Child Unique Montessori Encinal

Alameda, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

DSS Facility License #: 
Sherlinda (Cindy) Acker
510. 521.9227
enrollment [at]
2226 Encinal Ave.
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
36 months - 72 months
Editors' Notes: 

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Dec 2007

Re: Rising Star Montessori and Child Unique in Alameda
My son was also at a play based preschool, which we both really loved, but I decided to give Child Unique a try. I'm definitely glad I did - he was running wild with a pack of boys at the play based pre-school, and now Child Unique helps him focus, and he finally plays with the girls! I like that it's really multi-ethnic (my son's first girlfriend is French), and the staff are very attentive and keep the kids doing their ''works''. The only bummer is that at the Encinal campus, the play structure is broken - so the kids have to run around it. I hope they get it fixed soon, that will make it perfect. My son laments the rule against playing superheroes. I secretly cheer it - at least there are a few days a week he's not Batman. He does miss the anarchy of the play based preschool, but I know that true anarchists need to learn discipline to be effective agents of change :-) and I'm a montessori kid too! Jennifer

March 2007

We are considering sending our almost 3 year old to Child Unique Montessori in Alameda. Does anybody have experience with this Pre-School? or children that currently attend? Thanks! Anon

My older child is in his second year at The Child Unique and my younger will attend in the Fall. I really like the school. The teachers and staff are, by and large, very hardworking and caring and they really make an effort to communicate and keep things flowing. The director is involved in all aspects of the school (my child wanted to bring her a gift when we came back from a trip which tells me that she has made an impression in the classroom). I too have heard some complaints but personally believe people are too critical ... none of us are perfect and the little things I've heard have not been significant to me (of course, everyone is different). The most difficult thing was last year when some of the parents didn't like that one of the teachers was Spanish-only speaking. It resulted in her not coming back this year and a rough start with finding a teacher for that class. Frankly, I am disappointed as I think it would have been great for my kids(s) to be exposed to this type of language immersion. I can only imagine how hard it must be to run a preschool and try to keep the staff, children, and parents happy ... the latter being the most difficult. However, I am confident that my children will be encouraged to learn and well-taken care of when they are there. Child Unique Mom

My child was briefly enrolled at Child Unique and we found it was not for us. That is not to say, however, that it won't be the right choice for you. In my own experience, I am used to ''play based'' preschool programs, and the curriculum/atmosphere at Child Unique is the opposite end of the spectrum. If you haven't already, I would suggest visiting a variety of different preschools before deciding if Montessori or specifically Child Unique is right for you.

The greatest differences I noticed were as follows.... The atmosphere at Child Unique is extremely formal and low-key. Teachers greet the kids by shaking their hands and by formal introduction. Parents are not allowed to linger in the classroom - on my child's first day, I was made to sit on a chair just outside the classroom door, and could not enter the room. There is little emphasis on social interaction, except for play outside, where the children roam and play freely with teachers acting as observers. There are no dress-up clothes, no art station/easel, no water play, no sand play, and no plastic toys (except for a bucket of legos and a toy kitchen outside). I like many of the Montessori materials, however they leave no room for creative freedom, they are result-driven and there is only one right answer. They are very strict on formalities and customs - this dictates everything from how the teachers sit on the floor, to the way they roll their carpets or mats, to the way the children are expected to sit (extremely important to sit cross- legged at circle time, do NOT walk across the circle, walk AROUND, walk with your hands behind your back when you are going outside, etc.) Even with the two year olds, these rules are expected - the teachers' response is ''You would be surprised what can be expected from your children''. happy I looked elsewhere

Hi there, Just thought I would share our experience at Child Unique. I think finding just the right place for your child can be difficult and stressful so having lots of input can't hurt! My son was at the Pacific site last year as a 2 year old, two days a week. We ultimately determined that Child Unique was not the right environment for him/our family and he did not go back this year. There is a broad spectrum on which Montessori schools appear to be based from what I have seen (there are many Montessori schools in Alameda - all very different). Child Unique is definitely of the more traditional, strict Montessori style. I highly recommend that you go and observe several different Montessori schools so you can see it in action.

At Child Unique, I believe they have several very good teachers (we loved my son's teacher) and the program is also very good, well thought out. I also know from parents at the Encinal site, that when the older kids go off to Kindergarten they are extremely well prepared. All good things. Unfortunately I don't believe the school is run well (this is a huge understatement on my part!). There are bound to be problems and inconsistencies, miscommunications, etc. at any school but having been through a few different preschool environments with my children, this was by far the most problematic. It even reached a point, with so much staff turn-around and general havoc last year, that I felt my son was unsafe (none of the teachers present when I picked him up one day even knew his name!). I met directly with his teacher and she agreed to stay until pick up when he was there which worked for us personally so we stayed the remaider of the year but it was not a systemic solution which was obviously needed.

But like I said, there are many positives so even with all the above, the biggest reason we did not stay at Child Unique was because we ''did not feel the love''. By that I mean, there was no greeting and obvious pleasure at seeing your child when arriving, no sweet loving relationships among the children, no general feeling of happiness and well-being. I missed that from our other preschool experiences and since he was still quite young (2-3) it seemed much more important to me than learning letter sounds at that stage of his little life. Good luck in your search... Former CU Mom

Jan 2006

My son started at Child Unique in the Fall when he was 2 1/2 and we have been very happy with it. The staff is very well trained and many of the teachers have been there for a long time, which is a good sign. They are also good at communicating ... the director even asks for contacts and holds regular parent meetings that offer helpful and interesting parenting advice. My son had a hard time adjusting at first (and the staff was very supportive and patient) but since then has done really well. He is very verbal and his language skills and vocabulary have continued to expand. His curiosity has also been challenged. The other parents and children are also interested and interesting. I looked at a lot of preschools and essentially my final choice was based on a ''gut'' feeling. So far, I couldn't be happier.

Feb 2005

Does anyone have any experience with The Child Unique Montessori School in Alameda? There is no mention of them in the archives, even though they've been around for a while. I'm considering them for my soon-to-be 2 year old. Thanks! maya

I have recently posted a few times for Child Unique, in response to more general adivce about Alameda pre-schools. I too was suprised not to find any info on Child Unique when we were searching for schools.

Our daughter attends Child Unique and we could not be happier. The teachers are talented, loving, experienced, and supported by the administratrion (as best I can tell). The school just had a grandparent tea for which the students happily prepared for weeks (made invitations, walked to mailbox to mail them, practiced greeting guests). It was a big deal and my mom said it was a lovely event! The communication between the school are families is wonderful-- done through multiple modes including notes on sign in board, in parent folders, informally during drop off and pickup time, at parent conferences every quarter. I'm happy to share other details. Feel free to email or call at 769-8769. I know many other happy Child Unique families... they just don't appear to be part of this network. Jen

Re: Looking for an Alameda preschool (Jan 2005)
Our daughter started at Child Unique Montessori in September. We are very happy there. The staff is very loving and seems to be quite stable (some teachers have been there 10+ years). Our daughter fell in love with one teacher immediatly whom she clung to for the first few weeks but has since bonded to the others as well. The school is extrememely well-run from an administrative standpoint (great communication, lots of info flowing to parents). There are parent-teacher conferences every qurater where you get time to talk about your child and share information with the teachers-- and lots of informal exchanges during dropoffs and pickups. We've had issue come up where we witnessed repeated interactions between our child and another child that we didn't like (teasing, etc) and we talked to the director and teachers. The entire staff has been extremeley responsive... and I think the situation as truly improved for the kids. The school felt a bit too academic to me initially (but not to my husband), but my daugther seems to enjoy it so I've calmed down. We are really enjoying getting to know the community of children and parents at the school. Check it out! There are two campuses-- we're at Encinal but I've heard great things about Pacific as well. Feel free to email if you'd like more info from a parent's perspective Jen

Re: Preschool in Alameda or Downtown Oakland (Sept 2004)
We just started a preschool in Alameda and have been very happy so far. It's Child Unique Montessori. There are two campuses- we are at the Encinal cite. The teachers are very loving and gentle and the director impressed us as very knowledgable, kind and dedicated to her school. Our teacher, Versie, has been there for 15 years or so. The staff is certainly racially/ethnically diverse (and there are men on the staff which we really liked). The families are also racially/ethincially diverse (perhaps not as much as the staff) and the school makes a big point of welcoming all families-- regardless of race/ethnicity, language, structure, sexual orrientation. Our dauther is very happy to go there in the morning. They have wonderful activities for the kids-- including making pastports for the kids and they learn about different regions every few weeks and get their pastport stamped as the ''visit'' the area. My daughter has been very happy to go each morning, but by the afternoon she has started to miss us. I really appreciate how the staff has handled that-- helped her to call us on the phone, let her pick out a special thing to hold (and take home!) and generally try to engage in a new activity. By the time I've arrived to pick her up she doesn't want to leave. The families are very friendly and we've alreday been invited to people's homes. We are excited to have joined this community. They have a great website: Jen