Shining Star Schoolhouse
El Cerrito, CA
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RE: Preschool for 2.5 y.o with fall openings
I'd recommend looking into Shining Star Schoolhouse for your little boy. My son started at 2 and we've all loved his years there (he's 4 now and will be there until Kindergarten). The owner has a son as well and so is great with boys. They are located across the street from a park and they also play in the small backyard. There are no animals and because it is a small pre-school, no gymnastics or special music teacher. But they sing and dance, have both Spanish and Chinese lessons, and do a lot of great art projects with recycled materials. They go on weekly nature walks, occasional field trips, and have special guests (firemen, dentist, naturalists). I would highly recommend this small, play-based, home-based pre-school. I feel so lucky that my son was able to grow in such a loving and stimulating environment! http://shiningstarschoolhouse.com/ Good luck! Maybe we'll see you at Shining Star in the Fall! El Cerrito mom
Hello parents. I've been researching daycares and pre-schools and was wondering if anyone has any reviews on Shining Star Schoolhouse in El Cerrito. Their website seems very high end and their school sounds amazing but I can't find any reviews on the school. If anyone knows anything about this place I'd love to hear about it. Worried Mom
My son has been going to Shining Star since they opened (and had been at a daycare with the owner, Preeya before then). We love Shining Star, the staff, the other children and the other parents. My four-year old asks to stay longer rather than go home early with his grandparents (who spoil him terribly!).
There is a monthly curriculum plan, menu, and newsletter so parents can stay involved and see the diverse activities being planned. They have very clever and cute art projects made from recycled materials which my son is very proud to bring home. And I love that they use recycled materials and that they have unique charm which shows me that Preeya spends a lot of time thinking about the kids, their skills, and finding activities rather than using off-the-shelf arts projects. They also learn letters, numbers, Spanish and Mandarin as part of their morning activities.
The children are well-behaved and learn a lot of manners. I am utterly amazed when I see the children sit at the table and eat all of their fruits, vegetables, before the birthday treats. Most still nap or rest after lunch, even the four-year olds and this is much appreciated! The space is nice and the staff rotate toys, music, and themes to keep everything fresh for the kids.
I find Shining Star to be a very loving place and the other families are exactly the kind of people I'd like to have my son around. I work full-time and feel fortunate that I've found a situation for my son where I am completely worry-free and guilt-free. happy Shining Star parents
Hi Worried Parent, My daughter has been going to Shining Star for 14 months now and she absolutely loves it. What I really like about it: 1) the physical environment is awesome - the indoor space has lots of natural light (little/no flourescent lighting) and is cheerily decorated and very well organized; there is very nice backyard for them to play in, and a park directly across the house where they can run around and climb on the structures. 2) teachers are very loving and dedicated, and they keep it small - i don't think I have seen more than 8 children on a given day, so kids get a lot of individual attention. 3) They go on field trips or nature walks on Wednesdays, and do a lot of creative art projects. They get either spanish or mandarin lessons every day (or most days). 4) Lunch is provided which is the best thing in the world. Sometimes the kids get to help in making their lunch pizza. Preeya (the owner) is also a great cook (Thai), and shares recipes in the monthly newsletters. Occasionally she organises a parents' night out where you can drop your kid off at 6 (or just leave them at the end of the day) and pick the up at 9 for something like $20 and they get fed dinner. And of course they learn their letters and numbers, get read stories, etc. Preeya is also open to feedback and suggestions. I would encourage you to contact them and schedule a tour and see for yourself. Feel free to contact me too. Swee
I can tell you something about Shining Star Schoolhouse. After a disappointing experience at another preschool, I was a little worried about finding a preschool for my 2 yo son that we would feel good about. However, from the first visit, I had no more worries! When we were visiting, Preeya (the Director) was observing our son play. After just 30 minutes, she knew more about him than the other preschool that had spent months with him! My son is an active charmer that needs help understanding what the boundaries are. He is smart and gets bored easily. I was worried that we wouldn't find a place where he would feel good about himself. But my son LOVED it from the start! Preeya really sees each child as an individual and helps them bring out their strengths. I couldn't be happier! My son, now 3, knows all his colors in English and Spanish, is learning Chinese, can spell his name, knows all his shapes, and is learning his numbers and his letters. He sits and participates in circle time because he wants to. All that has been through play! I love that she keeps the numbers low, instead of trying to cram every child in. The kids have plenty of room to play. They learn to take responsibility for themselves. They do art every day. There are visitors, like the El Cerrito Fire Department. They eat a homemade lunch and snack every day. They can play in the back and usually go across the street to a wonderful little park to ride trikes and climb the play structure. There's a real sense of family there. We're the new kids on the block, and everyone has been so nice. The older kids (4) help the younger kids learn what to do. Preeya has such a gentle, loving nature. The other teachers are wonderful too - so attentive and caring. I know that they love every child there, and I feel I can trust them. Preeya sends pictures sometimes of my sweet boy napping or playing, and there's a calendar so we all know what the kids will be doing and eating each day. I can't recommend it enough. You are welco! me to contact me directly with any other questions you have. Or give Preeya a call and schedule a visit. Hope you can join us! I'm definitely a Happy Shining Star Schoolhouse Mom! Lynne
We loooove Shining Star Schoolhouse! It's very relaxed and Preeya, who runs the place out of her home, is fantastic. I was actually sending my son to a daycare she was helping to run. She was my son's favorite person at the daycare and he looooooved going to see Preeya. I always felt really secure sending him, knowing she was there. I was thrilled when she decided to open her own preschool and enrolled him from day one.
Preeya genuinely loves the kids and sees them all as unique individuals with their own strengths, and she encourages them in ways that suit each child. My son is high-energy and I knew he was at risk for being labeled a ''problem child'' because he will often refuse to participate. Preeya understood immediately that he really just needs time to sit back and take in the situation before joining on his own, and she allowed him the space to do that rather than pushing him to participate.
Also, Preeya is constantly looking for new ways to improve and expand her school. Since we started, they have added both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese instruction. We're mono-lingual in our household so I really appreciate having my kid exposed to different languages.
Preeya is also really great about having a flexible schedule. She's always happy to let me put my son in for an extra day here and there as the need arises, and she's also cool with him only attending part time. Although we haven't taken advantage of it, they also organize parents night out once in a while.
Overall, the preschool is great little community and I feel like my kid is allowed to be who he is while being encouraged to learn what he needs for kindergarten. The other parents are great, too - relaxed and pretty laid back, just like us. Nikki H
My now 4yr old son has been at Shining Star five days per week since Preeya first opened the preschool in 2012. Shining Star has been a wonderful place for my son to grow and develop. Preeya truly loves the children, you see it every morning when she greets the kids and in their desire to be near her. Preeya has worked very hard to develop a program in which the children are exposed to multiple learning opportunities: daily art projects, kindergarten preparation (i.e. number & letter recognition and writing), weekly nature walks, Spanish & Mandarin teachers, yoga, cooking, field trips to the Recycling center, visits from the fire department, dentist, police department and park rangers - mixed with lots of free/imaginative play both inside and out. The park, literally across the street, is wonderful and when the weather is good they spend time there everyday and even walk to Tassajara Park regularly. Additionally, Preeya provides healthy home cooked snacks and lunch. But most importantly, the children are treated with love, compassion and respect - and the children treat each other similarly. Discipline is done with a gentle touch - absolutely no yelling, just patience and soft insistence, always with a smile. It's abundantly clear how completely safe all the children feel there, especially in Preeya's presence. And since the program is small, there is very personal attention paid to each child's needs. Shining Star has been a wonderfully nurturing place for our little boy where he has not only developed his initial academic skills, but has developed a strong sense of compassion and respect for others. Happy Mom
My family loves Shining Star Schoolhouse! The Director and Owner Preeya is absolutely wonderful! There are 2 other teachers who are also amazing. Preeya definately goes above and beyond to make my daughter feel welcome and most importantly she feels safe. She is willing to work with my schedule and my needs as a working parent, which makes my life that much easier. At Shining Star Schoolhouse my daughter is engaged from the minute she walks through the door to the minute she leaves. Which at times she wants to stay. Shining Star arranges for special guests and visitors to the school. Recently the children had a visit from the El Cerrito Fire Department. Which they LOVED! The children learn foreign language (two to be exact) make cute and fun art projects and have cooking lessons were they help prepare a healthy and yummy snack. The lunch and snacks Shining Star provides are always homemade, natural organic foods. I adore Preeya and Shining Star Schoolhouse! My daughter will start Kindergarten in the fall and I am confident she is prepared and ready for school, THANKS to Shining Star Schoolhouse. My daughter has been with Preeya since she was about 2.5 years old, and she loves Preeya. And, that makes me happy and relieved knowing my daughter is happy, nurtured, engaged and loves learning new things. I highly recommend checking out Shining Star Schoolhouse for yourself! Sandy Y.