Seeking a Preschool for a 2 Year Old

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  • Preschool for 2-year-old near Piedmont Av.

    (2 replies)

    Our son just turned one, and we'd like to get him into a preschool right after his second birthday, which means we should start doing research. Does anyone have any recommendations for high-quality preschools in Oakland or Berkeley? (We live in Oakland, near the Piedmont Theater.)

    More generally, any advice for first-time parents about how to go about researching/choosing?

    Thanks for your help!

    If you're able to get in, Duck's Nest on 41st Street is a magical place, and walking distance from you. They take kids at two, but most kids start in the fall, so if you have a child turning two mid-year, it just depends on whether there are any openings at that point. 

    We love our preschool which is at Piedmont and Pleasant Valley. It's Colibri Preschool and is a small Spanish language immersion school. We've been there since we moved to the area a year ago. My oldest is now in the 4s class and my middle child is in the 2s class. They have a lot of flexibility in schedules- you can do 9 to 3 or 7 to 6. 2s have to be there at least 2 days a week, 3 yos 3 days a week and 4s 4 days a week. This works well for our family as I work part time and so we just do the minimum number of days for each age. The teachers are caring, attentive and creative in their teaching. My 4 year old struggled a lot with behavior after our cross-country move and they were very patient, collaberative and thoughtful as we tried to address that. Throughout the SIP and COVID crisis they have been great at communicating, provided some online teaching and materials and working with families struggling with tuition. The owners, two women, are investing a lot of resources in the school itself. They fairly frequently are buying new toys, recently painted a mural on the building and work hard to create a sense of community. The preschool is a little more structured than some as they want the students to interact with the teachers more frequently so that they are hearing and speaking in Spanish. My 4 year old struggled with this a bit at first but is doing well now and is learning so much. It seems to work well for my 2 year old. I really can't say enough good things about them.

  • We are moving to the SF bay area and need daycare/preschool/childcare recommendations for our 2 year old in the South/Downtown Berkeley area! We will be living near the Ashby BART station in South Berkeley and commuting to SF which could take an hour each way so we need somewhere that is open atleast 10 hours and our budget is less than 2k. We would love personal recommendations from parents who have children at these daycares.

    Thank you so much in advance!

    Hi there,

    I'd like to recommend It's All about Me daycare which is on Woolsey Street about 3 blocks from the Ashby BART. Their hours are 8am-6pm. You might be able to make arrangements for a longer day, not sure. Our son has been there the past 2.5 years. Although he is moving on to the preschool that his sister attended, we have been really, really happy with his care situation over the last 2 years. Developmentally appropriate, warm, safe, fun, and enriching. Darlene (the operator) and Viney (the other caregiver) are a wonderful balance of influences for young kids. They are diligent, thoughtful, and dedicated. It's also been an incredible value. I don't know what their rates are now, but we've been paying about 1K/month. Darlene Percoats can be reached at 510 914 3300. 

    Our son is moving on to Via Nova which is also very close to Ashby. I recommend it highly though it barely scrapes below the 2K mark for incoming 2 year olds and I believe they are currently full. Perhaps it's worth inquiring in case a spot opens up. 

    We are many years past childcare, but had an excelllent experience with Aquatic Park School.  The same leadership is in place.  It meets your budget and time requirements.  It's on the way between Ashby BART and SF, on Heinz near 7th St.  (This also happens to be close to Berkeley Bowl, one of the best supermarkets around.)

    APS is often full-up, but it's worth checking out, as openings do happen.

    I'd recommend Alma's Children garden, but they are 8-5. You might be able to work something out with Alma. I believe she has an opening. Let me know if you want more details. I also live near Ashby Bart, and it's a 4-min drive. 

    I have friends who are excited to start at Via Nova this week, which is right at the BART station.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Seeking Oakland preschool for two 2.5 yr olds

April 2013

Hi, I am seeking a preschool with two openings for the fall for my twin girls born 4/11. I was a stay at home mom until last month so I wasn't planning on preschool until fall 2014, but I'm back at work unexpectedly and now would love to get my girls into a program given our new circumstances. I'm not married to a particular approach (Montessori, play-based, etc.). My only requirements at this point are that it offer full days (8 to 5 maybe? - will probably do 3 or 4 days/week) and be near us (in Oakland, Upper Rockridge.) I commute to SF via Rockridge BART so a place right near the station would be a big plus. I know most programs start filling their fall classes earlier in the year, so my expectations are low for what's out there, but you never know! Thanks! C

You might want to look into My Own Montessori in Rockridge. They have a wonderful program and caring teachers for the age range you want and it is close to the Bart station (across the street from Trader Joes). I'm not sure if the hours will work for you (8:00am -2:45pm) but thought I would mention it. anon

You should look into Claremont Day Nursery. They have two locations near Rockridge Bart. One is on College Ave, almost right next to the Bart stations and the other is on Claremont Ave right above College. They accept kids two and up and having rolling admission. I strongly considered sending my daughter there and was impressed during my site visit. They have great hours and for the area is reasonably priced if that is a consideration. Working in Rockridge

Hi there, Not sure if you've looked at Temple Sinai Preschool yet, but we highly recommend it. Our 2 children go there (our daughter is in her 3rd year and our son is in his 1st) and we've been extremely happy with our experience there. The school is play-based and, although it is a Jewish preschool, they welcome all families (Jewish, Interfaith, non-Jewish, etc). The teachers are wonderful...warm and friendly and they really connect with each child. Our kids have made great friends there and we've even developed some amazing friendships with other parents we've met through the school. It really is a great community.

Regarding extended care, they do offer early care (dropping off as early as 8am) and aftercare (until 6pm). Feel free to email me if you would like more information, or you could contact the preschool director to schedule a tour (ellen [at] Although it is unusual, there are some spots still open for next year. Good luck in your search! Adrienne

You never know- you might find something great. I think sometimes the whole ''waiting list'' thing is overrated. My kids have all attended quality schools and never been on long wait lists for years on end. To answer your question more specifically, I feel like I have seen recent postings on BPN for Rockridge Little School openings, as well as for Claremont Day Nursery- both located near the BART in Rockridge. I don't have personal experience with these schools, but have had friends with kid at both places. Hope you find the right fit for you and your kids! Good Luck!

Could you fit South Berkeley into your commute? I highly recommend The Model School, 2 blocks south of Whole Foods, off Telegraph. They enroll year-round and offer full-day flexible scheduling, not to mention that my kid is very, very happy there! It's closer to Ashby BART than Rockridge, but perhaps you could BART from there? Model School Mom

I'd like to recommend Vivan Los Ninos Preschool to you. My daughter started there when she was 2 years-old; she is now 3.5 and attends 2 days/week. Although she was one of the youngest in the beginning, the school is play-based, and the teachers do an exceptional job of encouraging play (as well as respect and communication)among all ages. My husband and I had alternated care of my daughter until she was 2, and only sent her to school at that point b/c a spot opened at VLN. It is a small home-based daycare/preschool center (about 10 kids/day, ages 2-5) run by Hilda Manzanero and her assistant teacher, Delia. Together, they provide the kids with love, an amazing outdoor playspace, and 2 home cooked meals per day. The facility is immaculately kept, the kids are treated with kindness and respect, and are taught to treat others in kind. My daughter is so happy there, and we feel great while we are away. We also live in Rockridge (moved here after she'd been in school there for 6 months) - we explored schools closer to home, but ultimately feel the drive is worth it (Fruitvale exit off 580). It may not work for your commute, but I encourage you to check it out. Hours are 7:30-5pm, breakfast & lunch are home-cooked, and rates are very reasonable. You can check out a few new reviews on yelp - although Hilda's been running the school for 15 years on referrals only, there are many kids ''graduating'' to kindergarten next year, so she has a few openings. Simmin

Preschool or Daycare for 2 yr old near Richmond

Nov 2012

I am looking for full time care for my 2 year old son beginning sometime at the beginning of next year. We live in the Pinole/San Pablo/Richmond area, but will travel anywhere to El Cerrito or Hercules for the right place if it is relatively convenient to the freeway. My son has been going to a school for about 6 months, but it doesn't seem to fit quite right with his personality. It is play based, which we like in theory, but my son is a little reserved around other kids and with 12 other, mostly older, kids running around I think he kind of gets lost in the shuffle. We would like a smaller place with a low teacher to student ratio. We appreciate the Montessori philosophies and my son LOVES all kinds of music if there is anything available which incorporates those. He also always wants to be outside so we really want a place with a nice outdoor space where they spend lots of time. Lastly, we would like to find a place that is under $1,200/month if possible. I would love to hear any recommendations or if you think your daycare/school might be a good fit. Thanks so much! Searching for a Better Fit


Tati's Family Daycare (El Cerrito)

Spaces left in a nursery school that accepts 24 mo

Sept 2012

My family and I just moved into the area (Elmwood but ok to drive)and are looking for a space in a nursery school (preferably part time)for this fall. My daughter is just turning two and not potty trained. I would love a parent coop but I know that will be hard to find. Something somewhat affordable would be great but all the ones I love are not! I love Happy Baby in Elmwood and Happy together in Piedmont. Nia House looks great too. We're on all the waiting lists but it looks like slim pickings for the fall. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Hi, there are openings in the toddler program (called PACT, stands for Parents and Children Together) at Broadway Children's School in Oakland-children need to be 2 years old by December of the year they enroll, so it sounds like your child's age is right on. It is a co-op program and meets two days a week-- amazing staff and a great program. Your child definitely doesn't need to be potty-trained. It's in the Adams Point neighborhood, near Fairyland side of Lake Merritt. Call the school for a tour 510-763-9337 or check out their website The school has been around for almost 60 years and the current director for 20 years. The toddler program hasn't yet begun for the year, so you haven't missed anything. Highly recommend!!! Jennifer

Our 2-year-old daughter is starting Gay Austin next week and I know there are still openings. She isn't potty trained - and none of the 2-year-olds are. It's a little bit of a drive from the Elmwood (Gay Austin is over near Monterey Market) We've heard great things about the school and can't wait for her to start. Contact Pat Cosgrove at pcosgrove [at] John B.

Rockridge Little School on Taft is a charming pre-school that accepts 24 month old's. My son is 3 and is having a wonderful time at the school. The teachers are gems - they are very warm and diverse. The space is cozy and ample, toys are multi-sensory. There is always art, sports and circle time; they had near daily science projects going a few months ago which i hope continue. You might want to talk to the owner Holly about affording tuition Holly [at] It's worth it if you can swing it. happy mom

Part time pre school for two year olds in Alameda?

Feb 2012

Does anyone have a recommendation for a good part time (2-4 mornings a week) pre school in Alameda that takes two year olds? I'd love a school that is either exclusively part time or has a good number of students who leave at lunch so that my daughter isn't the only one being pulled away. Any leads/sharing of experiences at these schools would be much appreciated! anon

I think your options include ABC preschool [owner/teacher Karen is great, but the other teacher wasn't our style], rising star Montessori (cottage campus) - which people rave about but even though we could walk to it (huge plus) we gave the main campus on high street a try for 2 weeks and moved on - many different issues from not enough teacher communication for us, to basics like helping kids open lunch box containers - but, as I said, many people love it. I think Child Unique Montessori also takes 2 yr olds. Son light preschool also is half day. No matter what, please call licensing about any preschool you may consider sending your child to - I was very surprised by what I learned. -Good luck

Pre-K recommendation for outgoing, social 2 y.o.

Feb 2012

My daughter will be 2 in June and I am looking for the right preschool program for her to begin in the Fall. She is quite bright, outgoing, and curious about people and the world. She tends to jump in very quickly to new situations and really, really enjoys interacting with other children. She loves/needs big open spaces and she is very physically active. We are hoping to stay within Oakland where we live, and we need a full-time or 4-day program.

I am particularly stuck on this question of larger center vs. smaller home-based setting, and wondering what would be the best fit for her. I really see the advantages to both; and we've got so many great places around here to choose from... I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed! Any ideas or recommendations will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Skyline preschool would be good, but I believe they (and many preschools) only take kids from 2 yr 9 mos. You could call to check. Great outdoor area, multi-age, 1 classroom for around 34 kids. I would consider going with the larger school for a kid that is very social and loves interactions with others. That way there are more kids and more teachers to interact with, and also there may be more special activities with visiting people (like dance teacher etc). The other thing is after a few years at a school your child may get bored with the other kids, especially when she is the oldest level of kids, because the younger kids are fascinated by the older kids, but the older kids aren't that interested by the younger kids. Anyway, you are lucky to have a social kid, it will make preschool easier to adjust to, whereever you go. anon

Preschools in Oakland/Berkeley for 2-year olds?

Dec 2011

Does anyone know of preschools taking 2-year olds in the Oakland/Berkeley area? I know that there are many taking kids closer to 3. Any recommendations would be great. Thanks for your help! East Bay Mom

Many preschools start at two. A few examples: Small Size School (Bari Nelson's) in No. Berkeley and Rockridge Little School, Mills College, and Happy Together in Oakland.

Our daughter goes to Temple Sinai Preschool in Oakland at 28th and Broadway. Children need to be 2 to start, and don't need to be potty trained. We love it there, the teachers are fantastic and it's a wonderful community. Kia

I would recommend Wee Two Toddler House run by Sharon, near MLK & Cedar in Berkeley. She is a very sweet, caring grandmotherly figure who has up to 5 kids between 2-3 yrs old. It is perfect for a 2-yr old just starting out in an situation larger than individualized care, but perhaps still too young for full-fledged preschool. Kids have outside and inside time. She does lots of painting, rotates toys, has a small slide inside, has a medium-sized back yard with toys, swings, garden, etc. Happy Parent!

Happy Together Preschool in Piedmont is enrolling 2-year olds. You can check their website for details ( Their curriculum is AMAZING. I HIGHLY recommend them! (another East Bay Mom)

Our 2.5 year old goes to Boulevard Little People's Academy, off Grand Ave. in Oakland. We love it there! It has the advantages of both a daycare and a preschool, with kids of lots of different ages. They go on field trips, they have a great outdoor space, they do art projects almost every day, and she's even beginning to learn how to write her letters! Deltrina, the director, has been doing this for 35 years and she's amazing. Here's their website: Love Boulevard!

Looking for a small preschool for 2-year-old

August 2011

I'm looking for a small preschool in the North Oakland/South Berkeley area for my two year old daughter. She is young to start a preschool, I know, but she's eager for the whole classroom and peer experience and we think she's ready for it, especially if it's a small setting. We worry that with a day care, attention naturally is focused more on the infants, but most preschools I have looked at won't take her until she is at least two and a half. Any recommendations would be appreciated. Dad looking for preschool

Check out Little Village in Albany. Both my kids started right around 2, and had great experiences there. I actually appreciate it more now, in retrospect, knowing how well my kids transitioned into their Berkeley public elementary school. Small, cost-friendly, mixed-ages pre-school with flexible, caring and experienced teachers. Doesn't necessarily show well - it's an older facility - but definitely pulls through on the things that count. Happy Little Village alum

Check the Model School . They have a toddler class. maguilo

I would recommend looking at Happy Together Preschool . My three-year old son is enrolled there and has classmates who have just turned two. The directors of the school are able to give focused attention to every single child and actually plan their curriculum according to the children's interests. They helped us with an easy transition from home-care to school setting, including potty training support. Since starting, my son has learned to play cooperatively with his peers, recognize and express his feelings, draw shapes, sing, and appreciate science and nature. The best part is that my son genuinely enjoys going to school. It's wonderful & I highly recommend it. Orinda mom.

Cozy, fun preschool for 2-year-old

April 2010

I'd like to find a warm, play-based preschool for my 2-year-old daughter in the fall. I live in Central Berkeley, and work in West Berkeley, and I'm hoping to find somewhere close by. But if you love a school that's a little farther away, I'd be interested to hear about it, too. My daughter has been with her grandmother and a babysitter until now, so this would be her first transition to a larger group of kids. Thanks so much!

Please consider Skytown , a parent cooperative preschool in Kensington. Cozy and fun certainly describe this play-based cooperative preschool! I have been very pleased with the warm and supportive atmosphere and it was a wonderful transition for my son who had been home full time up to the time we started. Check out the website and call to schedule a tour if interested. There are still summer and fall openings. Amy

Children's Garden Montessori is in El Cerrito and based on my experience from 2001-2008 I recommend it highly. All three of my children went there.

When I first started looking it ended up being the only place I looked! My initial feel of the place just said, ''YES.'' It is not ''state-of-the-art'' and is totally NOT fancy. It is run out of the home of one of the kindest, gentlest people you could ever hope to cross paths with... Alaina Benner.

All of the kids are happy. When we were there the teachers were so loving and nurturing. Whenever someone needed to be held there were open arms ready to hold him or her. It is loosely based on Montessori principles. There is a great outside space for the kids to play and have lunch.. big bunny pen, great play structure, ride-on toys, sand for digging. Lots of fun ''works'' for the kids to experiment with and learn from inside.

Do check it out... worth the drive. We initially were commuting from Point Richmond and then moved. For my third child we were commuting to Children's Garden in El Cerrito from Rockridge! When my fourth is old enough, she will attend as well.

Alaina's number is 510 232-3089. (oh, and I just checked... a few recent good recs on BPN!) Marjorie

Sunshine Play School Great school, a nice number of kids in the age range you are looking for (2-3 yo along with some older-they take up to 5), really attuned to the needs of the little ones- always have fun activities/themes for the month along with field trips. Rates and other info on website is about 6-7 miles from N. Berkeley-off the Arlington or if you take 80 E- it would be the Solano exit. It is really worth checking out! Good luck:) anon

We've been very happy with Heart's Leap North , on Cedar Street between Oxford and Spruce, in Berkeley. Our son, now 3.5, started when this new campus opened in Fall 2008. The school is cozy - only two classrooms, each with 18-22 students, depending on the ages, with 3 teachers in each room. The days are very playful, fun, and exciting. The teachers are wonderful professionals, very warm, and highly skilled in encouraging the children's interests and teaching important social skills, like how to enter into play with others, and how to speak kindly to each other. The children and teachers all refer to each other as ''friends'', and it really is true. Our shy son has made wonderful friends there. The school is open 8:30am-5:30pm, but there are a variety of options for pick-up times (12:30 for 2-year-olds only, 2:30pm, 4pm, or 5:30pm), an option for 2 emergency early drop-offs a month at an additional charge, and 4 days a week is also an option. The school provides healthy snacks, and parents provide lunches. Naptime is well managed - my son who refuses naps at home still naps at school almost every day. If you have other questions, feel free to contact me. There are just a couple of spots left, in the younger classroom. Good luck with your search. daria

Part-time two's program in Oakland?

Nov 2009

I'm interested in putting my son into a part time preschool program in the fall for socialization, he will be two in July. My 4 year old daughter attends a preschool full time which starts at 2.9 mos. I am open to either a drop off or parent accompanied program, preferably in the mornings. Is there anything like this out there? We are located in Montclair/Oakland.

Check out Broadway Children's School ''PACT'' program. We did this with both our children and feel like it was one of the best things we did (both times!). The website is: heidi

Culturally diverse Part-time preschool in El Cerrito/Albany?

August 2009

We are looking for a culturally diverse pre school for our almost 2-year-old son. Most of the ones we have heard of don't allow you to sign up for part time. Ideally it would be a place where he could go 3-4 hours a day a few days a week. Any ideas? D

You should check out Skytown Preschool . It's in the region of the El Cerrito hills. They have a toddler (2's) room and it is a fantastic son went there and loved it! It is a coop, but you can buy out of whatever you don't want to do... Happy Skytown Mama

For a culturally diverse, loving and nurturing environment, I am happy to recommend Rising Sun Montessori on the El Cerrito/Albany border near Memorial Park. My son enjoyed his two years there very much, meeting friends from India, Brazil and Venezuela. His teachers, Carolina and Reina, also incorporated Spanish words and phrases into their daily routine. My son attended school three days per week for a full day, though many children came for shorter times - until 12:30 and some until 3:00pm. Rising Sun is a very happy place and the children really enjoy the very large yard with a log cabin playhouse, swingset, sandbox and veggie garden. Their number is 510-528-6041. Happy Rising Sun parent

Programs for 2-year-olds in Oakland area?

May 2003

My daughter is not even one but I expect I should get her on the wait list for some good two year old programs soon... I'll need care 2 -3 full days per week. We live in Temescal so Rockridge, North Oakland, Montclair, Piedmont, South Berkeley are preferable. If you can wholeheartedly recommend a place please let us know! Thanks

Recommendations received: