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My son is currently attending Growing Circles and will go to Kindergarten in the Fall. He has been there about 2.5 years. I just love this school! The ratio of teachers to kids is 3/12, which is just what my son needs. Also, Sara Jean, the owner/teacher makes a point to make the school as diverse as possible. One aspect that I love about it is that the older kids help teach the younger kids, which gives them a sense of self-worth and responsibility that is really great to see. I also love the fact that no matter what, rain or shine, they head outdoors each day and trample the streets, parks, museums, produce markets etc of Oakland. The kids need that outside time both to burn energy and to have fun. Additionally, they play and plant in the garden as part of daily/weekly routines, they do art projects, and read/hear stories. Make trips to a local library. Lastly, and probably my most favorite aspect of the school is the great care and thought taken in the food preparation. It is vegetarian (My son and family are NOT) and the snacks and lunches are delightfully planned, nutritious but exciting and NEW. I completely attribute my son's willingness to eat salad greens and kale as a direct result of Growing Circles. Maya
I am writing to recommend Growing Circles preschool on Piedmont Ave in Oakland.
My son LOVED it there; he was always happy to go and didn't want to leave at the
end of the day. GC is home-based, with creative, smart, nurturing teachers and a
low child/adult ratio. The program at GC includes lots of outside time, with
thoughtfully planned art & play projects, as well as music, reading/writing time &
regular trips to the library and local park. All around GC provides a very
balanced approach to early childhood education, offering both structured
activities and playtime. They also provide excellent meals--my son became a great
eater at GC (he started asking for lentils and carrots for breakfast). Of all
the childcare we had for our kids before they started school (including other
preschools & nanny shares), this is the single place where I never worried for a
second if it was right for my child and never felt guilty about bringing him there
instead of having him home with me. I could see & hear from him that he was
thriving, always happy & safe, with activities that supported his cognitive,
creative & emotional growth.
former teacher & Oakland mom with a PhD in education
Thought I'd give a recommendation to this sweet, little preschool as an out-going parent. I have sent both my children to GC and couldn't have been happier with the experience. This is a small, art and play based school.The program is carefully and intelligently crafted to incorporate values and learning through creativity, art, exposure and-most important-play. The kid to teacher ratio tends to be lower than most schools and the teachers the director, Sara Jean, hires are always fabulous-most have a background in art and the projects these kids do are amazing! One year, my older daughter's group made a book of all the months of the year. ''Made'' as in made the paper from wood pulp, made the ink dyes from organic materials, bound the pages into a book, etc. It and many other items are things we'll cherish forever. Nutrition is a huge focus-all food is organic, vegetarian, cooked on site and either grown in the garden or picked up at the veggie box drop off (its too cute to see the group walking through the neighborhood, everyone holding a head of lettuce or a bunch of carrots :-). The kids really eat things like dal and salad and beg for 2nds (or 3rds and 4ths in my son's case). Togetherness, community and cooperation are incorporated throughout the day. The neighborhood serves as an excellent back drop with walks and hellos to the local merchants, trips to the library for story time, the farmer's market, the capoeria studio, the parks, the creek, the senior center, etc. My daughter came out very independent, out-going, sweet and responsible and was well prepared socially, academically and behaviorally for kindergarten and my son will be too. Happy Growing Circles Mom
I am writing this letter to share our families experience with Growing Circles Preschool. We have sent both of our children through Growing Circles. Being parents that would rather be home with their children than work, Growing Circles was the perfect fit for us. I always knew that they would be safe, loved and nurtured. I also knew that they would get plenty of outdoor play and excellent nutritional food. Sara Jean and her staff are bright and truly engaged with the children. One of the most of many amazing things about the school is the curriculum. Art, science and nature education are plentiful plus a lot of alphabet and counting practice. I cannot recommend Growing Circles highly enough. Conscience Mama, Kate Growing Circles Parent
(A letter from a parent to the Growing Circles Preschool Director)
Dear Sara Jean,
First, let me just say how thankful I am to you and your teachers for all that you offer to the children, you guys are awesome! I love the projects my daughter's involved in as well as how much freedom she seems to have. I was feeling happy the other day when she came home with a bag of dirty, wet clothes after being allowed to splash around in the creek with her friends. Yay...she gets to act like a kid at school! Plus, it's a treat for me to see shining faces in the morning and to walk into a school with the smell of something delicious being cooked for my child filling the air.
Second, every time I'm packing my daughter's sister's food for her nanny share, I'm singing your praise (seriously!) for providing my daughter nutritionally minded meals and snacks with no sugar. I get a lot of peace and comfort knowing that while my daughter's in your care, she's eating similarly as she would at home. I can't think of many other places I could send her (including to extended family's) where this would be true. Plus, I have a little more time in the evening to sit and write e-mails rather than packing her food ;-)
Thank you for doing all that is necessary to continue providing an enriching environment for our preschoolers.
Amanda Growing Circles Preschool Parent
I just wanted to rave about Growing Circles Playschool on Howe St in Oakland. It's been a happy 1.5 years that my daughter has been attending. (She wants to go even when she is sick!) We feel that we found the perfect fit for her. We toured several preschools before we found out about this one and for us it was the small size (10 kids and 2+ teachers), delicious organic vegetarian snacks/lunch/milk included, no sugar/TV policy, and the great balance between academics and social play. They do activities outside whenever possible weather-permitting but they do go on an outing every morning, rain or shine. (My daughter loves taking her raincoat/boots on rainy days!) Sometimes they go on great field trips and keep up a good variety of activities and learning opportunities with things like yoga, art, etc. They also learn unique other important life values through composting, recycling, and appreciating what the Earth provides us. The rate is very reasonable (even low considering what you get) and the enrollment is ongoing (though students tend to stay for an academic school year at a time) so I suggest you call Sara Jean for a tour and get on her waiting list, if you are interested. I believe she has a spot opening very soon and then a few in the Fall starting August and/or September. Her number is 510-428-1344. If you want to talk to me or other parents of the school, she will provide referrals! Here is the website: http://www.growingcircles.com/ G.
Re: Looking for Healthy, Loving Preschool for Son
We have had a very good experience with a small home-based preschool in Piedmont called Growing Circles. The food is lovely, organic and often from a farmers' market that the children visit. Breakfast is cooking in the kitchen when the children arrive in the morning and my boys always charge the kitchen to find out what's in store. There are science and art projects and lots of local walking outings and explorations. The 6-8 children get to know each other and become very much like a family. After going to a larger Montessori program with a great reputation and having my boys run over by older children and ignored in the herd, I was so glad to happen upon this happy, cozy little gem. I believe that Sara Jean, the owner/director has at least one opening starting in August. It is 3 days per week, MWF, 8:30-5:30. mama of 2 preschool boys
I would like to recommend Growing Circles Playschool to
parents of children aged 2-5. My daughter has been attending
this program for 8 months now. Sara Jean Schweitzer, the
program director, provides the children with a loving and
stimulating environment. It's a home based program that is
small enough to give each child lots of individual
attention. Sara Jean also brings in art and music teachers,
schedules fun field trips and cooks delicious, mostly
organic, vegetarian cuisine. Her approach is very
professional, fun and educational.
You can contact Sara Jean at: 510.428.1344
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