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The Room To Grow Preschool (Oakland, CA)
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Re: Play play play!! Is there a school?
The Room to Grow preschool in upper Rockridge. I recommend it highly! The school uses the Reggio Emilia approach for the children to explore their world through play. While my son was there the children led many projects such as an elaborate water sculpture that evolved over many days, recreating scenes and characters from favorite books and stories and art work using natural materials. It's a small school with nurturing and fun teachers. anon
I can't recommend The Room to Grow Preschool in Oakland enough. My son went there for nearly two years and thrived under their care. We recently moved out of state and I have had the opportunity to compare our experience there with that of another well-respected Reggio Emilia school, and it makes me see even more clearly what an unusual gem this school -- and its teachers -- are.
First of all, and most of all, my son loved it. First thing he would say every morning when he woke up was, "Is today a school day?" And if it was, he'd cheer and jump around the house running to get ready. He was at the school five days a week for the length of a full work day - and yet he'd still beg for more time at the end of the day to spend with his friends or teachers. He isn't of a disposition where I would have assumed this would be the case - he's very active, strong-willed, creative, loves to build things and do things with his hands all day, and had trouble at first sitting still and following rules in the class. But the teachers have a lovely way of finding kids' strengths and working with them where they are and as a result we felt he was very valued and seen for who he is, as well as pushed out of his comfort zone to develop in appropriate ways. I am so grateful that his earliest experience of school was such a positive one - this is a precedent that I hope will help him the rest of his life.
If you visit, you will notice that the space is relatively small (especially outdoors) and the materials and resources seem simple. But the teachers create incredibly richness - more so than I've seen in other settings - out of this material. They do natural material art, garden, have a literacy club, learn about the solar system, make "music factories" build with real tools, take everything apart, learn to solve interpersonal conflicts and create rules democratically, sing, dance, do yoga, read, count, go on field trips, etc etc. They develop kids' curiosity and their resources to pursue what they are curious about. The children they graduate are very well prepared for kindergarten - but they seem to absorb the skills they need in the course of all the fun projects and play that happens naturally day to day.
In terms of fit, I think this is a good school for people who are pretty relaxed and don't mind mess and chaos. When we visited, one of the things that we loved was that there was one kid running around in his underwear, another licking a window, and another running around with purple glitter stuck in his 'fro. The kids go outside in all kinds of weather, and come home covered in paint and sand and mud and what have you. (It's not just the kids that are chaotic - paperwork and organization for parents is not their strong suit - that was probably our only frustration working with them.) There are plenty of girls in the classes and they certainly seem to be happy and having a great time - but I think this school is a special gift to high-energy boys since not every environment seems to love and care constructively for those kids.
They have an amazing private facebook site where teachers post photos and document anecdotes of what the kids are doing each day. It is a wonderful way to keep up to date on what your children are doing and have good opening topics of conversation with your kids when they answer your questions with one word. It's also a great way to build community with other parents and teachers, whom I've found to be warm, friendly and down-to-earth. (There is typically a fun camping trip each year to get to know each other, as well as several other events throughout the year.)
Now that we've had the opportunity to compare RTG with our current preschool - which is a highly respected Reggio Emilia school with tons of funds and a fancy campus in Massachusetts - I can see even more clearly that size, funds, resources, and educational philosophy don't matter a hair as much as the quality, investment, energy, creativity, caring of the teachers. And RTG has that in spades. We are so grateful for the excellent education and community we found at RTG - and hope that others who will thrive there find it as well!
Re: Need a full-time preschool near Rockridge
I think you would find lots to check off on your wish-list at The Room to Grow, in upper Rockridge (top of Broadway). My son is now in kindergarten and spent a very happy 1.5 years there. 655-0300 Valerie
Re: Best Preschool for an Easily Overstimulated Boy
I highly recommend The Room to Grow, in upper Rockridge. It may be a bit far for you in North Berkeley, but I encourage you to check it out. My son, now in kindergarten, had many of the same issues at age 3 as you describe - especially the difference in behavior in a large group of kids versus one-on-one with an adult. In fact, he started at another preschool and after three months it was obvious he was having trouble. I found RTG and made the change. The teachers at The Room to Grow encourage child led activities, allow for each child to be an individual while at the same time teaching the kids how to play and work together. What really helped my son was that in the afternoons and on Fridays, it was a much smaller group. I needed full time care, but about half the kids are there part time Mon through Thurs 9-3pm. The afternoons and Fridays are generally more mellow times. Don't be put off by the somewhat small outdoor space. they use the space very well, and my son did better with a more confined area. The teachers are right there with the kids. the have a garden, great loft area, wonderful art teacher, cooking, etc. They embrace all kids and don't back away from boys with big energy. Give them a call at 655-0300. Valerie
Re: Moving to Oakland in 2 weeks, need preschool ASAP
Check out Room to Grow preschool in Rockridge on Broadway. The curriculum is emergent, but they manage to somehow tie in academic skills in a completely non-pressured way. The teachers love the children--head teacher Jill is a gem-- and are wonderfully hands-on and present. My daughter (and I ) loved it and were sad to leave to go to kindergarten! Happy RTG alum parent
Words cannot express our gratitude for the extraordinary care and guidance that our daughter received while at The Room to Grow. She was truly excited about going to school each and every day, and reluctant to leave at closing. I can't think of anything else for which she has shown the same level of unwavering enthusiasm. It was such a comfort to us as parents to know she was at such a nurturing place where she learned to follow her curiosity, develop self reliance, practice greater empathy, and acquire tons of self confidence. All the teachers there are truly present, and it was awesome to see all the amazing things that the kids were capable of when their ideas were validated & they were able to follow their interests through the masterfully practiced emergent curriculum. Some of the really cool stuff they did as part of their 'lit group' included illustrations, plays, music and cooking projects inspired by books they were reading. Of coarse there was also a lot of fun, fantasy play, messiness and silliness that made our daughter rush back for more each day. As our child leaves TRTG to start kindergarden, we say a weepy good bye for now, but can't wait to come back to this truly special place with our younger child when she turns 3. Miriam & Justin
Re: Oakland preschool openings in January?
My son goes to the Room to Grow Preschool on Broadway in Rockridge, and we love it. It has a great teacher/kid ratio, and there are only about 16 kids there at the moment. The yard is not big, but they make the most of the space (tire swing, clubhouse, side yard for running). It's a very warm and loving environment with very sweet kids. anon
Re: Relocating to the Bay Area, looking for a walkable neighborhood
We live in and love the Rockridge area of Oakland It's highly walkable and close to BART, good restaurants, etc. though as not as comprehensively useful as Piedmont Avenue. Admittedly it's not the cheapest place to buy a house.
We also adore our pre-school, Room to Grow. It's a reggio inspired program with really caring adults, who go the extra mile for the kids. You'd be amazed what kids can accomplish given adults who are open to seeing what they can do. The outdoor space is small, but they make the most of every inch. You get yoga, lots of art, great science exploration, cooking, and a gentle place that really understands kids.
It currently has openings. Our older child who is now in elementary went there for 2 years, and our youngest has been for six month. Happy Parent
Re: Full-time preschool needed in Oakland ASAP
Our 5 year old daughter is at Room to Grow preschool in Rockridge (on Broadway at Taft). She is leaving at the end of the month to start kindergarden. We have been at the school since she was 2 years 11 months old. We love Room to Grow as does our daughter. The teachers are amazing and the philosophy of the school has been wonderful for our daughter--it is play based Reggio Emilia. The projects are kid-directed which is wonderful. They let kids be individuals, if they are working on a certain project that they are into, they are not forced to go onto another activity just because it is on the schedule. It is a loving, caring environment which makes the kids feel safe to make their own choices and concentrate on the activities they enjoy. Our daughter has thrived at this school and is very well prepared for kindergarden. Feel free to email me with any questions. L.
Re: Nurturing preschool for very active son
Try the Room to Grow Preschool on Broadway in Rockridge/Temescal. The outdoor space is on the small side but is available for kids' play almost the whole day. Much care and attention is paid to socialization skills as well. - active kid sympathizer
My husband and I both work full-time outside the home and moved to Piedmont this past year. We are planning to place our boy/girl twins in preschool in the fall (they will be 3 and 1/2 then) but the co-ops in Piedmont with PT schedules are not an option for us. Their primary childcare to date when we are working has been in our home with my mom and/or a nanny. We need something convenient in terms of location in order to pick up and drop-off timely with our work schedules. Any input, positive or negative, on any other schools I may be missing that are less than 3 miles from ''lower'' Piedmont would be much appreciated!! Thanks! -Piedmont Mom of Almost-Preschooler Twins
Then I stumbled upon Room to Grow. I immediately loved the vibe-- sort of crunchy, very hands-on (for kids) and warm.
My daughter loves it, loves her teachers (asks if they can come over for dinner, wonders what they're doing on the weekends), and we're so thrilled she's in a place we feel she's given the freedom to explore and grow at her own pace.
There's cooking and reading and exploring...my daughter comes home filled with new words and ideas and is truly stimulated each day.
Please take a tour and check it out. One caveat: they are somewhat disorganized, which is frustrating. The teachers are spot on, though, so don't let this discourage you. Happy Room To Grow Parent
My daughter has been thriving at The Room To Grow for two years and is well-prepared for kindergarten next year. The Reggio-Emilia approach has been an ideal environment for her inquisitive personality. Her days are filled with art projects, impromptu plays, science queries, literacy development, gardening, and lots of excellent playtime. She sometimes doesn't want to come home! The teachers are fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough. I know that there are openings right now in Oakland (the SF campus is filled). I encourage any family currently looking to check it out. We have loved it. Emily, parent
Re: I'm thinking Montessori may not be right for my son
My son spent a year at a Montessori preschool in San Francisco before we switched to a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool--the Room to Grow in Rockridge, which has openings for fall, by the way!--when we moved to Oakland a year ago. Montessori seems to work well for kids who are comforted by structure and rules. My son did fine there. And because I didn't know any better at the time, I was not disturbed by the lack of creativity and imaginative play in the classroom. The weekly photos sent out to the families always showed groups of kids gathered around some wood pegboard numbers game or a map of Africa, learning some important new thing. And sure, it was cool that my son could identify Africa on a map at 3 1/2.
But now, at his Reggio Emilia inspired school, they might spend the week exploring leaves, or the worms they found in the compost pile, or the Wizard of Oz (my son is now obsessed with the Wizard of Oz!). They work with puppets, explore different textures and art materials, bake muffins, grow plants, build rocket ships out of paper towel tubes and tape, and basically let the kids' curiosity drive the agenda. Now my son comes home covered in paint, dirt, or whatever the material of the day might be, but man is he a happy kid. It's not a quiet environment--in fact, it can get pretty chaotic--but there are quite a few ''spirited'' kids there, and the teachers are very adept at handling them with compassion and respect, while giving the kids enough free reign to be themselves. So for us, there was no question that Reggio Emilia was a better fit--not only for my son but for our family (since we're the ones cleaning him up at the end of the day!). happy mama of a happy preschooler
Re: Preschool Opening for 4 year old?
My daughter has attended the Room to Grow in Oakland, on Broadway since it opened last November. I know they have room for kids to start immediately. It's not far from Highway 24, if you are looking for an easy commute.
It's a play based school which lets the kids' interests drive the curriculum to some degree. There was a posting in the same newsletter issue you posted in. The website is sparse, but here it is nonethless: http://www.theroomtogrow.org/oakland.htm
My daughter is very happy there, is also 4, and has grown a lot. You should come by and check it out. Good Luck. Claire
Re: Preschool opening for 3 yr girl in N. Oak
Hi, I'd highly recommend the school that my daughter attends, The Room to Grow in N. Oakland. (http://www.theroomtogrow.org/oakland.htm) It's on Broadway, as you head up to highway 24. It is a play based preschool that very much follows the children's interests. The head teacher Ramee, is more than you can imagine: kind, patient and yet stills enforces the rules. And all of the other teachers are great too. They really work as a team.
My daughter has been there since the beginning, and we've had a great experience. She's learned about science through simple experiments and cooking, they garden the back yard, go on walks around the neighborhood to collect objects, read stories, do art, and have plenty of child-directed play. She doesn't much care to leave some days, and often asks ''what day do I go to preschool next?''
My daughter has thrived and has made some great friends there. They do a weekly blog where they add pictures they've taken through the week to keep you updated.
There are too many good and nice things to say here. Feel free to email me if you want more info. Good luck. Claire
Re: Any openings at your kid's great preschool?
Room To Grow in Rockridge. It's the second year of the new East Bay campus for a long standing SF program. It's play based (Reggio Emilia inspired) with great teachers, and it's small. The outside space is not big, but is well arranged.
We're brand new there but very happy. There are still changes being made to the space, but I think that they are going to be great ones. There is art, gardening, music, and lots of fun, but very little ''instruction''.
Since it's new they've still got spaces. I don't think that'll be the case next year. Happy Mom
I would like to make a recommendation for The Room To Grow Preschool in Rockridge (on Broadway at Taft). Their Rockridge location opened late 2007. They also have a location in SF that has been open for several years. Since they are so new, as of May 2008, they do have openings left for the 2008/2009 term. They take kids from potty-trained through Kindergarten.
My 3 year old daughter loves it there. Each night she asks if tomorrow is a school day. Each morning, she gets herself dressed, eats and is waiting at the door. I think she is disappointed to have to spend so much time with us on the weekends!
As a parent, I appreciate how comfortable she is there
(and how comfortable I feel when I am there). I love the
balance of free play and educational activities. I'm
amazed at the art, knowledge and fun memories that my
daughter comes home with every day.
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