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Claremont Day Nursery on Woolsey/Claremont (Berkeley, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Preschools & Daycare > Claremont Day Nursery on Woolsey/Claremont


See also: Claremont Day Nursery in Kensington and Claremont Day Nursery on College Ave
Sepy 2012

I have seen some inquiries regarding Claremont Day so I thought I would add my two cents. My daughter attended Claremont Day Nursery (the Claremont Campus) from the time she was 3 to age 5. We felt the environment to be educational, engaging, loving, playful and supportive. The campus felt like a family and all of the teachers knew and interacted with my child regularly. I loved the events the school held to bring families together. There was a Halloween parade and party, a holiday performance, a pancake breakfast etc. I have fond memories of those events. I watched my daughter not only mature academically, but emotionally and socially.

Here are some other reasons we enjoyed the school: snack and lunch are provided, there's flexible hours for a working parent, and reasonable rates.

Cons? They play area could be updated a bit.

Since my daughter's graduation, we have been back to visit the teachers six times over 2 1/2 years. My daughter loves her current school, St. Paul's, but misses her teachers. Whenever we visit we get the warmest welcome and it makes my daughter's day. She lights up. These teachers helped guide my child into the academic world and for that, I am very grateful. B.


May 2012

My son was recently admitted to Claremont Day School, the Woolsey/Claremont branch. Does anyone have recent feedback on this school? I looked at a lot of schools and also applied to Heart's Leap, Monteverde, and others. While Claremont Day was the cheapest and the ONLY one to offer meals, they also seemed lacking in literature about the school and philosophy, and the grounds were a little run-down. An older man is running everything there and all questions are directed through him. He seems nice, but I'm wondering if anyone has any recent feedback. All the latest on bpn is 4+ years old. How is the communication and parent participation? Unlike other schools, they don't seem to have a blog or other community involvement, but I'm not sure. Thanks! anon


I have two kids currently at CDN Woosley/Claremont and we've been there for 3 years. We have had a very positive experience and the kids look forward to going to preschool. Lots of play time, indoors and outdoors and structured time as well. The staff is amazing and since we have been there only 1 new teacher was added (very consistent). I feel my 5 year old will be more than prepared to enter Kindergarten this fall. They also do school events almost monthly. Communication between staff and parents is very open. I feel very comfortable talking to any of the teachers. We have meet many great families and regularly do play dates outside of school. Good luck with your decision. If I had to choose all over again I would choose CDN! Mom of two boys
We go to a different branch of CDN, but it's one corporation. We would like to see better communication with parents. We've received a short monthly print (! in 2012) newsletter & occasional emails when there's another head lice outbreak. That's it.
I've been meaning to write a Claremont Day Review for a long time. I do not recommend this school. I'd like to talk one-on-one to the parent who posted recently but here is a quick summary. This is what I tell my neighborhood friends with little ones.

Pros: loving and warm teachers, long hours, few holidays, great two year old/early threes program Cons: very little parent participation/involvement, rigid director, no clear learning philosophy, poor resources (old, inappropriate in some cases, very of them). In short, it's like day care, with some ABC and 123 learning thrown in. After approaching the director with our concern that there was little creativity/learning going on downstairs, I quote him as saying, ''I'd rather close my school down then change a thing.'' Make what you'd like of that.

After a positive year in the two's program I pulled my child after a few months in the threes program. My active and curious son was bored. There was some bullying on the playground and no adult stepped in to mediate or help the children negotiate. Nothing of interest was coming home with him. The art projects were almost entirely done by the teacher. This childrens' diverse backgrounds weren't celebrated.

I met some wonderful families at this school and miss them dearly. My son made fabulous friends. The teachers loved him and he misses them. But loving teachers isn't enough. Preschool can be so rich and so wonderful - my advice is to look at your other options.

I'm glad to discuss my opinion with anyone privately. And I need to make a plug for Sheffield Preschool. It's been night and day. I wish I could go and play there everyday - which is what we all want for our kids,right - a place so warm, resource rich, fun, and creative, that we wish we could be 4 again.

Good luck! You'll find the right thing! sarah


As a current parent of two kids at Claremont Day Nursery, our experience has been wonderful in the youngest class (2s), the 3s, and the oldest class (4-5s. pre-K). Both kids are thriving there.

I feel the school is made for people with full time jobs in that parent participation is not required, but it has always been encouraged. There are events almost monthly that are open to parents (I think the school is aware that most parents work, so I never feel pressure to attend events, but I always feel like the school encourages the parents to attend if they can). I talk with my kids' teachers as much as I can to find out about what they are learning that week, my own child's strengths, and areas we can work on at home. The kids in the oldest class (pre-K kids) are often working at a Kindergarten level (number sequencing, patterns, writing, listening to chapter books, etc.). Unlike most preschools, the small group/classroom sessions are held in both the morning and afternoon, but there is still plenty of time for unstructured play. My older child has made some great friends there, and we will miss them when Kindergarten starts in the fall.

Like most parents, of course I think my kids are very smart and creative, and I feel the school has definitely fostered creativity and learning. While the 3s class may not have focused on art as much as the other classes, the strength of the teacher and the class was in science, which we really value. Because the kids have the option of doing arts and crafts during the unstructured play time, I never felt this was a disadvantage. The children interact with all the teachers throughout the day, and each has strengths and specialties. We also do a lot of arts and crafts, reading and writing, and outside play at home.

Because both my husband and I have demanding jobs, I recently considered moving my younger child to a preschool closer to the elementary school in the fall to make drop offs and pick-ups easier on us, but after looking at some of the other options, I realize what a great school we have, and I would really feel like my second child would not have the same learning experiences and opportunities at another preschool. CDN mom


I have a son who just turned 5 who has been at the Woolsey campus of CDN since he was 2 and a half. My daughter also attended. I selected CDN because I liked the homey feel of the facilities at the school (it is is a large old house) and the openness of the outdoor spaces. CDN is a play based program, but they also regularly do age-appropriate academics, art and science. I have many treasures that my children made me over the years (and contrary to an earlier post) none of the art was made by a teacher, although the teachers help and guide the kids. The school has regular opportunities for the parents to come to the school and participate, including the Chinese New Year parade, a holiday sing-a-long, the fabulous Halloween pancake breakfast and haunted house, a valentine's party, etc. Mother's Day is celebrated with a first-class Muffins and Mommy's (or Milkshakes and Mommy's) party while Dad's get ''Dad's and Donuts.'' The teachers are warm, friendly, genuinely happy people who give out the hugs freely. My son enjoys the preschool so much that when I drop him off I have to wrestle with him for a goodbye kiss and hug. He has made a great group of friends there. (He was more weapy when he first started, of course.) The director of the school, Tom, has owned and run his three campuses for many years and is a bit ''old school'' but knows and loves each child, and makes himself available for frequent parent contact. I have found him to be open, honest, practical and professional. My son is off to kindergarten this fall, and thanks to his fabulous teachers (Miss Deborah and Miss Tammy) he is a proficient writer, is adding and subtracting, and enjoys spending long stretches at home drawing and coloring. They have instilled in him a love of learning and an excitement for school, and like my daughter, I have no doubt that they have prepared him for kindergarten, both socially and academically. He is off to a public school in Piedmont where the principal and teachers also place great value in the power of play. Maybe it is not for every child, or every parent, but CDN has been great for our family and we will really miss the community. Lynne W.
Nov 2010

Hi! We'd really like to send our child to Claremont Kids on Woolsey. It sounded perfect to us and we recently visited the school as well. We liked the overall program but I noticed stinky toilets on my visit. I'm not sure if this was an unusual occurrence, but I was wondering if anyone could comment on the general cleanliness/hygiene of the place? :( Hopeful Mom


Hi there, My son went to CDN on Woolsey for three years and I have nothing but good things to say about the place, hygiene-wise included. I would be sure to tell Tom about your concerns. I'm sure he'd reply and have a solution (or at least an explanation) for the what you experienced on your visit. Super Happy CDN Family.
My son went to Claremont Day Nursery at Woolsey for several years, and now my daughter is there. I have never noticed any issues with the toilets at the school. We really love the school, and every single teacher has been there without a single turnover since my son was there three years ago. I have no hesitation in recommending it to my friends. Good luck. Toshi
I've had my boys at CDN on Woosley for the last three years and I've never noticed any hygiene issues with the bathrooms. Actually, the cleaning staff is amazing. There are always a couple people cleaning, vacuuming, picking up, etc. I'm very satisfied with the school. CDN Mom
May 2009

I am planning to send my 2 1/2 year-old child to the Berkeley branch of Claremont Day Nursery (also called Claremont Kids). I was looking through the archives, and the most recent review was from 2007. Does anyone have anyone who is currently sending a child there (or has recently sent one there) have any thoughts about the school? How do you feel about the teachers? Is your child happy there? Do you feel your child gets enough unstructured play time? Thanks! anon


The teachers at Claremont Day Nursery are wonderful. We have experienced no turnover in the staff in the over six years our kids have gone to CDN. There is tons of unstructured free time. This is not a pre-school with a lot of educational drills, worksheets, etc., but a place for playing and learning through fun activities. My daughter runs into school every day, and often is not ready to leave when I pick her up. The teachers are truly loving individuals who will nurture and guide your child. anon
My son started at CDN just after he turned 2 - last August. He has been going 2 days a week and asks to go to school every day. He'll start FT this fall. We have been really happy with the school. Hours are great, homemade lunches, teachers have been there for awhile. They do tons of activities, have a monthly calendar, lots of outdoor play. I have really seen my timid, shy toddler become more outgoing. They are very helpful with transitioning your child into the preschool environment. See you this fall!! CDN Mom
My son has been at that branch of Claremont Day for 3 years, and my daughter went there as well. We have all loved it: the teachers are wonderful, and have been there for a long time; there's a safe, comfortable atmosphere, lots of fun activities and lots of unstructured play time; there are educational activities but nothing rigid; the schedule is very parent-friendly; hot lunch prepared at school every day - perfect! Happy CDN parent
Oct 2006

I saw some postings from last Spring but would like to request a little more detail, if possible. My older son went to a great Montessori school with a terrible director. (I will leave it unnamed.) His experience was wonderful, ours (parents) almost unbearable. We stayed three years based on his experience but won't be sending our second there. Now that it's almost time for our second child to begin preschool, I looked at CDN and loved the space, the vibe, the interactions, etc. How was your experience, especially your interactions with the director and other staff?
Anon, please.


I enthusiastically recommend Claremont Day Nursery School on Woolsey Street. I have had all three of my children attend (one is still enrolled). My younger brother also attended CDN 20 years ago and has such fond memories that he even invited Tom, the Owner and Director, to his college graduation! The philosophy of the school is that while children grow at predictable stages, each child progresses at a different level and will be accepted for whatever level they are at. I would say that the school is academic, with a strong emphasis on Kindergarten readiness (CDN realizes what the local Kindergartens expect from incoming children. In fact, my daughter was so prepared for Kindergarten she almost skipped a grade!), but not overly so. The management believes that a child can only be 2, 3, 4, and 5 just once and that children should be children and not little scholars. There are a lot of creative art act ivies, often centered on the monthly theme, as well as science, music, and even geography (this is done with studying one country every month).

The staff at the school is as superb as it is stable. As a group they are creative and warm. The teachers seem to care about every child in their care, and will willingly give out hugs and affection. They have certainly taken the role of “second mom” to my three in the past. They are also very available to the parents, giving feedback about your child’s day, etc. I was very surprised at other messages which stated that there was a high turn over of the staff. I have been around for many years and I have not seen that at all. Teachers have left here and there for pregnancies or because they moved, but most teachers stay around for years. They are treated very well both by Tom and by the parents. There is also a general sense of joy amongst them when they work together.

The owner, Tom, is always available to the parents (and the staff). Reading comments that he is hard to work with is absurd. Tom will do whatever he can to accommodate you, your child, and/or your request. He runs his schools with great pride and takes part in everything that goes on in the school. This is true down to walking up to the market to buy organic carrots to be sliced into his cook’s fabulous homemade carrot bread. While it would be a lot easier for him to have parents bring a sack lunch for their children, I have personally seen him carry armfuls of supplies into the school that will be used to make the hot lunches. I feel good as a parent knowing that not only is my child getting nurtured and loved while I am away, they are probably getting the best meal of their day! From what I can tell, people that complain about Tom are the ones that don’t want to pay their bill. Which brings me to my final point ... Just like Tom, the tuition is reasonable and fair. I have checked around, and so should you. Tom and his wife know what it means to raise children and don’t believe in suffocating the parents. He has magically found a way to run beautiful schools without making the parents take out a second mortgage on their homes!
one happy customer!


Sept 2006

I am looking for feedback on the Claremont Day Nursery in Kensington and in Berkeley. I am considering enrolling my 2 year old and the only reviews on BPN are fairly old. Any pros or cons to share? Thanks for your help, first time preschool mom


Hello. Our daughter just started kindergarten after 2.5 years at Claremont Day Nursery. Please consider this a whole hearted, positive review and recommendation. She was at the Claremont/Woolsey branch the whole time. All of the teachers she had are still there, and I would be happy to answer specific questions about any of the classes. My responses will be positive. We found the environment, for both our daughter and for us as a family, to be warm, nurturing, thoughtful, honest and fair.

There is a mix of teaching styles, with emphasis on a variety of subjects and skills. While non-academic, the pre-school absolutely offers valuable educational learning units/projects. From obvious stuff like ABC's and 123's to geography/cultural explorations (country of the month), science (gardening, catipillar/cocoons...) as well as visits from guest presenters. Of course, you will need a very big refridgerator for all of the art projects.

Our daughter had some transition/adjustment issues (she cried A LOT). This was both when she started as a Ducky, and also when she moved from the upstairs (younger kids) to downstairs (older kids). The teachers and director were all quick to offer her support and a hug and help her settle down. They also were extremely helpful in offering suggestions as to how my wife and I could ease the transitions. When kindergarten started a couple of weeks ago, we were worried, but there was no meltdown, thanks in large part to the great confidence she gained at CDN. The parents, kids, director, teachers and staff seem to naturally form a comfortable, friendly community. There are a number of events (holiday, father's day, mother's day, halloween pankcake breakfast....) scattered throughout the year. All relaxed, low key affairs.

I could go on. I am not usually one to write reviews, but offer this positive recommendation without hesitation. Good luck! Jason


Feb 2006

We're looking for a two-three day daycare in the Rockridge neighborhood. Claremont Kids is just around the corner from where we live. I don't have any friends who sent their children to this program. I'd appreciate any comments on experience of this 2-5 year program. Thank you. Kay


I'm not sure if you're referring to the Claremont Day Nursery on College Ave. or Woolsey/Claremont...but our daughter was at the Woolsey/Claremont branch last year (September '04-September '05), and was in an older class (we just did preschool the year before kindergarten). My younger daughter will go to the Kensington branch (closer to our elementary school) this fall; they're all run by the same family. I can't say enough good things about Claremont. The director, Tom, is experienced, smart, loving and caring, and knows every kid by name. The teachers are attentive, patient, understanding and wonderful. The kids play inside and out (weather permitting) all day, with breaks for circle time, show & tell, and all the usual activities that preschoolers love. Bonus--hot, homemade lunch is included in the price. My daughter loved it there, and we still go back and visit every couple months. Heidi
To the person asking about Claremont Day Nursery (Woolsey & Claremont Blvd). FYI - my daughter was there for a year. Tom, the owner/director has a high-turnover of staff. I wish we had left sooner.
I was surprised to see a negative review of Claremont Day (Woolsey branch.) The review specifically mentioned high staff turnover. My daughter started at Claremont Day in March of 2004. My son started this past June. I'm not aware of a single staff change since my daughter started.

My kids love it there. It has been particularly excellent for my son, who was on the aggressive side when he started. Miss Lisa, his teacher, is just excellent - a real professional, tireless in trying new stragegies for him. He has really matured in the program. My daughter will start Kindergarten in the fall and would prefer to stay at CDN! Happy CDN mom


We LOVE this school! We've been there for over 2 years now and have had great experiences. Since we've been there, none of the teachers have left. In fact, except for the youngest teacher, most have been there for years. They are warm and caring and have always made our daughter feel loved and cared for. The director and teachers are always available to respond to concerns. Our daughter has made wonderful friends, and says she misses them and her teacher s by the end of the weekend. We couldn't recommend it more. Feel free to e-mail if you have questions. kiki
My son was in the 2s program at CDN on CLaremont for c. 6-9 mos. Miss Lisa is a fabulous, loving, energetic, sincere teacher. There are considerable problems in the management of the school, mainly regarding rapport with other adults. If you'd like more details, please email me. Christina
My daughter went to CDN for 3 years and during that time, the Woolsey school experienced 6 teacher turnovers. We stayed with the school the first 2-1/2 years because of Shannon. She was the best teacher there. Ms. Lisa was nice too. We didn't have much of a choice for the last 1/2 year because my daughter was going to start kindergarten in the fall of 2004 and we didn't want to change school. The weakest link in that school is management. anon
I have to respond about Claremont Day Nursery on Woolsey. I have seen a few negative postings that seem unfair. I had children there for nearly six years. My youngest left for kindergarten last August. She loved her time @ CDN and begs to go back and visit. After reading about staff turnover and all that, I was concerned about taking her for a visit for fear she wouldn't see any of the staff she loved so much. My daughter, BTW, is a very social, perceptive, outspoken and mature 6-going- on-30 year old, so she would have been heartbroken. We visited last week. The staff is all still there, with the exception of one of the teachers who left to have a child. I don't understand the so-called turnover issue because I certainly did not see it. The same staff that was there in 2004 is there now. Shannon is awesome, Yolanda is a gift, Cosie is just as her name says, and Erika still inspires children. Miss Lisa and Deborah are still upstairs and there is a ''new'' teacher upstairs that came last year whose name I can't remember but she is still there.

Yes, there was a period of turnover turbulence at the school a few years back, but the current staff is one of the best I have seen since we started there in January 2000. And it hasn't changed in about two years.

I have heard from others that yes, Tom can be a bit difficult to work with, but I never had an issue with him in the nearly six years I was there. My children were happy, well-cared for and came away with a good start for kindergarten. The kids loved the teachers and got the affection and encouragement that I had hoped. Their confidence and characters flourished there. Dyanna is a dedicated professional who truly cares about children. And she works out of the College Avenue branch most of the time anyway...

CDN may or may not be for everyone. Perhaps it does not have the strongest academic program, but children who come out of there seem to do very well in kindergarten so the challenge with them may be more a matter of keeping a child interested and motivated rather than simply brought up to academics. That said, however, my daughter was nearly six when she left and was totally thrilled to be there and is thriving now in kindergarten.

If you are interested in a preschool, it is always best to go with your own standards, gut feelings and by talking with parents of current and past students. You should be able to get references from the director, and you can always hang out by the front gate or at Semifreddy's around peak drop off times and catch a parent that way. Most will be happy to share their experiences. CDN Alumni parent


May 2005

I am deciding between Model School and Claremont Day on Woolsey for Fall of 2006. Any feedback positive or negative on those two schools is greatly apprecited!


Hi, My son Alex is just about to graduate from Claremont Day Nursery (CDN). I love it there!! The staff is wonderful. They are caring, enthusastic and involved. They provide hot lunches and Joyce, who cooks the food, is fabulous. My son won't eat soup or salad at home, but he will at school! My son has grown and learned so much since being there (~2 years). He always looks forward to going to school and is never ready to go when I pick him up. Not only does he have fun at school, but I really feel is is ready for Kindergarten. They have really helped prepare him socially and academically. They have a website you can check out if you haven't already http://www.claremontkids.com/. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Lisa
My 3.5 year old son was enrolled at Claremont Day on Woolsey this past fall and after two months, we decided it wasn't a good fit for us and moved him to a smaller school where the child to teacher ratio was better. My son is extremely social and was extremely enthusiastic about ''going to school.'' However, I found that the level of chaos there was really stressful for him and brought out behaviors that I had only seen him enact in other very stressful situations (right after birth of new sister, after being teased to no end by a cousin etc...). Additionally, I found it hard to communicate with my child's teacher on a regular basis. She wasn't there in the morning when I dropped him off, and often busy or distracted (with good reason) when I picked him up. I felt the staff were very loving and cared for the children, but that the numbers were unreasonable and that they could only react to problems once they were happening. They didn't have the time to be proactive about kids behaviors and activities. I also felt the spaces upstairs for the younger children were too small. I loved the hours and the lunch, but overall, I didn't feel comfortable about the experience my son was having each day. I felt we could do better and we did find another school which provides a more intentional, less chaotic and more nuturing environment. Anonymous
This posting is in response to the request for feedback on Claremont Day Nursery. My son has attended the Woolsey campus of CDN for the past 2 years. He has had a great experience there and is thriving. The teachers do a fabulous job of making learning fun. He is now four years old and is learning things that his friends at other pre-schools are not aware of. Just to provide a few examples, last summer during the Summer Olympics, the kids learned about Greece and participated in a mini-Olympics, they are currently learning about and making volcanoes, he's also learning about insects and knows that spiders are not insects (but are part of the arachnid family), the list goes on and on! Given the amount of time that he spends at school, it gives me tremendous comfort to know that he is not only in a warm, safe environment, but that he is also being stimulated mentally. Although I cannot compare CDN to the Model School, I feel very comfortable recommending CDN. Anonymous
Aug 2004

I am looking for comments from current parents of children at Claremont Day Nursery on Claremont. (Recommendations on the website site date from 2002 and earlier and I'd like to hear some more up-to-date reflections.) Specifically, I'd like to hear about the staff interact with the children and how the children seem to get along with one another. Thanks!


I put in a good word for Claremont on Woosley in 2002 and I can say I still think its a great place in 2004. My second son is now there and he LOVES it. He was upstairs and now has moved downstairs with the older kids. The teachers are really good with the kids -- very caring, engaged staff -- and it is a very well run preschool, with a good mix of play time and structured activities. I still highly recommend it and we will be sad when both our kids outgrow it. It is also a great place for working parents, with freshly prepared lunch provided (this is truly a great thing!) and snacks and it is closed the fewest days of any place I know. Also great hours (7 - 6 p.m.) and very reasonable cost. If you'd like any more info, please feel free to emaili me. karen
Well, my daughter had a hard time at the Claremont Day on Woolsey. Every day she came home to tell me what other children were doing to her. I was quite surprise because she got along well with other children from her past childcare. Well to say the least, the school allowed little boys to shove her against the wall and throw dirt in her eyes. She had an awful experience there. And after a year, she still speaks about it and asks to never make her go back.

My daughter is 4 and was three at the time. She is extremely tall for her age. Everyone comments on that. She was continuously teased for acting like a baby and talking, as well. Well she was three! It seemed like every day her father and I came in and told the teacher the latest incident. Mostly, what we got was, ''...boys will be boys'' or ''Well, those boys are almost 5 and they play rough''. One time they just said that she is tall and most of the older children do not understand that her physical appearance is not aligned with her age. I said well how should this be my daughter's problem. The other children should not tease or be aggressive, period.

Later we talk to an assistant who inform us that, things were not going to change. And that it is a common occurrence that there is absolute no discipline - what the children do to each other or say/do to teachers. I was floored. My daughter came from a preschool with zero tolerance for name-calling, aggressive behavior, etc. I love that kind of environment. In most cases the child was told what this behavior does to X (makes them sad, etc.) or the child took a breather if the behavior continued. Lastly, after having five incidents in a two week period - we took her out. Note: We were only there for two and half weeks and in the summer. BB


My 3.5 yr. old daughter attends Claremont Day Nursery and has since January of 2003. My husband and I have been really pleased with the school. We like all the teachers, although that wasn't the case when we first got there, but that changed quickly for the better. Yeah it's more boisterous and haphazard-seeming than other preschools, but don't let that fool you, it's a warm environment and the teachers are really caring and love the kids.

We did look at alot of other preschools but the things that really attracted us to Claremont was its proximity to our house - it's just down the street from us, and the cooked lunches. We also liked the building, the program director, the head of school, the fact that it's been around for awhile and the reasonable tuition.

As for the programs, the kids have focused lessons on a range of topics throughout the year and seem to learn quite a bit from those. They also parade around the neighborhood on Halloween and Fourth of July, visit the local library and host guest speakers - like for Chinese New Years or if someone has been on an exotic trip.

I love the cook, a New Orleans woman, and although there are sweets for dessert from time to time, there's mostly fruit. Selfishly speaking, since I know I've got box lunches in my future, it's nice to not have to start that yet and I love coming into the school in the morning to the pleasant odor of lunch cooking.

As for the kids, they are quite good and seem to care about one another. Yeah they pair off and make friends and have fits and play your-my-best-friend/your-not-my-best-friend, but that's hardly unique to this school. The playground could definetly use an upgrade.


My son spent one month at that school, but we had to take him out for the same reason you think your daughter would be less than comfortable in a yard full of older boys. My son was 2 and he couldn't get adjusted to the complete lack of control in the playground. And there was way too much playground time! He was in the youger class, but the actual time spent in a smaller class was really minimal. Lunch, naps, circle time (!), play time were always done with the older kids. I think the problem was no age separation. I don't necessarily think it was about gender separation. It was very affordable, though. And I think that for some kids (boys and girls) it could work very well. Andrea
Our five year old son had his last day at CDN last monday before starting Kindergarten on Tuesday. He was there for three years. We also have a four year old daughter there. We had a good feeling about the place from the begining and truly love the environment that is nurtured there. Specific to your question:The staff truly connect and care about the children. The diversity of the children is mirrored by the staff and everyone strives to create a harmonious environment. I have never heard a staff member talk down to a child, rather, they talk through difficulties. Other great things are the nutricious hot lunch cooked daily by Joice(y) (you can smell the fresh garlic in the morning for that days pasta!), the big yard to play in, arts, crafts, and every type of cultural event. Our son's transition to Kindergarten has been smoothe and I attribute most of it to the foundation laid at Claremont Kids. Feel free to email me if you have oter questions. Chris
October 2002

We highly recommend Claremont Day (on Claremont at Woolsey). Located in big house but separated into classrooms by age, the environment is supportive and almost storybook like. Our two kids went there from ages 3 to 6 and even today (they are in junior high now) still speak fondly of the home cooked food, holiday parties, and the like. Our 6 grader keeps in contact with his pre-school friends. A very sweet place. Check out their Halloween party later this month. GF


June 2002

Does anyone have any experience, positive or negative, with Claremont Day Nursery on College in Rockridge? My son will be 4 when he attends preschool. The website only has comments about Claremont Day in Kensington and Berkeley. Thanks much.


I'm assuming you mean Claremont Day Nursery on Woolsey (their website is claremontkids.com.) My daughter's been there for almost a year and a half, since she was 28 months old, and she's been very happy. The staff really is lovely (of the two-year-olds' teachers, I especially love Gwen, but Norma is incredibly kind-hearted and kid-focused as well; my daughter moved to the ''Big Kids'' before the new two-year-olds' teacher came, but she also seems great from what I've seen.) The director, Tom, may seem a little off-puttingly formal at first, but he has a big heart. I drop in at all hours of the day, and the energy always seems positive and kind; I've never heard a teacher speak sharply, and it seems to me the kids are really encouraged to interact kindly. (Our pediatrician asked my daughter who her friends at school were, and she cheerfully answered, ''Everybody!'')

From your post, it sounds like you're concerned that the program lacks structure or doesn't focus enough on the arts. But our experience has been that it's a good balance of structure and free play time (the describe themselves as having a ''traditional nursery school'' format.) The kids do lots of art activities (which is what my daughter lives for), have circle time (with songs, dances, show-and-tell, and some work on colors, numbers, etc.) story time, a variety of structured play activities, and occasional field trips (my daughter's class goes to MOCHA tomorrow) or in-school presentations (like the zoo animals who were brought in for a visit over the summer.) There's also a separate dance class ($45 / month, happens on Mondays) that my daughter's crazy about. I'm also grateful for the hot lunches, the big play yards, the relatively reasonable cost, and-- don't underestimate the importance of this in keeping your general working-mom stress level down--the ease of parking there any time of day. Elise


Sept 2002

Our son attends the Claremont Day Nursery preschool on Claremont Avenue and we all love it. While the physical plant is a tad run down, it is still safe. The teachers and staff are terrific. Our son is 3 and with the "upstairs" class, which is 2 - 3 year olds. He is a very happy child and has only blossomed more since he's been there. He loves it. He gets tremendous loving attention from the teachers, who are always happy to report on his day and the funny things he says and all those things that are important to me. He is also not a napper, but they have been able to accommodate him well without compromising the rest of the children's sleep time. The staff has also been very good at the potty-training drill, as well. They've been through it hundreds of times, so they are a positive support to the parents as well. The other children there seem very happy and adjusted, and I see the teachers comforting the ones who have a tough time some mornings (they're good with the parents in that regard, too ;-)). It's very convenient for working parents. The hours are 7 - 6, and they serve a hot lunch as well offer as several snack breaks. Parking is easy and it's a 5 minute drive from Chabot school. C Wilson


My 2 1/2 year old daughter's been there full-time since November, and seems to really love it--wants to play school at home, talks lovingly about all her friends and teachers. The best thing is that big play yard--they spend a lot of time out there (SO much nicer than many other play yards I've seen.) The teachers are very gentle with the kids, and seem to handle discipline issues well without a lot of fuss; they've been great about supporting potty training. It's a somewhat more structured "nursery-school"-like environment than my daughter's old preschool (which was in a sweet little house... closed, alas), but there still seems to be enough unstructured creative play time that she's loose and happy when I come to pick her up, even when it's been a long day. Good choice! Elise
My son went there from 2.75 yrs to 5 yrs, leaving August 2000. It was a very good program in my mind with a nice balance of structure and free-play, academics and non-academics. My son is now in public kindergarten, bored because "this is just like pre-school stuff". Although some may be put off initially by the director's style, I never was. I was impressed with his deep caring of the children and the school. He knew every child quite well I thought.We got to know him quite well because we were very active in our son's schooling. One thing to note was the school had massive teacher turnover in 1999-2000 school year. At least one if not two of the teachers just walked out on him without notice; two others went back to school. I'm not sure if others left as well. Tom had to do a lot of juggling that was hard on all concerned. To ease this type of problem in the future, he brought over his head teacher from the College Ave. school to be assistant director to oversee new teachers and keep the curriculum more consistent. If we hadn't moved to Lafayette, we would have put our two year old in the program next year. If you have other questions feel free to ask. Linda
Karen

We have a 3 yr old who has been going to Claremont Day Nursery on Woolsey and Claremont since last september for 2 full days a week. (There are 2 other locations, in Kensington and on College which I don't know about). Our son has been very content there and we generally have to drag him out. The kids do not seem like they are falling apart at the end of the day. Two of the three teachers for the 2/3 yr olds are very good; the third is brand new and I don't know her at all. It is a well run program with a balance of structured activities and free play. Price-wise, it is very reasonable, lunch and snacks are provided, the hours are from 7 - 6 pm., which is good for working parents, there are relatively few closed days and the parking is easy.


From: Jennifer

I can *highly* recommend my son's school, (Julian is 2 & 5 months). He attends Claremont Day Nursery, it is on Claremont at Woolsey Ave, about 3 minutes from UC Berkeley. Send me mail if you want more info.. The teachers are very creative and patient and he has such a good time that it takes me 20 minutes each evening to tear him away!


June 2002

Re: Preschools with good playgrounds
Claremont Day Nursery on Woolsey and Claremont has, from what I've seen, quite large, nice, outdoor play areas with sun and shade, trees, plants etc. One side borders Claremont, but there is a large, secure fence and you don't feel like you are on a busy street at all once you are inside the school. You can't go in and out all day long whenever you want, but there is a lot of outside time, and the school in general provides a good mix of free time and structured time. My son has been there for three years (both up and down stairs -- up is the liitle kids, down for the bigger kids) and has been very happy there, has gotten a lot of stimulation, and has flourished under the care of some excellent teachers. As someone else recently mentioned in responding to another post, it has other good pluses too: (1) very reasonably priced (2) racially diverse teaching and student population (3) provides good, hot lunches, (4) closed VERY few days, which is a huge plus, (5) open great hours for working parents (7am - 6 pm), (6) parking is easy. satisfied mom

April 2002

While I've missed a few posts, I gather that someone has asked about Claremont Day Nursery. My child has been at CDN on Woolsey for about 6 months, and overall we have been very happy there. The program is great and seems to be getting better. There is lots of structure in the day, but plenty of room within the structure for creativity. The program director, who is newly in that position but who has been w/ CDN for many years, is very accessible, gentle, and has a lot of great ideas. The facility, while a bit worn, has everything you would need. The hot lunches are GREAT. They are rarely closed (mostly just federal holidays and the week between Christmas & New Years). So it is really convenient for working parents. The one thing I would mention is that there has been a lot of turnover in the staff. When we started in September, 2 of the 3 upstairs teachers (for the younger kids) were very new, and 1 had been there 5 years. Over the last 6 months, 1 of the new teachers and the experienced teacher quit, neither with any warning to the parents. It is not clear to me why they left. However, the 2 teachers that were hired are both really wonderful, and we are very happy with the current staff. My hope is that they will stay around for a while. anonymous


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