Pine Crest School - recommendations for this preschool

I would like to hear from parents who have been at Pine Crest School in Kensington since their transition to this new location from Willow Street Schoolhouse in 2016 (  We are considering enrolling our daughter in their program and would love hear from recent and current families.

Thank you!

Parent Replies

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My daughter started there a few months ago right after her second birthday. We’ve all been very happy with it. I really value all the time they spend outside taking walks and playing in the large outdoor space. The concept of “emergent curriculum” was new to me but I’m mostly seeing it manifest in how they allow the kids to self direct what they want to do which ends up being lots of imaginative play and art and playing in nature. The way they communicate with the kids and teach them how to communicate is really respectful and I can see my daughter’s social and emotional growth since starting. My daughter is also very bonded with the teachers. Feel free to PM if you have more questions. 

Our experience was not great. First, It’s a very large amount of space with a treacherous external staircase. Our kids got “promoted” young, not necessarily because they were ready but because teachers in the little kids room were slammed with a few very needy lowest age kids who required 1:1. Because my kids were on the older range, they got pushed up, because the overall functional level was quite low in the little kids class.  My kids crashed and burned when placed with 4 and even 5 year olds. There was a feeling of being intimidated and a totally hands off staff approach, and an unwillingness to communicate with us about what was going on. When my kids started getting into physical altercations and had a physical injury that was not reported, we had a meeting. We were told the standard is nonintervention and maybe 30% of conflicts that escalate will get adult assistance. My kids were not at all ready for the socioemotional challenges in being lumped in with significantly older kids ( mine were not even totally potty trained yet).  It felt like we were paying a high price for the kids to be put in that experience, what with the refusal to communicate and lack of supervision and very little intervention. We pulled them out after 2 months of escalating kid upset that spilled over into home life. And we were already preschool veterans from an older kid, so this was not about helicopter parenting.  

Our 5 year-old son, Seamus, currently attends Pine Crest and we have been over-joyed with his experience.

The teachers are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about child development, and provide a warm and supportive play-based environment.

Pretty much every single day, Seamus resists leaving his playmates and the wide open grounds of the school (a very good sign IMO). He comes home with new stories, interests, and confidence built through being experimentation and figuring things out his own. His teachers keep his mind stimulated by providing new learning opportunities, including through sensory development, artistic expression and freedom to develop social skills (with perhaps some gentle coaching). The other children and parents are also wonderful, and we've felt privileged to be part of such a great community of families.

Overall, he looks forward to attending each day and we feel he is on the right trajectory for the transition to kindergarten, while building many happy memories.

My daughter went to both willow street and pine crest. She loves it and has thrived there. She spends a lot of time outside playing and exploring, and the staff are great. She has thrived there. 

Our 4.5 year old daughter has attended Pine Crest since January 2017 and we feel so happy and lucky to have found such a special place for her to attend preschool. The teachers are extremely caring and attuned to the developmental and social-emotional needs of each child. The activities are varied and evolve based on student interest and discovery. Perhaps the best part is the opportunity they have by being on the beautiful property of the Unitarian Universalist Church, which they take full advantage of by going for nature walks and spending time outside every day. I am genuinely jealous of my daughter's day when I drop her off at Pine Crest; she spends her time exploring nature and her own interests and curiosities while surrounded by nurturing, creative people.