Recent experiences with Hearts Leap Beginnings?

We're looking into daycares for our son, and are wondering if anyone has experiences to share about Hearts Leap Beginnings in Berkeley. It looks like a newer program with fewer reviews here, any recent parent experiences would be very appreciated, thanks!

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Hi there! We joined Hearts Leap Beginnings when my son was about 9-10 months old (a few months after they opened); he just turned 2 years old a couple of weeks ago. He'll move up to Hearts Leap (preschool) in September. This is an added bonus to joining the Beginnings program, as it helps in getting a spot for the preschool (we really didn't want to have to do a whole new search for a preschool when it came time for that).

We love HLB -- it's a beautiful space, and the teachers and staff are truly wonderful. Generally speaking, they follow a RIE-inspired approach, but with genuine warmth and kindness. It's pricier than other options, but you get an extremely high quality of care. They also encourage/cultivate a sense of community by organizing regular breakfast events, and an annual picnic, so you can get to know the other parents and children at the school. 

Parents in the program are expected to fulfill some volunteer hours every school year, as an FYI. This can be done by doing a few loads of laundry, going snack shopping (parents are reimbursed for this), serving as room parent, etc. 

If I had to nitpick, I would say that it's a bit of a bummer that they don't provide lunch. I understand why they can't provide lunch, but it would be nice if they did. They provide plenty of snacks, however.

Happy to answer any other questions! 

We started our 18 month old there last fall and he loves it. Teachers are caring and attentive but also great at steering behavior and dealing with toddler emotions.  

Only downside is parents have to pack food, cost, and they close more often then other centers.

But overall we have been extremely happy and our child has flourished.

We have two kids at Hearts Leap and have really enjoyed our experience there. A lot of the teachers have Masters degrees and encourage the children's development in all areas by constantly changing the environment and toys available, taking the children outdoors (even the really young ones) and constantly interacting through singing, reading, etc. They have also been great with potty training, which not every daycare is willing to do. 

Our 2.5 year old daughter has been at Hearts Leap Beginnings since it opened Jan 2018. She will move up to the preschool in the fall. We have had an incredibly positive experience. I fell in love with HL during my tour on a rainy day when all students played outside on the large playgrounds under a canopy of trees. Dressed in rain boots and rain jackets, they stomped in puddles and watched the rain pour down from the gutters; when they later came inside to change into dry clothes, one student dumped a boot full of water on the ground. A nearby teacher giggled playfully with him and together they wiped up the water. It was a joyous moment, and a true reflection of the childhood I envisioned for our daughter.

Our hopes have been surpassed since joining the program nearly a year and a half ago. The children are given incredible care and attention. The teachers are warm, thoughtful, attentive, qualified, and above all have taken the time and care to really know our daughter and family. They are always there to support her and/or us on a rough day. Children are supported in moments of challenge and given language to foster their development. The classrooms are developmentally appropriate, with a variety of spaces and activities in which students may engage freely. On any given day there is a water table, art table, climbing space, swing, reading nook, and more for the students to enjoy. They take walks in the neighborhood, to Willard Park, and enjoy all Elmwood has to offer (even a field trip to the fire house!).

The Beginnings program has worked through a few minor kinks as it synced programs with the preschool and crafted its own identity and staff while also embodying the philosophy of Hearts Leap.

Similar to other comments on here, I would be happy to answer any specific questions.