Sprouts Preschool (Berkeley, CA)
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Editor Note: Sprouts Preschool was previously known as
"Hopkins Street Childcare Center". It has no relation to
BUSD's Hopkins Street Preschool at 1810 Hopkins St..
Last updated July 2013
- Owner: Michelle Straka
- Phone: (510) 559-9459
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neighborhood: 1910 Hopkins St.
- Zip: 94710
- License #: 010215673
- Capacity: 14
- Website: http://sproutspreschool.wordpress.com/
- Ages: between 2 yrs. 10 months and 5 years of age
Editor Note: there is a daycare in Oakland with a similar name:
Little Sprouts Preschool
Hello fellow parents,
We are looking at Sprouts Preschool and would love to hear from current and former
families about your experiences. We took a tour and so we have a sense of the
environment and the teachers. It seems like a warm and nurturing environment, and we
like the smaller class size. The outside area is a little funky compared to other
schools, such as the lush garden of Duck's Nest and the well-organized science and
art area of Gay Austin, and we can't help but wonder about the lack of a web site
Any thoughts would be welcome.
Thanks very much!
I have had the amazing good fortune to have sent all three of my children to Sprouts
Preschool. There is such a sweetness to the environment and how lovingly the children
are cared for and taught. While not stocked with the shiniest or newest outdoor toys or
science lab, the outdoor space and small garden have always been more than sufficient to
teach my children to love and respect nature. We still have plants in our yard from our
many years at Sprouts that our boys tend to with the same reverence that they did as
small children. The learning is done so organically as it is part of the process of play
for the children.
However, the magic that is Sprouts isn't in the physical environment, but rather the
incredible teachers Molly and Marie and the director Michelle Straka. They create an
environment where the children learn to respect one another and learn to deal with
conflict and situations in an positive manner. Michelle has been working with children
for over 30 years and has taught many local preschool teachers as an early childhood
education instructor. I have found her experience and wisdom invaluable as a parent.
I've never had a concern about the lack of a web presence for the school as my take on
it is that the school has always been quite successful via word of mouth from happy
families. In my experience, all the teachers are very accessible and communication via
emails and face to face at the school have been great.
I really can't rave enough about Sprouts and am so sad that this is our last year there
with our youngest son. My older boys have moved on to a Berkleley public school quite
successfully as they had a solid beginning at Sprouts, finding wonder and joy in
learning as well as having the social skills to work well with others.
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about Sprouts, it really is a
magical, wonderful place!
I can't say enough wonderful things about Sprouts. I first learned about Sprouts
because it's where my niece (who is now a successful 5th grader at Prospect Sierra)
went. Both my sister and brother-in-law are educators so I trusted their
''instincts''. Nevertheless, I visited several preschools in the El
Cerrito/Albany/Berkeley areas ''just to make sure''. Even though I was impressed by
some of the outdoor play areas at some of the other schools, Sprouts offered a special
and unique warmth. I was also very drawn to the generous teacher:sprout ratio. My son
has always had a nanny so we were concerned about his transition to a school
environment. The transition was seamless. When we visited the school for the first
time (and my son was only 2 1/2 at the time), he immediately started to play with one
of the teachers who then encouraged play with other, older children. And after we
visited several of the other, larger schools, Sprouts was the one school that he
remembered. To this day, he looks forward to going to school (so much so he makes his
little brother a little jealous).. and isn't that really what's important at this age?
To ENJOY school? Within a month, my son's vocabulary/language exploded. He has since
learned about ''community'', how to ''share'', ''cooperate'', be more empathic, and be
apologetic/forgiving. He's three years old. Realistically, in 10 or 20 years, he
probably won't remember if there was a high-tech state-of-the-art play structure at his
preschool.. but (given my niece's experiences as well) I trust that these life lessons
for building community, autonomy, confidence, and character will act as a strong
foundation that will stay with him forever.
Happy Sprouts Mom
I have four children and my youngest is now attending Sprouts. The older three children
attended co-op preschools, but with our last we were ready for a different type of
experience. Sprouts is a wonderful preschool - its small, nurturing environment and
play-based approach has been a perfect fit for our daughter. Although the outside play
space is not large, the children attending the preschool are not so big themselves (!)
and with only 12 present at one time, the space is more than enough. In addition, the
children go to the library, for walks in the neighborhood, and have a regular music
teacher visit. The teachers are amazing and we did not experience any transition
problems with our daughter. In addition to Sprouts being such a warm, caring place for
your child to begin their social education, Sprouts is also a year round program, with
flexible schedule - children can attend from 2 to 5 mornings a week (8.30-1pm) with
after care to 3 if needed and the fees are affordable. These are other considerations
that you may also want to take into account when comparing it to other preschools with
newer facilities and toys. Good luck with your search, there are so many preschools out
there, but from our experience we can only highly recommend Sprouts as a preschool.
A current Sprouts parent
We sent both of our kids to Sprouts and were completely happy there. It is a small
comforting and inspiring place with wonderful teacher/leaders. We all became a family
with the greater Sprouts community and we still cherish those memories. Michelle and
Molly are outstanding people and extremely gentle and caring with the children. Every
other teacher that we encountered there was well loved by all the children. Gardening,
art, story time at the library and a visit from a fire engine and fire fighters. We were
unconcerned with the lack of web presence. It is a place for our children to grow and
learn through contact with loving people. It is a small community and has mostly grown
through word of mouth.
I can't say enough good things about Sprouts. If you are looking for more technology or
internet presence, it might not be the right fit for your family.
I can't begin to say enough about Michelle, Molly and the
entire Sprouts community. Our middle child has had rapidly
deteriorating eyesight and is likely to go legally blind.
We relocated to the Bay Area very anxious about the school
environment we choose for our spatially sensitive and very
quiet child. A friend of ours referred us to Sprouts and
it was the best choice we ever made. Things started out
slowly - our daughter was in Sprouts for over six months
before she was comfortable enough to say a word - but with
the nurturing provided by the teachers, parents and fellow
students of Sprouts, our baby bloomed! I am so proud to
say that two years later, our daughter is reading, jumping
off of play structures, and (dare I say it) even a little
bossy. It has been a great journey.
Sprouts is a wonderful home based preschool. The three teachers are very
loving and attentive to the children. The director of the program,
Michelle, has a very calming effect on the kids.. She was very caring toward
my son who is one that takes a long time to come out of his shell. But she
and the other teachers were able to encourage him to take part in the fun.
My son's favorite part of the day was art time. The kids are able to
explore their creativity whether it is in the morning when there is more
free play or when it is circle time and they are pretending they are at the
circus. They plant and sing and laugh. It is an experience any child would
be lucky to have. The phone number for Sprouts is 510-559-9459.
We liked our visit to Sprouts but we are hoping to get a little more feedback
from parents. The reviews on Sprouts on the archives is a little dated (2009)
and I am wondering if any current parents or parents of recent grads might
comment on their experience there?
-looking for the right place
Sprouts is a nurturing, wonderful preschool! I have 2 daughters, one
currently in her second year at Sprouts and a second grader who thrived
there. Michelle, Molly, and Marie provide just the right amount of
structure to foster the perfect environment of learning through play and
exploration. My daughter comes home with stories each day about friends,
special projects in art and cooking, songs, and stories she has read.
Sprouts also has amazing guest teachers in dance and ceramics. Please
feel free to contact me with any other questions.
Sprouts preschool is a wonderful small play based school! I have had 2
kids in sprouts. One graduate and one current. We have all been extremely
happy with our experience. My older son has a strong sense on connection
with his old preschool and loves to go back to visit and be a big kid
helper. My current sprout loves going to school. Michelle, the director,
is an amazing , warm and kind person with a wealth of experience. For
years the staff was the same three women. This past year, due to
unexpected illness, that has changed. However, with one new teacher (1
of 3) woking with and under Michelle the program has continued to be a
wonderful place to be. The instructors are a true asset to the program.
My sole complaint is that, as a part time working parent, after care hours
are not long enough. Despite this, I have chosen to stay and have not
thought about changing schools.
We are considering sending our child to the Sprouts school on
Hopkins and I am wondering if there are some parents out there
who would be willing to share their Sprouts experience (good or
bad) with us. I looked into archives but the reviews of the
school are pretty dated. Thank you so much in advance.
I highly recommend Sprouts as a wonderful play-based preschool.
It is staffed by enthusiastic and deeply caring people who have a
genuine love for children. The atmosphere is intimate and attends
to needs of individual personalities. Through various teaching
units, the teachers engage and excite the children to discover
the world around them. I've had two kids in Sprouts and when my
toddler is old enough, she'll go there too. Michelle Straka is
the director: 510-559-9459
Sprouts is a fantastic place. The teachers/director are loving
warm and amazing people. There is no turn over in staff. I
think that speaks volumes for the place. The kids are the first
priority. The place is low key and has been a great place for
my childs first schooling experience. My child is extremely
happy at sprouts. I wish i could go to spouts.
Hi! I wanted to respond to your query about Sprouts preschool.
My daughter will be entering her 2nd year at Sprouts this fall,
and we are absolutely thrilled with the school! It's difficult
to think of a single criticism. The teachers have lots of
experience and are extremely committed to the school and to the
children. The overall tone and style of the school is set by its
director, Michelle Straka, who has a mellow, child-celebrating
style that is informed by many years of experience with children.
''Caring,'' ''attentive,'' and ''nurturing'' are the strongest words I
would use to describe this school. My daughter is there 5 days a
week, in extended care 9-3 four days a week, so I wanted to
choose a school that really felt like a second family. I have
never felt that she's exhausted or worn out at the end of the
day. I feel 100% taken care of by Sprouts. I also trust them
I've seen the teachers in some tough situations with children who
had a very hard time separating from their parents. The teachers
were completely calm and handled everything in a loving, but
This is a play-based program - it's not an academic program. I
could see it being a poor match for a child who is ready for a
more school-like day with sit-down lessons. The day at Sprouts
includes lots of supervised social time with other children,
playing and dressup, daily art projects, outdoor play, gardening,
looking at bugs and things like that, and lots of singing and
reading time, plus weekly special dance & yoga classes & visits
to the library.
Lastly, this school is year-round, which was a BIG plus for us.
They recognize the needs of working parents, and take very few
holidays. (much fewer than the elementary school my son attends,
for example). Oh, another thing is that the expectation of
parent participation is only come-as-you-wish. Parents are
welcome to participate in the classroom, but fundraising and
other volunteering is not expected. Which is great when you're a
parent with lots of other commitments!
I feel hugely grateful and fortunate that we found Sprouts. My
advice is, if you were lucky enough to get a spot there, you
should jump on it. Sprouts is a gem!
Feel free to email me if you have any questions. gradiva-at-gmail.com
Happy Sprouts Mama
Our son is a current ''Sproutie'' and we can't begin to say enough great things
about the school and its teachers. Sprouts was our son's first experience being
away from us, so needless to say, it was a big transition for all of us. The teachers
really guided us through this process - they were extremely nurturing to him (and
to us), and called us daily for the first week or so after we dropped him off to
reassure us that he was doing OK and was playing happily. Our son now loves
school and skips down the block as we near Sprouts ready to start his school day.
The teachers, Michelle, Molly, and Suzanne are just about the the most amazing
people you could ever meet - they are enthusiastic and genuine, and their
creativity is evident in all the fun activities that make up the school day. They also
do so much to foster a sense of community - throughout the year they have taken
time out of their weekends and evenings to plan family Sprout activities such as
breakfast playdates and kindergarten discussion night. In addition, the teachers
are accessible and always ready to chat; they have really been a source of stability
for our son during some major changes over the last year (arrival of baby sister,
job change) Our son is now finishing his last year at Sprouts and we are confident
that he is well prepared for kindergarten, but so sad to be leaving Sprouts. Best
wishes to you. Please feel free to email if you have more specific questions.
Sprouts has been a wonderful experience for my daughter over the last 2 years. She
has had gentle, warm, and most of all incredibly patient teachers at Sprouts to nurture
her social skills and love of learning. The program is play-based, with just the right
amount of structure to help the kids learn the routines and attend to the day's
activities: free play greeting time, snack, circle time with stories, singing, signing,
movement, creative projects, outside play, gardening, lunch, more stories, then a
happy transition to home. We love Sprouts!
Our son attended Sprouts in 2003-05. Our daughter is currently enrolled. We
researched many schools before deciding on Sprouts the first time. Our experience
with our older child was so good that the choice of Sprouts for our second child was
Sprouts is a play-based school. If you believe in academics formally starting at age
3 or 4, Sprouts is not for you. If, like us, you believe formal schooling can and
should start in elementary school, then Sprouts is our top recommendation. As
attractive as several Montessori schools were, they felt too formal and structured for
us. On the other hand, we visited several schools where we felt there was an overly
relaxed, ''anything-goes'' style that also did not suit us. In other words, I don't
believe a child needs to learn to sit at a table for one consecutive hour at age 3. But
I also don't like to see a child run around the yard barefoot in cold rainy winter
weather wearing just a T-shirt. We saw both examples during our visits of Berkeley
preschools and that did not suit us.
Sprouts felt right for us immediately. It is organized without being formal, relaxed
but with boundaries and purpose. They have circle-time, book reading, music and
dance, ceramics, the occasional field-trip - and of course free play. Our younger
child is happy to be there every single day. Our older child (now 8) loves to return
for visits to his teachers. And here lies Sprouts' strength: the three wonderful
teachers and their support staff. Michelle, Suzanne and Molly are warm, loving
persons that provide a family away from home for our children. At the same time
they are sensible, experienced teachers who deliver knowledge, manners and
morals for our children to grow, learn and socialize. It is not only reassuring to have
our children in their care: we actually feel privileged seeing them flourish in the
nurturing environment of Sprouts.
I hope this sharing of our experience helps.
I highly recommend Sprouts preschool. My son is finishing his
second year there, and he has had a wonderful, fun time there.
The teachers are highly experienced, relaxed, caring and loving
with the children, and clearly love their jobs. Their approach
is play-based, but there is some structure to the days such as
circle time, projects, outdoor time, visiting the library for
story, dance and other activities. I feel there is just the
right balance of stimulating the children's thinking and
learning skills and allowing the children to develop their own
interests. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any other
Re: Nurturing Preschool for 3 year olds
You should look at Sprouts (N.Berkeley on Hopkins Street)(559-
9459) which is incredibly nurturing. It does have kids from
2.5 to 5 (generally, 3-5) but the teachers are exceptional and
it is very warm. My daughter started at three, after
a 'failed' Montessori experience. She has really flourished at
Sprouts. It is small (12-14 kids to two teachers)and is in a
converted house. The teachers (there are three) are wonderful -
! ;I enjoy talking with them and I trust their insights. Sprouts
is play-based but has some structure. I like that it has an
emphasis on art (the director, Michelle, teaches art education
classes for ECE classes). I'm not sure what openings they have
for the fall but we have to leave the end of June (because of a
summer kindergarten program) and I think that there is one
child that is moving. You should call to see if there are any
openings. It is a wonderful place and has been great for my
child who is extremely shy and uncomfortable in almost all
Re: Intimate, warm preschool with fewer than 20 kids
Try Sprouts Preschool in North Berkeley. I just toured it last
week. They are giving tours this month. It is in a home and
has a very warm friendly atmosphere. There are only 14
kids. The director and the two teachers assistants were very
nice. Call them right away. Their number is 559-9459. They
are located at 1910 Hopkins Street. Another small
preschool is McGees Farm, (12 kids). It is a cooperative
preschool located in Berkeley on 2214-1/2 Grant Street.
Their number is 849-3593. Good luck!
My son attends Sprouts preschool in North Berkeley, across from the North
Berkeley Branch Library. A space for a 4-year old boy has become
available, due to the last minute change of plans of one of the new
incoming families. This preschool is usually filled months in advance and
has long waiting lists. There just happen to be no 4-year old boys on the
waiting list, so a space in this excellent preschool has become available
The school occupies the bottom floor of a brown shingle house and has a
large back play area. School hours are from 8:30 to 1:00, M-F, with
optional aftercare from 1:00-3:00. It is also possible to go less than 5
days a week. There are 10-14 students present at any one time, ages 3 and
4 (and some late 2's), with two highly experienced teachers.
The teachers in this preschool are exceptional-Michelle Straka the Director
has been teaching preschool for over 25 years. Suzanne and Lucie, the
other two teachers, have taught at the school for 7 and 12 years,
respectively. This low teacher turnover speaks volumes. All three
teachers are extremely professional, loving, respectful and skilled. Their
love of children and delight in being around them shows in all that they
do. They are devoted.
The emphasis at Sprouts is on creating a caring space wherein the child can
stretch and grow socially and emotionally, with the belief that the self
confident, socially secure child will be academically unstoppable.
Academics are of considerable but secondary importance. Michelle, the
director, teaches other early childhood teachers about the use of music in
the curriculum and is expert in this area. Last year they hatched chicks
with the children. They have a garden, a worm bin, etc. It is a
Michelle is hoping to find a *relatively calm* 4-year old boy to fill the
vacant space. (No, it is not a place with a lot of overly energetic
children--there is currently a very nice balance of temperaments and
Michelle is hoping to maintain that.)
this page was last updated: Jul 29, 2013
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