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Re: Reviews of affordable preschools for active boy?
I think it's a bit more expensive than the ones you list (a bit over $1000 per month), but I think Lakeshore Children's Center would be a good fit for your son. They have generous outdoor and indoor play spaces, and the schedule has lots of free play time. Over the years (my daughter did preschool and now their aftercare and camp programs, so 7 year of experience), I've seen lots of really active boys do well there. ''Loving boundaries'' is a pretty good description of the discipline strategy.
Lots of positive reviews of them on BPN. Great hours, minimal holiday closures, great play spaces, extremely low staff turnover, diverse staff and students. And it's conveniently located (for you) next to the Baptist Church on Lakeshore (@Mandana). It's actually run by the church, but it has no religious curriculum. Carrie
Re: Preschool Near Dimond District Oakland
Try Lakeshore Children's Center on Lakeshore by the Baptist Church. My daughter is now in their school-age (camp and aftercare) program, but has been with them since she was 3. It is a full-day (7-6 with extended care) program, typical school holidays but no long shut-downs over Christmas or Thanksgiving, fairly inexpensive by preschool standards, and great staff. They serve breakfast and snacks but not lunch. http://www.lakeshorechildrenscenter.org/ Carrie
We have 3 kids and all 3 have been in different preschools. All 3 places have been very
different and all 3 are great. However Lakeshore Learning Center is beyond a shadow of a
doubt our favorite and not for all the reasons you might think. It's a little funky for
some. Communication is slow and sometimes just not there. (Then again, do I really need
to know how many or what time my kids peed or pooped.) If you're not proactive you'll
miss out on all kinds of great goings on.
they do all the small things so right! They genuinely serve the community, especially
working families, far better than any of the other places we've attended or observed.
Here's what we love and this is in no particular order:
1.The price is right. One set fee. Come and go as you please. 7:30am-5;30pm plus
aftercare until 6. It's more affordable than any place we looked at. There's no ''7-9am
is one price, 9-3pm another, 3-6pm even more.. and if you are 3 minutes late you will be
charged $50 etc etc.'' NOPE! We don't feel like we're getting gouged.
2.Always lot's of staff on hand and you can tell they genuinely love the kids. Many of them have been there for 20+ years. They know what they're doing.
3.They only close for a few days a year! That's amazing. If you've been elsewhere you know this isn't the case. Our last preschool closed for 6 weeks a year AND we had to pay double!
4.They feed them breakfast!!! Incredible! You know how stressful this can be right? Your kid won't eat and you have to rush out the door toast in hand. No worries, they have food laid out for the kids and they eat as they please. Amazing.
5.When they say they help potty train your kid they actually mean it. My son was not potty trained when he started, within 2 weeks he was good to go! He'd been totally traumatized at his last school.
6.''Parents night out'' once a month. YES! If you could see the looks on the parents faces as they drop their kids off. Priceless! And it's not some 6-8 useless offer.. it's 6-10pm for less than $30!
7.They learn so much by osmosis and they play all day. He's got his ABC's down, counting is no problem, even reads a few words and he's only 2. This all happened after we moved him here.
8.The kids are safe and my son loves being there.
9.The teachers love being there too. A++ stephen
Re: Need help planning for 2-year old daughter
Lakeshore Childrens Center may fit the bill for you. It is full time an around $1000 a month (just a bit over that now, I think). They have 2 houses, Kleines Haus, for the 3-year-olds, and Kinder Haus, for the 4's and 5's. They divide each house into groups under different teachers. In Kinder Haus, Joanie takes the 5-year-olds and basically runs a pre-K program. She's a credentialed kindergarten teacher and does a fabulous job with her ''smart cookies.'' My daughter only did 2 years of pre-school, but due to a mid-year departure ended up moving into Joanie's class mid-year, before her 5th birthday. In the 7 or 8 months she was in the class she made great progress on her pre-reading skills. She was almost reading when she started K (starting to sound out letters) and by October of kindergarten she was really reading.
There are many reviews of LCC on BPN. They have great staff and low staff turnover. Some of the teachers have been there 20 years or more, and one of the school age teachers is 2nd generation (his dad has taught at Kleines Haus for more than 30 years). Carrie
Re: Oakland All Day Summer Camp for under $300 week?
Take a look at Lakeshore Children's Center, which runs summer and school break camps, in addition to its preschool and aftercare programs. It is located on Lakeshore Ave, and costs $150 a week (I think). They have a pretty typical summer camp program, with Monday being ''wheel day'' (bikes, scooter, etc at the park), swimming two days a week, field trip one day a week (bowling, ferry to San Francisco, etc.), and arts and crafts one day. My daughter really enjoys it there.
Re: Moving to Oakland in 2 weeks, need preschool ASAP
Check out Lakeshore Children's Center (510.893.4048; http://www.lakeshorechildrenscenter.org/index.html). I believe they currently have openings.
LCC is on Lakeshore Ave and definitely meets your needs in terms of hours; they are very geared toward working families and have coverage from 7 or 7:30 until 6, with good coverage over typical holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's predominantly play-based, has great indoor and outdoor play areas. It's affordable. And, the staff is remarkably stable, with a number of staff members have 20, 30 years or more with the school.
I gathered you were Jewish from the JCC reference, so I want to mention that although it is operated by the Lakeshore Baptist Church, there is no religious curriculum. There are the seemingly inevitable cultural references to Santa Claus and Christmas trees, but my daughter also came home with colored dreidls and menorahs.
There are a number of archived responses about LCC, including one from me that walks through the schedule of a typical day. 6th year with LCC
Re: Oakland preschool openings in January?
Try Lakeshore Children's Center. It often has mid-year openings, and meets your hours and cost requirements. I can't say there's no scolding, but I haven't seen blaming or shaming.
I've written several more comprehensive reviews, which are in the archive, so I won't repeat them here. There haven't been any major changes over the 4 years my daughter has been there (pre-school and now school-age aftercare). The staff is very stable with at least 4 of the teachers now teaching kids of their former students. Carrie
Re: Pre-schools with separate classrooms
Lakeshore Children's Center has two classrooms--Kleines Haus for the 2's and 3's, and Kinder Haus for the 4's and 5's. The kids have some joint outdoor and indoor play time, but instruction, naps and lunch are all separate. LCC is located on Lakeshore in Oakland. There are a number of reviews on BPN, and because the staff is very stable (some teachers have been there 30 years are are teaching the children of some of their former students) you won't find the reviews to be outdated. Carrie
Re: Full-time preschool needed in Oakland ASAP
I'm virtually certain that Lakeshore Children's Center has openings.It is full time and I believe it is currently right around $1,000 a month (my daughter is now in their school-age aftercare & camp program; different rates). So it meets three of your criteria.
There are many reviews posted here on BPN (some by me) and I don't have much to add. The staff is very stable so things don't change very quickly; most of the information is still current. The schedule goes something like open play, circle time, small groups (the academic part), lunch, more play, nap, more play, story time, indoor play. Circle time, lunch, story time and indoor play are probably the only activities that are 1/2 hour or less, and story time and indoor play fill the time between 5 and 6 when parents are picking up. They also serve breakfast and snacks but I think this is very informal and doesn't involve herding all the kids to the kitchen. Carrie
Re: Afterschool Programs at Crocker Highlands Elementary
My daughter goes to aftercare at Lakeshore Children's Center, which provides van drop-off and pickup from Crocker, Cleveland, Glenview and Lakeview. She loves it there and often it is hard to get her to leave. They run camps on many school during the summer, Thankgiving, Christmas and spring break, and do early pickups if your school has an unusual short day, so it is pretty seamless. We don't do mornings, but regular pick-up is 5:30, late program runs until 6 pm.
They are located at the Baptist church on Lakeshore Ave. They are associated with a preschool, which can be convenient if you have younger children. Carrie
Re: Preschool for 3 year old in fall in Oakland
We have been very happy with Lakeshore Childrens Center for our 2 kids very different kids (the quiet one is in elementary now, the spirited one is still there). It's play based, loving, simple, affordable, and full time. Hope you find something better for your girl. LCC parent
I'm considering enrolling my daughter at Lakeshore
Childrens Center this Fall. I'm considering this center
b/c of the following:
-location- I need a center near Lake Merrit or Rockridge
-hrs of operation- I work full time in SF so I need a full day program
-Kindergarten readiness program
Has anyone had any experience with the center? Other things I'm interested are daily curriculum/activity schedule, meals/snacks- generally healthy? organic? etc? Love it? Hate it? Why/why not?? Thanks folks. Looking for affordable preschool
Daily schedule. Typically the kids would have open play from opening time until 10 or 10:30. Then circle time, and then the kids would break into small groups that each work with a specific teacher. This is the academic portion of the day, and amounts to maybe 1/2 hour or so. Then lunch, free play (outdoors, weather permitting). Then nap, which I think ran 2 1/2 hours. Then I think it was more play time. Around 5:00 they would settle in for story time as most parents were arriving to pick up. At 5:30 only the late care kids were left, and they usually brought out the building toys.
Meals and snacks are a mix of healthy/organic and more mainstream (you see Ritz crackers and the like). The Parents Action Committee (PAC) pays for a weekly produce box to be delivered (organic, local), and the director shops at Costco for the rest, buying organic when available and budget permits. There are also the occasional birthday celebrations with cupcakes and the like.
I really like LCC, although I don't think it is a great fit for every kid or parent. It is big, so shy, quiet kids can sometimes get lost in the shuffle (attention-wise). And it doesn't suit the type of parents who want to know and control every detail about what food is served, etc. Which is not to say that the parents can't communicate about issues or that they aren't listened to--they are--but it is far removed from a co-op model.
I like that the students, families and teachers are diverse, including black, white, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, gay, lesbian, mixed-race, hispanic. I like the culture among the parents, who I find I ''click'' with, maybe because in generally being working parents and having chosen this low-key play-based school for our kids, we have something in common. The PAC did a campout at Tilden Park last year and is planning another this summer--organized by parents, for the LCC community. Carrie
I LOVE this school. I chose it for basically the same reasons you did, but I have been delighted with the program for so many other reasons. As you read, the teachers are amazing. There is very little turnover (none among the core teachers during my time there) and all of them are loving and talented caregivers. That goes for the director Rae Rita and Jackie in the office, too. The 'peace academy' philosophy and the multicultural curriculum had created a diverse and welcoming community for both the kids and the parents. I am actually the president of the Parent's Action Committee, and the group is thriving and active. Without being overly demanding of parents, we are able to sponsor additional enrichment activities (some of the recent and upcoming activities: a drumming class, a cooking class, and a visit from Vivarium.) The school also does many activities independently of us, including a very popular movement class and lots of science and art. We also organize activies outside of school because the kids and parents enjoy being with each other so much - for instance we'll have our second annual summer camping trip in Tilden this August, we've done ferry trips to San Francisco, etc.
I have been very impressed with my child's learning progress over the past two years. She is absolutely ready for Kindergarten. They are also very sensitive to the differing needs of kids and pay a lot of attention to their emotional growth and physical needs, as well.
The school provides healthy breakfasts and snacks - you bring lunch. There are no specific 'rules' about food (ie no sugar policy) but I have been generally happy with this. The parents committee helps supplement the snacks with more fruit by paying for a weekly organic fruit delivery.
The school is a nonprofit, so budgets are tight and everything isn't new. But it's clean and cared for. The play yard is great, and it's a boon to have access to the churches reception hall facilities when it rains or when all the classes get together. Although it's owned by the church, it's completely non-denominational. My only complaint is that sometimes the office paperwork and stuff is a little disorganized, but that seems to be a complaint from everyone I know at other schools, too - their primary focus is caregiving, not paperwork.
What else? It's also great that they have an afterschool program which will really help next year when my daughter starts kindergarten. They drop off and pick up at Crocker, Lakeview and Glenview (I think) so I can pick up both kids at one place. I also work full time.
And most importantly, my kids love it. My son already feels at home there and he hasn't even started yet. Today, I kept my daughter home sick, and even though we were having a fun day together she kept asking me if she could go to school because she was afraid she was missing out on the fun. To me, that says it all.
Feel free to email me if you have any other questions. Tara
Good things (for me): Its GREAT value, esp for full time parents. Its a great community--most of the kids live very close by and there is a lot of parent involvement. I love that we run into people from the school just walking around the neighborhood. Some of the the teachers are super warm and loving and caring and have lots of experience. The vibe is very laid back and not precious and they are flexible with hours, etc.--that was really important to me. And, most importantly, my son seems happy there (though I think he would be happy most places).
Things I wish were different (but no place is perfect): reliance on TV (personally I don't think its appropriate for schools to have it unless its a rainy day or something but its not like it hurts the kids), low quality snacks (goldfish, nilla wafers. etc., again not a huge deal), unorganized & not great at communicating with parents (though the parent's group makes up for it), a few teachers aren't the best (not that nice or warm, don't seem like they like working with kids), kids don't get as much outdoor time as I would like in the winter when its dry and not a very structured curriculum for the younger class (its mostly play, which is fine for the 2-3YO but 3-4YO could use more i think).
in the end its just what is most important to you and what negative things you can tolerate, cause every school will have them. good luck! Current LCC parent
Re: Need good Oakland preschool asap. Any openings?
Lakeshore Children's Center might fit your needs. At $905 a month for 5-day 7:30-5:30 care, the price is right. The school has been around for a long time--one of the teachers celebrated his 30th year with the school a while back. They take kids starting at 2.9, and they have to be potty trained, although occasional accidents, or even regular accidents, don't seem to be a problem. There is more about the school archived on the BPN website; not much has changed over the past two years since my daughter started (the teaching staff and director have been the same). C
Re: Looking 4 preschool for 4 yr twins w/kindergarten
I'll put in another good word for Lakeshore Children's Center in Oakland. It is a play-based, full-time preschool geared toward working parents. The kids are divided into two houses of about 24 kids each (the 2's & 3's and the 4's & 5's), but both groups have ample play time together They have a bridge K program. Not a co-op; they ask for 12 hours of volunteer effort per family per year. And perhaps most importantly, the last two years, since my daughter has been there, they have had openings well into the fall. A happy LCC parent
Re: Bridge-K programs in Oakland?
Lakeshore Children's Center has a bridge K class. My daughter has been in the class for a few months and loves it. Joni is a credentialed kindergarten teacher and the head teacher for all the 4's and 5's at LCC. LCC is geared toward full time working parents and has reasonable (currently $905/mo) rates for 7:30- 5:30. Carrie
Hi - looking for any current feedback on this school? Looking to send my shy 4-year old to a good school and this is one on our list. Thanks. Melissa
Re: Full-Time Preschools in Oakland
My daughter goes to Lakeshore Children's Center (3534 Lakeshore Avenue, 510.893.4048). It's a large preschool, 48 students divided into two houses. Regular hours are 7:30 to 5:30, and can be extended 1/2 hour on either end for an exta fee. The teachers are all great and most have been with LCC a long time (one for 30 years). The school is play based.
Re: Reviews of beacon day and lakeshore childrens?
I was in you shoes last year, and looked at both Beacon and Lakeshore Children's Center. My daughter is at Lakeshore now and I am very happy with the school. Lakeshore is very much a preschool. Each week has a theme: saftey, Autumn, friends, etc, and the kids do crafts and projects around that theme in small groups (my table was decorated with her leaf prints, clay pumpkins, clay turkey, and painted leaves for Thanksgiving). There is indoor play when the kids arrive, then circle time, small group time, lunch, outdoor play, nap, free play and reading time.
There is a fair amount of free play--but in the context of a 7 am to 6 pm school (catering to working parents), I think that is totally appropriate. It's all well and good for a half day preschool to be very focused on academics, but the reality is that I was choosing a school both as a school and as daycare (again, that's the reality for working parents). As far as TV goes, I haven't seen that much yet but I think it tends to come out when the weather gets bad. It's a 20 minute DVD, though, not hours of screen time.
I toured Beacon and didn't particularly see it as teacher-led but definitely as more academic. All the kids in the classroom were quietly focused on a few different learning activities. My daughter is very high energy, and I just couldn't visualize her in that environment. I am considering Beacon for kindergarten, though, by which time I expect my daughter will be ready for that kind of environment.
I'm happy with our choice, and particularly happy with the quality of the teachers at Lakeshore. Many of them have been at Lakeshore for years. Some of them had kids that attended Lakeshore. Happy Lakeshore Parent
Re: Pre-Ks in Piedmont/Oakland/Berkeley area
Check out Lakeshore Children's Center. They have pre-K, and also a K class. The K class worked well for us as a pre-K (started public school K the following year). Its a wonderful, diverse community, and Joni is a fabulous teacher! Debbie
Does anyone have any new reviews of Lakeshore Children's Center? Is it still a great program with diverse kids and staff? Thank you! Meena
We are considering Lakeshore Children's Center for our daughter this Fall. The most recent actual parent review is from 2004, and I know there are fewer enrichment activities and other changes since then. They do not admit students until July or so, and we have an opportunity right now to put a deposit at another (farther away, more expensive) school. Lakeshore is in our neighborhood, reasonably priced and diverse. It's not an organic snack, high-end fundraiser, this or that philosophy, all wood toys kind of school, but it seems to have friendly staff and happy kids. It isn't one of the ''in'' schools that other neighborhood parents I know are considering for their children (and thus talking about) so it is hard to know much about it. So, any parents or friends of current parents out there? Thanks! kim
Pros: (1) The school is open from 7-6, it's not terribly expensive, and they are hardly closed, which is incredibly convenient for working parents. There's an occasional holiday but no full week of closure (even at Xmas there were just 3 days closed). (2) They have a very nice play structure and yard, and a huge hall with loads of toys for running around in when the weather's bad -- a very needed thing for 3-5 year olds! (3) Some of the teachers are VERY loving and warm and I'm so happy to see the way my child interacts with them. (4) It's certainly a safe place for the kids to be. (5) They serve a decent breakfast every day, as well as semi-healthy snacks. (6) They have a fun music/movement program twice a month, which we pay for but it doesn't cost too much. (7) The parent group seems to be getting much more active this year, which can only make things better. (8) It is a nice community of families and the school occasionally has family gatherings which are very well-attended.
Cons: (1) They have a great-sounding calendar every month with loads of fun activities, but they follow through on doing the activities when scheduled maybe 50% of the time (a great disappointment to my child, who asks me to check the calendar every day to see what's going to happen). (2) Same with the daily calendar. They don't follow it at all as far as I can tell. They generally do not start ''small group'' sessions on time and many days it seems they skip them entirely -- this is the only ''academic'' portion of the day so it's a disappointment that they minimize it. When they actually do small group my child does get a lot out of it and I'm happy with it -- we've had good small group teachers who really make learning fun for the kids (we've been lucky -- all the teachers are not equal in this respect). (3) Much more of the day than not generally is free play, with only some guided projects here and there. (4) They put the kids in front of tv far too much -- ''movie day'' is on the calendar about twice a month, which I would be ok with, but some weeks it happens as often as 2-3 days (not on the calendar), and they'll have the tv on for an hour at a time. (This happens much more in Kinder Haus than I noticed in Kleines Haus) They do not respond to criticism about that other than to make snide comments to the child(ren) whose parent complains, which is quite unprofessional and unfair to the kids. (5) Communication is not very good.
For us, the pros still generally outweigh the cons and we're sticking it out until kindergarten but I know others who have pulled their kids out earlier than planned, and a number of long term members of the community believe that LCC has gone downhill in the last few years. Hopefully the revived parent group will make some improvements. Lukewarm on Lakeshore
Re: Preschools with Male Teachers
I visited a preschool with (if memory serves correctly) at least one male teacher as well as a male director. That is the Lakeshore Children's Center, on Lakeshore Ave near Mandana in Oakland. A friend of mine whose son goes there recommends it highly. I was also favorably impressed. It is a full-time, full-day preschool -- it has a very nice play yard, lots of great enrichment activities, and field trips about once a month. Their rates are very reasonable. Children must be at least 2.9 and must be potty-trained. If those specifics match what you're looking for (sorry, I didn't see the original post, just the responses) then I definitely recommend checking it out! another mom looking at preschools
I am looking for very recent reviews from parents about Lakeshore Children's Center (LCC). We are considering it for our son next year. Although the school seemed a bit ''grungy'' the staff seems very friendly and the children seemed happy and well attended to. Also, the curriculum seems very rich in cultural diversity and awareness. Our son will be one of the younger students 2.9. Any comments Good or Bad?? Propective Parent
You are right about it being a bit ''grungy'', but part of that is because they are one of the cheaper preschools, and the landlord is the church next door, so I don't think they have lots of cash for that sort of thing. However, the church has been working to fix some things up. Also, the playstructure in the back is only a couple years old, and really improved the physical nature of the place.
The staff for the most part are great. John Dixon who runs Klienes Haus is fabulous. I'm not as wild about the other two women there; they seem a bit disengaged at times and not as warm and fuzzy as you would like for kids that age. But my daughter didn't seem to mind. And Joni and her staff in Kinder Haus are great.
Overall, I obviously like it if I am sending my youngest one there. They have a Parent Action Committee that seems to be suffering from lack of involvement these days as far as I can tell (including me to some degree; Crocker sucks it all up!) so you could get involved and make things (the physical plant) better if you really want to. They love it when people help them out with that. Anon. today please.
Re: Special Needs Summer School/camp While not specifically special-needs, you might want to look at Lakeshore Children's Center summer program. I think it might be a nice alternative to regular camps for a special needs child... It's a year round program so it has a real indoor space, it has a professional staff with lots of experience with kids, and seems to be quite a nice program generally. Oakland Mom
Re: Culturally Diverse Preschools
For what it's worth and since I did not see your original post, I would like to recommend Lakeshore Children's Center on Lakeshore Ave. in Oakland. It is a play based preschool that emphasizes play, arts and crafts, dance/movement, music, and peace amongst friends. Nonviolent communication is used and children are encouraged to be peaceful problem solvers. No toys that resemble guns or other violent activity are allowed at the Center. Many of the families come from all walks of life. I truly love the diversity that so represents Oakland and our world! Contact the Klieneshaus Program Director, John Dixon, for more inforamtion or Rae Rita Thompson, School Director, at 510-893-4048 to schedule a tour.
My oldest is an alum and my youngest currently attends. The teachers and all of the staff are ethnically diverse as are all of the families. The love the teachers have for the kids and the numerous of happy smiling faces abounds! My children have just blossomed there! They offer field trips 2x/month, dance 1/week, and art & music daily. The kids are never in a hurry to just bolt out of there when I arrive - that is always a GOOD thing!
The recommendation I wrote last October, endorsing Lakeshore Children's Center on Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland is on the website. At that time, my daughter had been at LCC for only about six weeks. Ten months after she began, I am delighted to report that my assessment of the school is even more enthusiastic. My daughter has grown emotionally and cognitively, and we have found LLC to be a warm, committed and diverse community of parents and staff. I think so highly of LCC and its staff that I chose to have my daughter continue there in the accredited Kindergarten program, beginning in September. The person to contact for information and appointments is Chris Rymer. His number is (510) 893-4048.
I enthusiastically recommend Lakeshore Children's Center (510-893-4048) on Lakeshore Avenue, near Mandana.My daughter started at LCC in September, after more than three years in family daycare. I was worried about the transition to something larger and less restrictive than what she was used to, but my daughter was blossoming by the end of the first week. She used to come home cranky from her old childcare; now she's bubbling to tell me about her day. Lakeshore's students and the staff are as diverse as Oakland itself, and the shool's self-description is as a "Peace Academy." The staff is warm and loving, and this seems to affect the children, too. I used to regularly pick up a friend's daughter who attended a preschool on Park Blvd., and in three years I never saw as much hugging and affectionate "good-byes" as I observe daily at Lakeshore. There are lots of projects, field trips, and outdoor play, and a very involved and supportive parent population.
One of the list questioners asked about Spanish-English bilingual programs, and that was an interest of mine,too, because my daughter is Guatemalan-born and her family care was bilingual. Lakeshore used to offer Spanish classes twice a week, but its Spanish teacher couldn't renew her commitment to LCC this year. Lakeshore is still looking for a replacement. Personally, I'd love to have another family with a strong interest in Spanish-English education join Lakeshore to keep the pressure on (gently, of course... it's a Peace Academy).
Both of my sons (now ages 13 and 8) were there from ages 3 to 5. My info is therefore dated, but I know that some of the staff (Jon Dixon) I knew then are still there. Back then, it was a very warm and nuturing place that I remember very positively. When my kids were there, the staff, parents and children were a wonderfully diverse group and committed to a curriculum that encouraged the development of children as peacemakers - emphasizing interpersonal conflict resolution skills, and age-appropriate cross-cultural education. When my kids were there, Jon Dixon headed the program for the youngest group of kids. He is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and a real pro. My kids adored him. The Lakeshore Baptist Church, which provides the school facilities, didn't impose any religious training on the program and was very supportive of the school generally. For me, (again, when my kids were there), LCC's emphasis on warmth occasionally meant less order, but I happily accepted the trade-off. Other parents might not. Good luck!
I want to second the rave review of Lakeshore, and I have a somewhat more recent experience there. My son was there from 94-96, from the time he was 3 1/2 till kindergarten. I absolutely loved it and so did my son (we still go back and visit, on his request). The staff is great in general, and there are a few incredible people there, like John Dixon, who have been there forever and are truly gifted with young children. The diversity was a plus for me too, as well as the opportunity to be part of a warm community of families. I never perceived it as disorderly, but they are flexible--kids (like mine) who can't usually do circle time, may be playing quietly while the other kids are in circle. There are clear limits and expectations though.
There is a new director now, and a few staff changes since my son was there, so of course check it out, but it's definitely worth a first and second look--don't be put off by the somewhat grungy facility.
My older son (five) is just about to finish two years at LCC and my younger (three next week) will start there in September. I am extremely happy with the preschool program and would recommend it highly. My kids won't be going to Crocker Highlands elementary school so we won't be taking advantage of the after school program, although I know several kids there and have heard good things about it.
I'll just mention a couple of things that I believe speak highly of the preschool program there:
The program directors of Kleines Haus (preschool) and Kinder Haus (pre-K) have been with Lakeshore for many years. John Dixon, the director of Kleines has just completed twenty years with LCC and if there is anyone that embodies what early childhood education should be, it is John. Joni Nomura, the Kinder Haus director, is in her 8th year at LCC, and she's also an extremely gifted teacher, loving, very perceptive and creative. She has, among other exceptional qualities, an amazing ability to zero in on each child's strengths and really build them up. Now I know that that is what teachers are supposed to do, but I think John and Joni, in conunction with Chris Rhymer, the LCC Director (of Kinder, Kleines and the School Age Program) work very hard to try and fulfill that mission more completely than most. Chris has been with LCC for a couple of years now, and I think he has made the Center even better than it was before. I cannot praise him enough.
I could go on and on, so let me conclude by saying I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have. If you haven't gone and visited LCC, I urge you to do so. Chris gives parents a comprehensive tour. I think LCC is one of the very best decisions we've made for my kids so far.
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