Play based preschool recommendations in Oakland?

Can anyone recommend a play based preschool with a nice outdoor space in Oakland that your children love? Spanish is also a plus. Our daughter is 2, and we're looking for May 2019. Thanks!

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Sequoia Nursery School.  They don't enroll mid-year, only in September, but it is worth the wait.  The best outdoor space you have seen at a preschool.  Loving teachers.  Engaged parents.  I had four children go through there and they all say it was the best school they ever went to.  

Information Night is usually held in January.


Our son started at Storybrook Oakland this school year.  It is play based and they have an amazing outdoor space.  They have a cooking/farming teacher and art teacher in addition to the classroom teachers.  My son loves it there!


Skyline Preschool at the UCC church on Skyline (but not religious), fantastic outdoor space.  Bloomers in Glenview has a nice space, but it's just the backyard of a house.  We loved both, but that was 12-14 years ago.  Both basically play based.


If your daughter will be 2 years and 9 months by the time she starts, I highly recommend Monteverde. It's in South Berkeley and attracts a very diverse group of families from across Oakland and Berkeley. It’s a Reggio Emilia school, so activities are play- and project-based, very hands-on, and creative. The “curriculum” follows the kids’ interests and they get lots of variety and choice. 

In terms of play, the outdoor space is amazing—there’s a lovely garden, room to race tricycles, and a semi-wild little hillside that the kids love. There’s also a big indoor space for tumbling, climbing, dancing, yoga, etc. They also have a dedicated art teacher, weekly music, storytelling, science experiments, theater, cooking, crafts, critters—you name it. I’ve seen both outgoing, active kids and shy, introspective kids thrive at Monteverde because they’re free to explore whatever they’re drawn to, with the full acceptance and support of an amazing group of teachers. 

There isn’t a Spanish language program per se, but they do incorporate some Spanish, as well as sign language. Families are also encouraged to share their own language, food, holidays, and traditions. 

Other aspects of Monteverde that we appreciated: their emphasis on social-emotional development (resilience, respect, kindness), a mixed-age grouping that allows kids to both learn from and lead others, flexible schedule options, and a lower cost than most of the schools we looked at, with scholarships available. 

There’s also just an incredible amount of love and joy at Monteverde. Our whole family felt lucky to be part of this amazing community and I couldn’t imagine a better preschool. 


I'll second Sequoia Nursery School.  My son went there a few years ago and it has a large and super nice outdoor space. 


I sent my boy to Escuela Bilingüe Internacional located in North Oakland on Alcatraz/Telegraph.  It's a Spanish immersion play-based preschool which then continues on K-8th grade if desired.  They have a relatively new outdoor space that my boy loved.  He never wanted to leave there after school.  Many of his closest friendships were developed there that have continued on until today.  The teachers were like warm aunties to him and made him feel like school was a second home.  Within a week after starting preschool there, he was asking me, "Daddy, why can't I spend more time at EBI?"

Broadway Children's School is a wonderful play based preschool with a large outdoor play area. It is located on Adams Street in the Lake Merritt district, and has been serving Oakland families for over 60 years. It has been such a warm, loving and safe environment for my son who is now in his second year there. They also have a parent participation class for 2 year olds, which includes weekly parent education and discussion groups. Not sure if there are any current openings but might be something to look into. I can't say enough wonderful things about this school. The teachers at Broadway offer just enough structure, leaving room for playful exploration based on the individual child's needs. It is a nurturing environment for young minds, and I feel so fortunate to have my son attend.