Seeking Oakland Preschool for non napping, sensitive and bright 2.5 year old

Hello-

I am looking for recommendations and/or advice on appropriate preschools for our daughter. Sleeping has always been a challenge for her, and despite our best efforts, she rarely naps (and generally holds up well for the entirety of the day). She will be 2.5 this fall and we'd originally thought to hold off on school due to her sensitive nature, mainly her attachment to "mama" and difficulty around separations. However, she has started to demonstrate more independence and we are regretting our decision to hold-off on schools as we are now thinking that she will be more stimulated and distracted in a school setting, oppose to at home with a nanny. She enjoys being around other children and in a stimulating/engaging environment. Of course, now most preschools are full for the upcoming year. We found one Reggio style school with an opening that seems like a good fit in many ways, however, their options around napping are likely too rigid for our daughter (expected to occupy herself quietly on a nap amidst sleeping peers). We are not opposed to other school models (Montessori, Waldorf, etc.), and are more interested in a play-based program, with supportive and positive teachers (and a higher teacher/student ratio). We would likely be starting her at part-time until she is adjusted, with the hopes of transitioning to something closer to full-time by the time she is 3/3.5. We are considering programs with current openings, or holding off until fall 2020 for a better fit. Any advice regarding this transitions, and programs that seem like a good fit are greatly appreciated! We are in Oakland near Park Blvd, so the closer the better. 

Places we're already considering if you have any feedback on these programs (and interested in new ideas too):

My Own Montessori (a little far from us and no extended afternoon care options, but seems like a solid program with alternative activities for non nappers)

Duck's Nest 41st (no space for the upcoming year, but it seems like a good program with full-time options at a good price point compared to the other schools we're looking at. However, it would mean waiting until fall 2020, and that is if we get in. Does anyone know how hard is it to get in to this school?)

Children's Workshop Oakland (Lovely program with full-time options, but no nap alternatives so we may not even be able to make use of full-time schedule. Also, it is relatively new, so there are not many reviews, etc.)

Holding Hands (Would have to wait until Fall 2020 based on minimum age requirements, but nearby and have heard positive things)

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We have had a wonderful experience at Duck's Nest.  The environment and the teachers are superb.  I can confirm that enrollment is difficult, perhaps flexibility on days and part-time can increase your chances.  Feel free to contact me directly if you have specific questions on the school.

Regarding your concerns around naptime, I can also confirm that other families struggle with this - especially through the transition of dropping naps!  Prior to enrolling in pre-school, I'd advise you to research state regulation as well as school policies around offering undistracted rest (nap) time.

Hi There - My kids went/go to Bloomers, a small home-based, play-based, and reasonably-priced preschool in lower Glenview. They have both been very happy there, and get a lot of attention, which is great for my mama's girls. The kids are expected to rest during naptime (which I believe is shorter than most preschool naptimes), but the teachers put on soothing music, and I think sometimes kids who can't nap are moved to different areas or rooms so they don't keep others awake. You may want to talk to the owner, Carolyn, about her strategies for non-nappers. She has been in this business for decades, and has a strong, informed philosophy about early education practices and experience with all kinds of kids. My girls have never napped well, but very surprisingly (to me), neither was that bothered by resting during naptime at school, and sometimes actually fell asleep, even YEARS after they stopped napping at home. Bloomers teachers are very intentional about social-emotional learning, and there is a big focus on kindness and community. I really feel my girls have benefited from this approach. Also, being a neighborhood place, we've made friends with lots of other families that live within a mile of us, and that has been absolutely wonderful!   http://bloomerspreschool.com/

Hi! Responding to your query about Ducks Nest on 41st: It's a great school! They handled our slow-to-transition, very mama-attached 2 y/o in a beautiful, caring way. And there were always kids in his classrooms (even at 2 and 3 years old) who didn't nap, and I don't remember it being a huge deal. However, I worry you won't get a spot for your daughter as a 3 y/o, because most of the 2 y/o class (Ducklings) goes on to the 3 y/o class (Wood Ducks), and if one or two students do move away or leave for whatever reason, those spots are nabbed so quickly. Maybe just go ahead and get on a waitlist for 2020-21 anyway? Best of luck!

We are at Duck's Nest 41st and have friends who've been at My Own Montessori and Holding Hands, and all are great options. I will caution that you may find some nap challenges at any preschool, though, because California licensing requires preschools and daycare centers to have a quiet nap or rest time for all children. So while a school can certainly offer alternatives to nap for children who do not fall asleep during that time, they are required to have them rest for a period of time before moving on to other activities. (Some strategies our school uses to accommodate non-nappers include placing children who do need to nap in quieter areas of the room; having non-nappers play outside before coming in for the required rest period at the end of the nap block rather than resting at the beginning, so that they can get up again as other children start to wake; and having quiet activities that children can take to their rest areas to do instead of sleeping.) We also know some kids who don't nap at home ever who nap daily at preschool, though, so be prepared for that too--a full day of school can be exhausting! Re: Duck's Nest 41st specifically, enrollment is very fluid, so although it is "full" they do always take a few kids over the summer as people's plans change (and usually 1-2 during the year, too). It is always worth calling to check. Although many children start at 2, they do take a number of kids at 3/3.5 too given how they split their classes. Again, call early and often if that is something you're interested in. If you are near Holding Hands, though, you might find drop-off and pick-up to either Duck's Nest or MOM a bit of a grind over time. I would definitely look carefully at schools close to home too, since you have a number near you. Good luck with the search!

Don't overlook Lakeshore Children's Center (Lakeshore near Mandana). My daughter went to preschool there, then aftercare and summer camps. The staff has been remarkably stable over the years, and my (now HS freshman) daughter still goes to visit her old teachers. It's play-based and affordable, and doesn't fill up as fast as some of the smaller, more exclusive preschools. I don't think they offer 1/2 day rates. My daughter wasn't much of a napper at age 2, either. One of the teachers created a reward chart and she would get a star every day that she napped. After 6 months, she only had 2 stars. She had to  try to nap, but they did let the kids who didn't fall asleep engage in quit activities. My daughter hated nap time, but it is a legal requirement (as I understand it) for preschools to have one, so there was no getting out of it entirely. 

Hi. My daughter attended Highlands Preschool for two years (not so far from you - we lived in Montclair at the time and it was a 7 min drive). She's also attended Temple Sinai preschool and my son attends a preschool in the Philly suburbs, where we are currently. Among these schools, I have the fondest memories of Highlands. It's a co-op preschool (so a parent or nanny etc.) volunteers about once every two weeks. My kid thrived with the routines and curriculum that had all these little rituals built into them that made her really feel like she belonged, had a role, was "home." The teachers are enthusiastic, caring, and experienced.

Have you looked into Berkeley Rose Waldorf School? My children are there and have been since 2.5, now 5 and 8 and both very happy. Lovely community, outdoors, active and academic. 

Good luck! 

you should look at The Berkeley School Early Childhood Center. they fit the bill except location might not be great for you. Central Berkeley near campus. We're in our 2nd year there and very happy with our choice. Kids are met where they are and it's a warm happy place. feel free to PM me for more info.