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The Saklan School (Moraga, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Preschools & Daycare > The Saklan School (Moraga, CA)



Preschool Information
Feb 2013

What a difference a teacher makes! My son began is his school career at Saklan last year as a Kindergartner. The Kindergarten teacher was absolutely wonderful and exactly what any parent would want for their child. I loved that she recognized that the children were all at different levels when they began and that she taught to the strongest child setting high standards for the other children. Since the children still needed to be nurtured, she gave each child individual attention but encouraged them to be independent and by the end of the year, all of the Kindergarten parents noticed the confidence that she had instilled in them. If there is one thing I'd like parents to know it's that you can't go wrong having your child begin his/her school career at The Saklan School. So if you are looking for a school for your Kindergartner, I encourage you to strongly consider The Saklan School! kirsten


Jan 2013

Looking for the best kindergarten experience? Please look into the Saklan School in Moraga. It is, hands down, the best possible school and community imaginable. Saklan's mission is to Think creatively, Act compassionately, and Live courageously. The children are proud to repeat it and more importantly are given the tools both socially and intellectually to act on them. The school has a jewel in their Kindergarten teacher Amy Burnett. She imparts a passion for learning, a dedication to communication and kindness, and flare for fun and enchantment. She is the kindergarten teacher all parents hope their children get to have. I watch as she helps our son, and every child in her class, blossom into the best students and people they can be and are. It has inspired us to be better teaching parents and has given us more tools to help our kids. The class size allows for amazing individual attention and under Amy's tutelage, the class thrives. It's exciting to watch our son become so enthusiastic about learning! Their curriculum includes Spanish, Science, Music, PE with expert teachers on staff, and public speaking experience (as all kids are given the opportunity to present material at weekly student assemblies). Saklan strives to challenge their students academically without teaching toward testing. Instead, they have the advantage of teaching to inspire investigation and discovery. Our family moved to the Lamorinda area and discovered Saklan at their kindergarten readiness meeting last year. Not a day passes that I don’t feel grateful for that introduction and feel lucky to be enrolled there. Heather


Dec 2012

What makes Saklan special is first and foremost, a faculty that really cares about the kids as unique individuals. With small class sizes, the teachers really can get to know each child and can target his/her needs. We've had both of our kids there for 6 years (and have experienced K through 7th grade). Our kids could not be more different from each other, but both have been appropriately challenged and engaged at every level. Second, Saklan has given my kids the confidence to be who they are and to stand up for what they believe, in and out of school. Part of this comes from the fact that they have to stand up to speak in front of the school assembly starting in Pre-K. If you are looking at Middle Schools, definitely take a tour. You'll find an extremely supportive environment (at that age, kids really need that) and students who are excited to learn. One of my son's teachers even inspired him to give up video games during the school week in order to have more time for other activities and to improve his sleep. Finally, Saklan's parent community is welcoming and fun. We live east of Heather Farms Park in Walnut Creek. We could walk to other private schools, but Saklan is well worth the drive! Kay


Dec 2012

The Saklan School has been a wonderful experience for our daughter. She is currently in the 8th grade and started at the beginning of 6th grade. The middle school at Saklan is a welcoming and nurturing environment, where the teachers take a real interest in their students. We wanted a school where our daughter could pursue her love of academics without getting ostracized or squashing her own love of learning in order to belong. I feel that she could go to a public high school now and be very sure of who she is and what she wants to do. One of the big draws to Saklan was their excellent music program led by Grace Chaffey. The middle school puts on a yearly musical that is phenomenal, especially given the small class sizes (and therefore limited talent pool). Everyone must participate in the musical, and there is a sense of camaraderie among the students as they prepare and perform. Our daughter has found a passion and has grown comfortable with performing in front of her peers and adults. The middle school is small enough that all of the teachers keep a close eye on social issues that might come up, and I can't think of a better place for pre-teens/teens to experiment with middle school social drama and behaviors. It is a safe place to learn how one's behavior affects others. As a result, there is feeling of respect and comfort between the kids. They are free to express their authentic selves without social ramifications. The school offers top notch field trip experiences which are included in the tuition, so no hidden fees. I feel our daughter is receiving a well-rounded, whole child experience. We are thrilled with the faculty, and the community atmosphere is terrific. Interaction between lower school kids and middle school kids is fostered, and new students are made to feel immediately welcome by their classmates. I like knowing that while my daughter is at school all day, there are teacher role models who care about her almost as much as I do. Tiz


Jan 2011

Re: Private schools in Contra Costa County

To the mom seeking a good private school in Contra Costa County: Give The Saklan School in Moraga a call and schedule a visit. The school may be listed as Saklan Valley School but has recently updated its name.

Both of my children had an amazing learning experience at Saklan. My son is now in 9th grade at Bentley and my daughter is currently in 7th grade at Saklan. We have been at Saklan since 2001 so I feel comfortable in giving my assessment of the program, the community and the teachers.

This is a school that has the rare ability to provide excellent academic learning while fostering a sense of belonging to a community, self-confidence, personal responsibility and learning as fun.The teachers are exceptional and provide the kind of education that is all too rare in schools today.

The class size is small and the school and parent community are both open and accepting. I have witnessed the arrival of new students and I have seen them quickly become a full part of Saklan. Take a look! kd


Dec 2010

Re: Private schools in Contra Costa County
To the mom seeking a good private school in Contra Costa County: Give The Saklan School in Moraga a call and schedule a visit. The school may be listed as Saklan Valley School but has recently updated its name.

Both of my children had an amazing learning experience at Saklan. My son is now in 9th grade at Bentley and my daughter is currently in 7th grade at Saklan. We have been at Saklan since 2001 so I feel comfortable in giving my assessment of the program, the community and the teachers.

This is a school that has the rare ability to provide excellent academic learning while fostering a sense of belonging to a community, self-confidence, personal responsibility and learning as fun.The teachers are exceptional and provide the kind of education that is all too rare in schools today.

The class size is small and the school and parent community are both open and accepting. I have witnessed the arrival of new students and I have seen them quickly become a full part of Saklan. Take a look! kd


Jan 2010

Re: Program for 4 yr-old not quite ready for K?
Saklan Valley School in Moraga is a lovely little nursery - 8 school. Our daughter attended their PreK program the year she was 4-turning-5 and, as you describe, not ready for K but beyond another year of play-based preschool. It was wonderful, fantastic, fun -- just the right amount of learning and structure balanced with plenty of play and hands-on activities. For example, they have a superb pre-reading curriculum that she just loved. Another example -- the music teacher -- she still talks about and imitates her fabulous Saklan Valley music teacher.

Saklan is in Moraga which isn't as far as it might sound from Oakland -- especially going the back way from the Montclair area, it's just a 15-20 min hop over the hill. They've got a perfect little playground, kind and well-trained teachers, a very happy environment. It's an excellent little school in general -- in fact we would have stayed until 8th grade, except that in the end we decided it was a bit too small for our child (one class per grade). That smallness is a real advantage in many ways, however, so I highly recommend having a look. anon


May 2009

Re: Which Middle Schools do you reccomend?
My son is currently in 7th grade at Saklan Valley School in Moraga. We live in Montclair and it is a 15 minute drive door to door over the Pinehurst route. In addition, my daughter will be in 6th grade next year.

If you are interested in a small and supportive middle school program that is also very strong academically, then I would suggest looking into Saklan. My son has excellent grades but more importantly, he has learned to be self-motivated and actually loves learning.

The middle school teachers are absolutely amazing. They are talented, dedicated and accessible to the students and to the parents. We have watched the program encourage the very best in our son both academically and socially. He is a strong student and a good person.

Our daughter had several options to move elsewhere for her upcoming middle school years but we chose to remain at Saklan so that she could also experience the strong community and top notch education. She also wanted to stay to become an 8th grade family group leader and to work with the teachers she has been waiting years to have.

Saklan is a pre-school-8th grade independent school. The mix of ages in the school (not in the classroom) has been nothing but positive for our children. When they were younger, our children had role models and they were always so amazed when the ''big kids'' knew their names and sang happy birthday to them. Now, as older students in the program,, they have the opportunity to be the role models.

This is a school with small class sizes where learning is ''cool'' and being a good person is rewarded. This is a place where your child can focus on what is important and not be teased or treated badly for being smart. In addition, the setting is quiet and safe and the families are open and inviting. Kate


Oct 2008

We are considering Saklan Valley's kindergarten program for our daughter. Based on previous BPN postings, there appear to be mixed reviews about the program. We would love to hear from current parents of the school, especially regarding teacher training and turnover, class size, and attention to individual student needs. Thank you so much!


I am a parent of two children at Saklan Valley School- one currently in kindergarten, the other in the pre-school. We have been at Saklan for three years now, and I could not recommend it more highly.

Saklan provides an incredibly rich learning atmosphere that strikes a great balance between being academically challenging while still encouraging creativity, individuality and joy in the students. Because you have asked specifically about the Kindergarten, I will focus on that:

The kindergarten teacher is Amy Burnett- she is fantastic. She teaches with an art-based philosophy that encourages creativity and imagination, and while the kids think they are having fun, they are learning math and language skills. The kids have science class with the school's science teacher, they have PE four times a week, they are learning both French and Mandarin, and they are doing all of this in a wonderful atmosphere.

In addition to academics, Miss Amy is teaching the children to respect themselves and each other (and adults), to work together, and be responsible for their own actions.

If you are at all considering Saklan, I would really encourage you to visit the school on a Friday morning (8:30)- every Friday the school comes together for Flag. A lot of parents stay for Flag every week and there is a real sense of community among the Saklan Families. You will get a taste for what kind of kids and families we have. You will get to see various grades do short presentations in front of the school, and there are tours right after Flag so you can take a more formal tour and get all your questions answered. There really is nothing like seeing it for yourself.

One final note as a response to the negative review of Saklan which appears on this network and which focuses on the pre- school. Please take that review with a grain of salt- my son is currently in the pre-school. We have a permanent head teacher now who is doing a fantastic job (last year's head teacher left on maternity leave half way through the year). In just the first two months of school, my son has learned SO much and he is begging me to let him go 5 days a week (he goes 3 days currently). To anyone thinking about the pre-school, again, I urge you to come and visit the school and get a sense for what it can offer to your child particularly. As for the experience of the previous parent in the pre-school, I can only say that I have never witnessed any teacher saying anything that wasn't encouraging and supportive to any of the children. Nicole


Feb 2008

I am considering the Rainbow Kids program at Saklan Valley School, but there isn't much information in the archives. The website is very interesting! I'd love to hear from current parents in the program. anon


Saklan Valley School preschool program was not for us, so we recently moved our child out of it. We had chosen Saklan based upon the program under the previous director. However, under the new director the program was not to up to our level of standards. The specific areas that disturbed us enough to move our child mid-year are:

1) There has been almost a complete turnover of staff - one teacher left on maternity leave and 2 others left. Our child did not adjust well to the staff turnover.

2) The program was advertised to be 16 children and 3 teachers, when in fact it is 20 children, often with 2 teachers present. We did not like the ''bait and switch'' feeling of this as we wanted a program with a low ratio for our child.

3) There is no experienced, credentialed teacher left. The remaining teachers have only ECE units and very little experience. For what we were paying, we felt a more experienced staff was warranted.

4) We thought the schedule was developmentally inappropriate, with 45 minutes or more of circle time a day and several transitions as the French or music ''specialists'' come in to the class to conduct circle. Much of my child's concentration was lost in the transitions and long circle times.

5) I heard the teaching staff making negative comments about my child to other parents and in front of the children, including my child. My child developed a negative feeling about himself and about school. We were very alarmed that this was occurring in preschool and in a school that ''talks the talk'' like Saklan. We concluded that the program was actually damaging our child's self-esteem and moved into a program with better teachers and a more accepting, positive attitude toward children. We concluded that Saklan did not deliver - didn't ''walk the walk''! concerned mom


Feb 2007

I am looking for reviews on Saklan preschool and kindergarten from parents who have sent their kids there or know the program well for other reasons. Specifically, were the teachers warm, patient and loving, and were the kids happy there and was there enough play to balance the academics. Thanks so much! anon


My child attended Saklan for pre-K and he enjoyed himself there. The pre-k classes are 12 children with one teacher and one teaching assistant. The days are very structured and there are many ''specialists'' that come through the class on a given day. Science, library, French, music. And the kids learn their alphabet and how to sit for circle time quite nicely. I would say that it is on the opposite end of the spectrum of a free play program, which if I were to do it all again, might reconsider. I now think that 4 and 5 year olds need a bit of unstructured time so they can navigate friendships and boundaries with the rules of school and the classroom in mind-- not only academics. Saklan is very academic and the teachers are very focused on what they want the kids to know in prep for their kindergarten class. There has been quite a bit of turnover in the preschool and prek staff recently so I would certainly sit in on a class to see if you are happy with who your child's teacher would be. Anon
March 2006

On the topic of Camps and preschools, my kid goes to Saklan Valley School in Moraga and he will attend the Camp Saklan there again this summer. It is a loving, kind, environment with gentle discipline and a great play area, plus field trips, water activities and educational programs all summer long. http://www.saklan.org Kim Carlock runs the Extended Day Program and the Camp Saklan and she is great.
Happy Saklan Parent


Dec 2005

Re: Winter opening for Pre-Kindergartener?

Hello, My son is in a pre-k program at Saklan Valley School. There are 2 pre-k classes at Saklan, which is a private school in Moraga that goes all the way to 8th grade. It is a fabulous program. There are 11 kids in my son's class with one opening. There is a lead teacher and an assistant. Enrichment programs include: library, French, music and science. There are families from Oakland and Berkeley at this school, that is why I offer my reply to your question. Good luck


June 2005

Re: Nurturing Preschool for 3 year olds
I've found the most wonderful, nurturing and warm school. It's called Saklan Valley School and it is in Moraga. I know that sounds far away but if you take the back route (over Skyline and Redwood) it takes just 15-20 minutes and there is never any traffic. For me, even if it were further than that, I'd drive it because the school is so great. The classroom is one age (3 years) because when the kids are 4 they go to Pre-Kindergarten. The 3 year-olds are in Pre-School. The head teacher is so warm, inviting, engaging and energetic without being syrupy. The other teachers are also lovely. They have a French teacher that comes 3 times a week who is also really great at engaging the kids. The projects they work on are really neat and fun. Also, one of the best things is that the school goes through 8th grade. So, if! you like it you can stay for all of grade school. It is expensive (cost depends on which program you choose) and I don't know if there are any openings left for fall '05 but there might be. Take a look at their website at www.saklan.org. Really, don't be discouraged that it is in Moraga - it is not a long drive (and is a beautiful one through the forest) and it so worth the trip. Lynn


Jan 2005

We are considering Saklan in Moraga for our preschooler. Does anyone have any experience with this school they can share? I didn't see any reviews for Saklan on the website. Thanks! Mom


saklan school in moraga is very expensive as compared to other preschools in the area. about 30-40% more depending on your child's schedule. good luck.
Re: Developmental Kindergarten -Lamorinda area (Jan 2005)
I was in your same position last year with respect to looking for a pre-k academic opportunity in the lamorinda area. Have you looked at Saklan Valley School in Moraga? Very structured, very impressive, more on the academic side. The downside is that pre-k is approx $11,000/year (5 days/week). An academic preschool is VERY hard to find around here(I live in Orinda). Anon
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