and their staff is excellent. I encourage you to contact the school, pay a visit and talk with some of the parents whose children are in or have been in this wonderful pre-school. Happy, happy BHNS parent
Has anyone had a child recently attend Berkeley Hills Nursery School (BHNS)? Likes and dislikes? Did you look at other programs? Did your child attend public or private school after BHNS? Are alumni/enrolled families satisfied with their experiences there? Would you recommend the school? -Thank you
Where do kids go? Children go on to both private and public schools. We are in the Berkeley public schools, others in Albany, Orinda, etc. Good luck! js
Maybe this simple exchange I had today with a first year parent will shed some light. I gave a talk at the first orientation meeting at the beginning of the school year. I started this talk out by saying (with a smile, being both serious and silly) kCongratulations, you just chose the best nursery school in the worldm. This parent told me she thought kWell thatms a bit presumptuousm. But today she told me she totally gets how come I said it, because that is exactly how she now feels. BHNS parent and lovin' it
If you are considering Berkeley Hill Nursery School as a choice for your pre-schooler, I think you will be very happy. My 3 1/2 year old son has been going since September and just loves it. He loves his teachers very much and has grown tremendously since attending. He comes home excited every day and tells us what they played with or learned in school. Lately they have been learning about maps and it is so cute to hear how much fun he has had and how much he has absorbed. The teachers have BHNS have a wealth of knowledge and experience. They teach the children through play, art, music and conversations. They let the children's interest guide them in what subjects they do next.
As a parent I love how BHNS fosters community. We have parent socials to get to know each other better. We have had pot lucks, Mom's nights out and coffee socials. Because you gained this new community of friends, you feel comfortable leaving your child for play dates. When you switch off which family takes the kids, you get yourself some extra free time! All in all it has been a wonderful experience for the whole family and I can highly recommend BHNS. jennifer
We are considering Berkeley Hills Nursery School and wondered if anyone has any current opinions and information about it. deborah
Re: Preschools with good playgrounds
I was pretty impressed with Berkeley Hills Nursery school--they have an interesting set-up regarding the outdoor area. One area is on multiple and safe levels. Another area is flat with slides, swings, bouncy, springy things. And, a sweet little park abuts the school on one side. It is located in the North Berkeley hills, kind of a trek but a wonderful school nonetheless. marquezfan
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