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Piccoli School (El Cerrito, CA)
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If anyone is looking for a wonderful preschool in the El Cerrito area, I'd like to recommend Piccoli. Our family has spent 5 combined years between our children and has enjoyed every minute. We began our preschool search by touring many of the widely known schools in El Cerrito. But after hearing glowing ''word of mouth'' recommendations from friends and acquaintances about Piccoli, we decided to check it out - and we're so glad we did!
The director, Laurie, and her staff are experienced, dedicated teachers who genuinely care about the needs of each and every child and family. Piccoli is a play based school where the children learn to navigate the social world through play - which is so important in this increasingly anti-social world. That being said, there is definitely an emphasis on Kindergarten readiness as well. Children learn to recognize and write the alphabet and numbers. There are special "units" (turtles, penguins, etc.) throughout the year. And all learning is reinforced through fun art projects, circle time, music and even cooking projects.
Our children have loved being at Piccoli - made many close friendships over the years. Seeing my children happy about going to preschool everyday and that they are being cared for in a safe and nurturing environment everyday is of utmost importance. For more information about Piccoli call Laurie (510) 234-3230. Pleased Piccoli Parent
Re: Recently moved and no space in preschool!
Hi! Piccoli preschool in El Cerrito is a wonderful school and daycare center. It's been on business for 25+ years with competent and caring teachers. It's play based with all day care. I believe it has a few openings. Very affordable and fun. Ginger music on Fridays, cooking on Thursdays and pre-k program from 9am-1pm daily. My kids went there for a few years before transitioning to Kindergarten, made friends for life and were very prepared academically and socially to the ''big kid school'' . Piccoli (510) 234-3230 Happy Piccoli Parent
Re: smallish preschool in El Cerrito
Please call Laurie at Piccoli in El Cerrito! - I can't praise Laurie, or her caring staff enough. Though there aren't many recent reviews on BPN, the reviews and recommendations you'll find speak very highly of the wonderful program they have and I can only echo the sentiment. My son spent 2.5 happy years at Piccoli, and loved every minute of it - he wanted to know why he couldn't be there on weekends too! My daughter is currently there and is having the same experience. I hope you'll call and love it too!(510) 234-3230 So happy at Piccoli
I am considering enrolling my 2 yo into Piccoli this fall,
but have a few concerns and would love to get feedback
(positive and negative) from others who had (or have) their
2 yo there:
Naptime: Naptime or "rest" period is scheduled from 2-3. This seems really late (and short) to me, especially for a 2 yo. What was your experience with this? Was your child overly tired when they came home?
Toilet training: I read a few negative experiences related to this in the archives. Would love to hear more feedback from others about their experiences at Piccoli with potty training. Do they need to be out of diapers by 3, and if not, then what??
Feedback on these and anything else, particularly from those with younger ones, would be much appreciated! Anon
Re: Preschool near El Cerrito/Richmond
I would strongly suggest giving Piccoli Preschool a call for a visit. They have had many positive reviews on Berkeley Parents Network..Piccoli is a fantastic play-based school, that does include structured activities throughout the day- circle time, art, science and cooking projects based on the alphabet letter of the week. They promote strong social skills and kindergarten readiness. The teachers there are great- very warm and caring. Piccoli is open from 8am- 5pm. and located in El Cerrito on Richmond St. The phone number is 510-234-3230 and the director's name is Laurie. Michelle
Re: Affordable preschool for 2.9 year old?
Although not in Berkeley or Albany, Piccoli Preschool, very close by in El Cerrito, on Everett St., is a fabulous preschool that I highly recommend. They have full time and part time hours available between 8 am and 5 pm. They are a play based program that includes a curriculum and routine focusing on letters, numbers, science units, music, cooking projects and learning through play. All of the children that I have seen come from this school are very ready for kindergarten and very well adjusted socially. The teachers are great-very energetic and friendly. I know they have space available and I would call to set up a visit. Their number is 510-234-3230. Director's name is Laurie. Michelle
I'd like to add another voice to those who have been very happy with their experience at Piccoli School. My son (almost 3 1/2) has been attending for about ten months now, and absolutely loves it there.
First, the teachers are truly wonderful. My son is very fond of all of them, the head teacher Bindy in particular. When I drop him off, he always gets an enthusiastic greeting and usually an invitation to join in or start an activity. When picking him up, I have come upon - at one time or another - all of the teachers answering his myriad questions with fondness and patience (he asks a lot of questions!) In my experience, all of the teachers are warm and loving with all of the children.
Second, the kids seem really happy, very social, and very well- adjusted. I have never seen an instance of aggression nor even a temper tantrum.
Third, the 'curriculum' is fantastic. Their program places an emphasis on art, books and science and they also have weekly cooking projects and music. The kids also spend a good amount of time outside in a nice yard.
The director Laurie is terrific with the kids - able to set limits as well as be loving. And I have been quite impressed with her observations of and insight into my son's personality, food preferences, etc.
As to the potty training, I thought the staff was quite helpful. They recommended a great book that really helped me when training him and when my son was learning, they took him to the toilet three times every morning.
The rates are very reasonable (conmpetitive even with local co-ops) and Laurie could not be more flexible about hours. She also allows kids to start mid-year (actually whenever you want i think) which was very helpful to our family. In short, I highly recommend the school! Another Happy Picooli Parent
Re: Any openings at your preschool for a 2.5 year old?
I would highly recommend Piccoli Preschool, located in El Cerrito on Richmond St. It is not a Montessori school but a wonderful play-based program that also does plenty of academics-alphabet, numbers, fabulous science units, etc...They have full-time and part time families. I believe the minimum schedule for part-time is 3 days a week, 9-1pm and the price is definitely under $600. I would for sure give them a call and set up an appointment! The phone number is 510-234-3230. Good luck! =) Michelle
Re: Need a kind Preschool for a 2.9 year old boy
Many of my friends' children have attended Piccoli Preschool in El Cerrito. The parents and children were all extremely happy with the care and academics that were provided. The teachers are all highly qualified and very nurturing. I have been to visit a few times with my friends and have seen how well the teachers interact with the children and how much the children love them. The school is beautiful and it is obvious that there is a lot of learning going on both academically and socially. It is a play-based school with full time or part time hours available and they currently have space available. The phone number there is 510-234-3230. Good luck!
We are considering these two preschools: Piccoli and Little Village. However, the reviews for the school are from 2007 and 2006--we would love current feedback about the schools. anon
The staff at Piccoli is warm, consistent, and genuinely cares about their students. They are very kind and interesting people that we enjoy interacting with on a daily basis. More importantly our children both looked forward to going every day and felt/feel nurtured and encouraged.
The Piccoli staff works with all of the children, but particularly the Pre-K children to be sure they are well prepared for Kindergarten. All children are exposed to art on a daily basis and much emphasis is put on children learning to play together and socialize in a positive manner.
We truly love Piccoli and are thankful that circumstances led us to them. Maya
I would like to respond to the previous reviews of Piccoli
Preschool and offer my own opinions and experiences. I have had
both my children at Piccoli and we couldn't have been happier
with the experience. My children and I were always greeted by
friendly, outgoing teachers who couldn't have been more helpful
or caring. The teachers were always available for giving feedback
and advice whenever I was in need and always have kept their
focus on the needs of the children, where I believe it should be,
instead of the parents. My children made many friends at Piccoli,
many of whom we still we see on a regular basis and I credit
Piccoli for helping to build these friendships. All of the staff
members at Piccoli are highly educated and experienced
professionals whose opinions I have always trusted. I highly
encourage parents looking for a quality preschool program to take
a look at Piccoli. =)
Very Happy Piccoli Parent
I am interested in possibly sending my child to Piccoli Preschool in El Cerrito. I was wondering if there were any parents out there that have recently sent their kid(s) there and can give me any feedback about your experience. I have already toured the school and understand that it is play-based and that the children can do what they'd like and that there is very little structure. I loved the outdoor play space and the children all seemed happy. My concern is that although I want my child to play (and believe that play is how they learn for the most part), I still want him to learn the academic basics. Do they focus on that at Piccoli? I have read the past reviews, however, I am looking for something a bit more recent. Thank you in advance for any and all responses. anon
We feel very lucky to have found this school.The initial parent visit may not sell you on it, and the first days of leaving your child are hard anywhere. But eventually, when your child is happy everyday, loves his friends, and comes home singing new songs, that's what it's all about...! a thankful Piccoli parent
The head teacher/owner. Let me just say that she’s great with the kids and knows how to run a GREAT preschool, she’s been doing this for a long time and knows her stuff. The head teacher/owner’s philosophy is ‘The kids are great if the parents would just get out of the way’. She can be not very forth coming on specific info on your child- preferring to say “oh, the group is doing great”, she is not very good at working WITH the parents on problems that may arise. On the flip side, she will allow your child ‘practice’ for some time –with a caregiver bringing the child for progressively longer and longer times BEFORE she starts charging the normal tuition. This makes for a great transition for the child and alleviates some parental uncertainty at the beginning. I would have liked to have had a more two-way relationship with my child(ren)’s preschool teacher. But, ultimately, she is good with the kids. She and the other teachers are good at what they do, the school is nice, the program and structure she has designed is GREAT, the kids are happy and become well prepared for Kindergarten. anon
I chose Piccoli also because it is a large facility – multiple rooms with lots of fun things to do in each room, and a large outdoor area. My son is extremely active, and I felt that a good-sized facility with lots to do was very important. And I was right, he thrives on the balance of unstructured play in all the different rooms and gently structured activities that are woven throughout the day. It is academic where it counts, and my son is learning a lot.
Another huge bonus of Piccoli is the fact that the tuition is broken down to the half hour! That is, you pay just a small amount more for every half hour you want to send your child, as opposed to the two-tiered tuition based on half-day or full-day at most schools. This has proved to be VERY helpful for our family, in that he started out very part time and we have slowly transitioned him to a full-time schedule. Other schools would have required we pay full-time from the beginning if that is what we ultimately wanted, so this flexibility is very unusual and very welcome for us. Tuition in general is very affordable.
The initial visits, the ‘practice’ transitioning time, and the early days of leaving him alone were VERY difficult for me and my child. Many a days I was pushed to tears. Let me be very clear that the Director is NOT harsh with the children. In fact, I think her attitude with the children is very beneficial for them – she is firm, consistent, respectful, and caring. All the children at Piccoli are very well-behaved, and I think this is in large part to the limits she sets. I am actually very happy that she takes upon the role of ‘authority figure’ because I think it is good for children to have that in their lives, and again I think she does it effectively without being hurtful. I would certainly welcome more communication about her strategies and techniques, but those times that she DOES actually talk to you about your kid she is very thorough and has given me good feedback. That said, it was VERY difficult to deal with at times. One main area is potty-training. She insists that children become potty-trained by three, and by two and a half is really pushing to have it done. I know that this has made some Piccoli families’ lives very difficult when that third birthday is nearing (or passed!). I do not personally agree that potty- training should be pushed this strongly, but she has managed to at least get me started with the potty-training at home when I probably would have waited a bit longer. So, bottom line is that her methods with parents are not as great as her methods with children, which ARE great, and her results ARE great. And, she isn’t the only teacher, of course. The other teachers are fabulous – and they are loving and supportive. Given all the struggles and tears, I am VERY happy that I stuck with it and stayed with Piccoli. Again, my son is thriving and I really am happy that he is where he is. anon
Re: Looking for a pre-school with openings
You may have luck for Piccoli, in El Cerrito. It has really been a wonderful environment for my children. Piccoli parent
There are many single income families that go there on a part- time basis. It is affordable and within your budget. Of course you should be able to bring your child to visit a preschool, I would be wary of a school that didn't let you. A school needs to determine if your child is a good fit as well as you seeing how your child interacts with the group. I am amazed at the idea of putting a baby to be on a waiting list for a so called ''good'' school. How do you know what your child will be like? The structure and lessons that are geared to making a kid grow up faster than their age group is scary. What happened to letting a kid be a kid and giving them some old fashioned play?
I beleive Piccoli has a few openings. It is not a co-op and the only parent particpation ever asked is to come to the annual picnic on the last day of school (which runs through the summer). Laurie is the director and you can call her to set up a visit. 234-3230 Kerri
Re: Part-time preschool in El Cerrito or Richmond
Try Piccoli Preschool in El Cerrito, near Potrero. My girls went there three mornings per week and we were all very happy with it. This was about 8 or 9 years ago, but I would still give them a enthusiastic recommendation. Laurie Castle-Kemp is the director. Phone number is 234-3230. Wendy
My daughter loves it there (she is almost 4). They have many activities during the day and week, from cooking, dance class, music, art, and a huge play yard. I can't say enough great things about the staff and their tender care of all the children. I believe the rate for full time (9-5/5days) is $660/child, but don't quote me on that (give or take $20). She does give a 10% discount on second child.
you really should check it out, it is conviently located on Richmond street at Potero. You can reach Laurie at 235-3230. FYI-They will be on holiday break from 12/24-1/2. Kerri
My daughter's preschool has openings due to the large number of kids who went off to kindergarten this fall. We've been with the Piccoli School in El Cerrito (near Target) for 3.5 years (2 kids), and love it more and more the longer we are there.
Here are some of the facts:
- Ages 2 - 5.5 years (diapers o.k.)
- Small teacher/child ratio
- Music, art, dance & cooking
- Large indoor/outdoor space
The Director and her staff are extremely knowledgeable and have guided our family through many new experiences in dealing with both of our children. All the teachers have been there for years, and when one of them left a year and a half ago, the Director couldn't bear to replace her, so the school currently enrolls less children as a result.
Piccoli is a major part of our lives in so many ways from the songs my kids sing at home (which they learn at school) to all of the artwork in our home which they do on a daily basis. The kids are even disappointed on weekends when there is no school. I highly recommend the Piccoli School and would be happy to offer more detail to anyone interested in exploring Piccoli further. Call Piccoli directly at (510) 234-3230. Daphne
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