Preschools for High Energy & Spirited Kids
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Preschools for High Energy & Spirited Kids
My energetic 3 year old boy is having trouble in his preschool and I'm trying to
figure out how to help him. Whether it's due to being around more than 20 kids or
the variety of activities at his disposal, he gets overstimulated and has a hard
time controlling himself or using words to interact with other kids. When alone,
with adults, or in a small group, he is calmer and able to control himself
better. In trying to look at the world from his eyes, I can see how his current
school must feel like being in Las Vegas!
My main goal is to find a preschool environment that works for him. I imagine
that I'm not the first parent with these issues and would appreciate some advice
on good, small preschools for easily overstimulated and active boys. While names
of schools would be great, I would also love to hear about the key factors that
ended up working for you - size, amount of structure, teacher's familiarity with
handling these issues, etc. I live in North Berkeley and work full time, so those
are also important factors.
Thanks for your help!
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.
Your son sounds a lot like mine. Our first preschool, a play-based school, was a
terrible fit for him. He's very outgoing and I thought that this kind of environment
would be perfect, but it was way too overwhelming and he was miserable (and getting
in trouble). After 6 months, we moved him to a Montessori school, and he loved it.
The Montessori school was so much calmer, but also allowed the kids more freedom to
do what they wanted, when they wanted to. That being said, I made sure to select a
Montessori school where he could work with other kids - some of them are a lot more
strict than others. He still had plenty of time to run around outside, and when he
was inside, he worked with friends on whatever he was interested in. There was so
much less chaos, he was able to relax and be himself. There are many different styles
of preschools, so you may want to check out some different types to see for yourself
what might suit him best. I think it's very kid-specific.
I'm going to start with the typical ''I could have written your post'' reply, but
I'll now cut to the important stuff. What we found to help - and help a lot - was
more structure and routine. We thought that since our son had tons of energy that a
''play-based'' environment would be best, allowing him to blow out all that energy.
Instead, and it took us an embarrassingly long time to realize this, the
''ready-set-go'' hours-long completely free play caused him to be anxious and
resulted in an increase in confrontational behavior as he sought limits.
school is completely all-play but there's a schedule (inside/outside) and
predictability that appeases his need for routine. The staff discretely oversees the
free play, redirecting play from oppositional to cooperative w/o directing the play
itself and has an expectation of social behavior to which our son responds. They
encourage involvement with projects instead of just offering the materials. The
staff is consistent, kind, patient, plentiful (which makes a huge difference) and
diverse in personality, gender and background. The class size is the same as the
other school, in fact the overall school population is much greater. We've seen a
big difference/improvement in our son's behavior with his peers and with us. Hope
this helps a bit!
My kid too!
I'm looking for a preschool near rockridge or South
Berkeley that can handle and enjoys very active boys-
possibly a school that has some male teachers? Also, are
there schools that don't require the afternoon nap? I'm
finding my kid doesnt want to sleep until almost 9:30 when
he takes a nap. Thanks!
You should take a look at Step One. It is located in the Berkeley Hills and
has a reputation of being hard to get into (they don't interview or look for a
''certain'' kid) but I have heard people put an application in after first
learning they are pregnant! I didn't do that and happened to get offered a spot.
They have a fair number of male teachers and they don't require kids to nap.
My son doesn't nap and I didn't like the idea of having him stay late to stare
at walls on a cot! They are very good with active kids. Once you take a tour
and see their outside space you will see quite clearly that they let kids be
kids (and even enjoy the active ones!)
Good luck with your search!
Been There and Found That
I am looking for a good preschool for my 3.5 years old boy. He is
active. I am looking for really good teachers who are patient and are
very caring and know how to deal with every child.
I am looking for something around Albany.
Please try Ocean View Montessori
in El Cerrito. Our athletic active spirited yet
sensitive son has thrived there and blossomed academically!!! It helps that it is a
small school, it has been around for decades with the founder still very active in
the school. There are multiple opportunities for the children to refresh themselves
with outdoor activity balanced with academics and the development of social skills.
My son was very active at that age. We thought the New School
Bonita near Cedar in Berkeley would have been a perfect fit, but they
didn't have a space for him. Lots of outdoor space and animals. Our
daughter went to the Berkeley JCC Preschool
(jcceb.org) and we thought
it would have been a good fit for our son. There were lots of very
active boys in her class. I would look for a developmental preschool
that doesn't expect kids to sit quietly if they don't want to. Male
teachers may also be a plus--on the whole, they seem to understand
that boy energy better than female teachers.
-Been there, unfortunately didn't do that.
We have a son who is about to turn 4 and is in a preschool that isn't
really a good fit. So, we're looking for one that is.
The two main qualities that I'm looking for are 1) attention to developing
social skills, and 2) lots of active play, preferably outdoors. Regarding
#1, our boy can be a bit shy. He wants to make friends, but just needs a
facilitation of the process of developing relationships. Regarding #2, he
is VERY active. Our current preschool only has 30-45 minutes outside and
very little of the indoor time is physically active play. Our son has a
lot of wiggles he needs to get out.
We live in North Oakland, but work in East Oakland/Fruitvale. So anything
in either play or in between would work well for us. Thanks for any
suggestions you can give us!
-- a dad
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
It's not in Oakland, but you might want to consider
School's preschool program. My son (who sounds a lot like your
son) is in the elementary school there, and it's been terrific!
Lots of play-based learning in the younger grades, lots of
attention to social skills, and lots of activity. The teachers
really pay attention to what each child needs. In the
elementary school active kids are allowed to take a lap around
the yard (in a non-punitive way), and I'm sure they have
something similar in the preschool. Good luck!
We changed preschools in order to find a better fit for our high
energy child. We couldn't be happier. Check out Daisy Child
Development Center, in Oakland, across 580 from Mills. The
teachers are great at seeing each child's gifts and recognizing
that each child has challenges and that it is their job to
assist the child. It is a play-based program and has lots of
room for kids to be kids. Great playground, too.
mama of high energy kid
I am hoping to enroll my daughter in preschool in the fall,
when she turns two. I have visited a few schools and gotten
recommendations from friends, so I've narrowed down my choices
to four: Hearts Leap (I loved the program), Duck's Nest (two
blocks from our house), the JCC (lots of her friends go there),
and the New School (highly recommended by a friend). Each
school seems to have advantages and disadvantages, so I'm
hoping the knowledgable parents on this list can help me make
up my mind. Specifically, I want to hear from parents with
what nowadays are called 'spirited' children who have had
recent positive or negative experiences at these schools. I
have read the recommendations of each school on the site, but
since the right preschool for each child is the one that best
suits his or her temperment, I'm looking for something more
specific in the area of fit for spirited kids. My little one
is very verbal, independent and bright, and also incredibly
determined, emotional, opinionated, and tests limits as much as
possible (it seems like all these traits go together.) She has
a short attention span, and while she responds well to some
structure and routine, she has a hard time staying engaged for
long periods of time. We are looking for a school that will
encourage her curiosity and autonomy, offer lots of imaginary
play, music and art, but also provide positive direction for
her less socially acceptable behaviors. We follow a 'positive
discipline' approach if that helps, and I like schools that
encourage kids to problem solve when behavior issues arise.
Finally and optionally, I'd love her to get some more practice
with American Sign Language (we sign a bit with her at home.)
Whew! This is a tall order, and I can't wait to hear what
folks have to say. Please feel free to email me personally or
post. Thanks in advance,
Hug A Bug Preschool
Mustard Seed Preschool
this page was last updated: Oct 31, 2012
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