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I want to take a moment and rave about the Developmental Kindergarten program at St. Mark's Nursery School in Orinda!
My son (late July birthday) was not ready to enter Kindergarten last year when he turned five. We decided to have him enroll in the St. Mark's program which runs Monday-Friday, 9AM-12PM. I cannot say how happy I am with that decision!
Kristan Torres, who runs the DK program has developed an amazing mix of free-play and structure to not only get the kids excited about learning and going to school every day, but also to get them fully ready for Kindergarten. My son is not only confident socially, but is also reading and writing.
There are only a maximum of 10 students allowed in the program, which is great because it keeps the class small, giving each child personalized attention, which Mrs. Torres is amazing with. She truly got to know the needs and personalities of each of her students and was able to tailor her curriculum to fit them.
After the 12PM pick-up there is a Lunch Bunch (for an additional fee) which runs until 2PM. My child was excited every time he got to do it because it meant having lunch with friends and spending more time playing with them at school. They also offer excellent enrichment classes during the Lunch Bunch time which range from the athletic (Soccer Shots) to the pure fun (Legos).
I highly reccomend St. Mark's Nursery School to anyone who is looking for a small preschool that has a great balance of free-play and structure. All the classes are small, the teachers and director are all very nurturing. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me directly. You can visit their website at www.stmarksnurseryschool.org for more information as well. Very Happy St. Mark's Parent
Re: Preschool in Orinda
You should check out St. Mark's Nursery School in Orinda right on Moraga Way. My son is in his 2nd year (now in the 4s class) at St. Mark's and we couldn't be happier. The school has a great balance of free play and some structure.
My son is quite shy and we were both very anxious about starting preschool at 3 yrs and St. Mark's has been a great fit. We tried another Orinda preschool first that was just too big and a bit chaotic for him. But the size and structure of St. Mark's has really helped him feel comfortable and have fun.
Good luck with the school search. Happy St. Mark's Mom (and Alumi)
Re: Pre-Schools in Orinda
We moved to Orinda last year and I visited a few of the local preschools. We ended up at St Marks which combines some academics and a play based program. We absolutely love it and can highly recommend it. My son is very happy there indeed. The teachers and director are loving and caring but I think really try and prepare them for kindergarten appropriately. Lamorinda Moms Club has a preschool fair coming up I think (check their website) - www. lamorindamomsclub.org. You will get more info from them. Good Luck and welocme to Orinda. julie
My son has been at St. Marks for two years. The pros: it has a lovely set-up, designed to make all kinds of play accessible. The teachers have been there forever, and are warm and nurturing. The child:adult ratio is good and the kids are drawn from the local community, which means they will be friends for years. The cons: This place is out of the fifties in some ways, and assumes a family model with a working dad and a stay-at-home mom. For example, there are limited hours (9-12 three days a week for 4 year olds, two days a week for 3 year olds), with no before care and limited after care; events for parents are planned in the middle of the day; and the staff seems to be unable to adjust to daddies who take the kids to school. (On the rare occasions when I bring my son to school, I get "Oh Mommy's here. What a nice surprise" Well intentioned, but offensive.) One disadvantage to a staff with 20+ years tenure is that some of the songs and programs are dated. One Thanksgiving song about "Indians" was, I thought, racially insensitive. But to her credit, the director was very receptive when I brought my concern to her attention. The upshot: This is an Orinda school, and it shows. But notwithstanding my misgivings about social messages (here and in Orinda generally), my son has been very happy at St. Marks and never has balked at going to school. Leslie
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