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Hi - I'm the mom of 2 (4 yo and 20 months) and will be moving to Lafayette soon from Oakland. I'm starting my daycare/preschool search and have read the postings in the bpn archives. I'm looking to see if anyone has more recent/additional information to share - either recommending a specific school/daycare or a concern. Thanks Soon to be Lafayette mom
Another resource is Contra County Childcare Referral- they are like Bananas, and will give you personalized recommendations based on your criteria. http://www.cocokids.org/
Feel free to contact me directly if you have questions- I am just now finishing up my pre-school search for Fall 2010. Jeanne
We are considering moving to Lafayette before the next school year starts so our two older children can go to a school there. In addition to them, we actually have three soon-to-be toddlers. I would like to know if anyone can recommend good preschools for our little ones. I prefer play-based school, but I am open to any kind/method of education. I am looking for a school which has warm, caring childcare providers who know what it is like to be kids. One thing is that,,, I would like to know whether the school takes multiples or not. I know some schools, to my surprise, have a policy to exclude twins and triplets, so I need to know I avoid such schools to begin with. I have tried to learn about preschools in Orinda, Lafayette, and Moraga, but first of all, I did not see many reviews of preschools, and secondly even if there are some, the reviews seem outdated. Any info. is appreciated. Thank you!
Moraga: Nurtury has more days available for 2 and 3 year olds than the traditional 2 mornings for 2-3 year olds and 3 days for 4 year olds Growing Tree has longer hours and more days available also. Mulberry Tree nurturing, structured but only does 2 mornings for 2-3 year olds and 3 days for 4 year olds Orinda: TOPS (The Orinda Pre-School)is a co-op. Child-directed. St. Marks St. Johns Good luck! Not familiar w/Lafayette preschools, sorry. And, I'm not sure abt policies regarding multiples either.Lamorinda mom
I am in the process of researching a few different preschools in the Lamorinda and am totally confused!! There isn't much info on the website about the schools I am looking at so I am hoping that there are parents out there that would tell me about their experience with the following schools (both the good &am! p; the bad): TOPS (The Orinda School), Mulberry Tree, Growing Tree, and Fountainhead Montessori. I am also confused as to the pros and cons of the ''play-based'' vs ''academic-based'' schools. Frankly, they all look like play to me. I would appreciate any advice/recommendations about this issue. Which do you think is better and why? Does it really matter at this age? Thank You!! Confused
The best starting resource for Lamorinda preschools can be found at http://www.lamorindamomsclub.org. I believe Lamorinda residents do not have a large representation on the Berkeley Parents Network, so you aren't likely to get too many reponses to your request. Joining the Lamorinda Moms Club is probably the best way to find out about Lamorinda living. Good luck! Sherry
I don't really have an opinion on the pros and cons of the ''play-based'' vs ''academic-based'' schools. We made our choice by visiting all the potential pre-schools and observing the teachers with the kids. Our decision was easy, as we instinctively knew which ones we liked and felt comfortable with, and which ones we didn't want to consider, even if we weren't able to articulate why.
The LaMorinda Moms Club also has a list of all/most of the preschools in the area, and lists members who are willing to serve as references who you can call and talk to. Not sure if you need to be a member to access the list, but check their website. You can also call me if you want more information, or can't access their preschool list, at 925-692-9773. Good luck with your search! Linda
I currently have one child in Mulberry Tree(2nd year there). I had another child in St. John's 18 month program, and I'm hoping we can get him into Growing Tree next year. I've looked at TOPs and Saklan Valley in addition to the above.
Mulberry Tree: Continues to be a wonderful experience for my child. He loves the teachers, the other kids, the program(play based but very structured), the math and science projects they do, and the wonderful outdoor space. The directors, Suzi and Mary Anne provide strong leadership, knowledgable and fabulous. They have created a warm, loving environment for the children. The downsides...days you can enroll your child are very limited - almost too limited. Either Tue/Thur for 2.8 yrs to 3.5 yrs old and MWF for 3.5-5.5 years old. Only the pre-k program is M-F and space is very limited. Pick-up and drop-off is from the car - you don't walk your child in to the school. Mainly this is due to the design of the drive-way loop and parking lot. You don't really get a chance to see the children inside, converse with other parents etc. on a daily basis. Overall, it's a nice, well run preschool. The kids are happy, the teachers are wonderful.
St. Johns: Also has another wonderful director, Carol. Teachers are great, the program is play based the kids seem happy, but something was not quite right about it. There are not as many of the kids art and things on the walls, the space is a bit bare, there are fewer manipulatives and toys for the kids compared to other pre-schools. I'm not sure if this is b/c they occupy space from the Greek Orthodox Church and they are not allowed to go wild with the decorations or not. It just seemed bare to me.
Growing Tree: Utterly, totally impressed with their directors, the teachers, the space, the stuff (manipulatives, toys, activities), the program(play based,structured) and the warmth of the atmosphere. I have tried for two years to get into this school for both my children but the waiting lists are LONG. I'm hoping my younger child will get in this Fall. The directors welcome anyone to drop in and observe the classrooms. If you like what you see try to immediately fill out and date an application (early fall for following year enrollment) or complete an application at the Lamorinda pre-school fair which is held in October. Best to get in at the 18 month level b/c the older classes are even harder to get in(attrition).
TOPs: located in the grounds of the Orinda Community Church near downtown Orinda. Great location. Co-op. Very limited days and hours. Very geared to stay at home moms. My friends who have children there love it, it wasn't quite my kind of pre- school.
St. Marks: located on Moraga Way in Orinda. Never looked at the program, but close friends rave about it. You may want to consider it.
Saklan Valley: Private school located in Moraga near the Moraga Country Club. Very nice campus for pre-k to 8th grade. Full day program 9-2pm M-F with extended day if needed. Great teachers, impressive philo. and well run. The classrooms are amazing - so much going on. My older son's Berkeley pre-school teacher is now a teacher at Saklan - and she is great! I would have sent my older son here, but simply could not afford the tuition ($11,000/year). I also loved the fact that it is one of the few preschools in the area that offers 9-2 M-F, which is SO HARD TO FIND in Lamorinda.
Old Firehouse: located in Lafayette near the downtown has always been highly recommended to me but the drive was too far from where I live. I've heard great things about this school.
Well, that's what I know and have experienced. I moved here from Berkeley where we went to great preschool(Hearts Leap), and before that I researched over 17 different schools for my first son(you know the first child syndrome - the school has to be the right one!) so I've seen a LOT of preschools in the last four years!! A Lamorinda Mom
We are looking to enroll our two-year-old daughter in preschool this fall in Lafayette. We'd love to hear any feedback on the schools there, especially Diablo Valley Montessori, Old Firehouse School and Child Day School. The reviews in the archive are a little old. Janice
I've heard good things about Diablo Valley Montessori, but I have no personal experience. My daughter goes to Garden Gate Montessori (http://www.gardengatemontessori.com), which is in Walnut Creek, but quite close to the Lafayetter border. A few children at the school come from Lafayette, and I could put you in touch with them if you like. Jaime
My son has a fall birthday and may not be ready for our school district's kindergarten class this fall. He also has some developmental delays that he is receiving special services for. His current preschool is fine, but I am feeling uncertain about their program for 4-5 year olds and am looking for a ''developmental'' kindergarten for 4-5 year olds in the Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Walnut Creek or Pleasant Hill areas. I would like for him to be in a small class in an environment that respects and appreciates individual differences and also has a pre-academic focus. Any suggestions? Thanks! Pre school mom
i have searched the website for information regarding lamorinda schools, but have further questions. our family will be relocating to the lamorinda area this summer. we are in search of a local preschool for our son who will be 3 years old in the fall. it's most likely we will settle down in lafayette or walnut creek. i would love to hear either personal experiences or what you have heard about (ie reputation) of child day school in lafayette, white pony preschool in lafayette or growing tree preschool in moraga.
i am seeking a half day, play based program whose director is well trained and well spoken in child development and child psychology. and i would like to know that this knowledge is passed on to staff (despite turnover) who will be working with the children. i am seeking a nurturing school that prioritizes socialization and feelings vs. academics. additionally, i would love to hear about experiences you may have had in programs where there are children leaving at various times of the day. have you found this to be disruptive to the kids in any way? i plan to send my son to school from 9-12, and some of these programs provide care in the afternoon until 2pm or 5pm for the preschoolers.
I am beginning the search for a new daycare/preschool for my son as he will outgrow his when he is 2. I require full time care (min 7:30am - 5:30 pm), and though I love the idea of a coop, won't be able to participate. I have been surprised at how few options I feel I have. If anyone can recommend their school in the Lamorinda area, I would love to hear it (I am looking for next august). In the meantime, I have been looking at St. John's Preschool in Orinda, and a Child's Day School in Lafayette. I have read the past recommendations, but they are slightly dated, and none mention what ''High-scope'' teaching method is -- which is what CDS advertises. Also, because it is a chain of schools, how does that impact the local program. St John's seems to offer hot lunches, which would be a treat. I can't tell from the literature about CDS. I will go visit after the holidays. Finally, there is another one ''happy smiles'' maybe, that I seem to not find out much about, near Acalanes High School, that I would like to know more about. Thanks! Shahana
The full-time care schools in Lamorinda are: Old Firehouse School (Lafayette), Montessori schools in Lafayette and Moraga, Creative Playhouse (Moraga), Saklan School (Moraga), plus the ones you mentioned.
Happy Times is now called Kids Into Speaking Spanish - Spanish Immersion school in Orinda. It looks like they also offer full- time care.
''High Scope'' is based on the research of Jean Piaget, who believed children learn thru play and in a certain sequential order. These schools let students of mixed ages choose from a wide variety of activities. Sherry
There are quite a few pre-schools in Moraga, and I hear good things about all of them. You probably need to be more specific about the days/times you want, philosphy, etc. As you might expect, many of them have waiting lists.
You should check with the Lamorinda Moms Club (www.lamorindamomsclub.org). They maintain a preschool list of about 30 schools in Lamorinda. I don't know if you have to be a member to get access to the list or not, but you can check. Sherry
Does anyone have any recommendations for preschools in the Lamorinda area. Our son will be two and a half this coming fall. Thanks for your help Vivien
TOPS - the Orinda preschool Although I'd heard mostly good word of mouth about this one (one exception), hours weren't long enough for me and I didn't have the time for parent participation as it's a co-op.
Fountainhead Montessori easy access to the freeway and longer hours. I have a friend whose kids went here and she loved it. The day I visited the 2 year old classroom I didn't like it. Perhaps I was there on a bad day. Perhaps the staff has changed.
Seedlings (at the Lafayette/Orinda Presbyterian Church?) - Too far away from me, but I have several friends who send their kids here and love it. I don't know what their hours are.
St Mark's - preschool hours, extended daycare not long enough. I liked it and have heard many good things about it, but the hours wouldn't work for me.
St John's - daycare hours, but I wasn't thrilled when I visited (3 years ago, now). Some neighbors of mine sent their kids there 6-8 years ago and were happy with it.
One school my kids went/go to part-time (915-245) is Peppermint Playhouse, which I absolutely love. A woman, Chris Phelps, runs it out of her house in Orinda. She has 3 year olds on Friday, 4 year olds Tues and Thurs. 12 kids each day, one assistant working with her. It's wonderful. I wish she could clone herself and start up an 8-6 daycare everyday. Her number is 925-376-7342. I rearranged my work schedule for this one, depending on what days my kids went.
Growing Tree has extended hours available, 8-5, a nice site, and good staff. Some of the classes are a bit big, but we've been happy with it overall.
The Lamorinda Moms' Club put out a preschool list with info on all the area preschools. I picked up one of their newsletters one day and came across it. You can reach them at 925-941-4714.
Good Luck in your search! -Kathy
The schools philosophy is based on learning through play. Time is structured by activities - free play (activities are laid out for children to choose from including a music session), circle time, snacktime, outside play. The ratio is 1 adult to 4 children. The 2 directors plus 4 parents every session.
The Director, Nancy Parry has taught at the school for 19 years. She and the co director Kim are both very experienced, kind, calm and exceedingly sensible people.
We are attending the school in a 2 year old program run by the Accalanes Adult Center. This is a once a week program for children attending with parent/caregiver. It gives you an introduction to the school and it's directors. Big plus is that many of the children attending then go on to the pre school program so your child gets the benefit of the same teahers, friends and classroom. LNS is enrolling now for the Fall. You can book a tour of the school by calling Peggy on (925) 210 1747. Vivienne
Next we moved him to the Child Day School in Lafayette, and we have been thrilled with the place! He has been there about about 16 months and he has thrived there. The teachers and the director are very nurturing, really focus on the kids' developmental needs, are flexible in response to the family's needs and in their approach to the kids (called "child-centered"). I can't recommend it highly enough. It doesn't jump out at you when you visit it, because it's not very fancy, but it is a wonderful, wonderful program.
My toddler is at Old Firehouse School (Child Day School is only 2 and up), and that is another very good program. They are based on a "primary caregiver" model, so your child stays with the same teacher from infancy to kindergarten (assuming the teacher doesn't leave). They reward tenure by giving the teachers a large bonus for staying under "their kids" reach kindergarten. You have to pay for full-time care, though, so it doesn't make sense if you only want part-time. He loves it there, and I know other parents who have also been very happy with it. Both Old Firehouse and Child Day Schoolgo up to Kindergarten and they also have an after-school program for Lafayette Elementary kids. Meri
Does anyone have any recommendations for pre-schools in Orinda? I have checked out past recommendations on the UCB Parents Web Site and they are quite dated. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Emily
I have heard very good things about the Learning Tree in Moraga. That's not Orinda, but I think they are worth looking into. Their hours were a bit too limited for us. We have our 2 year old daughter at Morning Star in Walnut Creek. We really like them. If you like a Montessori program, Diablo Valley Montessori in Lafayette has a good rep also. Les
My daughter, age 7 years, attended the summer camp at the Jewish Community Center. Again all of us were very happy with the experience she had last summer. I do not know about the preschool program, but I image it is of the same good quality. David
We may be needing full-time infant care in the Walnut Creek/Lamorinda area by about mid-February. I checked the website and didn't find any recent information (and not much for this area in any case). If anyone has any current recommendations on infant care in this area, I'd be very grateful. Thanks so much.
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