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Re: Looking for mellow preschool near Glenview
I will strongly recommend The Duck Pond Pre-school on Park Boulevard. Two years ago our then 2+ shy boy started there. I had the same concerns that you voice. He has thrived at the Duck Pond. The teachers are wonderful and nurturing. I love walking in in the evening to the happy faces of all the children there. Every child gets to pursue his/ her passion and the rest of the children get exposed to so many different areas of interest. The school offers a strong enrichment program with yoga, dance, story telling. I have heard from many parents how well prepared Duck Pond students are for kindergarten and feel fairly confident my son will be too. By the way - nobody describes our son as shy anymore! Contact The Duck Pond Pre-school at 3947 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602. Ph: (510)530-0851. Sutapa
I wanted to add an updated review for the Duck Pond Preschool in Glenview. We were initially a little nervous about sending our 2 year old daughter to preschool this year, thinking she might be a bit young, but given the glowing Duck Pond reviews we decided to go ahead and try it. We looked at Montessori schools and other play-based preschools, but we found the Duck Pond to be the perfect balance of structure, free play, and social interaction. We couldn't have made a better decision - she loves the Duck Pond and even asks to go there on weekends.
The teachers are amazing - they nurture and encourage the kids without pressuring them into anything they are not ready to do. Abby, the teacher for the 2-3 year old classroom, is particularly great with helping both parents and kids with the transition to preschool, and my daughter took to her immediately. I am truly amazed at what my daughter has learned to do in a relatively short period of time - she can put her shoes on and off, drink out of a cup, and her imagination in particular has flourished (she now makes up all kinds of stories with her stuffed animals and dolls and acts them out at home, in large part because she also does that at school). Each day is filled with indoor and outdoor play, music, dance, art projects, reading, interacting with nature (they plant vegetables with the kids year-round), and they even offer science and gymnastics. The teachers foster a culture of respect and friendship among the kids (not just within their specific classes but also between classes/ages), and you clearly see that in the way they interact with one another.
The Duck Pond also has a very active parent community - there are generally several family-oriented events each month and attendance is always high. Because it's a smaller preschool, it's easy for the parents to get to know one another (and to get to know all of the other kids), so it really feels like a family.
All in all, we couldn't be happier with our decision and we highly recommend the Duck Pond. Any parent would be lucky to have their child attend this school! Happy Duck Pond Parent
I would like to update the postings about Duck Pond in Glenview (Oakland). My kids have flourished there. The program is incredible, and the community is like an extended family. The teachers are well-trained and loving, and activities are structured around the interests of the kids. The child-to-teacher ratio is small so the kids get lots of attention. There is no teasing, no bullying b/c teachers are always watching from the sidelines, intervening in ways that empower the kids to solve problems on their own. Each day, each child has a job: mediator, gardener, caregiver, etc. The kids love to be involved this way. The Duck Pond is play-based, which we sought out after reading research about the benefits of unstructured time for self-control and development. We are now seeing how true this is: the DP children are really prepared for kindergarten. I volunteer in my son's K class and I see that the DP kids sit quietly in circle, listen to instructions, can read and write, do basic math, and are way ahead of many of their peers. My kids are happy, confident, and love school thanks to The Duck Pond. Contact: Lois Cottrell, 530-0851
Re: Need Recent Reviews of Oakland Preschools
Our son is going into his second year at Duck Pond, and we are all really thrilled with the school. It's got a great student/teacher ratio, incredible teachers, and a wonderful community of parents and kids. We weren't very happy with the daycare our son went to before this, and the difference we feel knowing how well nurtured he is at Duck Pond every day has made such a difference for our whole family. From what I can tell, the teachers feel the same way about the school as the parents, and they stick around for a long time.
The emergent learning philosophy means that to some extent the interests of the kids determine the curriculum. This means that the kids are engaged because they're learning in relation to what already interests them. They're also learning well how to play with each other. At 3.5, our son is writing his name and clearly expressing an interest in reading, but it's certainly not pushed on him at school (or at home, for that matter). A Happy Duck Pond Family
Re: Full-time, playbased, preschool near Glenview
I would highly recommend Duck Pond on Park Blvd. It is an all-day, play-based preschool. The teachers are fabulous and really love the kids. The families are all wonderful, and the community is surprisingly close-knit. My son has blossomed there and we have really enjoyed becoming part of the ''Duck Pond community''.
The kids are given a great deal of time each day to play and explore. They also have circle time and enrichment programs, including science, storytelling, dance, music, and gymnastics (all with great outside instructors who come in to facilitate). Unfortunately, I think it is quite difficult to get a spot. You generally have to start the September after your child turns two. There are often only one or two spaces, since siblings are given priority. However, it may be worth a try! Happy Duck Pond Parent
Any new feedback on Duck Pond preschool on Park Blvd?
Pros and cons of the school?
Hi -- we're considering Duck Pond Preschool in Oakland, and I'm wondering if anyone out there has some current feedback (the most recent post on this in the archives is a year old). What do you like/not like about it? I've heard Vanessa may be leaving next year, and I'm wondering what impact this will have. Any and all comments appreciated! Thanks. mom of a soon-to-be preschooler
As a parent, I really appreciate how thoughtful the teachers are about the individual needs of the children and the best way to help them grow and learn. Any issue I've raised with them has been dealt with promptly, kindly and creatively, and I really trust Lois's observations about what's going on with my son at different times. His creativity has blossomed there, and I love seeing how the teachers pick up on the kids' interests and obsessions and turn them into curriculum. For example, my son and his friends got very into playing restaurant. Soon they were writing (!) menus and making signs for their restaurant. Then they went on some field trips to real restaurants to learn what happens in the kitchen. My son can't stop talking about those experiences. Every day he comes home with armloads of stuff he made there, all of it inspired by his own ideas and those of his friends, not a teacher's decision about what he should make.
In addition, there is a wonderful group of parents at the school. It feels like a real community.
As for Vanessa, while she is a terrific teacher and one of the original attractions of the Duck Pond for us, she's only there part time as it is. The fact is, all the teachers are terrific, and Lois has a real knack for hiring smart, educated, creative, loving people. The newest teacher on the staff, Abby, started this fall, and she is amazing.
If you have any particular questions, please feel free to contact me. Dashka
Re: Preschool for child with food allergy
My child attends the Duck Pond (see previous messages) on Park Blvd. in Oakland. My son has food allergies to casein (dairy protein) and peanuts. He will generate hives at the point of contact with these items or will generate hives all over the body if ingested, eventually affecting his respiratory system.
Several of the Duck Pond students have food allergies/sensitivity issues and the staff are very good about making sure the children are not exposed. In addition, they educate the other children about their friends' particular needs in regards to their diet.
Currently, Duck Pond has a no peanut policy. The director was particularly concerned that peanut butter can spread to objects very easily and indirectly expose my son. The Duck Pond also excluded berries from its premises when a different child had berry allergies. The Duck Pond staff are very good about letting me know if he was accidentally exposed to these items and if they had to apply and/or give him medication. Furthermore, the Duck Pond reserves a Cuties/popsicles for my son when families bring cake/icecream for birthdays. It makes him feel special.
If you have further questions, you may contact me directly via email. Good Luck with your search. Doreen
Does anyone have any recent experience with the Duck Pond on Park Blvd? Our impression of it was that it seemed lively and fun for kids, but that it was in pretty shabby condition. Also, the snack the day we went was just a box of bran cereal on the table, and none of the teachers were actually engaged with the kids -- they were just supervising. For those reasons, it would not be our first choice for our 2 1/2 year old to go to preschool, but she didn't get in anywhere else. Should we go to the Duck Pond or find a family daycare for a year and try to get in somewhere else for the following two years? My thinking is that my daughter can survive a messy environment for a year if it provides a lot of stimulation and love, but is that worth the cost? needing some insight...
My son was just about 2 1/2 when he started at Duck Pond. He's very verbal, but had a hard time adjusting to being away from home (he went 3 days a week, 9-3 or so) and from me. I was always very clear with Lois that if he cried for more than 10 minutes or so, I wanted to be called, so I could decide whether to come get him. After a number of times doing that, I was then told by Lois that everything was fine with him when I left, and at nap time. Another parent who was there with her child at nap time observed my son crying and crying (on numerous days) and finally called me to tell me about it. She was worried that his adjustment was being misrepresented to me. In addition, Lois described my son to ANOTHER parent in a parent/teacher conference as a ''troublemaker.'' He was 2 1/2! Lois did not choose to confide in me about her concerns or complaints about my son-- once again, I was told this by another parent, with whom Lois was supposed to be discussing HER child. As soon as I heard about this, I withdrew him from the school (this was November).
I did not speak to Lois frankly about why I was taking my son out of the school. I very much wanted to, but one of the parents who had told me about these things requested I not say anything, as she was keeping her kid in for the rest of that year and feared some kind of retribution. I don't mean this dramatically, just that she thought that Lois might not be as kind to her child if she thought the parent had been instrumental in our departure. Lois did call and want to discuss our leaving, and it was very hard not to tell her precisely how I felt, but I kept the confidence of the other parent and simply told her we felt my son wasn't adjsting well.
Other things that happened: my child fell down the back steps and had a pretty big bruise and a cut, which I saw immediately upon picking him up one day. It was not a teeny scratch. No teacher admitted to seeing him fall, although he told me that one of them did and did not comfort him. When I spoke with her, she denied seeing it or seeing him crying after it, though she was ''on duty'' in the back area--so either she missed everything completely (as she claimed, which indicated a serious lack of attention), or she chose not to comfort him, which made me sad. To this day, he describes Duck Pond as ''the place where I cried and cried for you.'' Fortunately at the time, I was able to hire back our old babysitter, work part-time from home, and enroll him the next year at MCPC, a co-op where we've been very, very impressed with the compassion and skill of the director, even in the most challenging moments with kids. She reminds us all never to label kids. It's just hurtful.
All that said about Duck Pond, my son did love Vanessa, who is still there. I thought she was very talented with the kids and liked her immensely. She was caring, and my son really missed her when he left.
The place was not a mess when my son was there, and the snacks were better than you described, so I'm not sure whether they've fallen off in quality there or if you went on an ''off'' day food-wise. I did like the attention to pre-literacy, and they had some great materials, and the animals were wonderful. But all in all, I would definitely advise visiting multiple times.
My family moved from the South Bay to Oakland in December of 2001. The transition was much more difficult for my 4 year old son than we ever imagined. We were lucky to get a spot in a small, nurturing preschool/daycare, but my boy was not happy. After 5 months of tearful separations, I asked the school's director what she thought. She replied, ''He really could be happier; maybe this isn't the place for him.''
I called the Duck Pond, which had no openings when I was searching in the fall. This time, I lucked out. I spoke with Vanessa (then the co-director) and told her about my concerns regarding my son's East Bay experience. She assuaged my fears and assured me that the Duck Pond was a "Happy place!'' She was right; we enrolled our son and never looked back.
The Duck Pond's entire staff, Lois, Vanessa, Cynthia, Billy, Leticia et al took our son under their collective wings. He is a gentle soul, and was easily overwhelmed by even a small group. This said, he adapted himself to the routine and loving, fun atmosphere almost at once. His separation anxiety disappeared almost overnight. Lois and Vanessa were diligent in reporting on my son's progress. The following fall, when it was time to think about kindergarten in a year, Lois informed me that she really didn't think my son would be ready, even though chronologically he was the oldest child in the school. We knew she was right, but it was still hard to hear. Her honesty and professionalism were right on the mark. Our boy has always been very young for his age. In the spring of 2002 Lois was concerned about our son's ability to seemingly detach from the group. She recommended that he see an Early Childhood specialist to ensure that he would be on track for kindergarten. We found a therapist that our son bonded with immediately and Lois has worked with him to target the best way to teach to our son.
Our son has absolutely blossomed at the Duck Pond. I love and respect the staff and will always be grateful for the attention and professionalism that is reflected in their work everyday. lsenauke
Duck Pond pre-school in Oakland Wondering if I can get some feedback on the school. We're looking at it for our kids, and I'd love to hear about people's experiences there. Thank you! Irene
To the Montclair parent interested in recommendations on Oakland preschools: We did a fairly exhaustive search for preschools near(ish) our Oakmore home (just below Montclair, just above Glenview). Our 3 year old is now at the Duck Pond on Park Boulevard, which we love, but which required more than a year's wait on a waiting list. I would be happy to share our search experiences and perspectives on a range of local possibilities, but it would help to know a little more about your preferences (e.g., play-based -v- academic? full-day -v- half-day program?). Diana
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