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I am writing to give my highest recommendation to Happy Together Preschool on Grand Avenue. My son started at Happy Together when he was just under 2 1/2 years old and he will soon be 5. He is clearly filled with joy whenever he hears it's a ''school day,'' and has not once, in those 2 and 1/2 years, said that he didn't want to go. This has brought a peace of mind to us as parents for which we are extremely grateful.
Monica Haddad and Tim Silk, Director and Co-Director of Happy Together have adopted as their motto, ''Creating a more peaceful world one child at a time.'' I have been inspired throughout my son's time at Happy Together by how deeply, sincerely, and thoughtfully, Monica and Tim (and the rest of the teachers) apply themselves to this ideal. While this is a motto to which I can imagine others paying only lip service, Monica and Tim and the rest of the staff at Happy Together are clearly unified around creating peace and psychological wellness for the children. They work at it moment to moment, one child interaction to the next. The level of equanimity, patience and skill they use to foster empathic, caring, and yet authentic, interactions betwen the children is amazing.
While there are many outstanding things to note about Happy Together (play-based, emergent curriculum, green classroom, healthy snacks, daily creative projects with interesting materials, Spanish language/Jewish cultural teachings, music, visiting fire truck), the truly unique aspect of Happy Together is their philosophical inspiration coming from the principles/teachings of Non-Violent Communication, and from research coming out of The Greater Good Center at UC Berkeley. Under the guidance of Monica, these influences interact to create an environment at Happy Together that feels safe, calm, and consistent, yet is also energized with creativity, spontaneity, and social connectivity. Through modeling, mediating, and teaching, the Happy Together staff inspire the children to increased emotional awareness and tolerance/understanding of each other; they give them language to identify and express what is going on inside them and between them.
I first heard the echo of Monica and Tim in my son when he was around 3, and we began to have an argument about something. He said, ''Is this a dilemma?'' He identified that a ''dilemma'' was when people both wanted different things, and had different feelings in a situation. HIs recognition of conflicts and the drives/emotions behind them, and his patience in seeking mutually acceptable ways of solving them have grown continually since then.
I could say much more, but I will leave it at this: Happy Together has been a truly wonderful, enriching place for us (parents included). The individuality of our son has been delighted-in, and he has been loved and cared for in a way that has left a lovely, peaceful, indelible mark. ginny
The teachers at htP were very helpful as our son started getting ready for potty-learning, and accepted the choices our family made to respect his developmental readiness, and need for some control. They were open to questions and gave helpful suggestions and we felt very supported by them during the process, and that our son was given the space to become ready, experiment over time, and become completely responsible for his own toilet needs. We are a queer family and I have found the teachers and directors to be very thoughtful about asking questions that help them understand how to support our son and our family within the htP community. For example, because my wife doesn't go by ''mama'', but instead is called ''baba'', the directors were helpful in figuring out how to communicate this to the other htP families. They also asked us about our family rituals regarding Mother's Day, wondering if our son might want to to make one card or two, and open to to hearing how our family celebrates this day.
Our son is exuberant, active, impulsive and strong-minded, as well as sweet, loving, surprising, empathetic and excited. htP teachers respond to him with love, gently assisting him to follow school structure, and accept his exuberance and activity as a vital and wonderful part of who he is. I am so glad that we found this wonderful preschool. a grateful htP parent
I was looking for a preschool whose culture matches our own family culture: teaching kindness, empathy, and collaboration. Most preschools out there are very suited for the assertive, competitive, rambunctious child, and the more quiet and considerate kids get lost in the shuffle. My child is quieter, more conscientious, and less competitive, because we haven't taught him to be competitive. I'm a marriage and family therapist, so I know that at this age, teaching competition (whether overtly or inadvertently isn't age appropriate and I believe harmful). Kids in preschool need to feel safe and included, heard and loved.
All of the teachers at HappyTogether Preschool exceeded my expectations. They have gentle personalities that I wish I have more of. I know my child needs to be around calm personalities and I'm glad he's getting it here! Also, Tim and Monica are always so open to working with me whenever I have a concern, unlike my other experiences elsewhere.
My son was at a different preschool last year, where he always played alone and felt overwhelmed. Now he loves going to school and has 5 consistent friends he plays with here! He cuddles with a couple of the teachers, and no longer has any hesitation to voice his ideas! I cannot recommend HappyTogether Preschool enough. Mom of 4 year-old
Re: Preschool for an energetic, kinetic learner?
Hi! May I suggest you visit Happy Together Preschool on Grand ave in Piedmont (by the Oakland border)? Our highly energetic and enthusiastic daughter has attended HtP for the past year and loves it. They do a lot of outdoor play time having both a patio area and a back yard. And they also organize the day with different options so that if your kid doesn't feel like sitting and doing art at that moment another activity is available like trains or sand box or slides. In addition, there is a mix of kids who are all loved for themselves. You can contact the director Tim Silk to set up a visit: (510) 547-2424 ext. 214
In looking for a preschool for my daughter, I visited at least 7 or 8, and spoke with caregivers and parents at quite a few more. A family member joked that we would never find a place I liked, because there were so many things that were important to me that it seemed highly unlikely that I would find them all in one place. I wanted a positive, nurturing environment emphasizing social and emotional learning (where kids respected boundaries and each other without negative discipline), that had teachers who truly knew and valued the children as individuals, and that had excellent parent-teacher communication. I was also seeking a place for my daughter where she would have the space and autonomy to explore their surroundings, where she would be nurtured to focus on process rather than product, and where she would be able to be happy. Then I found Happy Together Preschool. It was all of these things:
1. Positive, nurturing environment that fosters kindness and autonomy. Each of the teachers is gentle, but finds ways to encourage children to self-regulate and help them learn how to engage productively with each other, whether they are high-energy kids or kids who might be considered shy. I have seen crying children gently nurtured into giggling, confident participants, and children whose behavior might have been labeled disruptive elsewhere gently guided into other ways of participating. Whenever I arrive, I see children having a delightful time, while respecting each otherâ€™s space and needs in profound ways for kids of that age â€“ Iâ€™ve seen compassion in these preschoolers that I can only admire. In this environment, my daughter has learned to become kinder and much more aware of the feelings of those around her. The children have many experiences (planting, cooking, art, science experiments) that stimulate their curiosity, but because of the peaceful environment and thoughtful use of indoor and outdoor space they are not over-stimulated (as was frequently the case at her previous preschool). Children have a great deal of freedom to choose different activities, and each day there are wonderful activities set out that enable children to explore materials â€“ to build, paint, create, and think. Heck, some days I want to stay to play!
2. Caring, observant, supportive teachers and community. I love knowing that my daughter will be treated with respect, given both space to explore and support, as needed. In talking with the instructors, it is clear that they know her well and value her deeply â€“ as they do every member of their preschool community. There are huge advantages to the wonderful adult-child ratio, and one of them is that the children really are supported as individuals in ways that a larger center with fewer adults simply cannot do. Children also get lots of language interaction with adults in English and in Spanish (a language in which my daughter has fallen in love, through her experiences at the preschool). I feel as though the community of families sees our differences as strengths â€“ it means a lot to me that families that do not â€œfit the moldâ€ are welcomed and celebrated.
3. Responsive and Communicative. When I drop off my daughter, I feel as though I am entering a peaceful, happy oasis where people listen, authentically smile, and take both children and adults seriously. Every week, there is a detailed email about the previous and coming weekâ€™s activities, complete with wonderful quotes from the children. But what matters most to me is the fact that the staff are wonderful communicators around individual childrenâ€™s needs. This is particularly important for kids who have food allergies or other special concerns, as is the case for my daughter. After bad experiences at my childâ€™s previous preschool, where my daughter sometimes did not receive needed medication and where the overwhelmed caregivers seemed barely cognizant of my daughterâ€™s health challenges, it is enormously reassuring to have an environment where the teachers call, of their own initiative, when they have a question for me about my daughterâ€™s needs in relation to a particular classroom activity/situation. I also feel good that my daughterâ€™s situation is never approached as if it were a problem or an inconvenience, but rather as something we, as adults who all care about her, are working together to figure out and address.
The only thing I wish is that we lived closer to the school â€“ but a little bit of a commute is more than worth it for the quality of life and quality of learning that my daughter experiences when she is at Happy Together. My daughter never wants to miss a day of preschool, and I have no question that this is because it is a magical place for children. -education professor mama
Re: Jewish Pre-school w/ current opening for 3.5 yr old
Try Happy Together Preschool in Piedmont. The adult-child ratio is great, it's an environment where there's lots to do but it's not overstimulating for kids, and they are willing to work with families who are in the midst of potty learning.... The school is primarily secular, but it is based at a synagogue and there is some emphasis on Jewish cultural traditions. My child has thrived there, after a not-so-great experience at another preschool. I'm pretty sure they still have one or two openings.... pleased htp parent
Our family is moving away from the area leaving an immediate opening for a part-time slot at Happy Together Preschool. We are sad to leave such a loving, nurturing environment where our son has thrived. I will miss walking into the sunny yard in the morning full of art projects, garden projects, outdoor obstacles and experiments. I love hearing my son recount dancing while his teacher plays the violin during circle time. The teachers are exceptionally warm, competent, caring, affectionate, and communicative with parents. Their philosophy and curriculum is based on a strong knowledge of child development. HtP has many other great attributes too: green classroom, Spanish language exposure, involved parents, and very thoughtful weekly curriculum plans sent to the parents. I am happy to talk to any interested parents (415.860.1412). You can contact the co-director, Tim Silk, at 510-547-2424. Stephanie
An incident happened the other day that prompted me to post this recommendation.
My three-year old daughter and I were at the zoo, when she saw a boy crying. He was maybe 7 or 8 and was with his mom and was sobbing. My daughter immediately went over to the boy and asked what was wrong and why he was crying. His mom explained that he had fallen in the water and it had scared him. My daughter then asked the boy ''Is there anything that would make you feel better, to feel happy?'' He was so surprised by the question that he stopped crying and then shrugged his shoulders. I told my daughter maybe she could give him a suggestion. She said ''Do you want to do the silly dance with me? I'll show you.'' She then proceeded to dance all around, which made the boy smile, but he did not want to do the silly dance. I told her to give him another suggestion. She then said, ''Hugs always make you feel better. Can I give you a hug?'' The boy agreed to a hug. By this point both he and his mother were smiling. My daughter asked ''Do you feel better?'' and when he said yes she said OK and scampered off.
Now our daughter is naturally sensitive and empathetic, but the behavior she exhibited and the verbiage she used can be mostly attributed to the pre-school she attends. The intention of the school is to model and teach non-violent communication which stresses empathy and clear communication in all exchanges and focuses on identifying and meeting emotional needs. They invite the children to work together to problem solve whenever there is a conflict or someone is upset. When I first discovered them I was excited because that is what we want most as our daughter learns to interact with her peers and the world.
Needless to say we have been thrilled with our experience at Happy Together. The teachers are loving and kind, attentive and patient. They are happy to work with us through any issue and give very valuable resources to parents. We had a long and tough transition since our daughter had been exclusively at home for two and a half years. The directors spent a lot of time talking with us about how to meet her needs. She is now excited to go to school and we are extremely happy with what she is learning through her play and interactions with other students and staff.
Also, as a queer family, we are very pleased with how inclusive the teachers are and how they quest to honor all different types of families and traditions.
I highly recommend this preschool. Carrie
Re: Looking for a small, play-based or alt preschool
Check out Happy Together Preschool on the Oakland/ Piedmont border (Grand Ave). http://www.happytogetherpreschool.com/ It's a small, play based preschool with a high teacher student ratio (12 students, 4 teachers). They are based on the values of non-violent communication and UC Berkeley's Center for the Greater Good. It looks like a Waldorf classroom with regards to the natural toys and they have a sweet, outdoor space. My daughters love it, and Id be happy to talk with you further about it. madamson
Our two year old started Happy Together Preschool in January and we are very happy with the program. After an initial adjustment period (to be expected at his age), he is now excited to go to preschool. The curriculum is well thought out and meaningful (and based on principals of child development), although to him it is simply ''fun''. The teachers are calm and friendly and he has really bonded with the founders and primary teachers, Tim and Monica. I appreciate that the classroom and toys are ''green'' and that he can choose to explore inside or outside. The small size of the space and class is nice and he seems to be getting quite a bit of teacher attention. Tim and Monica are responsive to parents' concerns and questions. Stephanie
My twin girls attend Happy Together Preschool and we love it. I am a pediatric Occupational Therapist and have worked in many early childhood educational settings, and therefore was pretty picky about what preschool we chose. But it has met my high expectations, and my girls love going. My girls had been home with me exclusively for the first three years of their lives, but Monica and Tim and the other teachers made the transition to preschool an easy one for them. The student teacher ratio is such that the teachers are able to give the children the individual attention they need and take the time to intervene when problems arise, specifically helping the children learn better social interaction and communication skills. My girls are shy and would probably get lost at a large center based preschool, so I appreciate that their teachers know what's going on with them each day. It feels like the teachers here really love children.
Every time I have observed I have been amazed at the calmness of the classroom, especially considering it's full of 2- 4 year olds! But the teachers are great at facilitating child's play. They also have a well rounded curriculum, with lots of cultural activities included, one teacher who plays the violin for the children, another bilingual teacher and lots of indoor/ outdoor choices for the children. Please feel free to email me with any questions. M A
Re: Preschool that accepts 2.2 yr olds& has 2 openings
You should definitely look at Happy Together Preschool in Piedmont. The director is bilingual, too, (Spanish) & incorporates the Spanish language into the curriculum. The school is absolutely geared toward social and emotional development in a play-based environment. The teachers are highly-skilled at fostering cooperative play among the kids (quite a feat!) and teaching the children how to identify and express their feelings -- skills to last a lifetime! My 4-year old son attends & has grown tremendously in all regards since he enrolled, including the academic part which has just seemed to fall into place as a result of the play-based activities (the teachers make learning FUN for the kids so that the kids seem to learn without even knowing that it's happening). Last I heard, they had a few openings for the 2012-13 school year. Their website is www.happytogetherpreschool.com. (East Bay Mama)
Our 3 year old daughter started at happy together preschool on October and it has been a great environment for her. She had not been in daycare or preschool prior to starting at happy together and Monica and Tim have been very helpful with the transition. Our daughter has wonderful stories after each school day about the art projects she has done, the stories and songs she has learned and the games she played with the other kids. We were looking for a smaller school and the 8 kids maximum is perfect. The space is clean and inviting with areas for dress up, art projects, story and circle time and an outside play area. Monica and Tim communicate with the parents each week with a blog and pictures of previous classes and it keeps things running smoothly. I really appreciate the work they do outside the classroom as well as during the school hours. You will not be disappointed if you choose to become involved with happy together preschool! Rebecca
Re: Preschools in Oakland/Berkeley for 2-year olds?
Happy Together Preschool in Piedmont is enrolling 2-year olds. You can check their website for details (www.happytogetherpreschool.com). Their curriculum is AMAZING. I HIGHLY recommend them! (another East Bay Mom)
My daughter attends Happy Together Preschool (HtP) in Piedmont. She just turned 3 this month and started HtP in September. They do accept children as young as 2. My husband and myself also wanted a low student to teacher ratio and after looking at numerous places HtP was exactly what we were looking for. The teachers, Monica and Tim, are attentive and work with the parents and the children to have a smooth transition. They foster communication among the children and are wonderful at allowing the children to engage in their own interests while developing and learning. I find myself to be very critical and it has been a relief to have my daughter attending a preschool that I feel is a second home to her. She loves talking about her teachers and her friends at school. Jennifer O
Re: Looking for a small preschool for 2-year-old
I would recommend looking at Happy Together Preschool. My three-year old son is enrolled there and has classmates who have just turned two. The directors of the school are able to give focused attention to every single child and actually plan their curriculum according to the children's interests. They helped us with an easy transition from home-care to school setting, including potty training support. Since starting, my son has learned to play cooperatively with his peers, recognize and express his feelings, draw shapes, sing, and appreciate science and nature. The best part is that my son genuinely enjoys going to school. It's wonderful & I highly recommend it. Orinda mom.
Our daughter has been attending htP for several months now and I can't say enough wonderful things about it. This was her first experience with childcare outside our home, and Tim and Monica have made it a wonderful transition for all of us. They're extremely attentive and accommodating, especially with the younger ones just starting. When our daughter first started we thought there was going to be some major separation anxiety for her, especially since she tends to be hesitant with new surroundings and situations. But she was having fun and comfortable there from day one, it was a happy surprise. As well, they were so patient when our daughter, soon after starting, decided that she was ready to toilet train. I'm sure her decision was influenced in part by the toilet training modeling of the older children at school, but I also attribute her readiness to her comfort level there. Tom and Monica are very attentive and wholey engaged with the children during the school day. Our daughter is completely at ease there and always looks forward to school. Monica especially has an insight into the early childhood development that has been such a help for us in navigating through our daughter's more challenging developmental stages (she's 2 1/2). Overall, htP is a warm, calm and creative environment that we all enjoy being a part of. Katie
My son attended Happy Together Preschool from ages 2 1/2 - 3. I was very happy with the small and intimate setting as my son needed a calming environment to come out of his shell. Monica and Tim gave a lot of one-on-one attention and he was able to grow and become more independent. He loved the balance of art, reading, and writing projects as well as playtime and circle time. He learned to interact with other children and really get to know them since it is such a cozy setting.
I was very pleased with Monica and Tim's parent/teacher communication. They took the time and resource to have my son observed by a veteran preschool teacher to better their approach at connecting with him as he tends to be introverted. We found this very helpful and as parents we also learned a better way of communicating with him.
I also enjoyed their weekly curriculum emails as well as the photos they would send of the children enjoying their day at HTP. Another benefit is they accept children in diapers and will also help with potty training.
We have recently left the school for a full time program which is much larger with a total of 20 children. I believe that his time at HTP prepared him for a large social environmental like our new preschool. Rockridge mother
Re: Preschool in Berkeley Hills and Piedmont
Responding to both inquiries about a Preschool in Berkeley Hills and Piedmont AND an Affordable PT Preschool: Please consider looking at the Happy Together Preschool in Piedmont! It is run by a lovely husband/wife team with many years of experience and training in the Marshall Rosenburg Non-Violent Communication method. This approach helps children (and everyone!) learn to both express feelings and needs as well as learn to listen to otherB%s needs/emotions. It is an emergent, play-based curriculum with an ever-changing variety of activities, art projects, sensory and tactile explorations, and rounded out by both Spanish language story time/songs and Jewish culture (we are not Jewish).
The classroom is lovely - with no media or plastic, but rather a variety
of wonderful wooden toys, art spaces, soft soothing colors and a homey
feel. The hours are part-time, the fun is not! Monica and Tim are calm,
endlessly patient, and really pay attention to your child and their
individual personalities, learning styles and interests - and then
INCORPORATE those into their activities, story choices and play!
We have had a very positive experience there with our three-year old son,
and I HIGHLY recommend that you visit one of their informational meetings
happening this month.
Happytogether Preschool at Kehilla Community
Synagogue 1300 Grand Ave, Piedmont, CA 94610
Re: Preschool in Berkeley Hills and Piedmont
Hi Amy, I would highly recommend Happy Together Preschool (www.happytogetherpreschool.com) in Piedmont for your 2 yr old daughter. Our daughter who is now 2+ yrs has been going there starting this fall and she is thriving so far - she requests to go to school every day. They currently have a 2-3s program. The directors Monica and Tim are very warm and caring and have designed a very open and creative environment. The school is play-based and follows the passions of the children. Our daughter comes home excited about the new things she has learned about nature, having created innumerable collages and paintings, cooked soup and other nutritious food items, jumped and played with balls and read stories. The school is small and nurturing and brand new! (though Monica and Tim have substantial prior experience working with young children). There are many conceptual, eco-friendly toys which inspire imaginative play. The entire play space was redone by Monica and Tim and is well thought out. Monica speaks Spanish as well. Rebecca
I also highly recommend Happy Together Preschool (www.happytogetherpreschool.com). Our daughter who is now 2+ has been going there starting this fall and she is thriving so far - she requests to go to school every day. The directors Monica and Tim are very warm and caring and have designed a very open and creative environment. The school is play-based and follows the passions of the children. Our daughter comes home after local field trips excited about the new things she has learned about nature, having created innumerable collages and paintings, cooked soup and other nutritious food items, jumped and played with balls and read stories. The school is small and nurturing and brand new! (though Monica and Tim have substantial prior experience working with young children). There are many conceptual, eco-friendly toys which inspire imaginative play. The entire play space was redone by Monica and Tim and is well thought out. Monica speaks Spanish to our daughter as well. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Parent. Rebecca
I'd like to recommend Happy Together Preschool on Grand Ave. in Oakland. This is a newly opened preschool which is at Kehilla, a Jewish Renewal Temple. My son has been attending since they opened two months ago. This was his first experience with any kind of care outside of our home and Monica and Tim were very understanding of my son's needs. They helped him to gradually transition and acclimate to the new situation. They also took time to call me to discuss the plans each step of the way. They use non-violent communication tools to help each child feel heard and understood. I've seen my son grow so much during these first two months at Happy Together.
The school has a Waldorf inspired interior and a nice outdoor space with a covered area, custom built climbing structures, sand box and water table. It is very clean and thoughtfully designed. They do fun activities with art, challah making on Fridays, sensory and fine motor play, singing and stories....My son comes home happy and is always excited to go to school.
Monica and Tim are incredibly compassionate and patient with children. They have open enrollment and are ready to welcome new students to the school. I highly recommend Happy Together to parents, especially those whose children have never been to school. Feel free to email me if you have questions. Kaibrina
Hello all parents looking for a different approach in their preschool!
I would like to recommend a WONDERFUL little preschool called HappyTogether Preschool, on Grand Ave. (across from Ace Hardware). If you, like me, are looking for a non-media environment for your child (i.e. no Disney characters or electronic toys!) that uses a nurturing, whole-child approach and emphasizes emotional growth and well-being (using the Marshall Rosenberg Non-Violent Communication methods) as well as child-led interests in a natural, nurturing, calming environment (open-ended toys, all-wooden furniture, natural fiber carpets, green classroom in all aspects!) - please consider the HappyTogether Preschool!
Monica Haddad and Tim Silk are absolutely lovely people - they are calm, amazingly focused on the children, patient, skilled listeners, and really pay attention to your child's needs, interests, strengths, and take into account the parent's own preferences as well. For example, we are really hoping to keep up our 3.5 year old's Spanish and as Monica is certified in teaching Spanish to children she incorporates lots of Spanish with him throughout the day in the form of songs, conversation, story time, etc.
My son seems very happy there in the month and a half that we have been attending, even asking when will he be going to school on the days where we are home (they also have flexible day scheduling, until 2:30pm), and they have even managed to get him back into a nap/resting routine that he had abandoned last year, or so I thought! They also incorporate Jewish cultural enrichments, and while we are not Jewish, our son loved being able to help make his own Challah roll and proudly brought it home to share with the family. I recommend them HIGHLY.
The schools website is www.happytogethpreschool.com and the phone number is 510-547-2424 x214.
Please feel free to contact me if you have more questions. Meredith
Re: Preschool for 3 year old
I highly recommend Happy Together Preschool (www.happytogetherpreschool.com) on Grand Avenue (at Oakland Avenue). The directors Monica and Tim have cared for my daughter well at the precious age of three (and beyond). They always treat her with great respect and kindness, and have a deep appreciation for who she is as an individual. The environment at Happy Togehter is loving and thoughtful. Tim and Monica provide the children with a fantastic opportunity to flourish in a healthy, nurtruing environment. Kids are given a lot of detailed, personal attention - as well as an opportunity to learn Spanish, and the principles of non-violent communication. Sincerely, Kara
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