Day care/preschool for our intense and precocious 2 1/2 year old daughter

I am looking for recommendations for a daycare/preschool for our sensitive, big-emotions, boundary-challenging, prone to tantrums, bright, sweet, inquisitive 2 1/2 year old daughter.  I am hoping to find a small place where she will be loved, well cared for, and stimulated, not necessarily in a kindergarten-preparedness sort of way, but rather sensorily, linguistically, emotionally, and physically. I prefer somewhere she can stay through the age of 5 if it works out, rather than a daycare that funnels into a preschool. I sense that a small, likely home-based environment, with a large outdoor play space (animals a plus!) guided by a caring, experienced leader would be best for her: a place with low teacher:child ratio and caregivers who can hold space for our daughter's big emotions and help rein them in with patience and love when needed. If this sounds like a place you have sent your child or have heard of, please get in touch. We are hoping to enroll sometime shortly after the new year. Thank you.

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My Own Montessori in Rockridge sounds perfect for you, but they usually enroll a year out.  Definitely worth looking into, though!

Sounds to me like a Montessori preschool or daycare would be a good fit? I'm not sure what's in Oakland, but I've generally found that they're all good as far as quality of education.

I highly recommend Sequoia Nursery School, if you are open to a co-op experience. You'll get about a 2-3 kid to grown up ratio, which is amazing. It's all play based learning and you won't find a more caring, nurturing and supportive community. You'll need to wait until she's three, but the school is hosting a parent night in January and then doing tours through the spring. Our son has flourished there and we'll be sending out daughter in a couple of years when she turns three. Sequoia is a really magical preschool experience. Good luck with your search!

I see that you are leaning toward a small school for your daughter. One thing to consider is that with a small school comes a small amount of teachers. If you are at a larger place, there are more teachers. The reason this could be important for a child like yours is that if she is a challenging child to have in class, it could be to everyone's advantage to have more teachers to work together. What I'm trying to say is that she might wear out a sole-provider daycare person, or a two-person outfit. The quality of her care could be less in that situtation---if the caregivers get burned out by her. I mean, I certainly felt like I needed breaks from my own very intense daughter at that age, and in a small setting her caregiver doesn't have that opportunity. In a larger environment, she would have multiple people watching over her, sharing the "burden," as it were (I hated typing that out, because no child is a burden, I'm just lacking an internal thesaurus right now). She would also get the chance to see behavior modeled by other children, and by interacting with a greater number of children have a greater opportunity to practice her own appropriate behaviors. As parents, I think that our instinct is to want to cocoon our children and keep them in small, well-controlled, "safe" environments. I think that sometimes parents fail to see the advantages of the larger environment and the exposure to more people, more ideas, more ways of doing things, more emotions, etc. Good luck!

If you are looking for something for next year, the Good Earth School is opening in late January/early Feb. The owner Gail, has a infant/toddler daycare, Galoshes ( where my son currently attends. We are moving him to Good Earth when it opens. My older daughter also attended Galoshes with Gail and she is great at dealing with children that sound like your daughter. My daughter is the same way... she's especially boundary-challenging! Outdoor play is the highlight and emphasis of Gail's philosophy. The new school will be in Kensington (on the property of the Unitarian Church). 

HI there! I recommend a Reggio-based (play-based) school or program if you can find one. The Bay Area (especially Berkeley) has a lot, and they should focus on outdoor space, outdoor time, child-centered, play-based learning where children's interests lead the curriculum. Schools with this philosophy should be well versed in big emotions and validating those feelings while helping children find healthy ways to express themselves. I don't have a specific suggestion, but I recommend touring places with "Reggio" style learning!

I cannot recommend Redwood Gardens Preschool highly enough. It is a small, home based Waldorf preschool and the teacher Lauri Miller is a true gift to parents and children. We've sent both our daughters there and our first is also an intense, spirited sort. RWG was so soothing for her. She was there 2-5 and still goes back to visit and help out. Good luck!

Your daughter sounds a lot like my son, who's now 5 and thriving at a small school for gifted kids. He was (still is) a super-intense big-emotions, boundary-challenging profoundly gifted kid. It would be a bit of a trek if you're in Oakland, but if it works for you logistically, I highly recommend the Creative Play Center in Albany. It's just a really loving, friendly, safe space. I was worried at first that he would be bored and unchallenged because they're not heavy on the academic kindergarten-preparedness side of things, but most importantly, it's a joyful, loving environment. Erika, the head teacher, is full of energy and ideas. She and the other teachers are just exceptionally loving and warm. They were great partners in the socio-emotional development of our extremely bright, but extremely challenging kid. The space is a little cramped (lower floor of a house) but they do spend a ton of time outside and have a pet bunny named Delilah :) They also take the kids on field trips regularly. Here's an article you might find helpful in choosing a preschool. Good luck!