Dandelion Cooperative Nursery SchoolCommunity Subscriber
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My 4 1/2 year old daughter is in her second year at Dandelion Nursery School, and we have plans for our 1 1/2 year old daughter to follow in her footsteps. I cannot rave enough about the school - the incredible indoor and outdoor space, the thoughtful and enriching learning environment, the two talented teachers, and an engaged and supportive community of parents. This school has been great for us, but it would not work for everyone. The school is only open from 8:30-2:00, has limited summer session, and has participation and other work obligations for parents. (Although these co-op responsibilities are time consuming, they are also enriching for the parents.) Some families only have one working parent or when both parents work, one at least has a flexible schedule or extended family and/or other caregivers help out. My husband and I both work, and it is definitely a juggle for us. With that said, the lower tuition and all the other aspects of the school (previously described) make it well worth it. I am grateful for the school - for the foundation it is giving my daughter and for the support it has provided us as parents. Liz
Re: Pros & Cons of Parent Co-ops
Our son attends a co-op preschool in Berkeley, Dandelion Nursery School, and we couldn't be happier there. Even absent the tuition savings (which are considerable), we would want our son to go to Dandelion -- the space is beautiful and full of opportunities for exploration, the teachers are warm and responsive, and we have joined a supportive, diverse, and interesting community. The time-commitment, however, is not negligible. In addition to volunteering at the school 2-3 times a month, we also have a family job that takes up 5-10 hours a month, and we are expected to be involved in various work days and fund raisers throughout the year. My spouse loves volunteering at the school, and the events are fun and worthwhile, but it can be a lot to juggle. If both my spouse and I worked full-time, I'm not sure we could make it work. In our case, though, there is no question that the co-op experience has been worth it. Happy co-oper
We are considering Dandelion Preschool and would love to hear from any parents whose children attend or attended in recent years. I'd love to hear the pros and cons you have experienced. Specifically, I would love to hear about the atmosphere with all 24 children. Is it craziness, do the children get attention and guidance from the teachers. Is there any bullying and how is conflict resolved (meaning who handles it). What role does the parent play in the classroom in resolving issues with the child conflicts and do they participate in teaching on any level. Also, do you feel the school prepares the children enough for kindergarden. Are there any teacher led/directed activities or is it all just child directed play. Please feel free to share your thoughts on these or any other things you feel important to know.
The enriching experience my family had at Dandelion was the very best thing that could ever have happened for us. It's been said also that Dandelion kids adjust more easily transitioning into school. The concept of learning through play is simply the most beneficial environment for children. The play areas both indoors and outdoors are pleasant, comforting and safe. Participating parents provide supplies and keep watch over the various activity stations. During our generation, founders Bonnie & Sandra provided the guidance and kept the schedule flowing gracefully. And the kids spend time together in appropriate age groups, so they are steered gently toward the next step of entering kindergarten. The things I myself learned from Dandelion in terms of community, friends and family transformed my life and gave me a brilliant understanding of parenting. I highly recommend Dandelion Cooperative Preschool. Good Luck
I noticed that there is only 1 review of Dandelion since 2005, and I wondered if anyone who recently has had a child attend there could give a review of how they liked it, pros and cons, how they chose it, or any other information for an interested mom. Many thanks! Searching for preschool
Hi, I am a current parent at Dandelion Co-op with my younger child, and my older child also attended Dandelion. The short answer is that we love it and will really miss the school and the community when we leave. I have learned so much as a parent at Dandelion, my older son was well-prepared to negotiate elementary school, and my younger son is currently thriving.
My older child's teachers were Bonnie Hester and Sandra Easley who retired recently after 30+ years at Dandelion, leaving some very big (and wonderful) shoes to fill. My younger child has the new director/teacher Abby Pletcher and new teacher Sonia Rawal, and we are extremely happy with them both as teachers and as part of the co-op community. They continue to provide the play-based, developmental curriculum, thoughtfully chosen materials and activities, skillful experience dealing with young children's social/emotional development, and have also added their own unique perspectives to Dandelion.
My experience at Dandelion is that it is rarely chaotic, but is full of active and engaged children freely choosing what they'd like to do both indoors and out. The inside space is open and expansive with plenty of places for block building, dramatic play, playdough and art, or reading books in our new loft. The yard is where the children ride bikes, swing on the tire swing, dig, play at the cool water table, garden, play house in the little red house, etc. The only down side is that because we are a small co-op (about 35 families), we generally don't have a lot of openings each year. Thanks for giving me a chance to rave about Dandelion! Dandelion fan
We are a multi-cultural two mom family who would like to see more lgbt and families of color in our co-op community. One of our teachers is part of a two mom family and there is a fair amount of cultural, economic and age diversity. Our experience at Dandelion has been positive - we have felt welcomed and are enjoying the other parents and we'd love to welcome other lgbt and families of color. We'd be happy to talk with prospective families with questions about the school. carmels-mom
We are curently looking at two cooperative preschool programs for our daughter to begin fall 2005. The two are Dandelion in Berkeley and Albany Preschool. We would appreciate hearing from parents who have sent their kids to either school in the past few years. What have been your experiences either positive or negative? Any advice would be helpful. Robin
Hi - we are considering Dandelion co-op in Berkeley for next fall. Our daughter, generally on the quieter side, will be 3 1/2. There are a few old recs, but I'd love to hear from anybody who has been there recently. thanks!
We are a current family at Dandelion. We chose it because of the idyllic setting. It's everything a kid could want. Free time to explore inside or outside, build, paint, read, dress up. And, the most caring teachers! Bonnie and Sandra really get what goes on in a kid's head.
Co-ops, in general, I think offer a much more intimate experience. You get a community of dedicated people who want their kids to have a warm and caring experience that involves parents, not just a hired staff. You, as an adult, get to know the other kids and their parents in more than just a ''Hi, good morning'' way.
But, it is a lot of work. Most co-ops have family jobs, clean-up sessions and meetings. Make sure that you are willing and able to put in the time required to do your part at the school. It is a lot different than just writing a check for tuition once-a-month! But, the rewards of the co-op community more than outweigh the extra time you put into it. A Dandelion Parent
My daughter is in her second year at Dandelion and I think it is a great school. Alina was the second youngest kid when she started last year (2.9 years), but the school has so many different things to engage kids of all levels and interests that it was never an issue. She spent the first several months just experiencing the materials - painting on a whim, doing manipulatives, poking at play dough, making art projects, doing cooking projects, and looking at the science table. She really didn't even venture outside much or into the block room until later. Those were the areas where the older, louder, more rambunctious kids played mostly, and the areas where I tended not to work on my participation days, but now she loves the tire swing more than anything and builds cool block structures. She started making connections with other children after a few months, and became part of a threesome of girls that ruled the dress up area. It was great to be a part of her learning to interact and play in different ways and with different people. She still is shy around louder kids and boys, but I like how the teachers noticed that and are encouraging her to see that she has a lot in common with them as well.
I have to say that the co-op thing has been a valuable learning experience for me as a first time parent. I learn a lot from the parent meetings where we go over childhood development issues, and also from the daily wrap-up meetings on participation days. I work almost full-time, and I think I am in the minority there, but we make the time commitment work. The benefits of a co-op outweigh the challenges for me and for what I think is the best environment for my daughter. I haven't been as able to participate in the play dates and larger sense of parent community as I would like to, but I am on the board now (in my second year) and I really like being part of that and having the scrip job, which helps raise money for the school. Other benefits are the teachers, Bonnie and Sandra, and the fact that having 4 parents there every day makes a great adult:kid ratio. There is a premium placed on not intervening or disrupting play, but in providing materials, ensuring safety, and helping resolve conflicts when necessary. I am amazed at the growth I have seen in many of the kids, and at the nurturing and patience I see time and time again in the culture of the school. That's my $.02. I can't compare this experience to other schools, co-op or not, I just know that I think this is a really good school. Good luck in your search! Dandelion Parent, Janine
I have 2 children who graduated from Dandelion and 1 there currently -- it is an AMAZING place!!! The teachers (Bonnie and Sandra) have been there since their own children were preschoolers and - most importantly - they love and pour themselves into each child. They recognize and work with every child's individual strengths and weaknesses, they get to know the entire family, they are always available to talk or give their expert advice on parenting. By volunteering, you as a parent get to know the other children and families and gain a deep appreciation of your own child and his/her needs and personality. We've been involved with coop preschooling for over 10 years and there is no better coop preschool in this area than Dandelion. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Marguerita
Dandelion Coop nursery school is an amazing and very special place. The community is lovingly led by a director/teacher (Bonnie Hester) and a teacher (Sandra Easley), each of whom have been with the school for at least 25 years, beginning as parents with children in the school. Together they have created a program and an environment which nurtures children's curiosity, sense of wonder, and individual needs. It is a play- based curriculum allowing children to play indoors or outdoors with a full range of toys and equipment designed and presented especially for the 3-5 set. Art materials are available all the time and a special art project is presented daily. The coop runs with the two teachers and 4 parents with 24 kids daily. It is a 9am-12pm program with extended care beginning at 8 and lasting until 2 daily. Families work in the classroom about 2 days per month if your child goes 2x/week, 3 days per month if your child goes 3x/week, etc. Also families each have a school job, such as gardening, maintenance, bunny-care, laundering, supply-shopping, etc. I have 2 boys, one in kindergarten who did 2 years at Dandelion and one currently in his first of two years at Dandelion. They're fairly different and I feel incredibly lucky to have found this school and think it is the perfect place for our familiy - indeed that seems to be what everyone says. I love being involved in my child's first experience in school and I am continuing to learn so much from the other parents and the teachers about kids and raising them. Dandelion is a magical place full of thriving children and devoted parents all led by experienced, loving and active teachers. I recommend it highly. It's the greatest! Sharon
Our soon-to-be-five-year-old is enjoying his second year at Dandelion and he and the rest of his family love, love, love it there! If we had no limits to our family budget, we would still go there. The Director and Teacher have about half a century of experience between them of nurturing and facilitating the growth of young children. Their own children's childhoods were enriched by going to Dandelion. They have genuine love, care and presence for the preschoolers. Both of them are intelligent, articulate, earnest, gentle, patient, creative and fun. The whole family feels welcome. Parents grow to become better parents from observing Bonnie's and Sandra's interactions and relationships with the children. We also learn from them directly as they share their wisdom, insights and experiences at monthly meetings. Both are active in professional development. They help youngsters and their parents celebrate growth and achievement as well as encourage us through challenges. There's a beautiful new playgound and the rooms of the school are big, clean, well-lit and airy. Art supplies, musical instruments, large motor toys, building implements, small motor activities, dramatic play items, writing center materials, science table experiments, etc. are abundant, attractive and accessible. A snake, rabbit, group of fish, collection of walking stick insects and silkworms are some of the permanent classroom residents. Children are able to go about their business of enjoying their childhoods. Through PLAY, the Dandelion children develop their talents in and exposures to social skills, problem-solving, pre-reading, pre-writing, pre-math, science, social studies, music, art and more. The community of families there is a warm, helpful and dedicated one. Again, we love it there! It's complete--the only thing missing is your child and your family! (We almost want to have more children just so that we can extend our tenure there)! Alicia
This is our second year at Dandelion and we could not be happier. My son was also very shy starting pre-school. The teachers are pros at helping the new kids feel comfortable. I still feel so lucky every morning that i drop him off at Dandelion. a Dandelion mom
I recently told a friend that our family has two magical gifts right now: our financial advisor and Dandelion Nursery School. Our daughter, also 3 1/2 and on the quieter side, started this fall, and we LOVE Dandelion! Bonnie and Sandra are so grounded, knowledgeable, experienced, calm, and generous. They give the kids time, and space, and then at just the right moments, they just sort of appear and with this amazing grace and ease, they nudge children forward, and help kids learn to navigate through their own individual challenges. Dandelion's kids aren't being ''taught'' and instructed from the outside. (As an educator, I can tell you, there will be more than enough of that to come.) I believe our children are being given what all kids need more of: the space to discover and develop their own sense of self, and their own interests.
I'm also better parent thanks to Bonnie and Sandra. Through their amazing modeling, participation day wrap-up sessions, monthly parent meetings, and impromptu help, they guide the parents with just as much wisdom and grace as they do our kids. Other wonderful things about Dandelion: the other families, the other kids, the genuine community, and the opportunity to participate with and learn from one another.
Dandelion is one of Berkeley's best kept secrets. I didn't know it from the brief walk-through. It was really a leap of faith one of the best I've ever taken. Melissa
Re: Co-ops with more hours
Dandelion Nursery School is a co-op that allows up to 5 days a week from 9 to 12 with the option of starting at 8:30 and extended care until 2 for an extra charge. My daughter is in her second year there, and it's absolutely wonderful. Maria Jan 2002
Regarding Preschool for child with developmental delays
A friend with a daughter who has down syndrome looked very extensively found that Dandelion Coop were very good dealing with delays and warmly welcoming to her.
RE: Montclair Schools
The other pre-school that I was impressed by is a co-operative in Berkeley called Dandelion (I realize that this is quite a commute for a Montclair parent, but...). The teachers have been there for a long long time and they are so wonderful and knowledgeable! I chose this school for my daughter and she is thriving. Parents participate daily, and there is a wonderful feeling of community with all of the families. The telephone number is 526-1735. When you walk into this old building, you will find very happy and busy kids! Thomas
My son's preschool, Dandelion Coop, has openings for Fall 1997 for kids who will be 3.5 and older by September. Dandelion is located near Solano and The Alameda in Berkeley. David has been there for two years, and it is a wonderful school. The two teachers there have been teaching together at Dandelion for more than 15 years, and are really caring and intelligent women. The head teacher is doing graduate work in Early Childhood Education. Usually, Dandelion is full by now (for the following year), but this year due to an accident of demographics (lots of kids are going to Kindergarten), there are some spaces for older kids. Lindsay
Just wanted to agree with Lindsay and put in a word of support for Dandelion Coop. Both my kids went there and loved it. (I was involved there for 5 years in a row.) It won't work for families with two full-time working parents (unless there is a care-taker in the afternoon) because their regular program ends at 12:00 (12:30?) and "extended hours" end at 2:00. BUT - if you are a parent who works part-time and you would like to be involved in your child's pre-school world, this place is GREAT. (I'll bet the teachers have been there more than 15 years since I remember hearing that years ago.)
Dandelion was not only a good school - for our family it became a community of friends that has lasted...going on 10 years since we started there. My daughter was fortunate to have five of her Dandelion friends move on with her to Jefferson School and she is still BEST friends with all of them. (And as a result I am still close to their moms.) My son still wanted to "be at Dandelion" until the end of 1st grade.
This is a great opportunity for anyone with a 4 yr. old needing a part-time preschool. Most preschools (such as the Child Study Center) primarily accept children between about 2.9 - 3.9 and then they attend 2 years. So "almost 4 year olds" are often only accepted if one of those children leaves before the second year. As a result, it is often hard to find a preschool spot for children who are 4, or almost 4 yrs. Randice