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I noticed all of the reviews are from 2016 and previous years. Does anyone have the latest reviews on how they're doing now, in 2020 and especially during COVID?
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Blue Skies for Children is doing really well. Great staff, great teachers, great community of parents who help support each other. Very strong principles about how to treat children with respect and give them developmentally appropriate opportunities for growth. Overall I'd say they've managed to strike a good balance between staying on top of the business aspects of running a small non-profit organization (which is not easy) and putting their energy into providing top-notch childcare and education. They've had staff and teacher turnover, like every place does. And their website tab for "Leadership and Staff" is no longer correct -- which is not a good sign -- because some of those people have left. But I guess they've been busy with other stuff besides website maintenance.
My daughter graduated in August 2019 after being there for two years. My son left in September 2019 after being there from ages 1 to 3; he left to go to a school with Japanese language instruction, but we otherwise would have kept him at Blue Skies.
My daughter's teacher, Tracy, for the oldest kids, was amazing. Warm and funny and nurturing and positive and on top of every situation. She left to go on maternity leave, but maybe will be coming back. And there are lots of other very good teachers there: Amy and Kiki and Rosalia and Danielle and Rebecca and Mimi. Of course every teacher has their strengths and weaknesses, but you can trust that your kids will have great teachers there. They're very thoughtful about moving kids up through the different classes for different age levels, and it ends up being very good for the kids to track their own progress. They can talk about "When I was in Homeroom, it was like that, but now that I've moved up to Schoolroom, it's like this." When my daughter started in Homeroom it was difficult for her to integrate with the class because most of the kids had been together in a cohort for 4 years, and she was the new kid. But by the time she was in Schoolroom, she was no longer the newest kid, and felt more comfortable in her place there.
I can't tell you too much about how they're doing with COVID, but if you need that information, I can put you in touch with some parents whose kids are there now. I do know that they were shut down for a long time and struggled to provide any distance learning. Which is hard to do, to provide valuable distance learning for very young kids. But they have reopened for in-person school, and they have smaller groups, at somewhat reduced hours from what they used to offer. And they're trying to keep families with multiple siblings in the same group, which kind of goes against their whole philosophy of developmental grouping. So I'm not sure what's going to happen with that. And the director, Claire Bainer, who was one of the founders and whose philosophy has shaped the school, is going to retire soon. And there's anxiety amongst some about how the school is going to weather that transition. But I'm sure they're gonna find a new director and forge ahead.
When my kids were there, I was able to get financial aid from the school. They have a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity, and to class diversity. Hopefully they can continue that in trying times.
Blue Skies is truly amazing. My older son graduated from there two years ago and my three year old is there now. My older child has some special needs and is quite challenging - blue skies supported his healthy development and our family in many ways, including by providing an on site child psychologist to work with him and with us at reduced cost. They have have also been amazing during the pandemic. They have an informal committee of health care provider parents who have helped them open in a way that feels very safe and thoughtful - children are in pods of 10 with a stable group of teachers, all teachers wear masks, there are careful cleaning measures and temperature checks and health screening at drop off, and we have all signed off on a series of community agreements where we commit to following public health guidelines. Going back to school has been a wonderful gift for our toddler and for us. The teachers and staff are warm, loving, and attentive, and it is a wonderful community.
Well I don't think this can count as an "updated" review as my former Blue Skies student is now 14 ... but I have to say that this AMAZING school is in my opinion one of the best options in the entire Bay Area. Other friends who will still know from that era strongly agree. Your own parenting will improve enormously via their coaching and example. Your child will thrive as a human being. Years later we believe our child had a huge advantage over kids at standard daycare/preschools - from just 3 years at Blue Skies. Honestly, kinder and elementary school was a bit of a disappointment after the extraordinarily intelligent, thoughtful, top-tier and developmentally appropriate education he received there. I personally learned so much. Boy did I miss the loss of that resource when he graduated. I cannot imagine that the core philosophy of the school has changed much if at all. I hope you get loads of responses - Blue Skies is an amazing place, with a fabulous community. We have nothing but positive memories, and a wonderful young man who has certainly been improved and nurtured by his time there.