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Montclair Community Play Center (MCPC) (Oakland, CA)

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Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Preschools & Daycare > Montclair Community Play Center (MCPC) (Oakland, CA)


At MCPC, we have 3 distinct programs: a Toddler program for 2-3 year-olds, a Preschool program for 3-5 year-olds, and a Bridge Kindergarten program for 5-6 year-olds.
April 2014

My son attended MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center) Bridge K the Fall of 2011. He turned 5 in August so he was eligible to go to Kindergarten but we decided he was really at the cusp and why not give him another year?? Kindergarten is tough these days, not like K when we were growing up. My husband is also European and in many European cultures, academics at 5 is not the norm. My experience is that children all catch up academically but social/emotional catch up is difficult. Why push them? Anthea Peck is the Head Bridge K teacher and is wonderful. The transformation from the beginning of the year to the end and confidence going into Kindergarten is priceless. Jennifer


Feb 2014

My 7 year old attended the MCPC Bridge K program and my little guy is all enrolled for this coming year. Teacher Anthea is amazing. This program gives them an emotional, social and academic year of preparation, growth and fun! It is getting increasingly popular with the Sept 1 cut off. Bridge K to me is much better than a 3rd year of preschool. Also, for summer etc. bdays that are just not ready yet for the kindergarten curriculum (very different than when we were kids) or they are just not socially/emotionally ready and they need another year to build confidence. Jennifer Jennifer


March 2013

If your pre schooler is young or not quite ready for kindergarten, I highly recommend MCPC Bridge K School in Montclair. My son could not be happier & loves going to school...even wants to go on weekends! It is the perfect transition from pre school to kinder. Teacher Anthea is very killed & the kids are respected & listened to...it is amazing to watch the thoughtful redirection & positive response from the kids in return. My son's time at MCPC will, no doubt, be some of his fondest early school memories. leah


Aug 2012

MCPC has a curriculum rooted in play and hands-on experience. Pre-literacy and pre-math are taught through art projects, science experiments, drama, music, cooking, and carpentry. This program emphasizes social skills, emotional literacy, and helping children learn to solve conflicts. [I think there are here are spaces available now in the Bridge kindergarten program] For more information on The Bridge K go to: http://www.mcpckids.org/bridge-k
yeye


May 2012

If you are on the fence about whether or not to send your fall birthday child to Kindergarten or a ''Bridge K'' preschool class, I have a great school for you to consider. MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center) is a non-profit play-based co-op nursery school that is amazingly supportive and creative. Your child needs to turn 5 by December 31 of this year to be eligible and enrollment is limited to 12 children. Two teachers and 1 parent work with the Bridge K kids each day, and if you know anything about public schools, this ratio is unbelievable! My first son (birthday 11/20) went to a private school for 3 years before starting Kindergarten at our local Oakland public school. His Kinder year it was 24 students to 1 teacher, no aides. My youngest son, who will graduate as a Bridge K ''Bobcat'' this year, was at a family daycare for 1 1/2 years before MCPC and I have to say that between the daycare and MCPC, he is better prepared for Kindergarten than my $40,000-worth-of-private-school son was. My Bobcat is thrilled to go to school each day, and between trips to the library, sewing, painting, gardening, cooking: academically he is already writing and reading at a beginning 1st grade level. That could just be due to his own readiness, but whatever level the child is at, Teachers Therese and Anthea are able to bring out the best in him/her. The teachers are warm, loving but firm and able to work with the kids on the social skills and habits that will be needed for Kindergarten. The only bummer about this program is the time- it is offered from 1-4 pm M-F. I have had to change my habits to take advantage of the afternoon time when he is in class, but I have come to really appreciate the mornings that we spend together. I feel like this year has been a gift to both of us- this 1 amazing year before the demands of Kindergarten has enabled him to build confidence and self-esteem and ''play'' while learning. I think that will have life long benefits; he sees himself as a child who is capable and successful at school. For instance, 2 of the children that my older son started Kinder with that were very bright but 2 of the youngest in the class, have now had to repeat 1st grade- not because of academics, but because of lagging behind emotionally. You are welcome to contact me for more info about our experience there, or call Jennie Votel at 510-316-3529 to schedule a ''playdate'' with the Bobcats while class is still in session. Or, you can e-mail her at jvotel@yahoo.com. There are still spots for fall. I don't think that many parents have heard about this newer Bridge K class at MCPC, and our experience there this year has been so great that I just needed to share it with other like-minded parents! Lou


May 2012

I wanted to make a plug for the MCPC Bridge-K Program. I know they still have open slots, and I cannot say enough good things about it. All of the teachers at the facility are fantastic - but I have a special place in my heart for the Bridge-K teachers. Anthea and Terese take the time to know each child on an independant level and always have time to chat with a mom over what went on during the day, questions, or concerns.

I opted for the Bridge-K vs Preschool because there's just that little bit ''more'' that they can gain. I feel like he's much more ready for Kindergarten than he would have been without the program.

I give a big thank you to the teachers for making this transition in his life so happy, and for helping him prepare for the big move to Kindergarten. I would recommend this program to anyone. Amy


March 2012

Re: Looking for a preK or Bridge K in Oakland
Look into the Bridge K program at MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center). My child is in the preschool program there and I've seen first-hand the quality of the curriculum and the amazing, skillful teachers involved in this little gem of a Bridge K. The kids are nurtured and challenged, with plenty of art, science, literacy building, and lots of fun, imaginative play. The group is small and the student/teacher ratio can't be beat. From my observations, the teachers never miss a moment to enrich and support the kids emotionally and intellectually, and there is an emphasis on social skills and conflict resolution. MCPC is a parent co-operative, so you get to be directly involved, but the participation requirement at the Bridge K seems manageable for working parents. www.mcpckids.org mcpc parent


I'm not sure when your child turns 5, but you might consider checking out Monclair Community Play Center's Bridge-K program at mcpckids.org. It is a much more affordable program than most in the area, and it is an amazing community. Hope that helps! Good luck. Anthea
Feb 2012

I'd like to make a plug for the pre-school my son attends. He attended two other pre-schools prior to Montclair Community Play Center and it's wasn't until MCPC that I realized just how dissatisfying the other two schools were.

MCPC has been a wonderful school for our son (who is in the Bridge-K program), and a great community of people. The two Bridge-K teachers are terrific. They are knowledgeable about the developmental milestones of preschool children and are continually developing that knowledge further. Before our son even began at MCPC, one of the teachers came to our house and spent an hour with him, focusing completely on him and what he wanted to do. That attentiveness has continued throughout his time in the Bridge-K program.

At his previous pre-schools, our son cried nearly every day at drop off and when asked at the end of the time there about how the day went, he'd respond, ''fine'' in a heartbreakingly apathetic way. At MCPC, however, he has come out of his shell so much. Drop-off is no longer a traumatic experience. He has friendships that he talks about and projects/themes that he is enthusiastic about. When asked about his day, a common response is that it was ''super great.''

Hard to beat that. Check it out. Happy MCPC Dad


Feb 2012

Re: Looking for pre-school for visiting five year old
Have you looked into the Bridge K program at MCPC?

I have been at MCPC for two years with my son in the preschool program. The teachers are fantastic and the community is the ''village'' I've been looking for to help me raise my son. We've had such a wonderful time and both my son and I have grown in so many ways. I cannot say enough great things about MCPC!

The Bridge K Program is an extension of the co-op Preschool Program located in the Oakland hills. The BK class runs from 1-4pm Monday through Friday with Parent Participation once every 2-3 weeks. It's a play-based program with a very rich curriculum.

For more info, check out the website, mcpckids.org Good luck! Tristan


July 2011

Re: Seeking excellent Pre K program with 2011 openings
Hi! I have 2 sons, both with late fall birthdays. We had my older son continue with a Pre-K year at his local private school and he entered public Kindergarten at age 5 and turned 6 y.o. two months after the school year started. We don't regret waiting, at all. Kindergarten is no joke these days! What we do regret is spending over $38,000 for 3 years of playdough, snacks and napping when he could have been just as prepared and had just as much learning as at MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center). My 4 year old will be going starting there this fall, and it is amazing! There will be 2 incredibly overqualified teachers to about 10 children, and I love Teacher Therese already. Our private school had some great teachers, and some not-so-great teachers, and there was quite a bit of turnover and lots of drama. MCPC has been around a long time, they get it, I have done their Toddler programs and summer camps and it is always more organized than the private school was. Check it out, I have looked at many schools around the East Bay for over 7 years, and MCPC is still at the top of my list. lou


Jan 2011

Re: Recommendations for preschools in Montclair area?
I want to invite you to visit our fantastic co-op school, Montclair Community Play Center (www.mcpckids.org). My son started there in the fall, and we have been thrilled with the school and the community. MCPC is a close-knit community of 25 families. The curriculum is incredibly rich, the professional teachers are devoted and experienced, and the opportunity to be involved in your child's education is just wonderful. Plus, it's incredibly affordable, for such a high-quality program.

We're leading tours every day in February. You can check out the web site to learn more about the school, or ask the moderator for my email address and contact me directly if you want more first-hand information. Mom of a happy MCPC kid


Jan 2010

Re: Program for 4 yr-old not quite ready for K?
My 4 year old is in a similar situation. He is currently at MCPC (which we love!) and they are starting a new bridge-k program this year. It sounds amazing. The parent info night is Thursday, February 4th at 7:00. Good Luck! lori


Jan 2008

Hello, I'm exploring different pre-schools in Oakland that are parent cooperatives or have highly engaged parent programs. So far, I'm aware of Peter Pan (Maxwell Park), Sequoia (Montclair), and Inch-By-Inch (Mountain Blvd). Do parents have any others to suggest? Thanks--much appreciated! Laura


The Montclair Community Play Center ( on Thornhill about 2 1/2 blocks from Hwy 13) should be on your list. We have been SUPER happy there. It's hard to get in because the applications to openings usually is 3-1, but it's worth applying'cause you might be lucky. The teachers are fabulous, the curriculum is interesting/stimulating and the physical plant is clean( parents keep it cleaned daily!) and nice. I think that learning from the teachers has made me a better parent. The parents-only information night ( mandatory attendance) is Wed, January 23rd at the school. Call the school to find out what time it is. After you get the big picture from that, you can get a tour when school is in session ( you and your partner and your child are encouraged to come). Good luck! Jean
Feb 2007

Re: play-based schools?
My child is currently enrolled at MCPC. We have been very happy with the program, the curriculum, and the director. I can't speak to the issue of kindergarten readiness, but I did want to address your situation as the parent of twins. At MCPC, we try to divide parent duties so that each family is responsible for roughly 1/25th of the aggregate workload. Each family has one workday, one ''job,'' specific fundraising obligations, etc. In order to keep this equitable, parents of twins (who reduce the community from 25 to 24 families) are asked to perform the full range of duties for each enrolled child. In other words, parents of enrolled twins would have two workdays each week, two jobs, twice the usual amount of fundraising obligations, etc. I believe the only exception to this is attendance at the monthly parent education meetings. I don't mean to warn you off MCPC -- it's a great school, and we have had twins enrolled in the past and have an alumni set due to begin in 2008 -- but if you think the increased workload might be an issue for your family, it might be worthwhile for you to inquire about the policies for families with twins at each of the schools you're considering before you get very far along in your search. Best of luck to you. MCPC Parent


May 2006

Re: Desperate for a Summer Preschool Program
MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center) on Thornhill in Oakland offers an excellent morning summer camp program for that age group that runs for about 6 weeks, broken into two sessions. My daughter attended for the last three summers, but now she will no longer be eligible as she is moving on to first grade. She keeps asking me if she can go again! The camp gives priority to incoming or continuing students, but they usually have some open spots for those just interested in summer camp. Unlike their regular preschool co-op program, there is no obligation for you to work It's just drop off. For more information, go to www.mcpckids.org. Good luck! tiffany


January 2004

Looking for inpute re Montclair's Community Play Center's Preschool program. Can anyone share their experience with sending their child there in the last 2-3 years? Is the space big enough? Does anyone feel it is too ''play based'' and not enough structured activities or ''learning''? All input appreciated. looking for insights into MCPC


My daughter is in her second year at MCPC. I can not say enough great things about MCPC. Susanna the director and Marianne the teacher are both wonderful. My child has florished there. You asked whether it is ''too play-based.'' I'm not entirely sure what you are asking. If you are asking if your child will be bored, the answer is absoultely not. There are many activities available to them. The curiculum is very rich. There are all kinds of things going on. You also ask if there is enough ''learning.'' It is not academic, and they do not work on letters. They do, however, learn a great deal. The social skills they learn are invaluble. It's great to see two boys who previously hit each other over a conflict be able to talk it out and work out their conflict. They also learn science, pre-math, and pre-reading (they often cook their own snack.) The art projects are varied, and sometimes I'm jelious that I can't take a branch of leaves and dip it in paint and slap it on a huge piece of paper when I saw that was the art project.

Is the space small? Yes it is. It works though. The kids can run and jump. Some play their own version of football with goals and everything.

There are alot of great pre-schools out there. MCPC is one of them. You need to figure out what kind of philosophy that you want your child's preschool to have whether it be play-based, montessori, or what not. The information night for MCPC is next week, so you can check it out yourself. (check the website for the information www.mcpckids.org )There is also a school tour scheduled at the info night for a school day, so you can actually see the school on a typical day. It's a great place. I hope you consider it in your search. (I hope I wasn't too preachy. I'm just passionate about the place.)

A Fan of MCPC


Nov. 2003

Re: Afternoon Mom/Toddler Classes
Hi - The Montclair Community Play Center has classes most afternoons 3:30-5 and may also have some early afternoon classes beginning at 1 or 1:30. These classes have everything you are looking for - free play, circle time, snack time. Go to http://www.mcpckids.org/ and follow links to toddler classes. Enjoy! Ioana


I recommend MCPC's afternoon toddler class. It has been a while since I did it with my daughter, but at the time there were two classes to choose from - 1:30 and 3:30. It is basically just like preschool except a parent or caregiver stays and it is an hour and a half. MCPC is located across from Thornhill Elementary school in Montclair. Lisa
MCPC in Montclair has exactly what you are looking for. You can find all the information on www.mcpckids.org It's a pre-school in the mornings, and in the afternoons is has a toddler program with parents attending. It's a great way to meet other parents as well.
Jan 2003

Does anyone have any recent experience with Montclair Community Play Center preschool? I'd like some more recent feedback than what is on the website. Also, if there are any other preschools in the Montclair area that you might recommend. Thanks. Cecile


To the person looking at Montclair preschools...have you checked out Montclair Community Play Center? Our Web site is www.mcpckids.org. MCPC has been around for over 70 years, and is a parent co-operative. We have a director whose teaching is inspired, another great teacher, and 4-5 parents working each day, so the ratio for kids to adults is excellent (about 6:1). We offer a play-based developmental curriculum, with lots of art and science projects, and an incredible focus on conflict resolution--we are trained to help kids resolve their own conflicts. Our co-op requires 1 work morning per week, holding an administrative job, and a number of 2nd year parents are on the board. As my son visits kindergartens, I hear, without fail, how the kids from MCPC are unusually prepared for kindergarten. The emotional care they get at MCPC is really great...and you get a wonderful chance to be with your child as they start off on their educational journey. Anyway, if you want more info, check out our Web site. We'll be having a prospective parent information night from 7-9 on Jan. 29. Interested parents must RSVP. We'll also have a table at the East Bay Moms preschool fair on Jan 25. Good luck in your search! Therese
Dec 2002

Re: Afternoon Mom & Toddler Classes

I recommend the toddler program at MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center). It is located on Thornhill in Montclair. THere are two afternoon classes - I think at 1:00 and 3:30 - most days of the week. It is just like preschool only shorter and a parent (or caregiver) must attend with the toddler. There is lots of indoor/outdoor freeplay, a snack and story time, and a circle/music time. My daughter and I started when she was 18 mo. and it was a great way to get her ready for school. Lisa


I have heard great things about the parent/toddler program at MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center)... like a weekly ''preschool'' for toddlers and parents together, complete with messy art projects, snack and circle time. I believe it's an hour or an hour and a half each week and that they are taking sign-ups for the next session right now. Check out the website at www.mcpckids.org Sarah
July 2002

Has anyone attended the toddler program at the Monclair Community Play Center? There is an old posting recommending the preschool, but I'm wondering if anyone has had recent experiences with the toddler program. Thanks! Christine


Our son has been in MCPC Toddler program since he was 18 mos old (completed two sessions) and we LOVE it! The program is very loosely structured, perfect for young kids. The teacher sets up lots of activities for the children such as crafts, art, puzzles, trains, waterplay, etc and most of the session (1.75 hrs) is free time for them to play indoors or out in whatever they are interested in, with the only structured times being a nap/story time (families switch off bringing snack) and a circle time with singing at the end. We attend the Saturday morning session, since our son naps in the afternoon when weekday sessions are held (after the regular preschool schedule) which allows my husband and I to switch off accompanying him. My husband enjoys the time with his son and other kids and likes the other the parents who attend with their children (lots of dads in the Saturday session.) The classes are small (12 children) enough not to be overwhelming, and a lot of the children from our first session were also in our second, so there was nice continuity there as well. I will say that at 18 months our child was the youngest, and probably a child of two would get more out of the activities besides free play in the yard than an 18 month old, but the teacher is very kind and accomodating and tries to find things to engage all the children. You also get preference in preschool enrollment at MCPC if you have attended the Toddler Program, which is great since we hope to enroll our son when he is three. The Toddler program is a great way to ''test drive'' the school and ease your child into a socializing, play based environment with other kids and get them familiar with the school itself. The children are not just from Montclair, but from other areas as well. I can't say enough good things about the teacher, Brianna Offill, or the school. The facility is intimate and very child scaled and friendly (also an old house, shows definite signs of child presence and wear) although they have plans to build a new building which may or may not affect where classes are held in the next year or two. cabernard
We love MCPC! My daughter is in her last few weeks of attending the Wednesday afternoon session. When she started, about 1 1/2 years ago (just before turning 2), she called it ''art class''. It has been a great ''pre pre-school'' class -- they have circle time and do a lot of pre-school type art projects and other activities. It is a great way to introduce a child to formal group activities. The Wednesday class, at least, has been wildly popular and has had a waiting list at least since we have been attending. I could not recommend it more highly. Stephanie
Hello, I am the president of MCPC's parent-run board this upcoming school year. I am so glad to hear the very positive posts about the Toddler program! Brianna, who teaches Toddler, also team-teaches the preschool afternoon program for kids who enroll at age 3, so Toddler children who come to MCPC for preschool will know her for quite a while (more continuity)!

I wanted to let everyone know that MCPC is NOT going to build a new building any time soon. We may do some minor renovations that will not affect Toddler or the preschool program. The rebuild idea has been around for quite a while, but the membership has elected not to go forward on rebuilding any time in the forseeable future. Therese


May 2002

Re: summer camp for 3 year old
Montclair Community Play Center on Thornhill Drive in Oakland has a great summer camp for 3 year olds. There are two 3-week sessions that run from 9 AM to 12:30 PM. Their number is 510 339 7213. Frances


Oct 1999

I wanted to recommend an excellent preschool, called Montclair Community Play Center. It is located on Thornhill Drive in Oakland and is a wonderful, nurturing place for children. Both my daughters have gone there. It's a cooperative, which means that parents work in the classroom one day a week and do an outside job for the school. The parental involvement is time-consuming, but all that interaction creates a cohesive and loving community. The school also has a toddler program for children 18 months to 3 years where kids go with one of their parents or a caregiver. The school also has a great annual auction where parents can pick up great deals on children's classes, clothes, toys, etc. This cooperative preschool is 67 years old and is a wonderful place for children. If you want a great school and a sense of community, look into it. Call 339-7213 for information. Franny


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