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I always thought I would send my child to a Montessori preschool, but then I toured the Gay Austin School. It seems like a wonderful fun place for kids. I would love to get other parents' opinions of the school, particularly the 3's class, which is where my son will begin. I'm sure your child had fun there, but did they seem to be prepared for kindergarten after being in the program? Did ending at 12 seem like too short of a day or did you opt for extended care? Was it odd starting at 1 for the 4's program? Was it enough academics? Any and all opinions would be appreciated. Trying to decide
Their philosophy, based on Piaget's work, is ''play is the work of the child.'' Through engaging, well-planned activities kids have great fun and learn. Much care is given to the classroom setting to spark exploration. Kids learn to be part of a nurturing, fun classroom community. The age appropriate curriculum includes science, music, art, storytelling, and builds the foundation for reading and math. It also includes a wonderful bunny that kids can help care for and an awesome play barn, multi-passenger train, sandbox & dirt box (my son LIVED there), play structure, sand trays, water trays, and marble runs. We should all be so lucky as to have a preschool experience like this. -Happy GAS alum parent
Re: Looking for a Kensington preschool
Before we moved to Kensington, my daughter attended a Reggio Emilia preschool in San Diego. I found that The Gay Austin Preschool (in North Berkeley, on Hopkins Street) was a seamless transfer in terms of philosophy, practice and a loving environment. I feel that the very experienced teachers and director do not draw exclusively from one educational philosophy, but take the best from a number of approaches. As a Reggio Emilia family there was a LOT that was very familiar, and some welcome additions.
We've been even happier there than we were with our previous school. Both my kids are thriving there, the school has a wonderful community, and I feel very lucky that we found it! It's a short drive from Kensington, and there are a number of Kensington based families at the school. http://gayaustinschool.com/ The director is Pat Cosgrove. Her number is 510 526 2815. -Happy Gay Austin Family
Re: Spaces left in a nursery school that accepts 24 mo
Our 2-year-old daughter is starting Gay Austin next week and I know there are still openings. She isn't potty trained - and none of the 2-year-olds are. It's a little bit of a drive from the Elmwood (Gay Austin is over near Monterey Market) We've heard great things about the school and can't wait for her to start. Contact Pat Cosgrove at firstname.lastname@example.org. John B.
Re: Berkeley preschool with openings for Fall 2012
I believe that The Gay Austin School on Hopkins Street, in North Berkeley, still has some openings for fall. My oldest daughter goes there, our youngest will start this fall. We love it and I highly recommend you arrange a visit to see for yourself - Contact Pat Cosgrove, the site director at 510 - 526-2815 or at email@example.com Happy Gay Austin Family
Re: Preschool with lots of part-time students?
We send my son to Gay Austin Preschool, located near Monterey Market, and the majority of the kids attend less than 5 days per week. The program is wonderful, but short (9-12 for 3yos) which sounds like a plus for you. Probably full for the current year, but call soon about getting info on the 4yo program for next year! Gay Austin Mom
Re: Preschool nap recommendations
Gay Austin in Berkeley would be worth looking into. Their nap period begins at 1:45. They refer to it as ''quiet time'' and are flexible about the fact that some children don't actually sleep at this time. I'm not sure of the details, but I believe they require children to lie or sit quietly for 30 minutes (by state law), and then children are free to go into the yard to play, leaving the sleepers to sleep. Good luck!
Re: Looking at Gay Austin
Both our children were fortunate enough to attend Gay Austin, which I have to say is an absolutely exceptional school. It is far more than a pleasant place for your children to play and learn social skills with other children -- as a developmental (not academic) preschool with highly trained and experienced teachers, they really understand what children of this age need, and they teach it to them in an appropriate manner. There are all sorts of little details which make the school special. For example, each child is personally greeted at the door by each teacher. ''Good morning, Mary. I'm glad to see you!''
It can be hard for 2-year-olds to separate from their parents. But Gay Austin handles it so well that my slow-to-warm daughter never cried once. On the first day, they have just half the class show up, and parents are encouraged to stay the whole session. This way, the first impression the kids have of the school is not ''that place where I'm left without my mother,'' but ''a fun place I can explore while my mom watches.'' After the second day, parents are allowed to stay as long as they like, but are encouraged to ask their children, ''is it OK if I go now?'' So they completely sidestep separation anxiety. I haven't heard of any other preschool that does this. Most push parents out the door even if their children are crying.
The children are closely supervised at play; the instant a conflict arises, a teacher is there with some pretty sophisticated conflict resolution techniques. Again, this is very different from most other preschools' playgrounds. As a result, the children are very compassionate to each other.
My older daughter, now 13, says this about Gay Austin: ''It's where I learned all sorts of things about being in the world, how to be a good person and get along with other people. Things I learned there are still helpful to me today, and I find it easy to make friends because of habits I formed at Gay Austin.'' Gay Austin parent
We just got a call that our daughter could come in for an observation at Gay Austin preschool, and that it was likely but not certain that she'd have a place there next fall. Since the observation date is late March, I believe we'll have to accept/decline our other school options before we even get to visit Gay Austin! I've read some old posts that the school is great but really don't have much information to base rejecting our other school choices. I'm just wondering what other parents in this situation experienced, and would love to hear what the program is like, and any other reviews about the teachers, curriculum, or environment there. thanks so much for your help.
Re: Looking for a small preschool in N. Berkeley
Try ''The Gay Austin School'' on Hopkins in North Berkeley. It sounds like it has everything you are looking for. I have 2 children that went there and loved it! Andrea
We're considering the Gay Austin school for our daughter as it's close to our house and has a good reputation. Any recent reviews or experiences? We are looking for a morning program a couple days a week. thanks
If you are looking for a part time preschool, ie something that is truly a ''school'' program rather than all day child care, you can do no better than Gay Austin. And, as it was said by a previous writer, you CAN extend the day some using the extended day offering in the afternoon. But you can not beat the teachers, the program and its size --- SMALL. Your child will be KNOWN, as will you and your family. Tremendously happy parent. Just waiting for my second to be old enough! dh
I am looking for comments on Gay Austin preschool in N. Berkeley. I have read the comments on the website, but they are 2-5 years old and I would like to know if anyone has anything new (either positive or negative) to add - or even if you just want to second what has been said before. We are going to visit the school next week, and it sounds like I will need to make a nearly instantaneous decision because they fill up so quickly, so I would like to get some feedback from other parents.
Our situation is this: my daughter will be 2 1/2 in September and I am looking for a part-time (2 mornings per week) program for her. Gay Austin sounds great from what I have read, but we live in Rockridge, so one of my concerns is that the travel time will be about 20 minutes each way - which does not leave me a lot of time during the short morning. I realize that during her schooltime I can go shopping at Monterey Market, go for a run, or even sit back and read at a cafe... but I fear that I will feel a little trapped on that side of town (and certainly the last thing I want from gaining two mornings to myself is to feel trapped!). Is the school worth it?
For what it's worth, I just learned that the other preschools I was considering will not have space next fall, so I think it will either be Gay Austin or waiting another year. I am not absolutely dead-set on her going to school this year (she will be only 2 1/2, after all) but I mention this in the event it makes a difference in your recommendation of the school and whether it's worth making the trek across town.
Also, the neighborhood is great! You can take a yoga class, sit in a cafe, go to the park or library, get a massage (in the same block) or walk up to Solano Ave. with its myriad of businesses and activities. I can't see why you would feel ''stuck'' there. (Of course, I'm biased, I live in the area :-)
Finally, Gay Austin has an ''extended day'' program up till 3pm, so if you need extra time to yourself, you can sign up for this program. With a 2, you'll probably find that at first you're on the waiting list, but by the time summer rolls around, you'll have as many days as you want in extended day.
I would jump at the chance to have your kid there. happy parent
I sent my son to Gay Austin school for 2 years (3yr. and 4yr. program). It is a very warm, supportive program, with great teachers. However, you must have flexibility, as they have a very limited after school care program and don't cater much to working parents. I also found that they sometimes had trouble handling boys who are a bit rambunctious (I noticed this even though my own son is the opposite of rambunctious), perhaps, in part, because of their limited yard space and the fact that all of their teachers/admin. are women. They seemed better equiped to work with girls. I now have my son at Step One (not on your list) for their kindergarten program and am more than happy with it (as is my son). If you haven't heard of it, I would highly recommend checking it out too.
I would like to highly recommend Gay Austin Preschool on Hopkins St. in N. Berkeley. Our 2-year-old daughter has been going there for the past year and it's been an absolutely delightful experience.
It's a very small school, with one class of about 10 2-yr-olds, and slightly larger classes for 3-yr-olds and 4-yr-olds. All ages are separate.
Our daughter was very shy when she entered in the fall. However, we got her gradually used to the separation from us and she NEVER cried once when going to school. As a matter of fact if we ask her, she'll always say she wants to go to school. It seems like a different world from what we hear from our friends, whose young children cried for weeks when they started preschool. Over the school year, we've been able to watch our daughter really bloom and get much more comfortable in social situations.
The two teachers in the 2's program have something like 40 years combined experience teaching just 2-year-olds. They are wonderful! One thing I'm particularly impressed with is how much they actually have taught our daughter, in the context of "play". They have a different curriculum every week, everything is all planned out...yet it feels like the kids are just playing. And this includes academic subjects, art and music, and social skills. Our daughter has learned to read all 26 letters, knows a lot of vocabulary and counting, etc. Plus it's great to watch her (away from school) politely stand in line, ask for what she wants very clearly, or cover her mouth when she coughs. They've done a good job civilizing her as well as teaching her, and all this in a free environment where the children play whatever games they want to.
The only drawbacks are: they take long holidays (corresponding to the Berkeley school system vacations) and it's only part-time, offering no hours after 3pm daily. Makes it a little hard for working parents. We've really had to scramble to find a shared childcare situation to cover the remaining work hours at the end of the day and during their breaks. But we feel the quality of the school more than makes up for these drawbacks.
I think they're making their selections for next fall now, so if you're interested in enrolling, you might want to contact the school immediately. Gay Austin Preschool 526-2815. Cecilia
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