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Re: Recently moved and no space in preschool!
If you have no luck with preschools and have to go the daycare route, you might consider checking out Wildflower Toddlerhouse, near the El Cerrito Plaza Bart station. Our son is also 2.5 and loves it there. They had several kids move on to preschool over the summer/fall so there is space and the tuition is reasonable (in my view). It's a small, home-based daycare so that might make the transition easier. Wildflower parent
Wildflower Toddlerhouse is a really special place. Our son has been going to Wildflower for about 8 months and he has loved it from day one. The school is very relaxed and a fun-loving place, but not at all chaotic. The kids aren't allowed to just do whatever they want and be wild. There is structure and order to their day, which our son really responds to. Teachers Meghan and Damon are amazing. They have calming, loving demeanors and treat the kids with kindness, love and respect. The school has a treasure trove of ''works'' for the kids that have been collected over many many years that are regularly rotated. They are great about fixing things up around the school so the kids are always engaged and finding new things to do and learn, both inside the house and in the very sweet backyard play area. As parents, we appreciate that our son is not just being watched over but that he is being loved and nurtured. I highly recommend Wildflower to any family in the area.
There are openings at Wildflower Toddlerhouse in El Cerrito
for part and full-time care. We have had our daughter there
for just about a year and we are so happy with it. A number
of the older girls just went on to pre-school so they have
openings. Damon and Meghan are caring, intuitive, and kind.
Our daughter has developed great language skills and great
friendships. It is in a beautiful little house near the El
Cerrito BART station. There is a beautiful garden and yard
space with edible plants that the kids help with. They get
indoor and outdoor play time and music and dance time
everyday in addition to two snacks, lunch and a nap. There
is a park nearby so they get to take field trips every so
often. The school also has a Montessori flavor to it as the
founder was a former Montessori teacher and both Meghan and
Damon were Montessori kids. The toys are mostly wood, and
they rotate toys in and out so the playroom isn't cluttered
and overcrowded. The kids learn how to share, take turns,
and clean up. We've also gotten great support around potty
training which is awesome! We would happily recommend it to
anyone. Damon is the contact there and his number is
I highly recommend Wildflower Toddlerhouse in El Cerrito if you are looking for care for the 18 month old - 3 year old set. More than just an in-home daycare, Wildflower is run like a little pre-Montessori school for toddlers, gracefully transitioning kids from babyhood to preschool. Damon, the head teacher, is amazing with the kids, patient and kind, helping them develop their confidence and build their skills as they learn to play together and to follow gentle rules like taking responsibility for cleaning up their ''work'' (a Montessori term, which here applies to the rotating collection of amazing learning toys available for the kids to play with). Meghan the other teacher has developed an wonderful garden that the kids learn to respect and care for, with edible plants and nesting birds. The house is immaculate and the vibe is one of peaceful play. Every day contains a post nap dance session which is a very joy-filled affair. Call Damon Gage (510) 289-1679, if you'd like to visit. I think they may have some openings in the late summer or early fall. Happy Wildflower Parent!
My 23 mo. old has been at Wildflower Toddlerhouse and I couldn't have found a better place for him. Pam and Damon both have backgrounds in Montessori. The structure of the school is free play, snack time, music time (Pam plays guitar and they listen to recorded music too and dance), outside time (sometimes walking to the park), lunchtime. She also has a longer day option where some kids nap there. My son was there from 8:30-1pm, but many kids stay until 5pm. The group is small, so there's a lot of individual attention. I found Pam and Damon very supportive in the transition for my son, sending me text updates with pictures, so I could see how he was doing. Also, I loved that my son had Damon, a male teacher who is very gentle and kind. Pam is also a homeopath, so she gives great advice if you're looking for remedies. She's very present with the children and supportive with the parents. Also, the daycare facilities are great. It's in a home, very close to El Cerrito Plaza BART, that is warm, very clean, and has a great, organized layout and play space. She has some openings, so if you're interested, contact her.
I just wanted to make a recommendation here for any of you that are looking or
thinking about looking for daycare. My 23 mo. old has been at Wildflower
Toddlerhouse with Pam and Damon and I couldn't have found a better place for him. I
spent a good week transitioning him with their help, as he'd never been in any
program before, and rarely with sitters. Because I got to spend this full week with
them, I really got to know both the teachers and see how they ran the school. Pam
has a background in Montessori, although she calls herself ''soft montessori'' and
Damon also has a Montessori background. The structure of the school is free play,
snack time, music time (Pam plays guitar and they listen to recorded music too and
dance. She plays some Dylan, which I loved! , outside time (sometimes walking to
the park), lunchtime. She also has a longer day option where some kids nap there.
Gabri was there from 8:30-1pm, but many kids stay until 5pm. The group is small, so
there's a lot of individual attention. I found Pam and Damon very supportive in the
transition for my son. They would send me text updates with pictures, so I could
see how he was doing (because he would cry when I left him). Also, I loved that my
son had Damon, a male teacher who is very gentle and kind, as an example. Pam, also
happens to be a homeopath, so she gives great advice if you're looking for remedies.
She's incredibly present with the children and supportive with the parents. Also,
the daycare facilities are great. It's in a home, very close to El Cerrito Plaza
BART, that is warm, very clean, and has a great, organized layout and play space.
We visited about 4 others places before meeting Pam, and I knew instantly that she
was the one.
She has some openings, so if you're interested, here's her contact info:
Pam Gilkinson - Wildflower Toddlerhouse
Wonderful Wildflower Toddlerhouse
I would recommend Wildflower Toddlerhouse family daycare to any parent who wants their child to build a sense of confidence and independence. As a developmental psychologist and current Wildflower parent, I know that the key social-emotional issue for toddlers is developing an ''I can do it'' attitude. Pam lives and breathes this philosophy. She finds dozens of ways to let kids take responsibility for their behavior, and supports them with clear directions and feedback. She comes from a Montessori background and has a nice library of learning materials that she makes available on low shelves for the children to choose, in a light-filled, calm, and open home. She often has assistance from her godson, a gentle teddy bear of a guy, who, as a father himself, knows how to make kids feel safe, secure, and loved. Another highlight is Pam's passion for music which comes through in her guitar playing and daily background music, which is often selected to calm or invigorate the kids, depending on their mood. She's also great at handling the transition from home to daycare, and our kids adjusted very well very soon. If you want someone who treats children like people deserving of respect and high expectations, Wildflower is a great choice. She has a couple openings now M-F.
Wildflower Toddlerhouse Rocks!
I can't recommend Wildflower Toddlerhouse strongly enough. My daughter loves going to ''school'' every day and has made great friends. She learns new skills every day and her vocabulary has exploded. People constantly think my daughter is more advanced than her 23 months and I can't take credit. Pam is a wonderful, caring, deeply intelligent teacher who puts though into every interaction she has with the kids in her care. She provides a wide variety of activities, including music and art, as well as healthy organic snacks. She's also a pleasure to interact with. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.
I would like to recommend Wildflower Toddlerhouse with Pam Gilkison. Our daughter has been with Pam 3 days a week for over a year now and she (and we!) couldn't be happier. Pam comes from a Montessori background and has just the right amount of structure to make the atmosphere predictable and easy for toddlers to adjust to, while providing the tools and allowing them the space needed to grow emotionally, physically and imaginatively. It's a small environment, in terms of number of children, which we love. This allows the children to really know each other and the families to foster those relationships. You know you've found a wonderful place when you see just how many former children and families come back for visits. Wildflower Toddlerhouse is located on the Albany/El Cerrito boarder very close to the plaza BART station. Pam has a couple openings for the fall, and I can't recommend her enough! If interested, you can reach Pam at 510-525- email@example.com.
If you are transtitioning from staying at home for a long while with your baby and slowly going back to work, I would not recommend Wildflower to moms who need to stay in touch with their child's preschool teacher. We took our son here when he was 18 mos. old for his first school experience ever, and it was made very clear to me not to call during the day unless it was an emergency. Not knowing how my kid is doing for 6-7 hours did not work as I was making my transition back to my career. My son would also come home lethargic and enervated, not excited about his school environment. He also learned how to do odd things, like stick his tongue out at other kids upon greeting. Now, he's so much happier at a preschool where the teachers LOVE to communicate with the parents, take pride in their community, and it's so much better for him. anonymous
I am a 2-year girl's mom. I go around and take much time to look for a good daycare. I visited around 15 daycares in Berkeley and Albany, and finally I selected Pam's daycare. She is a very nice and elegant lady, who put kids on the first place. Her home is so warm and full of love. I was moved when I went to her home at the first time. Because it is early, there is only one boy there. She sat on the floor and played with the boy, obviously, she put all focus on her kids instead of her potential parents. That's what we want. During our visit, there are so many daycare holders who are eager to introduce their daycare and let the kids play by themselves. Pam is not. She dedicates herself to kids and take full care of them. I like Little Wild Flower Toddlerhouse. shen
I wholeheartedly recommend Wildflower Toddlerhouse, which
has openings for this September 2010. The school is
immaculately clean, organized, music-filled, sunny and
bright with indoor and outdoor play spaces and a dedicated
room for naps. Pam is loving yet firm, and my 2 year old
has blossomed under her care. Wildflower's capacity is 6
children, which is perfect if your child is entering care
for the first time, or has been with a nanny (which was the
case with my son). My son has learned vital toddler skills
such as staying seated, waiting his turn, cleaning up after
himself and being respectful of and compassionate to others.
Pam views herself as an advocate for her kids; she is
completely in tune with their emotions and feelings, and has
a very open line of communication with parents (sometimes
she'll send me texts or picture messages, which brightens my
day while at work!). Wildflower is open Mon-Thurs
8:30-5:30. Contact: Pam Gilkison firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since she was 20 months last summer, our daughter has attended Wildflowers Toddlerhouse in El Cerrito. We have been so incredibly pleased with the quality of the daycare, which really functions almost like pre-preschool. Pam Gilkison is very experienced, having taught Montessori preschool for many, many years and then switching to running Wildflowers several years ago. She's loving and kind with the kids, organized and professional with the parents, and her home is clean, orderly and provides plenty of room for the children to play. The kids regularly play outside or at the park, do art and cooking projects, and sing along with Pam as she plays the guitar. My daughter always runs up the steps to her house in the morning, and is reluctant to leave her friends in the afternoon. We've been so happy with our daughter's care there, and will be sad to move on this coming August. If anyone is considering applying for a spot, please feel free to contact me, and I'm happy to answer questions or give more feedback. Gia
My two and a half year old started at WildFlower Toddler House last fall (2007) and we have had such a wonderful experience working with Pam Gilkison. Pam's focus is on transitioning toddlers to pre-school through an approach grounded in her Montessori training; accentuated by her passion for early learning and her uncanny ability to connect with students (yes, I said students) in a respectful and meaningful way. Everyday includes exploration of the world around through outside time (today my daughter was pointing out ''signs of spring'' to me on our way home) eating lunch together, art, reading, music, and learning and fun activities(aka ''work''). Working with Pam has been a partnership. Together we have come up with approaches to address the issues, and re-inforce messages at home and during the day so we can move on to the next experience. If you are looking for more than just a day care but an experienced teacher who will take a holistic approach to your toddler's development, then check out WildFlower. Carmen
Our son was at Wildflower Toddlerhouse for nearly 2 years, and we found it the perfect transition between staying home with mom and attending preschool. With Pam’s encouragement, our son grew from a rather shy/clingy 2-yr-old into a confident and sociable little person. The atmosphere among the kids is delightful, and our son still talks about his “buddies” at Pam’s house. In addition to the activities mentioned in other postings, Pam offers a generous amount of story time with an ever-changing selection of library books. The toys provided are a mix of imagination-based and Montessori-inspired, which allowed our son to experience the joys of both. Parents of very active children (especially boys) will appreciate Pam’s ability to manage that high energy through dance/movement, outdoor play, and walking trips to the park at Harding. Pam has the gift of making younger children feel safe, nurtured, and included, while challenging older children with more advanced language and other skills and concepts. We are grateful for everything our son experienced at Wildflower. A 3-day-a-week spot will be available soon. Contact: Pam Gilkison, 510-525-1443 or pgilkison[at]gmail.com.
Our daughter has attended Wildflower Toddler House for over a year and we
highly recommend it. Wildflower is a cozy home setting with a nice play
and a wonderful group of families. The kids are exposed to nature, music
and art, and the school has a wonderful collection of toys and learning
materials. The director has a great way with the needs of toddlers and
special touch to everything. Our daughter has felt safe and has thrived
The school currently has an opening beginning this summer
Contact: Pam Gilkison, 510.525.1443
Our son has been at Wildflower Toddlerhouse for the past 2 years. Pam does an amazing job creating an environment that is nurturing, enriching, fun, peaceful, and respectful. They do all kinds of great activities (afternoon tea, sing- along time, dance, puzzles, book reading, gardening, art projects, and butterfly watching). The other day I got there early and the kids were taking turns making their own tortillas in a tortilla press for snack. Pam is very attuned to the natural world and points out cool objects and creatures in the environment. She takes the time to understand each little person, and if something seems just a little off with your child, she’ll call and check-in. Then she’ll know that he woke up at 4am and didn’t go back to sleep (ah, toddlers!). She strikes the perfect balance between necessary structure and happy toddler fun. Our son has thrived there, both socially and intellectually. We're going to be sorry to go. Tetine
I wholeheartedly recommend Wildflower Toddlerhouse for 18 month-3 year old children in El Cerrito/Albany, near the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. Wildflower offers a fun, relaxed learning environment that nurtures children's curiosity, social skills, and language development, within the Montessori-based tradition, but modified to fit the kids and the age group. The owner and care provider, Pam, is warm, delightful soul, with loads of teaching experience and great instincts. She is particularly skilled in turning every day activities like gardening, eating, music, etc. into wonderful learning opportunities. Many of the toys are those you'd find in children's museums (like LHS) that are entertaining with an educational bent. My daughter thrived under Pam's tutelage, and we were heartbroken to move away. Carolyn
We've had a wonderful experience with Pam Gilkison and
Wildflower over the last year. Our son has really thrived
and loves going to Pam's every day. Pam is a very
intuitive, skilled, creative and hip woman with years of
Montessori teaching experience. She accepts kids in the 18-
30 mo range so they're all in a similar developmental
stage. They spend their days together playing, reading,
singing, dancing, going to the park, doing art projects,
etc. The kids are constantly learning, whether it's about
fruit (tangerines are juicy...), counting (5 pushes before
it's someone else's turn on the swing), respect for one
another, responsibility to help clean up their toys-- all
in an age appropriate and loving way that flows very
naturally. The kids all seem really happy and enjoy
playing together and with Pam. She's got openings-- I
highly encourage you to check it out. Call Pam at: 510-525-
I would like to offer an unsolicited and wholehearted recommendation for a relatively new home daycare, Wildflower Toddler House. Pam Gilkison, the owner and care provider, was a Montessori teacher for 20 years and runs a great daycare for 2 year olds. My son had a excellent experience with Pam and it is visible among the other kids how comfortable they feel in her snug little home. There is often music playing, they do art everyday and there's a wonderful outdoor space where they have planted a garden. When I pick up my son at the end of the day he is glowing and full of stories. Pam has openings for the fall, she's right near the El Cerrito BART, and her number is 525-1443. Amy
If you are looking for a small, high quality and personal toddler program for your 18-24+ mo. old, then I recommend Pam Gilkison's care, at Wildflower Toddlerhouse. I find her rates very reasonable and I know she has openings. My 27 month old son has been there for 5 months and we have been very happy. Not only is she a very experienced teacher (lic. Montessori), but she is very loving and nurturing. Her home is on a quiet street, is cosy and child-friendly, with a great backyard + a veggie garden. She definitely put all my fears about leaving my son in someone else's care to rest. Her number is 525-1443. Maren
I'm writing to recommend my son's preschool, Wildflower Toddlerhouse. There are openings so I'd encourage you to check it out! Wildflower is a home-based preschool and Pam Gilkison is the wonderful teacher. Contact her at (510)525- 1443 or email@example.com. She offers a peaceful setting and does a fantastic job of keeping the children active with games, art & music (Pam plays the guitar & teaches them songs). Pam is well- respected throughout the Berkeley Montessori community, having taught for nearly 30 years-most recently at Growing Light in Kensington. Pam is also knowledgeable in Homeopathy and can offer helpful advice in treating common toddler sniffles! The school is play-based but Pam has all the skills to keep the older kids stimulated with Montessori-style activities. I just can't say enough about how happy we have been with her, it means so much to have a reliable place that my son is also excited to go to! Andrea
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