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Step One School is an exception environment for a pre school. My child has been going there since age 2. It has been a wonderful experience in transitioning from the home environment at age 2 into a nurturing and developmental class room. The best part has been watching my child growth, mature, learn and socialize, over the past three years. The teachers are top quality, both personally and professionally. They have great curriculums and round out with fun activities. There is also strong parent involvement and other events to foster a good community. The high level of communication and feedback between teachers and parents has also been impressive. It is a true partnership in the best interest of the children - both as individuals and part of a group. I would highly recommend step one to any one. Its been an amazing journey and we will be sorry to graduate! It sets the highest standard! am553
My daughter is currently enrolled full-time in the 3-5 year old program at Step One. She started in the 2s program 2 years ago. This is our last year at Step One and we will truly miss this school. We researched and toured several schools but felt this was the school for us and we have never regretted our decision. My once shy daughter is now a confident outgoing participant who loves her school, her teachers and all her little friends. All the teachers are wonderful and bring something unique and valuable to the curriculum. They truly care about the kids and each other and even spend their time off doing things together. The teachers have a lot of experience and it shows in the way they interact with the children, their creativity, and ability to stimulate and engage the kids. In fact, one of my daughter's teachers, Charlie has been teaching at the school for 30 years which is close to the schools inception (1981). Just some of the school's features include: recently remodeled class restrooms, large well-equipped play yard, edible garden, chicken coop, water features and constant rotating supply of classroom materials. My daughter never wants to leave at pick-up. She is off to private Kindergarten in the Fall (accepted to all the schools we applied to) and I believe the school has done an excellent job in preparing her. I have also met a lot of wonderful friends and feel a real sense of community. We recently had a baby that had special needs & the school truly rallied around our family. We are not the exception. It is truly the spirit of the school to love and support those that are in need. I could go on and on but you should check out the school for yourself. I will be forever grateful for the memories and magic at Step One! Thanks for reading. Cindy
We love Step One. Our daughter has been there for two years now and we have watched her grow and learn and become this amazing imaginative, self confident child ready to take on anything. We feel very confident that when she leaves in August that she will be more than prepared for Kindergarten.
She spent her two years in Room Five with Aaron, Charlie, TT and Jane. I can not say enough about these wonderful teachers. Art projects, cooking projects, hammering nails into pumpkins, learning about life cycles, stars, planets, letters, numbers...they hit it all. The teachers are all so warm and nuturing. The outside play space is hands down better than any school. It's huge. Lots of scooters, trikes, digging tools and CHICKENS!
Your child will love it. You will wish you were in preschool again. Anna's Mom
Re: Three years of preschool for fall birthday baby?
Step One sounds like it fits the bill...Your little one could do two years in the nursery school and then one year in the Bridge K. We'll just be starting the Bridge K next year, so I don't have first hand experience in that room, but our experience in the nursery school has been fantastic and the Bridge K teachers are great. There are lots of rave reviews of Step One on BPN and you can visit and see for yourself what a special place it is, so I won't go on and on. But look into it -- it's a great little school, if the Berkeley Hills location will work for you... Step One parent
Re: Preschool for VERY ACTIVE and energetic boy?
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
My daughter just got a space at step one in the fall for the 3-4yr classroom. I just was wondering any reviews positive and negative to help me make this decision i know there are 23 kids in the classroom, does that seem too big or they handle it well? can you tell me a little about the teachers there? any info would be great thanks anon
Even though 23 children are enrolled in a class, not all of them are there on any given day. The teachers definitely make an effort to include all kids (my first one is more solitary), they do not get lost in the crowd at all.
Some negative things I have heard other people say are that it is too play-based or too unstructured. For our family, this has not been the case. The children learn to take care of themselves (hygiene, changing clothes/shoes), put stuff away, sit and pay attention during circle time, follow directions, and still have FUN. They also learn a lot of interpersonal skills and conflict mediation.
No school is perfect but Step One is pretty darn close! Shirley
Every teacher our daughter has had has been so impressive-smart, sensitive, experienced, savvy, and FUN-in dealing with both the kids AND the parents. Our daughter is fairly outgoing and also somewhat sensitive (e.g. big crocodile tears when sad and thrives with regular hugs) and she gets a great balance of both encouragement of her independence and support when she needs it, throughout her day.
Additionally, the school truly is a community and all of the teachers, administration and staff know all of the kids, so there are adults everywhere on the grounds that know her personally. We've never had the feeling that there were too many kids for the number of teachers because the teachers miraculously have time to support more than just their ''own'' students.
Our daughter is in room 4 with Angie, Ika, and Tim and you'd never know you were surrounded by 23 3-4 year olds when you're in the classroom. Each of the three teachers have their own ''small groups'' (our daughter is a ''rainbow whaleshark'' this year) so all children are part of a smaller (7-8 student) group within the big group at certain times of the day and they rotate through different activities with each teacher, in addition to activities that include the entire class.
We are SO happy with our experience in room 4 and our whole family will miss the teachers a ton when our daughter goes to kindergarten next year. Angie, Ika and Tim have worked together for many years-they bring very unique assets to the program and complement each other so well. They have very different personalities but they all connect with the kids in such a special way. At different times, each of them has been our daughter's self-stated ''very best favorite'' she can't really pick just one.
We both work full-time so our daughter is also part of the afternoon program (she stays until 5:30 4x per week) and the PM program is like it's own intimate group where different friendships and connections foster because it's made up of kids across all of the classrooms. Our daughter LOVES the afternoon program which is a huge emotional benefit for us- it helps with mommy/daddy guilt in a big way. Cynthia does an amazing job of creating a special sense of community in the afternoon programs. There are new afternoon teachers this year (one of whom has returned to Step One) and our daughter has also regularly told us that ''Kevin and Amber are both the very best teachers at Step One,'' clearly a great thing for us to hear, In the past 2 weeks, they have had ''magic week'' including amazing homemade magic tricks and elaborate magician hats, as well as pirate week which included treasure maps each child made. One day a few weeks ago I arrived early to pick up my daughter excited to have some extra time with her and she told me I needed to leave and come back at the regular time because she was having too much fun.
Please feel free to contact me directly with any additional specific questions. We have been very happy with our Step One experience and we also feel very comfortable that our daughter is more than ready for Kindergarten next year. Step One is a special place; for us, it was the kind of preschool we had imagined in our minds, and amazingly, it lived up to our parental ''fantasies'' for what a preschool could be. Carly
The class size has not been an issue for my kids at all. They were able to spend time in their small groups (8 or so kids), as well as establish friendships with their other classmates (both older and younger).
The teachers are true professionals, ensuring that the kids are surrounded by love, friendship, diversity, and learning through play, all in a safe environment. The teachers are very approachable and really partner with you to help your child succeed. I love how they all share their talents with the class and the rest of the school, whether its capoeira dancing, gardening, singing, playing the guitar, art, cooking yummy organic black beans, etc.
In a nutshell, I want my kids to have a childhood that is safe, happy, innocent, and to understand that they are part of a family/community. I truly believe they experienced this at Step One. Happy Step One Parent
Re: Seeking excellent Pre K program with 2011 openings
My 5 1/2 year old son is currently in the Bridge K program at Step One School in Berkeley and I can honestly say deciding to enroll him in their amazing program has been the best decision I have made thus far! This is our third year at Step One School and last year I was faced with deciding to enroll him in public school kindergarten, or enrolling him in Step One's Bridge Kindergarten program. I just didn't feel he was emotionally or socially ready for kindergarten and thus chose Step One. My son is also very bright and quite painfully shy and the personal attention he and all the bridge k kids receive from the Step One teachers helped foster in him an amazing sense of self confidence. Over the past year I have watched him come into his own. Now, as he faces entering kindergarten in Public School this fall, I am fully confident that he has the social and emotional skills needed to flourish!
Although, leaving the warm, nurturing, diverse, rich Step One family will be very difficult for my son and I ....we do so knowing that our lives (and specifically my son's life) will forever be shaped by the love and dedication of the entire Step One faculty.
Step One is everything you are looking for and so much more! I encourage you to call them and arrange for a tour, I do believe they still have an opening for next fall. Their number is 510-527-9021 www.steponeschool.org good luck!! Cindy
I want to strongly recommend Step One in Berkeley. I've had 6 wonderful years with both my children attending and Step One provided an excellent foundation and fostered their love of learning in academics and socialization. My children were very different and my son did have some special needs, Step One teacher's and administration supported my entire family and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. The teacher's are wonderful, each one has their own unique style and passion they enrich the program with, anywhere from art, music, dance and gardening are woven throughout the curriculum daily. The late afternoon program is also very special, and it was difficult getting my children to leave b/c they loved Step One so much! love Step One
Re: Need rec's for bridge or pre-K for 2012
Step One Nursery School in Berkeley has openings for their Bridge-K program. We have really loved it for our child. It is 5 mornings a week (with an option to do afternoons as well). I would definitely recommend you contact them and go and visit. Their website is steponeschool.org. Or you can call them 510 527 9021. Good luck Step One parent
Re: Need rec's for bridge or pre-K for 2012
We sent our oldest daughter to the bridge K program at Step One School in Berkeley. Her birthday is in October and we felt as though she would benefit from an extra year in a pre-K program before elementary school. She thrived in that environment and was so well prepared for her first year at our local public school. The learning was so thoughtful and infused with play that she didn't even realize she was ''working''. Time and time again during her first year at elementary school (she's in first grade now) she would say, ''Oh, we did that at Step One''. I would highly recommend the program, and specifically the brilliant teachers Steve and Gege. Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk more. Sarah
I've noticed a few posts recently about Step One, and wanted to add another perspective -- my child attended Step One for 3 years, and I really tried to love the school. It offers so much for parents to admire -- great facilities, cool teachers, lovely community. And yet, now that my child is happily off in elementary school that is a *much* better fit, I have to say, Step One has some serious flaws. My experience there was that it was extremely chaotic. I saw them take a ''let boys be boys'' adage to an extreme, such that wild, sometimes aggressive behavior was actually somewhat encouraged. My anxious, easily overwhelmed kid learned a lot about hitting, biting, and how to use force to get your way on the backs of those big, beautiful hills (where the teachers can't always see what is going on). I loved the teachers as people, but they were sometimes incredibly hard for me to get in touch with. When I voiced concerns about some of the approaches they took, I was made to feel like I was overreacting, and when I tried to talk about the behaviors happening at school, I was usually made to feel that my child's subsequent issues were probably due to my faulty parenting. Now that we're out of that environment and the behaviors in question have ceased, and I have had the experience of teacher conferences where collaboration actually occurs, I can see more clearly the ways in which the school was a bad fit for my kid. To be fair, the teachers at Step One are a highly educated lot, they are fantastic people, and it always seemed like a great place for an adult to spend time. For my child, however, who needed a little more peace and quiet, more structure, more support -- I think Step One was not such a great place. former step one parent
I'd like to offer a review of Step one Preschool. Recently, a father reviewed this school unfavorably based on his experience, and I want to give another viewpoint. I am always sad when I hear about children being asked to leave a school because the school couldn't handle that child's behavioral issues, but my experience at Step One was quite the opposite. We left our previous co-op preschool because our daughter was one of those kids who had behavioral/social problems, and the teachers and parents at that school couldn't help her. When we found Step One, our lives changed! First, Step One is not one of those schools that screens kids to make sure that they only get the ones who behave all the time; they take everyone. Second, we were offered financial aid, which was the only reason we could afford to attend. Third, we were never made to feel as if the teachers at Step One couldn't handle our daughter's issues. She was easily one of the 2 most challenging kids in her class, but all of the staff at S.O. worked as team to help her learn appropriate behavior. we brought in our own professionals to observe and work with our child, and Step one not only welcomed this input, but the school offered to pay for some of the therapies! My daughter grew so much at S.O. and still wants to visit (3 yrs later)! If they had decided to open an elementary school, we would have done anything to send her there! I am in no way trying to challenge the experience of the previous reviewer; I only wanted to present my own experience in support of the school. dawn
I am writing to share my honest/sincere review with all prospective step one parents. I was a very involved parent in the step one community but was crushed as Step One made my child find another preschool during their second year there with virtually no warning. For a preschool of this stature which costs so much, I expected much better communication from the Directors and Teachers. I was left high and dry to scamper to find a new preschool for my child. They also provided no support in such a difficult transition and presented their decision in a harsh and cold manner. It was a very difficult and stressful situation! For the child who is well adjusted and doesn't have much difficulty functioning in the classroom this is a great school. There are tons of interesting ways to be involved in the step one community as a parent, a multitude of different child and parental events, and even a campout where food is provided. For the sprited child who has more of a difficult time with participating in a group or classroom, then, it may not be the best place for them. They let the children dictate things as if the ''child knows best'', but some children need a bit more structure, especially if they aren't as well adjusted. Since there are a lot of children in the classroom, at times it can be chaotic, so children needing a bit more attention may have difficulties. The classrooms are mixed with older and younger children(3, 4 and 5 year olds), and while this sounds like this could be a good mix, the younger children need a bit more help so it takes away from some of the older children's needs, as the older children are expected to be very well adjusted by this time. If your younger child makes good friends with an older child, chances are they will not be together in the same school next year. There is quite a bit of turnover as well, as at least 5-6 children left the program for different reasons during the middle of the school year, and one head teacher went on maternity leave which required various ''substitutes'' and a new head room teacher change. Your child will also have two different teachers in the same classroom if they go there as a 3 and 4 year old. We thought step one was the best preschool at first, but it turned out that my child had difficulties that they couldn't deal with and unfortunately they gave up on them instead of helping them. Super Daddy
Hi! I would appreciate any current feedback on the Twos programs at Centro Vida and Step One. We are trying to decide between the two programs and would love to hear any feedback from parents that currently have a child in these programs (especially Centro Vida, as the reviews are older). Also, did you find the Twos program at Centro Vida sufficiently play-based? And, how was music and/or art there?
My 19 month old toddler is currently in a happy nanny share which I'm reluctant to disrupt, but she's social and I feel she would also benefit from a pre-school environment for next fall. She's being raised bilingual Spanish (dad is a native Spanish speaker), hence the interest in Centro Vida).
I'm nervous about the transition to preschool! If any of you transitioned a two-year old to one of these programs, how did it go? Did you feel like the schools handled the transition well? Were the schools open to parent involvement during the transition? My daughter would have to attend full-time, as my husband and I both work. Thank you in advance!
The Step One teachers and staff have proactive transition plans and strategies, including a parent meeting prior to the start of the school year to get everyone ready. Both Alexis and Eric (two of the 2s program teachers) have many years of experience in the 2s program so they have many tools and use them with impressive confidence. They took care of us as much as our daughter! They were extremely involved in developing the right transition approach for each child and also very welcoming of parent involvement. Our daughter ended up being one of the children that had the hardest time with the transition and they offered all of us (daughter, mom & dad) so much support, it really helped us get through it and it forged a great connection for all of us with her teachers early on.
Alexis and Eric are phenomenal: we continued to be impressed with them (and so grateful to them) throughout the year. We continue to feel that they helped create the ''magic'' of the Step One experience for our daughter which is one of great community, awesome teachers, lots of fun play, music, gardening, and of course, great strides in development!
Our son will be starting in the 2s program this Fall and we're super excited to have him experience the magic of Room 3 with Alexis and Eric. I highly recommend Step One and the 2s program-we've loved the school and all of our teachers so far!
Both of our children are also full-time. If you'd like to talk in more detail or ask more questions about our experience with Step One, feel free to email me. carly
Re: Daughter not ready for K or is it just the wrong school?
My daughter, a September birthday, went to Step One's pre-K program a few years back. It was really really terrific. According to the newsletter, they still have openings. Ann
Re: Preschool where my son won't be the token black kid
Check out Step One School in North Berkeley. The school is committed to diversity. This is reflected in the families attending, the teachers and the curriculum. www.steponeschool.org Another mom of a mixed race son
Hi, I have an application in at Step One for our son, but am having doubts about the distance. We live in Montclair and would have to do the daily drive to Berkeley. I LOVE the school, but am wondering if there are other Step One families who do this and/or if the distance impacts playdates with classmates. Also, I was wondering if there are any recommendations for similar programs in Oakland/Piedmont Area. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Step One School hardly needs another laudatory review but my husband and I want to state our delight at having our daughter at this preschool. The director, Sue, has to be one of the most thoughtful and even-tempered women I have ever met. In a world where many directors tend to be a bit temperamental and/or defensive, she is a breath of fresh air. The co-director, Eric, is eloquent and funny while being very salt of the earth. The three teachers of our daughter's class Charlie, Aaron and Jane, are sweetly alive, motivated and lovely to watch with the kids. We get weekly notices of snacks provided (mostly organic,) and of activities that are happening (many and varied.) We get almost daily notices of what has happened with our child in particular. It is surely a swell place to be if you are young and in need of place to call your pre-school. Thank you again, Step One. Elizabeth
Re: Preschools with Male Teachers
Step One in Berkeley has multiple WONDERFUL male teachers. Four of the 5 classrooms have a male teacher, and one classroom has 2 men. As a group they are exceptionally caring and gentle. Two of the three male teachers my children have had are literally among the best people I've ever met (I really like the third one too!). The down side is that if you aren't already on their waiting list it will be hard to get in for next year. Still get yourself on the list. If your child can spend any time at Step One, it would be worth switching preschools in the future. anon
Re: Looking for a good preschool in Berkeley
Both our children went to Step One, from 2000-2005. It was just terrific! The teachers are wonderful and the community is warm and supportive. We made some great friends there too. Ann
Re: Preschools with Male Teachers (Jan 2005)
Step One School on Spruce Street in the Berkeley Hills has a really diverse staff -- including men. It's a WONDERFUL preschool, thoughtful, responsive, attentive. Your child can sign up for mornings only and they may offer a several-days-a-week option. Sign up NOW ... even if your child is young. Sometimes there aren't openings for girls or boys, depending on current enrollment. Step One School 499 Spruce St, Berkeley, 94708 - (510) 527-9021 appreciative mom
I have my child on the waiting list for kindergarten, starting in Sept 2004. Two questions for the group. First, any recent impressions from parents that could help me decide if we should actually get in? Second, I've noticed that they have several kindergarten spaces still open for the Kindergarten class that began this year (2003). Is this a bad sign? Thanks in advance. Starting to Decide
We needed to decide to apply to first grade after Step One, we thought she was ready. We had our choice of several independent schools' first grades so it is not impossible - but she was disappointed not to be going to a K with her friends.
I am responding to the posting expressing concern about the current openings. Step One does an amazing job of balancing the class for gender even with the current trend for boys to attend pre-K. I think it is a testament to the quality of the Step One program that they will not weigh the class too heavily toward one gender and are willing to wait.
As for the program itself, the proof is in the elementary school pudding. When my oldest went on to kindergarten at an elementary school, we got nothing but glowing remarks from his teacher about his ability to concentrate for schoolwork, make friends, transition easily and his general ability ''to hold it together for the whole day.'' Who wouldn't want to give their child every advantage...if you (or your child's preschool teacher) think your child can benefit from another year, you can't go wrong with Step One.
P.S. Step One has great parent resources for the whole school choice process, too, so it's a wonderful community to be in during the ''application'' year.
Re: Elementary Schools with Pre-K Programs
Step One preschool in Berkeley has an excellent pre-k, and I just heard this week that they have two openings.
RE: Kindergarten Programs
All the programs you are asking about are great, but since I am not certain what kind of program you are looking for, I'm having trouble responding. Are you looking for more of a bridge program? Are you looking for something for the next six years? Step One was great for my child who needed an extra year in a more preschool like setting. He went on to private kinder garten afterward and really did well. Berkeley Mom
Re: preschool recommendations
Step One is wonderful. Several years ago when we adopted our daughter at age 4 months, friends suggested that we should immediately get on "The List" for Step One. One friend-of-a-friend was particularly insistent that Step One was the *only* place for us. Perhaps because I bristled at the notion that an acquaintance would know what was best for us, and because I hoped to find a school that was within walking distance of our home, I didn't even visit Step One until we had some rather disappointing experiences at a couple of small, neighborhood home-based schools. When I finally did visit Step One, I was smitten--I wished I was 3 years old! The teachers and staff are wonderful and smart and caring, and everyone gives a lot of thought and attention to everything--especially to the children, of course. I feel very fortunate that we were able to spend this one pre-K year at Step One, and I wish I had heeded the advice we were given when our daughter was a baby--get on the list now! (If you have specific questions or want to know more, feel free to contact me.) Lori
Regarding Preschool for child with developmental delays
I'd suggest calling Step One Pre-School in Berkeley (527-9021), and talking to the directors, Eric and Sue. It's a wonderful school with a rich and diverse program, and it was great for both of my children (now 10 and 13). I'm sure that Eric and Sue will talk with you about how they might work with your child, and suggest additional resources to you. Merry
Step One is a fabulous preschool, that, I think, meets the qualifications you listed in your posting. The teachers are caring and capable, the kids and parents are diverse culturally and economically, the school is fun and challenging, and the staff are good at working with different kinds of kids. My son is an inward child nd can have difficulty warming up to new situations. He has blossomed at Step One, in my opinion because of the excellence of the teachers at drawing him out and capitalizing on his talents. I couldn't be happier with the school.
My childrens' preschool, Step One in Berkeley, has banned all peanuts and peanut products and several other nuts and related products due to severe nut allergies. Mpbannett
My feeling is that a ban is the only responsible thing a school can do if it knows that seriously allergic children attend. I also think that any school would be required by law (under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law) to make such a reasonable accommodation.
So I think you should consider all the schools which are otherwise available to you and take an assertive approach to arranging accommodation of your child's serious medical needs. All preschools hold themselves out as valuing inclusiveness and diversity and this issue gives a good chance for schools to show it. Karen
The two's program is now headed by Margaret who substituted when Callie was in the room.M- Callie just loved her.M- She has a way with the children that is nurturing and allows them to explore their potential.M- Callie talked early and I would consider her a spirited child.M- The teachers at Step One have been great at allowing her to be who she is.
The 2's start out playing in their own yard space and after a few months they can play in the big yard.M- As the year progresses the older kids play around the 2's.M- They know that they are the room 3 kids and that they are the little ones.
>From the newsletter: "At this time we still have a few openings in the mixed age 3/4's nursery school program. In particular, a younger 3-year-old and a 4 year-old, boy or girl, will help us achieve the balance we like to have in these classrooms. Because many families in the community tell us that they don't apply to Step One because they think they can't get in, we'd appreciate it if you could help us spread the word."
The phone number is 527-9021 and ask to speak to Erika or Sue.
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