preschool recs: Spanish, outdoor time, freedom for kids....

Hey folks, I'm looking for recommendations for preschools for my kid, who will be 2 years 8 months next August.  Priorities, more or less in order of importance:

* Positive supportive environment where kids are loved and valued

* Outdoor time and enjoyable outdoor space

* Diversity (students and teachers), including race, family structure, queer families...

* Location: preferably between north Oakland and north Berkeley

* Spanish immersion

We also like art, cooking, and gardening as activities.  Got anywhere you love?  We need at least 4 days, at least 9-4 pm -- so morning-only programs aren't enough, but it doesn't have to be super high coverage.  Open to co-ops.  

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Ducks Nest! Either the 41st street campus in North Oakland or the Berkeley campus (West Berkeley, on 4th Street). We have 4 years of experience at 41st street and 3 years at Berkeley and have loved them all! They meet all your criteria except the Spanish immersion. I think they enroll for the next year in January (to start in August). Good luck! I wholeheartedly recommend Ducks Nest. I feel like it was one of the best decisions I've made in my children's lives. 

My kids loved New School, which checks all your boxes except Spanish immersion.

This doesn't. meet all your criteria, but we have loved La Plazita for both my kids. There are a few different locations, but they're in East Oakland, so maybe not workable location-wise. But the hours are great, the prices are reasonable, it's a Spanish-immersion program with super dedicated and loving teachers and staff, lots of outdoor time, focus on some "academic" skills like letter and number recognition but not at the expense of lots of free play and imagination. If you can make the location work I highly recommend!

If there is an adult in the family that currently speaks to your child in Spanish, and child already speaks Spanish, then I can HIGHLY recommend these two pre-schools.  My daughter attended both, switching at that time only because of schedule, but I think that school now has longer hours than before.  La Familia:

and Las Semillitas:

We sent our kids to Mi Mundo and Via Nova, both in South Berkeley, and both were great (switched between kids mainly for logistical reasons). Mi Mundo is Spanish immersion and our kid came out speaking Spanish pretty well. The program is art-based so he came home with lots of amazing art projects and really got into making art while he was there. Via Nova is "bilingual" meaning there is some Spanish, but nothing like the immersion at Mi Mundo - I think true immersion is hard to find around here, but there are a number of bilingual programs. The outdoor space at Via Nova is great and the director is super knowledgeable and intentional about early childhood development. Both places have great teachers, great communities, and about as much diversity as we see in our Berkeley public school (Berkeley is just becoming whiter and richer, so the preschools reflect that too).

I can't recommend Mi Mundo, on Alcatraz Av just east of Adeline St with another location in El Cerrito, enough. It's Spanish immersion and art-based, and checks all the rest of your boxes too, I think. Our son James was there for 3 years.

CEC on university in Berkeley would fit your description. We were really happy with them for the 3 years our daughter was there prior to going to TK. The director is a woman of color with a PhD, and there are quite a few languages and ethnicities represented in the teachers and families. Outdoor space and rotating activities are really great (my daughter had yoga, swimming, capoeira, cooking, gardening, and prior to the pandemic they walked the kids to the library for storytime). Check them out!

Check out Kensington Nursery school if you are willing to go a bit further north. Great community, a variety of skin tones and cultures, lots of outdoor space, Spanish spoken some and Spanish songs were taught though not immersion, cooking, probably some gardening. It's been about 8 years since my kiddo was there. I think it was open from 8-6 but check out their website for the current feel of it. It is a co-op that had a wonderful community feel. 

Our 2.5 year old daughter attends Kidsland Annex (near El Cerrito). They have a sister site located on Dwight Way in Berkeley as well. They are Spanish immersion with hours from 8am-5pm M-F. The schedule is pretty flexible--we only use them 4 days a week and drop-off around 9am. The student population is small but diverse. They have a great outdoor space and host lots of fun on-site events during the holidays. The teachers are great and we love the program. Highly recommend as it seems to check off all your boxes.