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Longtime St Johns parent (19 month old toddler, there since 5 months). Baby room hours are either 8:30-5:30 or 9-6. Breakfast, lunch, and snack are included and they are very flexible both with newbie parents and with special needs. Around 18 months the kids move into the Wobbly room, which has a slightly larger child-staff ratio. There is a third room for bigger kids called the Busy Bee room. Philosophically it's a mix of a lot of different child care methods - lots of child directed activity, redirection instead of saying ''no'', lots of play opportunities, lots of reading and painting. There are regular parent-staff conferences. Parents are also asked to volunteer a certain number of hours. They also provide occasional parents' nights out in which the center stays open later for date nights. It's in the basement of St Johns presbyterian church, but the center itself is not religious. There is a kitchen onsite, and there is a large private playground contained inside the center. There is good security in and out of the playground and the building. John W.
We are looking for preschools in our neighborhood and St. John's Childcare Center (Berkeley, CA) is a candidate. We have an almost 3 yr old boy that we are seeking to place in preschool Fall 2013 (he currently attends day care full time so hopefully he will have an easy transition). We also have a 2nd on the way so we might pursue the infant care services too. There aren't many recent reviews that have much specific information. Our family is seeking current or recent-past parents (last 1-3 years only please) of students there to comment on their experience with the school. What do you think about the curriculum? The staff's ability to address age appropriate issues or positively resolve problems. Also, what is the quality of food (any details about organics, nutritional quality, any policies on sweets)? Finally, what were your experiences with the infant care? Did your infant have any special needs that were/were not attended to and if so how? HUGE thanks, in advance, for assisting us with your input! M.
Our older son is eager to go to school every day and excitedly talks about his day when he gets home. The teachers in both the ''wobbly walkers'' and ''busy bee'' rooms have been wonderful. They have been very supportive of his potty training, have helped him learn to use his words to deal with conflicts with other kids, and in general have helped foster his interests and growth--from sharing with the class the books he often brings to school to making sure his time on the playground suits the time of day he is the most rambunctious. He has special relationships with several teachers and even talks about how he wants to invite them to his birthday party.
The teachers in the baby room are also fantastic. Our older son formed a real bond with one teacher in particular and often went back and ''visited'' her even after he moved on to the next room. They are always either holding our baby or sitting next to him and actively engaging with him when I come in to pick him up. They don't have swings, bouncers or other ''babysitters'' that I have seen at other childcare centers. I know that our baby is loved and nurtured in their care. In all of the rooms we often get comments on the daily cards that include special things that happened that day. I've saved many of my favorites.
I also really like the outdoor space at St. Johns. It's safe, often shady, and big eoungh for the pre-schoolers to run around, ride bikes etc. Even the babies spend a lot of time outside in their own outdoor area. We plan to keep both kids at St Johns through pre-school. Happy St. Johns Parent
The teachers receive on-going training through the center. Parents are encouraged to participate on the center's advisory board. Curriculum is created by the teachers and changed every two weeks which ensures an active exploration of different activities/concepts for the children. The head teachers have not changed in the past 2 years, but other positions have. The new teachers have added diversity and energy and my daughter loves them. It's nice to have multiple male teachers in the program. My daughter had solid support with potty training and staff would frequently check in about what she was doing at home to try and coordinate the support.
The food is cooked on-site with good portions of fresh fruit and vegetables included. It is not all organic. I prefer my daughter not to eat sweets and the center treats it like a food allergy. I provide low-sugar crackers and ask that she not be served sweet cereals, treats, etc. It's important to sit down with the staff to clarify your needs and be specific for the teachers. The center has a small garden and I use my volunteer hours to teach the children about growing vegetables. We're currently harvesting the last of the beans and the carrots.
Teaching and administrative staff have always been very supportive of my daughter's needs and easy to talk with. St. John's parent of 3 year old
St Johns might be better now (or someday) but I would look at the program and the administration more carefully before deciding on them. Ask around, and look around--there might be better (and cheaper) options in the area, and close to UC. Please note this review is mainly for the Wobbly room--we hear the baby room is pretty good. But of course all the rooms share the same administration. Previous St Johns parent
Re: Any preschool openings or short wait lists?
Try St. John's on College and Garber. They offer part time and might have an opening. 510-549-9342. Our daughter goes there and we love it. Anon
Re: Preschool for 18-month old
Our daughter (19 months) is at St. Johns Daycare on College Ave at Garber. We LOVE it there! They start with teeny tinies, then move to the ''Wobbly'' room at around 18 months. And then there is a bigger room for the 3-5 year olds. There are tons of activities (from art, to books, to outdoor play, to songs and music, etc.) and the whole atmosphere is very relaxed, loving and fun. She has also been learning things that I never would have thought to teach her at home. Their website is: http://sites.google.com/site/stjohnit/home a parent
Are there any current parents from St John's Childcare in Berkeley out there? The BPN page has old reviews from 2004. We're interested in information about all three classrooms, but particularly the baby and wobbly rooms. Pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, curriculum (play based?), and quality of teachers would be extremely helpful. We are considering this program among others for future enrollment for our baby. looking for quality daycare
The babies really self-direct based on their interest - but there are many manipulatives, books, playground etc to keep them busy. While the older babies are on a schedule, the younger ones (my baby started at 3 months) are all individualized based on the needs of the baby. The teachers are wonderful and the program just received a grant for the teachers to receive training and mentoring from early-childhood educators over the next year. We receive detailed written feedback about what our baby does every day - what she eats, diaper changes, naps, what she played with as well as her general mood(s).
The older kids have a more structured day, but there are not lessons - kids have choices from different centers - some play with legos, others read books, etc. My older child comes home with art projects every day, and while she isn't being taught letters and numbers, at 3 years old her lettering and drawing is becoming more sophisticated each week.
All the meals are cooked on site (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack) and served family-style to encourage cooperation and social skills. When our baby moved to solid foods, they provided home-made baby food based on what the older kids were eating each day. (You can also bring in food if you'd prefer.)
My kids are always happy to attend and even with the baby you can see the positive connections she's forming with her teachers and the other kids in her class. I also wanted to say even with 9 babies in the class she's had no major illnesses (a few colds - that's all!).
The facilty itself isn't fancy and new. If you haven't already done a tour, they work out of a church basement. But they have just done a major playground remodel (many thousands of dollars) and what they lack in impressive structures they make up for in heart and dedication.
If you haven't taken a tour I'd encourage you A happy St. John's parent
The key thing is the teachers, and they are exceptional. There is remarkably low turnover among the teachers at St. John's, an indication of the quality of the working conditions, their ability to work together, and their dedication to the program and the kids in it. You can see the love they shower on the children, and the respect with which they teach them, play with them, and care for them. The facility is well suited for a daycare center: easy access from all of the rooms to the well- equipped outside play area. One nice bonus: a good hot lunch and several snacks are served everyday. The new-ish director of the center has made some positive changes since she arrived, while maintaining the qualities that have made St. John's the gem that it is.
I could go on and on about this remarkably nurturing and fun place, but I think you get the picture! Katie
The negatives seem to apply only to the Busy Bee room, where our child is now. Those are that the teachers are very clearly not a cohesive group and on some occasions will have conversations/discussions about how things are to be done that IMNSHO should be had where the children can't hear.
In the Busy Bees in particular, the teachers seem overwhelmed and some days the room feels chaotic and as though the only things going on is ''crowd control.'' Our child has come home ''filthy.'' I don't mind dirt, kids are supposed to get dirty, but so covered in filth that we've had to throw clothes away.
These negative changes have all happened in the last two months. Since the director announced that she was leaving. We're hoping that the incoming director will help change the atmosphere in the Busy Bee room... back to the fun, clean and relaxed atmosphere that the busy bee room at st. john's used to have. anon
Our kids will be in the busy bee room together and I can tell you that it's a great group of kids that age that get along well. My daughter already spends a little time each morning in the Busy Bee room when the classes are joined and she LOVES that room. The play areas are very captivating for their imaginations and the teachers are wonderful!
I can also tell you that I was involved in the hiring of the new director (who starts next week), and her credentials and recommendations were absolutely impecable. She has a master's in early childhood ed, and we feel VERY lucky to have gotten her. While we certainly miss our beloved Cathryn, who moved to Georgia, we feel very blessed to have Celeste stepping in.
Feel free to write me if you have any questions or concerns and we look forward to having you and your child in the fall. I encourage you to get involved, join the board and be an active part of the daycare center! Esther
The ratio of caregivers to children is 1:3 in the infant room. That was one of the main reasons we chose it. They also provide all the meals - including home made baby food and formula. They are also very accomodating for moms like me that breastfeed. They have a refrigerator/freezer in the baby room for you to drop off your milk, and a sink to get warm water to warm the milk (they never microwave it)...they also have a rocker in a private area of the nursery for you to nurse your baby, which you are welcome to do at any time of day. Another thing that we really liked is that because the sink is in the baby rom and the changing area is connected to the baby room - caregivers are not constantly leaving the room to attend to other business like warming bottles, changing babies, etc. like they are at other centers.
Catherine Kelly is the director and is also a new mother. She does an amazing job of running the center and we parents feel very lucky to have her in that position!
If you are interested in sending your child there, be sure to get on the waiting list as soon as possible as it is quite lengthy and give catherine a call and arrange a tour. She'll be more than happy to show you around. mogulli
My little one started when she was a bit older because we relocated from the East Coast, so she skipped the ''Infant Room''. However, she now has experience in the other 2 rooms in the center (the ''Wobbly Walkers'' and the Busy Bees''). So I wanted to tell you that as great as I hear the infant room is (and the other parents at St Johns that I've gotten to know say they were very pleased with the infant room) - when she transitions out of that room into the bigger kids rooms, you will be equally as pleased.
The teachers are what make St Johns so special - most have been there a long time. My daughter clearly loves them -- she talks about them on the weekends, even those that no longer take care of her because she's moved to the older room. She'll run to give many of them hugs in the morning and she is always enthusiastic about her day when I come to take her home. Also, for me personally, I've learned a lot from the teachers about child development - both how to recognize potential physical/sickness issues, and how to try to cope with those bad personal behaviors that kids may exhibit as they grow older (biting, pushing, tantrums etc).
You also asked about the director, Catherine. She is just great too. She deals with the inevitable issues that come up with a great deal of class. She treats the teachers with respect (which I think is so important for maintaining a good environment), and the parents with a gentle kindness that seems very natural for her.
Finally, you might also want to check out the facilities - they seem to have very good learning toys in each room, they do a lot of reading and art projects - and their outdoor space is wonderful for the kids.
So all in all, I am a big believer in St. Johns, and would recommend it very highly. Maryanne M.
There are not many infant-only programs in CA because it is very expensive. (St. Johns is largely subsidized by the church in which the program is housed, which helps a lot.) The emphasis in CA for the past 20 years or so has been "family-day-care" ... small programs in homes with a mix of ages, including a couple babies. Many babies like that kind of setting too. The quality of family daycare depends a great deal upon the individual running that particular place. But in a good setting, I think babies enjoy being social and being around other children and adults. After all, in many times and cultures, they would have been around mom, grandma, auntie and a herd of siblings and cousins all day long. Mary Carol
St. John's (off of College) - the teachers seem very genuine and caring; the facility is large with adjacent play area outside for both the infants and toddlers. I was a little concerned about the toddler play area not having enough shade and the rubber matting was quite warm both times we visited. The ratio of children to teachers for all daycares we visited were similar, 3-1 for infants and 4-1 for toddlers. The rooms for the infants, toddlers and older children are all within one building with doors leading to each room. I don't recall how many total children were at St. Johns, but I do remember how noisy it was and how some of the older children were left unsupervised. I actually observed a child hitting another child with a plastic bat and no one seemed to notice. (We decided against St. John's simply because of the size, the noise level and no one providing general observation at the time of my visit. Grace
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