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Chatham School (Oakland, CA)

To view licensing information at the State's Licensing Office for a preschool or childcare site, including inspection dates, citations, and complaints, click "view" next to the License #. See this page for info about daycare and preschool reviews on the BPN website.

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Preschools & Daycare > Chatham School

39th Ave. Site
  • Owner: Maureen Vasquez
  • Phone: (510) 531-1534
  • Email:
  • Neighborhood: Redwood Heights
  • Zip: 94619
  • License #: 013414363 (view)
  • Capacity: 44
  • Website:
  • Bilingual:
  • Ages: 2 - 5 years
Redwood Rd. Site
  • Owner: Maureen Vasquez
  • Phone: (510) 531-1302
  • Email:
  • Neighborhood: Redwood Heights
  • Zip: 94619
  • License #: 013418176 (view)
  • Capacity: 111
  • Website:
  • Bilingual:
  • Ages: 0 - 5 years

Looking at Chatham for infant care

April 2014

I am looking into infant day care options and came across Chatham School. Does anyone have any recent experience with Chatham? I'm interested in hearing reviews for Chatham beyond infant care too. Thank you! First time mom

As a type A, full time working mom, I looked everywhere in the east bay for the perfect daycare for my first born daughter. I was determined, no matter what the price, to place her in a safe, caring place. Though there are schools out there that look better on the surface- more modern facilities, polished teachers etc., there was no place I found as genuine as Chatham. It happens to be very affordable and has very low turn over in teachers- I mean, most have been there for years, if not decades. It is nestled under a church on Redwood Road and I like that it is a hidden gem. Most importantly, my girl is happy there and loves going. I really thought I would end up shifting her to a high dollar Montessori, but, I am so happy with the play based program and the honesty of the staff that I will keep her there until she starts school. Gina
Oct 2013

Re: Preschool Near Dimond District Oakland

My child attends Chatham Preschool which is a large preschool (they have two campuses - 39th Ave and Redwood Road) in the Laurel/ Redwood Heights area, not far from you. We've been happy with the attention our child gets there; they have caring staff and a pretty well-organized curriculum which includes plenty of free play time. It is affordable, and they serve lunch and snacks. They do have a spring break week and a week off in August as well - you can check the calendar on their website. Chatham parent

Definitely check out Chatham School! They have two campuses, one smaller one on 39th Ave. (near Redwood Heights Elementary) and another just up Redwood Road. We just started our daughter @ the 39th Ave. campus and we are so, so pleased. It was actually the least expensive preschool we checked out but we were in agreement that it was the best fit for our daughter. It is not fancy or superstructured, but laid-back and warm, and the kids play their little hearts out, do a ton of art, and learn, learn, learn, learn. Half their day is spent outside in an outdoor classroom. Lunch and snacks are provided and their open hours are great, 7:30am to 6pm. Happy at Chatham
May 2013

Re: Oakland Daycare Recommendations
Not sure if you are looking for an in-home daycare, but my child attends Chatham Preschool, which has infant/ toddler daycare as well. We didn't use them until my child was 3 so I don't have personal experience, but hear other parents have been happy with the daycare, and the staff seem kind and attentive from what I see when I walk by. Another plus would be that your child could transition to preschool there later on. (We're definitely happy with the preschool. They have two sites, but there is only infant/ toddler daycare at the Redwood Road site.) Chatham parent

July 2011

Re: Full-time preschool needed in Oakland ASAP
Try Chatham School on Redwood Road. They have two campuses. My daughter has been going to the one at 4500 Redwood Road for two years and we love it. The price is right, too. For full time (M-F, 7:30 am - 6:00 pm) it's under $1,000 per month. Happy Chatham Mom

Jan 2011

Re: Oakland/Berkeley Preschools with Caring Teachers
I'm sure almost all preschools have caring teachers. But I don't have a problem recommending Chatham preschool, the upper campus on Redwood Road. It is a play-based school, and they have a lot of space for a library, a fine motor skills area, a dress-up and pretend area, and two outdoor sand play areas, plus an outside asphault area. But they include learining activities too, with singing, counting, animals in the room, days of the week, months of the year etc.

The director can come across to many as a bit unorganized, but she works hard on getting good staff and staff that work well together. they have separate rooms for infants, toddlers, young kids, and then the 4 year olds and 5 year olds work together.

They also provide lunch, which, while maybe not the most organic and healthy has its pluses. When everyone easts the same food, the kids are more likely to try something they might not otherwise try with an open mind. And they have plenty of fruits and vegetables for snacks.

Our now-Kindergardener was very happy there. Bryan in Oakland

Nov 2010

Re: Part time preschools in Redwood Heights
Try Chatham Preschool ( All 3 of my kids went through Chatham on a part-time basis and loved it. The director's name is Maureen Vasquez. The two campuses are on 39th Ave, right next to Redwood Heights Elementary school, and about half-way up Redwood Rd. Good luck! Happy Chatham Alumni

April 2010

Re: Toddler-to-Preschool program for 18-month old
For an Oakland play-based pre-school that is structured and caring, I'd recommenend Chatham school. The Redwood Road campus is spacious (opening more space in the fall too) with library room, music room, role-playing area, a ''circle-time'' area and a lunch area. Ourdoors is either concrete or big sand-box area, but they have toys, balls, bikes, and plenty of space. Lunch is provided, and is varied. Cost is reasonable, and I believe there are 3, 4, and 5 day options.

The staff is great, the director maybe a bit scattered, but they care about the kids. They accommodate infants, toddlers, and pre-school kids, and my son has made some great friends. Note that Chatham also has a lower campus next to Redwood Heights Elementary, but I am not familar with that facility. anon

Sept 2009: Chatham Pre School (Redwood Road Campus)

My son has just started Kindergarten after 3 wonderful years at Chatham Pre School(Redwood Road) 510 531 1302. When he left he told me he was sad but happy as although he really loved his old teachers he was so excited to grow. Each day I realize what a fabulous job they did preparing him for Kindergarten. On his first day I told him how brave he had been and he turned to me and said why would I be scared I knew I was going to have a good day.

We had no tears, true confidence, and he has developed a great balance between play and a love for learning. Chatham is a play based pre school but they do a great job of mixing this with the academics he needed to be ready,( ABC'S, Writing, Shapes, Colors etc), social interaction,a school day structure and class expectations.

After a great week at his Kindergarten he asked to go back and visit his pre school to see his old teachers.He does miss them, he truly cares for them, but he was excited to share his new stage of learning with them. They have created a happy and content Kindergartener. What more could you ask for from any Pre school?. Cathy

August 2009

Chatham preschool has been an amazing experience for my two sons. Both the toddler and preschool rooms (we did not have any children in the baby room) have wonderful, caring teachers who give all of the students a lot of personal attention. We began at the Redwood Campus when it opened in early 2006 and have been thrilled with our experience the whole way through. I can't say enough about how great the teachers are - especially Janeen, Olivia and Doreen. You can feel how much they care about the students and both of my sons adore them. I love that it is a play based school and even so, my children have learned so much - with enthusiasm. The school encourages and nourishes an appreciation for diversity, and provides a fun, safe environment for the children. The resources are great (books, projects, etc...) and the activities are quite creative! Maureen is amazingly dedicated and truly cares about the children. We could not have asked for a better preschool experience! Happy Chatham parent for 3+ years

June 2009

Re: Full-time preschools for less than $1000/month?
I would highly like to recommend Chatham School. I know it has gotten bad reviews here in the past, but my children have all gone (and sitll going) there and they love it. I believe it's less than $1,000 including hot lunches and long schedule (7:30- 6:00), I have 2 currently attending, so with sibling discount is a bit less than $2,000. My oldest has done great academically and socially in Kindergarten after attending Chatham. She has also remained friends with her friends from pre-school. There is usually a waiting list, but I do not know what the status is for next year. Good luck- anon

May 2009

My daughter has gone to Chatham school for almost 3 years now. She is four and started off at the Redwood Road campus. We loved the teachers at Redwood and appreciated the fun activities, warm lunches, and lots of outdoor time. Last school year we moved to the 39th Avenue campus. We felt like it was a good move for our daughter. There is a wonderful outdoor play space and lots of free time for the children to explore the small wonders of nature. The school has amazing amounts of quality, tactile play activities for each developmental age. We have found the teachers at Chatham attentive and we really like the convenience of the school. They provide snacks, lunches, and are open from 7:30 to 6:00pm. My daughter is very close to her friends and we will miss them all next year when we move on to kinder. If you're looking for a rigorous academic pre-k program Chatham isn't for you. This play based preschool that isn't particularly dogmatic about its educational philosophy. Go for a visit and see if it's right for your child. I like that my daughter comes home covered in paint and sand in her shoes after a happy day of learning, exploring, and being with her friends. Chatham parent

April 2009

I would highly recommend Chatham Preschool Redwood Road site. My daughter attended preschool there and loved it. The program is ''play based'' but very educational. She has learned so much in her two years there. The teachers are very loving. My daughter has really thrived there and is well prepared for kindergarten - we have been very pleased by our decision to send her to Chatham. We also get a lot for our money - full days (7:30 - 6:00), lunch and snacks included, not too many days during the year when the school is closed. My daughter is safe, well cared for, happy, loved, and learning...what more could I ask for in a preschool? MH

April 2009

I would like to highly recommend Chatham School for infant and toddler care. I had a hard time finding care for my newborn baby. I was looking for a day care setting and was so glad to have found Chatham. My daughter started there when she was 4 months old. The caregivers in the baby room are truly amazing. We were so pleased with their loving and attentive care, their attention to sanitation, their close communication with parents. At age 1, my daughter moved into the toddler room, where she continues to thrive. She does all kinds of art projects, learns manners and how to interact with other children, is learning new words daily, knew her colors by age 18 mos, etc. We have been so pleased and intend to keep her at Chatham thru preschool. We get our money's worth - full day, lunch included, few holidays. Our daughter is safe, happy, and thriving. We couldn't be more pleased. Contact: Maureen Vasquez, 510-531-1302

Jan 2009

I highly recommend Chatham School. My son attended Chatham until he started Kindergarten. He also enjoyed Chatham daycare from 6 months old until he was ready for preschool. Choosing Chatham was the best decision we could have made. He was in a fun, safe learning environment with caring teachers. The school director Maureen Vasquez was so supportive throughout years. My son just adored her and I could tell she feels likewise about the children. So, if your stressing out about where to send your child, look no further than Chatham School (510/531-1534), which is located next to Redwood Heights Elementrary School. A. K.

Nov 2007

Does anyone have recent experience with Chatham Preschool on 39th in Redwood Heights? I read previous reviews and there were A LOT, but all centered around the scuttlebutt over the over-enrollment and consequent letting go of a number of students. Is that whole fiasco behind Chatham? How are the families currently enrolled feeling about the administration (ie Maureen) and teachers? Any other concerns? I'm going to visit the school but wanted to hear it straight from the parents. THANKS MUCH! Anon

Hi, I am a parent of 2 children both have gone to Chatham. We were there when there was the over enrollment problem. That is all behind Chatham now, for about 2 years. We love Chatham, the teachers are great, very loving and caring. There are about 4 teachers per 44 children in our group, the older group (Giraffes). Maureen is wonderful, very caring and very responsive to our needs. Both of my children have had great experiences at Chatham. I like the program, they provide hot lunches, nap time, outdoor play time and are open from 7:30 to 6 pm which is great for working parents. They have teachers that speak many languages and try to teach the children to count in all these languages. My son brings home art work every day, there is cooking and sharing, circle time and holiday programs. I think this is a very well rounded school and I have been very satisfied. Linda
Our daughter was at Chatham for a year from summer 2005 (soon after the overenrollment mishap) to summer 2006 from age 2.5 to 3.5 and she had a very good experience. Yes Maureen can be a bit disorganized, but from what we could tell, she does her most important task well -- she hires really good people who really care for the kids. dan
Sept 2006

I would love to hear people's thoughts about Chatham School, eg, why did you or did you not send your child there? My child is 16 months old and I know that they just opened their new campus this past February. Thanks for any opinions! KW

In reference to KW's request for information about Chatham School and the new Redwood Campus, I just wanted to write in and say that I have had my now 1 yr old son there two mornings a week since the Redwood Campus opened, and have been thoroughly delighted with the care he has received. The caregivers, Martha and Mary in particular, are very warm and loving to the kids. I feel confident leaving my baby there because I know the women working at Chatham are highly competent childcare providers who are truly committed to providing the best possible environment for the children. As for the campus itself, it has improved tremendously since it opened. There is a lot of wonderful colorful art and pictures on the walls, and the playground seems to get better and better with each passing week. All in all, I feel Chatham is a safe, positive environment for my little one. I couldn't be happier
Chatham has been a very hot topic in the BPN this year, particularly the new Redwood Campus. I've seen many rants recently and all with good reason from the point of view they were written. My experience, however, has been quite positive. Looking at Chatham from the point of view of the student (my son) it's been GREAT. He loves his teachers, he adores his friends, he's learning things all the time....I can't imagine pulling him out unless I absolutely had to. Which brings me to the ''parent'' point of view which so many of the recent complaints have been from. The administration can be ''flaky'' (for lack of a better word), unorganized and confusing. I've been taking it all in with a grain of salt. It's a new campus and there are bound to be issues with ANY new business. There have been personnel turnover and communication mix-ups, but we just keep going with the flow knowing that our son is safe and happy. And those 2 things, to me, are much more important that the ''she said, she said'' that's been flying around lately. The director may not be the most business- minded person I've ever met, but her heart is with the kids. Everything she does, is for the kids, and I'd rather deal with messed up paperwork, conflicting information regarding tuition, etc, that with someone who doesn't care about the growth, happiness, and safety of my child. That said, we've been VERY happy with the new campus, given the difficulties of the past year. happy chatham family
To those considering Chatham, I would proceed cautiously. I enrolled my child in the preschool's part-time program for fall 2006, paid my deposit, and received a welcome packet and confirmation letter that my child had a spot reserved. We participated in play dates at the school this summer. Then just three weeks before school was to start, I was told over the phone by Maureen Vasquez, the director, that my child no longer had a spot. The reason I was given: Chatham was no longer offering part-time slots. Maureen was unapologetic about the short notice, tried to blame the situation on me, and gave me no suggestions about where I might look to find a new preschool. I was appalled and shocked to be treated so coldly by a preschool director, especially considering that our previous encounters were always friendly. And yes I was aware that she dropped numerous families from her program earlier this spring with no notice whatsoever due to licensing issues. When I spoke with her about it, she told me that my child would not be affected. I made the mistake of believing this previous incident was a one-time oversight and accepted her word. jw
I'd be wary of the new Chatham campus. I've had bad experiences there and am currently looking for a new place to place our child. They continue to have administrative issues-- all of a sudden charging kids for lunches while it was supposedly originally part of the cost, suddenly charging hefty $50 if you forget to sign in/out (which though I agree with the concept to emphasize the sign in/out, I thought it was handled awkwardly-- one day there was a bold posting 'from now on you will be charged $50...' whereas they could've included a pleasant letter in the boxes explaining the importance of the matter instead), switching teachers back-n-forth (how is a child supposed to adapt to that?), changing the location of the playground to a steep end of the parking lot without notifying parents, etc. Needless to say I would not reco. this preschool. I'm sure there are good points (ie. some of the teachers are obviously experienced and stand out as a hopeful example to the others), but this is just from my experience and input I've had from other parents. You may view it as a short- term solution, but think about the implication--- once your child gets used to it, it will be harder to take him/her out of it. Good luck Helpful Parent
In response to Chatham Preschool! Our daughter started there and we totally love it! The director and teachers are very generous and kind people. They treat our child as well as all the other children as one of her own. We feel very comfortable and that it is a very safe environment. We chose Chatham because of their flexibility with our schedule and the curriculum. We were referred by other parents who go there as well and are as happy as we are! Our child has learned so much in the short time that she has been there. We are really very impressed and plan to finish our child’s education there! Please note, we have heard negative press on the BPN, but most of those postings were grossly exaggerated. All schools have their growing pains! Hope this helps with your decision! Happy Chatham Parent!
Regarding the $50 charge if you do not sign in your child. The reason for this charge is because some parents have forgotton to do so. Someone has to be responsble for their child. If there was some sort of emergency or disaster, your child would not be accounted for if they were not properly signed in. Who would be resoponsible then??? Also, the State Liscensing Borad requires that all children be signed in and out. If they are not, the School is fined quite heavily for each and every infraction. I believe that Chatham was fined for a parent who didn't sign in and out their child several times and it was a lot more than $50! I am sure you could find out the exact amount from the director if you were interested. They told the parents several times before and no one seem to pay attention until there was a charge if you didn't follow the rules. I guess someone found the right currency to get their attention! This rule doesn't bother me because when I drop my child off, I always sign them in! Cheers! Proud Chatham Parent
August 2006

Parents, be VERY careful if you're considering enrolling your child at Chatham Preschool. Maureen terminated us after ONE month of being there because she had a change in policy and did not want to accomodate part time students. She claims she did not forsee this change and that she struggled with wanting to accomodate everyone. Hhowever, she's known she wants to make the school full time even BEFORE accepting us. Her excuse for terminating us is because she felt the part time kids were not making friends as easily with the rest of the kids who are there full time. The real reason, I believe, is because she wants to free up a spot for a full time student. She's entitled to do that, of course. However, parents are entitled to honesty and forthright dealings with her when it comes to our children.

March 2006

Two families we know just had their kids spontaneously dropped from Chatham Preschool with no advance notice and no explanation from the school's administrator, Maureen, beyond, ''We're over- enrolled and your child can't come back tomorrow.'' (?!?) Not even ONE day's notice! Now we've heard that a total of 12 children have been kicked out and that the school has been flagged for licensing violations by the State of California. Are there any other parents who can tell us what's going on? Our child is very happy there and we've been impressed with the teachers, but now we're really concerned. We'd like to ask some pointed questions at the school, but we're afraid our child could be next to get a ''pink slip.'' Does anyone out there have better information? Are there serious problems there? Is my child at risk? Do other parents know what's going on? What are these ''licensing violations''? Which kids are getting kicked out and why? Why aren't other parents being told what's going on? If we had to go somewhere else, we'd really be up a creek, but we're trying to decide if we should start looking. Does anyone know of openings at any preschools in the Redwood Heights, Montclair, Piedmont, or Glenview areas? Any advice or information about this from other parents at Chatham (or even teachers there who want to post anonymously) would be welcome. Signed, Concerned Chatham Parents

Chatham School let 14 families go last week. The families were told not to bring their child back the next day or the director would be fined. Her license is for 40 children and she enrolled 54. The director, Maureen Vasquez, was warned 2 weeks prior to the note the families received in their files. There were no suggestions of places to go and no effort made by Maureen to communicate by person. The teachers explained the situation. The parents certainly cannot withdraw their children with less than 24 hour notice. The families deserved the courteousy of a 2 week warning. was a Chatham Parent
The complaint file and citation record for state-licensed child care centers are public information. If you have the address and license holder or business owner's name, that is all you need to see the file. Contact your local State of California Community Care Licensing Department, Child Care Division (the Oakland office which handles most east bay licensees is at 510- 622-2602). Parents can check the files of any center or licensed family child care (in-home) before or after enrolling a child. been there
Call the licensing agency and ask. -Safety in certainty, our policy.
In response to your questions about seems Maureen knew about the over capacity since September. I was told by a teacher that she was just hoping to ride it out as the older kids graduated this summer.

My daughter was enrolled in the half day program. Needless to say I was blown away as I dropped her off that there was a three-line message in her art folder. Maureen told me that ALL kids who were not full-time(M-F all day) were let go, regardless of tenure or if another sibling was enrolled. It was absolutely handled the wrong way. The teachers knew nothing about this: who was let go, why, and if their own jobs were now in peril due to the numbers shrinking. I dont know exactly how many families were let go...but I thought it was more than just the 14 mentioned in another email. My daughter was very happy at Chatham. She had her ''best friends'' and also had made close bonds with the teachers there. I think as far as a nurturing environment, the teachers never faltered. I am devastated for my daughter and at this point it would be the only reason for me to evaluate returning in June or prior.

My overall view of the operations of Maureen at the school is disorganization and very poor communication. I saw examples of this during the x-mas program which was chaos, and just simple messages to the parents about buying class pictures or calendar changes. She would do right in hiring someone, even a parent on a part-time basis, to handle these type of communications to the parents to avoid communication/pr disasters that affect the school, its image and most importantly the kids.

Lastly Maureen called me the next day, after our ''excommunication'', offering me the new campus location. Why would I return to Chatham only to have my daughter exposed to new teachers and a new location? If I am going to return to Chatham it is to what she knew as her school and her teachers- the campus on 39th.

And as a courtesy and to not face attrition in the future Maureen should have stepped in and faced the fines for a month so as to give the parents time to find a new place. She also should return the pro-rated amount of yearly registration to all those families she kicked out. Chatham parent

I wanted to respond to the questions and concerns posted recently about Chatham. I have 2 children there now and despite the recent administrative turmoil, the kids are happy and we are staying. Here's what I know -- some direct from Maureen, the director, and some from other parents: A parent was concerned that there were too many kids at Chatham; the school is licensed for 44, given its square footage (not including the large back yard where the kids spend quite a bit of time). Instead of approaching Maureen, the parent called the inspectors, alleging that there were 80 kids on the premises. The inspectors did a couple of surprise visits (standard for them). At the first visit, there were 44 or fewer kids. The inspector came back another day, however, and found 52 kids, i.e., 8 too many. Note that at no time was there a problem with the teacher to student ratios in any of the classrooms (i.e., Maureen was not getting rich off those 8 extra kids on any given day!). Several families had had their children there part-time last year and then this year asked to increase their hours, many to full- time. Maureen, who is just wonderful with the children, is not the most expert administrator, and apparently she did not want to say ''No'' to any of these families. This was clearly a mistake, and she is suffering the consequences. She also made the bad mistake of not communicating directly with the families that she was forced to let go -- she left notes in the children's folders for the parents to pick up and read. 20 families, mostly with 1 part-time child each, were affected, and many of them, totally understandably, are really mad! I do want to clarify, though, that while Maureen obviously needs some administrative help (and someone who can say ''No!''), she is a very good person who has created a really wonderful, nurturing environment for my kids and I am really grateful to her for that. Doing OK at Chatham
I missed your initial question in the newsletter, but I assume you are speaking of the recent situation at Chatham where 40 (yes 40!) children were released with no notice after the school was inspected and found to be over capacity. I can't describe as a parent how angry I am at the fact that a director who supposedly has so much experience would be so incredibly irresponsible. Not only did she put all of our children at risk by knowingly (she herself told me she has known since September that she was over capacity but thought she'd ''ride out the school year'') functioning at over capacity, but she notified parents with a very impersonal note in their childs' box at a time of the year that it is almost impossible to find a new preschool for our children. In general prior to this incident I had some questions about the director Maureen, in particular, I felt that her communication skills with parents were lacking (now I know I was right). The teachers at Chatham were very caring, however, and Becky and Tina in particular were favorites of my son. I go into my new preschool search with the new found knowledge that even the best teachers can't make up for an inept director -- I would STRONGLY warn anyone with a child attending Chatham to stay on top of Maureen if you plan on continuting there so that this same thing doesn't happen to you and your child. And if you are new to the preschool search - look closely at the director as well as the teachers since it is clear that a poor director will ultimately result in a poor experience for you and your children. Feel free to contact me by email if you would like! A concerned parent
It really saddens me to hear anything negative about Chatham, the teachers or the director. I have known Maureen Vasquez, the director, for many years and have been employed as a teacher there as well. When my child came of age to attend Chatham, I was thrilled! I am still thrilled because I believe Chatham is a GREAT school and Maureen does a GREAT job. I think the only flaw that I can find in the school is that Maureen is too nice and too accomadating. When parents want to add more days, Maureen says sure. When parents want enroll the siblings without any prior notice...Maureen says of course! She is defiantely a people pleaser and she loves the kids as if they were her own. Yes, people make mistakes, and the school was over enrolled and Chatham was sited. Isn't that why they opened another campus? Please note: Chatham was ONLY sited for over enrollment. there were NO safety issues and Chatham was NOT sited for anything else. The student teacher ratio has always been what it is suppose to be. Maybe we weren't warned in advance, but the bottom line is that Chatham is a great school and our children are happy and thriving there. Instead of causing chaos and ill will, why don't we learn from our mistakes and be a proactive in regards to our school! No one is going to be ''pink slipped'' for asking quesitons. Maureen is totally approachable and if you have concerns, go to the source. Be happy that your child is still enrolled and not on the waiting list like my child is. We WILL be back! Proud Chatham Parent
March 2005

There are some fairly positive reviews of this school that are a year or more old. Does anyone have anything recent to say about it? Specifically, what do you think about the facility, and about the fact that the kids spend so much time outdoors? When I went there, it seemed great, although it was pretty cold indoors and actually seemed just a bit crowded. The kids all seemed like they were having fun, though. janet

Our son is in his first year at Chatham, and we have had a VERY positive experience there. Some of the highlights:

-- teachers: We love all of the teachers. Our son had a tough transition when he began preschool, and the teachers were wonderful in helping him with the adjustment. They are very caring, attentive, and safety-conscious. The teachers come from diverse backgrounds and are quite experienced, and our son has grown to love each and every one of them.

-- director: Maureen is very dedicated to the preschool and the students. She spends an enormous amount of time and energy in making Chatham a happy, safe environment for the kids and takes the time to get to know each and every child. She is very accessible to the parents and is accomodating when it comes to issues like schedule changes.

-- facility: I looked at a lot of preschools and found Chatham to be one of the cleaner, more presentable schools. It is not enormous, but I have never found it to be overcrowded since only half of the kids are inside at once and then that group is divided into the three different rooms. I have never had a problem with the temperature. I think it used to get really hot and stuffy during the summer but Maureen installed ventilation to help with that, and I've never felt during the winter that it is too cold inside.

-- curriculum: I have been very impressed with the diverse and creative curriculum. I'm amazed at the different art and cooking projects, monthly themes, topics for circle time and share day, etc. I also LOVE that the kids spend so much time outside. I think Chatham strikes a good balance between time inside when the kids are playing/learning (even though Chatham is a play-based school, I cannot believe the academics that our son has learned!) and time outside when they are running around having fun and getting FILTHY. It's great that the backyard has a covered patio so the kids can get outside even when it's raining. Trixie

May 2004

I have two daughters who have attended Chatham Pre-school over the last seven years. Both have thrived and blossomed during their time there. I feel fully assured that they have been in the best care while I am at work. I highly recommend considering Chatham for your pre-school child for the following reasons;
- Caring and consistent staff
- Focus on learning through play
- Staff is multi-lingual and multi-ethnic
- If there is a problem, it is handled promptly
- Excellent enrichment programs (music, foreign language, etc.) are offered
- Flexibility in schedules and working with the parents -Beth

I am writing on behalf of Chatham Pre-School. I am the grandmother of a 5-year-old girl who has attended Chatham for two years. When she began in the spring of 2002, I spent almost every morning at the school with her for one month. During this time I had the opportunity to observe the teachers, the program, and the facility.

As a licensed psychologist with a 20 year private practice in Oakland and as a specialist in working with children, the environment for our granddaughter was very important to me as well as her parents. We recognized she needed a program that encouraged the use of her imagination.

Chatham provides a relaxed atmosphere that emphasizes social experiences and creativity. Although academics are not ignored, they are not the primary focus. There is a wonderful, easy relationship between the children and teachers with a great deal of patience on the part of the adults and an emphasis on “refocusing” children who are having difficulty.

Our granddaughter loves going to school, has made good friends with other children, has never complained of ill treatment by the teachers and has never resisted going to school. I continue to go to the school on a regular basis and I am quite fond of the staff there.

I have been the most impressed by the director’s choice of teachers. My granddaughter has a wonderful relationship with kind, interested, and loving adults. Teachers who are critical or scolding with the children do not stay after several warnings. I cannot say enough about Karen, Shirley, Guadalupe and Jenna who are true jewels. Chatham has a wonderful diversity of staff as well as children. My granddaughter is graduating soon but I know she will have fond memories of Chatham, as do I.

Elizabeth Blacklock, Ph.D

April 2004

My son will be graduating from Chatham preschool this June after attending one year there. He will be attending Bentley in the fall. I was looking for a pre-K program and did not get into one, but we are very happy with Chatham. It is a large program with a lot of diverse children and teachers. The teachers are very good with the children very caring and adapt to their needs. My son wanted to do more ''homework'' activities so the teachers bought him his own workbooks and worked with him. Soon, a lot of the other children wanted to do ''homework'' too. The art teacher, Tudi, is great. She spends the afternoons there doing art projects every day. There is also music and Spanish. There is circle time daily where they learn the alphabet letters. This is not a very academic school, but it is fun for the kids and they make a lot of friends.

The director, Maureen, is on site all day long and has been upgrading the interior with new cabinets and a ceiling fan so it is not too hot in the summer now. The meals are balanced and I appreciated not having to send a lunch. I think the kids enjoy all the outside time that is offered and if the weather is bad, they can go inside or stay under the covered porch and do art projects. My son enjoys this school a lot and I highly recommend it as a well rounded play-based preschool. Linda

My name is Alison and I am an Oakland Public School Teacher. My son Eli attends Chatham Pre-school while I am at work. Eli and I both love the Chatham Pre-school community. He has been attending Chatham since he was two, and now he is four and a half. He has blossomed under the care of Maureen Vasquez and her staff.

I find the Chatham campus to be well maintained, and tended with care. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and my son enjoys the stimulating, safe environment. In addition to my being a pleased parent, I have enjoyed being the Chatham Music Teacher. It is a positive campus atmosphere, which led me to share my teaching skills with the Chatham community.

As a parent, and a professional educator, I am well pleased to recommend Chatham Pre-school to any family seeking a creative, safe, nurturing, learning environment for their child. -Alison

My almost three-year old son started at Chatham Pre-school in January '04 and we are very happy with the school. He loves it and has made a lot of friends. Among other things he does artwork, circle/sharing time, reading, cooking, gymnastics and lots of outdoor play. He loves being outdoors and when it is a little rainy, there is a covered area where there are many activities that the children can take part in. If it is really cold and wet, the children do not go outdoors. The teachers are all very kind and our son loves them all. Chatham is an excellent developmentally focused, child-oriented pre-school and we've signed up again for next year. - Leigh
I have two daughters who have attended Chatham Pre-school over the last seven years. Both have thrived and blossomed during their time there. I feel fully assured that they have been in the best care while I am at work. I highly recommend considering Chatham for your pre-school child for the following reasons;
- Caring and consistent staff
- Focus on learning through play
- Staff is multi-lingual and multi-ethnic
- If there is a problem, it is handled promptly
- Excellent enrichment programs (music, foreign language, etc.) are offered
- Flexibility in schedules and working with the parents


March 2004

We live in Redwood Heights and I'm thinking about sending my toddler to the nearby Chatham School for preschool. I've read the archives but most of the comments are a few years old. I'd like to hear from other parents about their experiences with Chatham. I have visited the school a couple times and like certain things about it, but I am concerned about some aspects of the school. The facility seems a little rundown and not as clean & organized as I would have hoped. Also, the kids are outside a lot of the day (even when it isn't nice outside) and I'm concerned about what that is like in rainy or cold weather. I'd appreciate any feedback - both positive and negative! Mom of a preschooler

my kids were there from august 2002-august 2003 and i think some of the staff has changed since then. chatham was not my first choice but due to timing and availability, we ended up there. i think the kids were very happy there. they had a lots of friends and fun. i liked the fact that they were outside so much since (as you noticed) the inside is a little rundown and has no air conditioning. the outside are had a huge shady tree and a covered structure. the kids got really dirty so they must be having a good time!

because there was no air conditioning, it got really hot and stuffy inside during the summer, but the kids did not seem to be bothered. they were still able to nap.

i was glad not to have to make lunches.

one problem we had was that my daughter who is severely allergic to peanuts did have to go to the emergency room because of peanut exposure at chatham. there are not many school that are peanut-free, however.

in general, despite the drawbacks that i saw, the kids really enjoyed themselves there. mom of 2

May 2003

Re: 3 days a week play-based preschool

Chatham School in Oakland off 13 has a 3-day schedule, and the kids spend alot of time outside, which may be good for your son if he has alot of energy to unleash! We have been sending our 3.5 yr. old daughter there for a year now (she goes 3 half-days per week) and are very happy with the teachers and the program.

May 2003

Re: Preschool Programs for Two-Year-Olds

Chatham takes that young children. We've been really happy with the program. Here's the contact info: Chatham Nursery School 4359 39th Ave Oakland, CA 510.531.1534

Nov 2002

Our daughter graduated from Chatham School last summer - she's now in kindergarten. We feel that her experience at Chatham was excellent and prepared her well for kindergarten. Chatham is a developmental rather than academic preschool, which is exactly what we wanted. David

Oct 2001

Re: preschool for 2-year-old
Try Chatham School on 39th Ave next to Redwood Heights Elementary (HWY 13, take Redwood Rd./Carson St. exit). Our son started in Sept. when he was 2.7. It is a developmentally based program with a lot of flexibility. Kids can go 2,3 or 5 mornings a week, or attend the afternoon program. There is also drop-in care. The teachers are fantastic and our son loves it. Incidentally, the owner takes younger kids, 18 months to 2.9 or thereabouts to her house so if your child is not ready to be at Chatham, he/she could you to the owner's house and transition in as the year progresses. The phone# is 531-1534, the Director's name is Ann and the owner's name is Maureen. Petra

My son attended Chatham school four and five years ago. Mary, who owned Chatham and was the guiding spirit behind it, died. It was sold to Maureen Vasquez, who was/is a family home day care owner in the area. She had said she wanted to keep the school the same, very child centered, and developemental. The staff, all of whom were very experienced, and very good, stayed on, hoping to keep Chatham the same. In a period of months, most of the old staff left for other preschool jobs (to AOCS, the Lake School and other very well respected places). Sharon, a teacher who had been with the school for twenty years stayed on as director for a time but as of August, she was replaced.

We've maintained relationships with several of the teachers, since they live in our neighborhood, and some of their children attend the same school as our son. They are very unhappy with the way that the preschool has evolved...It has become much more like daycare, less child centered, and more "academic".

I've watched as an observer what is going on with the school... They've done large renovations, which disappointed me since it took a purpose built space and made it less special. I've also seen an empty refrigerator sit on their front porch with the door on for three weeks, which scared me in terms of safety. I talked briefly with the owner when I was looking at preschools for my younger daughter and was unimpressed... She seemed scattered and a bit unfocused. I know two parents of children in my sons class who have children there who have stuck it through these difficult transitions, and are not unhappy with it, though less happy with it than they had been. Myriam

My son has been happily attending Chatham for the last year and a half. Yes, there has been an obvious transition, but I must say it's been for the better. Debbie, who is my son's teacher and new director is AWESOME. She is nurturing these kids while organizing and evolving this school into the 21st century. All of the new teachers show an obvious love and pride for their work and the relationships they have with the children. My son even talks about his teachers on the weekends and picks flowers for them. I understand many people were attached to the old owner & philosophy (several of my friends included) and want the school to remain 'as is". But every day I walk in there, I see happy kids running around, playing with each other, making crafts, singing, cleaning up, etc. The kids are the most obvious sign that Chatham is moving in the right direction. It's clean, organized, and welcoming I would highly recommend this school. Especially if your children need nurturing, guidance, and a huge outdoor area to just "be kids". Several teachers have been helpful in recommending ways to help a child through a hard time, rather than making quick judgments. They are a source of strength and wisdom. We can't wait for our second child to attend next Fall. Molly
It's true that Chatham experienced a rough transition, and many parents feel we are around the bend and beginning a new sense of community. The current teachers are wonderful, kind-hearted and creative. Kids do lots of art, movement and music, stories and cooking projects. The population of students and teachers is culturally diverse, includes lesbian families and single parent families, and is very embracing of all types of students. We have particularly appreciated how the school has sensitively given children the opportunity to experience, have fun and learn about Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Chinese New Year and African American History month. The child-centered developmental approach is very much in place, I would not call this an academically focused school. Our son truly enjoys his time there, has made new friends, and we feel has shown growth in this setting. Teri and Karen
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