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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. JA
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
Hi, 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. Hannah
''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 completely.
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 neutral way.
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
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. -Simone
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 social situation. berkomax
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! Laurey
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 immediately.
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 stimulating place.
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.)
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