New mom looking for preschool recommendations

Hi my child is currently 18 months. We are starting to look for preschools and get onto waiting lists. There are so many options in the bay, I’m not sure where to start. I visited some Montessori’s, Bright Horizon-Bay Farm, language immersion in Berkeley and closer low-cost local preschools closer to my home. I’m in San Leandro. And I’m not sure how to decide. I’m mainly looking for a nurturing environment, low student to teacher ratio, low teacher turnover, age-appropriate curriculum and affordable/reasonably priced. I did not realize how some schools have very exclusive waiting list and specific enrollment priorities so I’m worried she won’t be able to get into anything by the time she is able to start or if we pick the wrong school. Can anyone provide some recommendations of the pre-schools they have been and loved dearly? 

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

We sent our oldest to Woodroe Woods (750 Fargo Ave, San Leandro, CA 94579) and we absolutely loved it. I wish we could send our youngest there but a recent move makes the commute time impossible. I strongly recommend checking them out. They have a very large outdoor play area and they have great teachers.

Since you're in SL, check out Woodroe Woods.  It's great.  Long waiting list but put your kiddo on it now.  Our son recently started there and his two teachers have been at the school for 30 years between the two of them. Very warm, nurturing, play-based, lovely, pretty affordable. The other places I would recommend in SL would be the new La Plazita location at San Leandro BART and Children's Montessori Adventure.  Both are excellent in their own way too. 

I highly recommend the preschool our daughter attends, Vivan Los Ninos. I think it ticks all your boxes. Hilda has been running the school for a long time and the other 2 teachers have been with her a while I think. They are all very loving and creative a wonderful community with the kids and parents too. Lots of outside free play time, and different inside activities too. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided, the hours are pretty good, and so is cost. Give her a call!

If you are okay with part-time programs for 2 or 3 days per week, then Broadway Children's School of Oakland has everything you're looking for. Our son just finished up the PACT program (Parents and Children Together), and he's eager for summer to be over so he can go to preschool in the Sunshine Room in the fall. They currently have openings in the PACT program for 2-year-olds (if your child has a December birthday like mine does, she could start in August even before turning 2). It's been a great transition to preschool, especially for our pandemic baby who hadn't been around many other adults or kids before starting. We love this preschool and can't recommend it strongly enough! 

Hi Ann,

My daughter attends Cedar Creek in Berkeley and we couldn’t be happier. We are graduating this August and are sad about leaving, it’s been such a great environment for her. Here are some of the things that made Cedar Creek stand out to me.

  • Dedicated teachers 
  • Location
  • Cost (under $2000/mo)
  • Diversity in teachers/students (This was huge for me)
  • Timely Communication
  • Covid safety and protocols 

Let me know if you want an intro to the PreK owner, Prima. She is a lovely person.


I would recommend checking out the wonderful St. James Christian Schools in San Leandro.

I served as the pastor of the St. James congregation for several years and led chapel with the children on Wednesdays and interacted with the kiddos and parents on a daily basis. St. James offers a safe setting, loving teachers, long-term teachers, high teacher to student ratio, affordable as preschools go, and they really emphasize building community among the families. I know groups of families who have stayed friends for years. Good luck!