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Toddler Family

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Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Preschools & Daycare > Toddler Family


2008 Editor note: Toddler Family is no longer in business. The director, Lisa Fitch, now directs Inch by Inch.
May 2004

I've read the glowing reviews of the Toddler Family Program in the archives, but they all are from the period when Lisa Fitch ran the show. Now that she has left and started her own program, I'm wondering how Toddler Family is faring. Is it still as wonderful as ever? I'm planning on enrolling my two- year-old daughter as an interim step between nanny share and preschool. I'd love to hear thoughts people have about the program -- good and bad. Thanks! Toddler Mom


My granddaughter and I have been attending Toddler Family since March 2003, and the program today is as vibrant and valuable as ever! Our new teacher, Sierra Grace, has a wonderful talent for relating with the children. During a typical day, she gives each child a great deal of individual attention and creates close relationships with them and their caregivers. She knows all the children very well--their personalities and preferences. My granddaughter loves her and has bonded closely. At home, she plays ''school,'' pretending that she is ''Miss Sierra.''

The sequence of activities on a typical day at Toddler Family flows as always. Our Circle Time has changed a bit, combining singing, dancing, finger play, parachute play, playing musical instruments, and listening to stories. When it is story-based, Sierra brings each child into the story by asking them a simple question in turn. We continue to meet the goal of Circle Time, to bring everyone together and acknowledge them in the group.

Our very valuable parent education program also continues, with a monthly discussion on selected topics led by child-development expert Jean Moorhead. In addition, Jean has contributed much extra time to Toddler Family. Her more frequent presence has given us the opportunity to ask questions on child development as they arise.

Because Sierra also acts as the Toddler Family administrator (and has organizational talent and a great deal of initiative), the underlying operations have improved greatly. As a result, everything works more smoothly.

I would highly recommend Toddler Family, and I'm in awe every day of how the program has helped my granddaughter's development and socialization. Gloria


I am writing to respond to the question about how is the Toddler Family program now. I suggest that the poster schedule a visit to see the program during class time to determine if it is a good fit for her and her child. We have a new teacher, Sierra, who has a wonderful rapport with the children and who is liked and respected by the parents. In the 19-year history of Toddler Family, there have been other changes in teaching staff, and each new teacher brings his or her unique qualities and strengths to the program. Recently, we are excited to have purchased new equipment and materials for the classroom from grant funds we have received. Toddler Family remains a program of toddler play and parent education. It is located at 397 Euclid Ave in Oakland, two blocks up from Grand, near Lake Merritt and the Grand Lake Theater. Call 510-251-8000 for more information or go to www.toddlerfamily.com. cc
Nov. 2003

Re: Afternoon Mom/Toddler Classes
Check out Toddler Family in Oakland! They have afternoon programs Mon-Thurs from 12:30 (I think) til 2:30pm. Most people sign up for 2 days a week. I am pretty sure they have openings. Talk to Lisa Fitch, the director. You can also come in and observe anytime. My toddler loves it.I wish I had the phone number, but I just looked and can't find it. I think if you do a search you can come up with their website. Good Luck! bridget


I think ''Toddler Family'' in Oakland has what you're looking for -- semi-structured play from 12:30 - 2:30. I don't have the number but I imagine that it's easy enough to find.
I want to highly recommend Toddler Family program. They have both a morning and an afternoon program. I have taken both my children there and they loved it! The best part is the teacher, Lisa Finch, who is most wonderful. She plays the guitar and leads circle time, reads books during snack and the kids love her. There is arts and crafts, a play house, just about everything a toddler would want. This is a parent participation program, so one of the parents accompanies the child and stays, so that your toddler can explore with the security of knowing you are there. They are located near Lake Merritt. For more information, please call: 869-5070. Mom of happy toddlers
I can highly recommend Toddler Family for an afternoon program with your Toddler. My daughter and I really enjoyed Toddler Family and Lisa, the teacher, is incredible with the kids. I researched a number of programs and found that Toddler Family offered much more for both my toddler and me, including a really informative parent education program led by a very perceptive and experienced educator, Jean Moorhead. My daughter made many, many good friends that she still talks about after a year of not attending (sadly, she is too old now). I, too, made many good friends because the parents are very involved. If you're looking for a community of like- minded people who want to become better parents and have a hands-on learning experience while the children have a great time then this is a great program for you. Good luck! sioux
My child goes to Toddler Family in the early afternoon and we both love it! Toddler Family is a parent participation program for toddlers and their parents. The activities include art projects, circle time with songs, free play with toys and manipulatives, snack, and outside play time. They offer classes from 12:15 until 2:15, and also morning classes from 9:15 until 11:15. The toddler and a parent attend two days a week and the classes are near Lake Merritt. Last year we attended the morning program and this year we are in the afternoon program. A unique feature of Toddler Family is their monthly parent education class with a facilitator. I have learned how to be a better mother to a challenging two year old. You can contact Toddler Family directly at 510-251-8000 or toddlerfamily AT sbcglobal.net for more information. Happy mom of happy toddler
Oct. 2003

I just loved Toddler Family! My daughter attended for 2 years and we really miss it now that she's too old for the program. It's an incredible opportunity to spend quality time with your toddler (ages 16mos - 3yrs) in a preschool environment because you get to go to school with them! I especially loved this as I wasn't ready to let her go and this was a fabulous transition for both me and her. We went 2 days a week for two hours and it was the perfect amount of time to learn new songs, do some arts and crafts and just play blocks with her and other children in an environment outside of our home. And the bonus was that I met many other moms and dads with kids the same age and many of them have become dear friends. The teacher, Lisa Fitch, is INCREDIBLE with the kids and my daughter still talks about her all the time. For more information call them directly, but feel free to e-mail me with any questions. Good luck! Toddler Family 510-251-8000 Rosena


Sept. 2003

Re: Toddler classes/Mills College area
Have you heard of Toddler Family? My daughter attended this program for children16 months to pre-school age. They are currently located off of Grand Ave. As a family we got so much out of it. There's free play, circle time (for singing), stories, outdoor play, etc. Children come with a parent and take on some small responsabilites such as washing toys, bringing snack, etc. There is also a parent education component which I learned so much from - topics ranging from potty training to temperment. Even though your children aren't quite old enough I would urge you to check it out! Their phone number should be in the phone book.


Feb 2003

Re: Parent/child programs for 2-year-olds?

I too have been looking for a "pre" preschool type program for my 21 month old and recently found the Co-op Toddler Family program in Oakland by Lake Merritt. It is specifically designed for 18 month to 36 month year olds --truly "pre" preschool. Your post didn't say where you lived, but if you are anywhere near Lake Merritt this is a fabulous program. The director is Lisa Fitch and the phone number is (510) 406-2624. I am currently on the waiting list for their M/W program which runs 9:30 am - 11:30 am. It has the setting and activities of a real preschool environment. There is free play, storytime, snack time, etc. Last week Lisa told me that there is currently room in the Tu/Th program ($150/month tuition). It is a co-op so parent or caregiver is required to stay for the entire time and rotate responsibilities for snacks etc. It seemed like a great group of moms from various locations . . . Piedmont, Oakland, Alameda, etc. They are also just starting a MWF afternoon program for older kids from 12:15 pm - 2:15 pm. I found out about this program through a teacher in my daughter's preschool (The Lake School) who knows the Director well. I also found great postings about it in the archives from this newsletter. You can call Lisa and schedule a free day to visit and see how your child likes it. Good luck and hope that is helpful to you.


Have you checked out Toddler Family in Oakland ? It's a program that's like a pre-preschool. The director, Lisa, leads a 2 hour class (2 or 3 times a week) that includes free play, circle time, snack, trike time and book reading. It's different from preschool in that you stay with your child the entire time. There's also parent education classes that meet to discuss toddler issues. My 27 month old loves it and I have really seen her grow through this program. - Rachael
Toddler Family Program, now located on Euclid in Oakland (can't remember exact address). It used to be located in the rec center at Live Oak Park in Berkeley. My daughter and I went there from the time she was 16 months until she was 2+ (you can attend up to age 3) It's a great program and unusual in that it is parent-involved. You attend with your child. There are lots of pre-school type activities. And, I'm certain that my daughter's transition into pre-school was made that much easier by attending a program like this. I plan on taking my now 5 month old when she's old enough. No Longer Bored MomMy daughter and I are attending a new afternoon (12:15 - 2:15) program at Toddler Family for older toddlers (2-3yrs). We just love it! We had attended the fabulous morning program and when they offered a program for older toddlers I was thrilled because I felt that my daughter could benefit from more sophisticated, interactive activities - and that's what we're getting. Lisa Fitch, the teacher, is incredible with the kids and really knows how to keep their attention through incredible play acting, great singing and overall enthusiasm. I highly recommend the programs (both morning and afternoon) and feel very confident that my daughter is getting an exceptional introduction to schooling. Toddler Family phone: 510-406-2624 Happy Toddler Mom
Dec 2002

Re: Afternoon Mom & Toddler Classes

My son and I really enjoy the Toddler Family program. It's like a play-based preschool environment developed for children between 16 months and 3. Parents attend with their toddlers. Class meets for two hours.

The day starts off with open play in a large room filled with a play house, dolls, dress up clothes, trains, potato heads, cars, puzzles, trucks, play dough, a water play area, a big pool of rice (my son's favorite) and more. There are art projects that change every week (my favorite). After free play, we all clean the room up together and meet for circle time where we sing songs and sometimes dance (Lisa Fitch, the director, is a great guitar player and musician). Then the toddlers sit at a table and share a snack while Lisa reads books. Then we go outside to play and finally come back in for goodbye songs in the circle.

This program has been wonderful for my son. He's ear to ear smiles when we arrive at school (and he always takes a looooooong nap afterwards).

This program has been wonderful for me. It's a very supportive environment. I've found good friends in other parents and toddlers. I'm a better parent for watching and talking to Lisa Fitch and the other parents/ caregivers who attend. Oh! and there's a parent education talk/discussion led by Jean Morehead (a treasuretrove of information) once a month on topics decided by the parents.

There are two morning program's M-W-F and T-Th and starting in January 2003 there will be a new afternoon program M-W-F designed for older toddlers (around 26 months) that will include field trips and tumbling.

Syndallas


Sept. 2001

I'm considering putting my 18mo. daughter in Toddler Family out of Live Oak Park. Does anybody out there have experiences they would share with me, good or bad? I like what I've read so far but I would love some first-hand reports. Thanks. Sioux.


My son went to Toddler Family from age 15 months to 30 months and it was great. The Director Lisa Fitch is a warm, loving teacher and the kids really love her. Because the parents are there with their children every day they tend to bond too and become friends. Jean Moorhead, one of the founders is still involved and is a fabulous child educator. She leads a parent ed class one day a month that is really good too. If nothing else is accomplished by your child - it is great for socialization and pre-school preparation. My son still talks about Lisa and her guitar. Kristi
My daughter, now 3 years old, went to Toddler Family last year. I highly recommend it. Would be happy to communicate more with you or answer any questions. Yvonne
March 2001

Anyone have experience with the Toddler Family at Live Oak. I checked past recommendations and only found one (positive) but was looking for more recent feedback - especially for sending an older child (2-1/2). Robert


I posted a recommendation for Toddler Family on the Announce board just two weeks ago. It is a great program for Toddlers and the only one like it in the east bay. My son is completing his second year there - he started at 15 months and is almost 2 1/2 now. There are a number of children in his class that are already 3 and they are having a great time. It is a very supportive, nurturing environment and the parent education aspect is an added bonus. Lisa Fitch, the director is fabulous and really cares about every child. The program is pretty flexible in terms of number of days, but most people choose either Tuesday Thursday or Monday Wednesday. As I mentioned in my last post, Toddler Family is a cooperative program for toddlers ages 16 mos-3 years, 2-5 mornings per week from 9:30-11:30. The goal of the program is to provide positive and informative support to parents of toddlers through parent participation, education and toddler play. For more information call the director, Lisa Fitch at (510) 981-1170. Kristi
My son attended toddler family. I found Lisa, the director, to be wonderful with the kids. I would recommend the school. It is a fantastic introduction that will lead to a leave-your-kid-at-school preschool. You, or another caregiver, must attend this school with your child. So your child learns to interact more with others but with the security of an adult there at all times. Good luck! oh...p.s. Ask if you can attend a session to get the feel for it.....Lisa might oblige.... L RH
2000

I can highly recommend for 18 - 36 month olds a co-op pre-school: Toddler Family (510 981 1170), run by the most loving, caring, gentle & patient director Lisa Fitch. Formerly in Montclair, it's now located at the Live Oak Recreation Center 1302 Shattuck Ave and worth the drive! Most kids go either MW or TTh from 9:30 to 11:30, but you can go all 4 days if desired. Tuition is approx $130/month, one parent or caregiver remains in class with the child, and activities include painting, waterplay, reading, circle time, dress-up, play-doh, playground time, snack & more. Songs & music accompany most activities -- we have one graduate & one currently in this wonderful program. Happy to share more if interested. Helena


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