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The Play Yard (Berkeley, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Preschools & Daycare > The Play Yard



Oct 2013

Re: Play play play!! Is there a school?
Check out the Play Yard in Berkeley on Blake, where my younger son went. Denise is a genius who totally gets how preschool aged children learn -- play! She is nature's gift to children. Denise is somewhat Reggio-inspired, but not like other preschool programs that claim to be Reggio or play-based but really are all about sending home the kid's handprint with their name in glitter letters -- my older son attended one of those, so I know exactly what you're talking about. Denise walks the walk (or, should I say, plays the play!). Good luck, Jenn G.


May 2013

Re: Preschools in Southeast Berkeley
I highly recommend the Play Yard. It's not walking distance but you could bike there. It's up on Blake at Sacramento. Even though it's a little farther than you're looking for, it meets almost all your other requirements and is so worth checking out. Denise Hingle is flexible and will be happy to meet with you and have you visit. I'm just going to attach the recommendation I wrote a few months ago. There should be a bunch of recommendations from other parents in the archive, as well

http://www.theplayyard.net/

This is another rave review for the Play Yard and its gifted, one-of-a-kind teacher Denise Hingle:

We had planned to send our son to a co-op due to financial reasons when a friend coerced us to visit the Play Yard and meet Denise. As soon as we entered the sun-room that houses the Play Yard's main classroom, I knew this was a magical place. After spending an hour with Denise, I was convinced this was no ordinary preschool. After two and a half years at the Play Yard, our family feels blessed and lucky to have had such a wonderful experience.

Denise has provided our son the best possible preparation for kindergarten as well as life's general challenges. At the Play Yard he has learned to express opinions and deal with difficult feelings. He has learned to work with others to create wonderful imaginative projects and intricate stories. He has developed a strong self esteem while respecting and valuing his peers. He has also conquered his aversion to dirt and regularly comes home in his extra ''cubby'' clothes.

The Play Yard is small- only six kids per day. Denise offers flexible schedules and affordable rates. Unlike a co-op, parents are not responsible for regular duties or meetings. She asks for volunteers to chaperone field trips and invites parents to special events in which the children present a meal or give a performance. The children spend at least half the day outdoors, either playing in the backyard or going on adventures to feed the neighbor's chickens or harvest pumpkins. They often go on rain walks. Sarah


May 2013

My son (who is nearly 5) has been at the Play Yard for the past 2 years, and we feel incredibly lucky to have found this wonderful preschool. Denise is a gifted educator with decades of experience, impressive credentials, and a deep understanding of young children, their emotional needs, and their creative process. She strikes a perfect balance between structure and freedom, setting up a strong routine so that there are clear expectations and the day proceeds in an orderly way, while also giving children the freedom to be truly creative. She encourages them to explore materials and create stories, and they work on these projects, sometimes individually, sometimes collaboratively, over the course of days and even weeks! She's amazing at getting kids to work together as a group. And she provides wonderful materials, often using really cool found objects, like a whole bunch of beautiful walking sticks, gigantic paper tubes, or transparent objects and an overhead projector. The kids will work together for a long time on a building project using, for example, dozens of large cardboard boxes, figuring out how to stack and arrange them to make what they want. Denise will support their process and help them work out conflicts, without placing her own creative agenda onto what they are trying to accomplish.

Denise understands better than anyone I know how to communicate with young children and how to respond to their emotional needs. She allows them to express their feelings even when their feelings are intense. She listens. She gently, but firmly, creates clear boundaries and rules. I have joked with other parents that we should make T-shirts that say "What Would Denise Do?" remind us to aspire to her patient, gentle, loving, and clear way of communicating with young children.

My son has thrived at the Play Yard. He has felt safe, loved, and connected to his teacher and his preschool colleagues. His creativity has been allowed to grow and flourish. He and his schoolmates have developed an amazing capacity - far surpassing what I have seen in other preschool situations - to play together in a peaceful way, to work out their conflicts, and to collaborate creatively. Jenn


March 2013

My son has attended the Play Yard for the last two years and will be there again next year. It is a magical preschool in Berkeley which has some openings for 9/2013 as 4 children are going to kindergarten. It is a small preschool (6 kids a day) with a wonderful open-ended changeable outside space where the kids spend at least an hour a day in the morning program- rain or shine. Inside there are Waldorf inspired toys and many separate play spaces for the kids to explore. Denise is wonderful with the children focusing on creativity, storytelling, cooperation, and conflict resolution. She sits with the children supporting them to come back to the group when there is discord; encouraging them to speak to each other. My son has grown so much under her tutelage and I have learned so much from watching her. I look forward to my son continuing there next year. Denise takes kids ages 2.9 and up. There are 3 children planning on returning next year; two will be 5 in September, one 5 in February. If you are looking for a wonderful and very affordable preschool for your child for the 2013-2014 school year please check out her website http://theplayyard.net/ The links give an accurate idea of what the school is about. Happy to provide a reference. Grateful Parent! Sam


March 2013

I cannot recommend The Play Yard more highly. This is our third year with the wonderfully dedicated Denise. My son attended The Play Yard his last year before Kindergarten and thrived. My four year old daughter is attending The Play Yard for her second year now. Denise is truly a wonder. I have learned so much from her and often catch myself sounding like her. I truly respect the way she regards and respects the children in her care. In turn, the children at The Play Yard are so thoughtful, warm, and considerate. In this group of six children, they come to form a very tight and respectful learning community. Denise takes her work very seriously. She listens to the children with all ears and gets them to take their thoughts/ feelings/ ideas to a higher level of thinking. Denise incorporates story building and story telling on a daily basis. There is a lot of teamwork inside and outside. Inside, you might see the children all working together to build a tower of boxes. Outdoors you might see them helping each other on the bars. Denise is a lover of all things natural and all the children's art projects use naturally found or recycled materials. Children work on a lot of fine motor coordination lacing and beading. The paintings my children have brought home are truly magnificent. The colors Denise chooses are beautiful. Above all, Denise truly has a magical way of relating to the children. I often ask myself, what would Denise do? You would be so lucky to drop your child off at The Play Yard. Your child will be one happy kid! Erika


March 2013

This is another rave review for the Play Yard and its gifted, one-of-a-kind teacher Denise Hingle:

We had planned to send our son to a co-op due to financial reasons when a friend coerced us to visit the Play Yard and meet Denise. As soon as we entered the sun-room that houses the Play Yard's main classroom, I knew this was a magical place. After spending an hour with Denise, I was convinced this was no ordinary preschool. After two and a half years at the Play Yard, our family feels blessed and lucky to have had such a wonderful experience.

Denise has provided our son the best possible preparation for kindergarten as well as life's general challenges. At the Play Yard he has learned to express opinions and deal with difficult feelings. He has learned to work with others to create wonderful imaginative projects and intricate stories. He has developed a strong self esteem while respecting and valuing his peers. He has also conquered his aversion to dirt and regularly comes home in his extra ''cubby'' clothes.

The Play Yard is small- only six kids per day. Denise offers flexible schedules and affordable rates. Unlike a co-op, parents are not responsible for regular duties or meetings. She asks for volunteers to chaperone field trips and invites parents to special events in which the children present a meal or give a performance. The children spend at least half the day outdoors, either playing in the backyard or going on adventures to feed the neighbor's chickens or harvest pumpkins. They often go on rain walks.

The Play yard has given our son such a solid foundation and Denise has been an invaluable teacher for all of us.

http://www.theplayyard.net/ Sarah


March 2013

My son is 4.5 yo has been attending The Play Yard since he was 3 yo. We are waiting to send him to K, so he will continue to attend The Play Yard for another year. I visited several preschools before we decided to enroll him at The Play Yard. We chose the school because of Denise, the teacher. Denise is experienced and very nurturing. She focuses on the children's social and emotional development. When children have a conflict, Denise doesn't intervene right away, unless it's a safety issue. She waits, watches, and gives the child opportunity to problem-solve on their own. My son has become more confident in playing with others and articulating his needs. Denise has provided a space that is creative and challenging. My son has created elaborate and complex artwork and projects. The Play Yard is project-based learning and Denise appreciates the Reggio-Emilia philosophy. There are a lot of collaboration, observation, and self-reflection that take place with their projects. She also documents much of the children's day, so you have opportunity to see what your child does at school. Please feel free to contact me for more info and visit www.theplayyard.net .We are so thankful to have found The Play Yard and in my son's own words, ''I go to Play Yard everyday, then I am happy everyday.'' Grace


March 2013

My son has attended the Play Yard for the last two years and will be there again next year. It is a magical preschool in Berkeley which has some openings for 9/2013 as 4 children are going to kindergarten. It is a small preschool (6 kids a day) with a wonderful open-ended changeable outside space where the kids spend at least an hour a day in the morning program- rain or shine. Inside there are Waldorf inspired toys and many separate play spaces for the kids to explore. Denise is wonderful with the children focusing on creativity, storytelling, cooperation, and conflict resolution. She sits with the children supporting them to come back to the group when there is discord; encouraging them to speak to each other. My son has grown so much under her tutelage and I have learned so much from watching her. I look forward to my son continuing there next year. Denise takes kids ages 2.9 and up. There are 3 kids planning on returning next year; two will be 5 in September, one 5 in February. If you are looking for a wonderful and very affordable preschool for your child for the 2013-2014 school year please check out her website http://theplayyard.net/ The links give an accurate idea of what the school is about. Happy to provide a reference. Grateful Parent!
Sam


Feb 2013

My son is 4.5 yo has been attending The Play Yard since he was 3 yo. We are waiting to send him to K, so he will continue to attend The Play Yard for another year. I visited several preschools before we decided to enroll him at The Play Yard. We chose the school because of Denise, the teacher. Denise is experienced and very nurturing. She focuses on the children's social and emotional development. When children have a conflict, Denise doesn't intervene right away, unless it's a safety issue. She waits, watches, and gives the child opportunity to problem-solve on their own. My son has become more confident in playing with others and articulating his needs. Denise has provided a space that is creative and challenging. My son has created elaborate and complex artwork and projects. The Play Yard is project-based learning and Denise appreciates the Reggio-Emilia philosophy. There are a lot of collaboration, observation, and self-reflection that take place with their projects. She also documents much of the children's day, so you have opportunity to see what your child does at school. Please feel free to contact me for more info and visit www.theplayyard.net .We are so thankful to have found The Play Yard and in my son's own words, ''I go to Play Yard everyday, then I am happy everyday.''
Grace


Oct 2010

Re: Need a new preschool in Berkeley
My 4.5 year old son is very happy at The Play Yard. Denise sets up awesome activities for the children and involves them in lots of play and friendship! If they are not ''deep'' in water play, they are creating sailboats. If they are not painting, they are playing in Denise's sand or rock boxes! Denise sings and prepares hot snacks daily. This is a play based school which I'm all about. I'm an Early Childhood Educator and 1st grade teacher and I know a great program when I see it. Afterschool care is a bonus. Visit www.theplayyard.net and/ or email me with any questions. zevsmama


Sept 2010

I would like to recommend my daughter's lovely small school. It is called the Play Yard and is in Southwest Berkeley. Before we found the Play Yard, I looked at many preschools and feared that at most of them, my daughter might get lost in the shuffle. Then we found the Play Yard. It is a program intentionally limited to 7 students. Denise Hingle, my daughter's teacher has been a preschool teacher for 25 years, and, in the words of the mom who recommended the school to ME, is a ''gem''. She adheres to a strict play based curriculum, which means that she listens in (and keep copious notes) of what the children are talking about, inventing, and pretending and then gives them ways to explore and extend that play more. She is very into the Berkeley way, if I can put it like that. Recycling, Reusing, non consumerism, appreciating the natural world (she has a gorgeous large outside playspace where the kids spend much of their time). Anyway, right now, we have a couple of openings at the school and would love to have some new kids join us. Check out the website at: theplayyard.net and email me if you want to talk further. Amanda


Oct 2009

Re: Co-op preschool for toddler age 2.9?
If you are interested in a home-based preschool program I can recommend the Play Yard, which just started this September, and is run by Denise Hingle, a teacher with over 20 years of experience. We are a cozy group and the program will have up to six kids on any one day. My daughter is turning 3 in November and she loves it there-she runs up to the gate most days. The kids do a lot of dramatic play, artwork, nature walks, and so much more. Parent participation depends on size of the group and will be a few hours a month. The Play Yard is located in SW Berkeley, near Dwight and Sacramento. Email if you have questions or contact Denise at dhingle@mindspring.com for more info. Good Luck! Lori


If you are interested in a home-based preschool program I can recommend the Play Yard, which just started this September, and is run by Denise Hingle, a teacher with over 20 years of experience. We are a cozy group and the program will have up to six kids on any one day. My daughter is turning 3 in November and she loves it there-she runs up to the gate most days. The kids do a lot of dramatic play, artwork, nature walks, and so much more. Parent participation depends on size of the group and will be a few hours a month. The Play Yard is located in SW Berkeley, near Dwight and Sacramento. Email if you have questions or contact Denise at dhingle@mindspring.com for more info. Good Luck! Lori
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