Looking for play-based preschool in Berkeley

I’m looking at preschools for next year for my 3 year old daughter, especially Step One and Berkeley Hills Nursery School. They both claim to be play-based, but we would also like our daughter to be exposed to numbers, letters, shapes etc before she heads off to kindergarten. If you sent your kid to either one of these schools, what was your experience of them learning letters, numbers, shapes, and beginning letter writing?

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I sent both my kids to BHNS. They learned basic counting, the alphabet and how to write their names. Loved it there!

I sent my child to Step One and it was perfect for him.  He was incredibly shy, and Step One brought him out of his shell!  He was exposed to numbers, letters, shapes, and beginning letter writing, etc. before K and now he is in K at Jefferson School in Berkeley and doing wonderfully. What I loved most is how much Step One emphasized empathy and caring for self and others.  I felt like he was extremely prepared to create new, strong social relationships based on his beliefs and natures, not what other kids were doing. The teachers are also incredible, responsive, and loving.  It is such an amazing community! I personally have made life-long parent friends!

We sent both our son and daughter to Step One. Step One does not impose a specific didactic but creates an environment where each child is able to develop their love of learning in the way that works best for them. So my son did not start writing when he left Step One, but he rapidly picked it up in kindergarten and is now doing very well academically (in gr 3). My daughter on the other hand, was very interested in learning letters, numbers etc and so she graduated Step One with good skills in those areas. 

We absolutely loved Step One for the all-round development it gave our kids - building their love of learning, their social skills and helping them truly learn through the play based methodology. Highly recommended!

Hi. Our three daughters attended Step One (each for 3 years) with our youngest just graduating in August. We (and they!) had an incredible experience. I didn't know a lot about play-based programs prior to attending, but I've come to fully believe in the importance of this curriculum, especially at a young age. I feel that b/c of Step One our girls learned how to socialize with others (working through conflicts, etc), gain confidence in themselves, appreciate differences and -- thanks to S1's nurturing environment -- come away with a love of school and learning. Step One does expose children to letters, etc as part of the curriculum, especially for those who will be attending K the following year. But -- in my opinion -- this is less important. All of our daughters came away more than prepared for their school experiences at Prospect Sierra...but I attribute this to the strong social/emotional intelligence that Step One (and the play based curriculum) fostered...not b/c they got a head start on academics. Hope that's helpful! Good luck!