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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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