Duck Pond Preschool

Oakland, CA

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

DSS Facility License #: 
Lois Cottrell
510 530-0851
Glenview, on Park Blvd
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
24 months - 60 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri

Parent Reviews

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We have a just-turned-three-year-old at Duck Pond (a Froggy) and absolutely LOVE the school; we couldn't recommend it more highly. Our kiddo is excited to go to school in the morning, engaged in all the classroom and outdoor activities, and gets lots of love and encouragement from the teachers. It is everything we had hoped a preschool experience could be for our child. That said, I think they may have very few openings for Fall 2021, so I'd reach out to them before you get your hopes up. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. 

My son attends Duck Pond and I also highly considered Skyline Preschool. I did start the application for both a year in advance of his start date.

Duck Pond only accepts a small amount of children per year and will only accept applications in the fall of the year prior to starting. I was, literally, standing at the door the first day they would accept applications as I also heard it was very hard to get into preschool.

As a back-up, I applied to Skyline which I really loved. The outdoor playground is very nice, the teachers are especially sweet and the tuition costs are manageable. Our neighbors son goes there and loves it. We would've ended up there but amazingly our son was accepted to Duck Pond so that is where we landed. 

I can't say enough about Duck Pond. They have enrichment programs four out of five days a week and the class size is small enough where I know my son is getting individual attention. They have a lot of activities for the families outside of school as well so you are constantly surrounded by community. So much so, I tend to run into the Duck Pond families by happenstance on the weekend. It makes the experience that much better. 

I looked into Chatham as well upon the recommendation of a few friends whose kids went there. The waiting list is long there and spots fill up fast. The cost is much less than Duck Pond or Skyline but the class sizes are, subsequently, a lot bigger. We had/have a nanny for our son and daughter and because they were going from a situation where they got 1:1 attention all day long I strongly felt they needed to transition to a school with smaller classes. If that hadn't been the case, Chatham would have been a contender as well. 

Finally, I did research Oakland Garden School and found they had a high teacher turnover rate - so immediately discounted it as that made me uncomfortable.

Good luck! You're doing the right thing by starting early. :)

Archived Q&A and Reviews

August 2013

Hello, I am looking for recent reviews of the duckpond preschool on Park boulevard in Glenview. I'm hoping to hear from parents currently familiar with the program as the reviews on BPN are somewhat old. Can you please share pros and cons of the school as well as insights into the two-year-old classroom, especially since the recent teacher Abby has left. Thank you Glenview Mama

Hi I am a parent of a soon to be alum of Duck Pond. We have loved our time at the school, our son has thrived and is leaving well prepared for kindergarten as are all his classmates. The best part about the school is the strong community that the Director works at fostering.

Yes, Abby recently left and she was wonderful with the two year olds but Glenda who has taken over the class has also been around in the school for a while and from what I hear has settled in very well with the Duckling ( 2 year old) class. I believe that the school is what it is because of Lois the Director. While we were sad to see Abby leave, I know if I had another child s/he would be going to Duck Pond too & I will continue to recommend the school just as much. If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me, Sutapa

Just wanted to reply to the inquiry about the Duck Pond Preschool in Glenview. My daughter has just completed two wonderful years at the Duck Pond and will be moving onto kindergarten.

The Duck Pond is really a wonderful place. The 25 or so families that attend have a real sense of community. The school provides an incredible number of enrichment programs including dance, yoga, music, storytelling, gymnastics, science, and cooking. The number of enrichment classes at the Duck Pond seem to far out number the classes provided at the preschool my two older children attended. In addition, the academics are equal to other preschools in the area.

Abby was definitely loved and will be missed, but the remaining teachers are exemplary. Good luck! A Happy Parent

I currently have two kids (2 and 4 yrs.) at Duck Pond, and our whole family loves it. We really feel lucky to be part of such a nurturing community.

Our 2 yr old started in June. Every day when he first hears his teacher's voice on our way down the stairs, he calls out and starts jumping joyfully. He loves her. She is warm, consistent, organized, and communicative. When I pick up she always gives me the important info from the day: naps, diapering, etc.., as well as any fun anecdotes.

It's been a wonderful place for my daughter as well. She loves all of her teachers and friends. As a parent I love that her learning seems to just happen as an extension of play. She makes art, plays with water, climbs, sings, and also can now write her name well and add and subtract using her fingers. Probably most importantly, we've seen great improvements in her self-control, and ability to name and manage her own emotions.

Finally, it's been a great community for us as parents. We've met great people through the many (official and unofficial) social events. It's a really fun place! Happy Duck Pond Parent

My son, age four, thrived at Duck Pond Preschool and the community that Lois creates is wonderful. I have been amazed at the social skills he has developed just in one year. From two or three weeks into his first year as a froggie (three year old class) he came home using his words when frustrated. He is also developing pre- reading skills in a fun, play based environment. All of the enrichment - art, science and amazing weekly cooking classes with Chef Lisa are terrific too.

Glenda, his teacher, was warm, supportive and wonderful. We miss Abby but all the staff are just terrific.

The most amazing part of this school from my perspective is the community that Lois, the director, builds. From the day school starts there are picnics, parties, camping trips, weekend family field trips and even a ski weekend. These usually happen after school so that working parents can participate. Some ofthese events school organizes and others happen organically, but they all foster a tight knit community of 25 families. We have made close friendships that will last after Duck Pond.

We recently moved to Lafayette and miss Duck Pond - a wonderful gem of a school. Nothing else has come close to this place in my quest for another school! Jennifer

Thanks for asking about Duck Pond Preschool, as it is an amazing community and school. Words can't begin to capture what a magical place this has been for my older son, who just graduated, and now is for my younger son, who is a Duckling (2 year old class). Lois, the director, has created a truly outstanding program that is Reggio Emilia based and encourages each child to pursue their passions and inspires amazing creativity. My older son begged to go to school every day- he loved the warm teachers, the amazing enrichment programs (including weekly programs of science/art, cooking, storytelling, dance/yoga), the learning atmosphere, and the time to play with his friends. My son has had many passions (scuba divers, batman, baseball, chefs/waiters, legos- to name a few) and the teachers took these interests and built curriculum and activities around them, as they did for all the students' interests. There are so many aspects of Duck Pond to rave about, but the one that others notice the most, is how my son has learned how to express his social/emotional needs in healthy, loving ways and has really embraced the concept of looking out for his friends and their hearts. Duck Pond focuses on social and emotional learning, and has built in many aspects of its program to ensure students learn important tools to navigate their social/emotional needs and those of others. The children's level of empathy is inspiring and is definitely a result of Duck Pond and the teachers there. Glenda is the new Ducklings teacher, and she is amazing. My younger son has only been in the class for a few days now and he is already talking about her and runs to give her a hug when he arrives. His first day he enjoyed being a ''firefighter'' and trying to feed her pizza, and he asked if he could stay when I arrived to pick him up on day two! My older son had Glenda (as a 3 year old), and her respect for my son, her delight in who each child is, her knowledge of the age, and her amazing patience and calm presence, all contribute to her being an incredible teacher. I feel so lucky that my younger son has a chance to have her as well.

Lois' program at Duck Pond also focuses on creating community amongst the families, and Lois (with the help of parents) organizes many school parties, community activities, a camping trip, a Tahoe trip, and now we even have monthly mom's nights out. Please, feel free to contact me if you have more questions or want to hear more about Duck Pond. It has been an amazing experience for our older son and his younger brother is so excited he ''finally'' gets to go to Duck Pond. We feel lucky to have found such a great fit for our boys! Cathy

I wanted to add to the chorus of parents heralding Duck Pond, the best preschool I could ever imagine. My eldest son spent two years at Duck Pond before starting kindergarten this year, and my younger son is starting his second year. Duck Pond has been magical. My children have developed socially and academically. Thier creativity and curiosity has been nurtured, and they often astound me with the insight they show into how to behave towards each other and the world. Lois is amazing. She understands children where they are, respects them for thier individuality and inspires them to learn and grow. The other teachers are also kind and encouraging.

I looked at a LOT of preschools before finding Duck Pond, and nothing else felt as right. The Reggio-Emilia approach is fantastic, and the small size makes for a cozy and welcoming environment. The facility is lovely, with two great outdoor spaces. The children and families are universally wonderful.

Best of all, Duck Pond is a family. Lois believes in building community, and the close friendships this has fostered among the parents is an amazing bonus. There are lots of parties throughout the year, plus a camping trip and a Tahoe trip, and tons of fun auction activities that have made us a tightly-knit bunch. Everyone cares for each other's children, and it reallly is that proverbial ''village'' we need to raise a child.

I cannot say enough good things about Duck Pond. Kathleen

Oct 2012

Re: Looking for mellow preschool near Glenview
I will strongly recommend The Duck Pond Pre-school on Park Boulevard. Two years ago our then 2+ shy boy started there. I had the same concerns that you voice. He has thrived at the Duck Pond. The teachers are wonderful and nurturing. I love walking in in the evening to the happy faces of all the children there. Every child gets to pursue his/ her passion and the rest of the children get exposed to so many different areas of interest. The school offers a strong enrichment program with yoga, dance, story telling. I have heard from many parents how well prepared Duck Pond students are for kindergarten and feel fairly confident my son will be too. By the way - nobody describes our son as shy anymore! Contact The Duck Pond Pre-school at 3947 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602. Ph: (510)530-0851. Sutapa

Dec 2011

I wanted to add an updated review for the Duck Pond Preschool in Glenview. We were initially a little nervous about sending our 2 year old daughter to preschool this year, thinking she might be a bit young, but given the glowing Duck Pond reviews we decided to go ahead and try it. We looked at Montessori schools and other play-based preschools, but we found the Duck Pond to be the perfect balance of structure, free play, and social interaction. We couldn't have made a better decision - she loves the Duck Pond and even asks to go there on weekends.

The teachers are amazing - they nurture and encourage the kids without pressuring them into anything they are not ready to do. Abby, the teacher for the 2-3 year old classroom, is particularly great with helping both parents and kids with the transition to preschool, and my daughter took to her immediately. I am truly amazed at what my daughter has learned to do in a relatively short period of time - she can put her shoes on and off, drink out of a cup, and her imagination in particular has flourished (she now makes up all kinds of stories with her stuffed animals and dolls and acts them out at home, in large part because she also does that at school). Each day is filled with indoor and outdoor play, music, dance, art projects, reading, interacting with nature (they plant vegetables with the kids year-round), and they even offer science and gymnastics. The teachers foster a culture of respect and friendship among the kids (not just within their specific classes but also between classes/ages), and you clearly see that in the way they interact with one another.

The Duck Pond also has a very active parent community - there are generally several family-oriented events each month and attendance is always high. Because it's a smaller preschool, it's easy for the parents to get to know one another (and to get to know all of the other kids), so it really feels like a family.

All in all, we couldn't be happier with our decision and we highly recommend the Duck Pond. Any parent would be lucky to have their child attend this school! Happy Duck Pond Parent

Sept 2010

I would like to update the postings about Duck Pond in Glenview (Oakland). My kids have flourished there. The program is incredible, and the community is like an extended family. The teachers are well-trained and loving, and activities are structured around the interests of the kids. The child-to-teacher ratio is small so the kids get lots of attention. There is no teasing, no bullying b/c teachers are always watching from the sidelines, intervening in ways that empower the kids to solve problems on their own. Each day, each child has a job: mediator, gardener, caregiver, etc. The kids love to be involved this way. The Duck Pond is play-based, which we sought out after reading research about the benefits of unstructured time for self-control and development. We are now seeing how true this is: the DP children are really prepared for kindergarten. I volunteer in my son's K class and I see that the DP kids sit quietly in circle, listen to instructions, can read and write, do basic math, and are way ahead of many of their peers. My kids are happy, confident, and love school thanks to The Duck Pond. Contact: Lois Cottrell, 530-0851

Oct 2009

Re: Need Recent Reviews of Oakland Preschools
Our son is going into his second year at Duck Pond, and we are all really thrilled with the school. It's got a great student/teacher ratio, incredible teachers, and a wonderful community of parents and kids. We weren't very happy with the daycare our son went to before this, and the difference we feel knowing how well nurtured he is at Duck Pond every day has made such a difference for our whole family. From what I can tell, the teachers feel the same way about the school as the parents, and they stick around for a long time.

The emergent learning philosophy means that to some extent the interests of the kids determine the curriculum. This means that the kids are engaged because they're learning in relation to what already interests them. They're also learning well how to play with each other. At 3.5, our son is writing his name and clearly expressing an interest in reading, but it's certainly not pushed on him at school (or at home, for that matter). A Happy Duck Pond Family

Oct 2008

Re: Full-time, playbased, preschool near Glenview
I would highly recommend Duck Pond on Park Blvd. It is an all-day, play-based preschool. The teachers are fabulous and really love the kids. The families are all wonderful, and the community is surprisingly close-knit. My son has blossomed there and we have really enjoyed becoming part of the ''Duck Pond community''.

The kids are given a great deal of time each day to play and explore. They also have circle time and enrichment programs, including science, storytelling, dance, music, and gymnastics (all with great outside instructors who come in to facilitate). Unfortunately, I think it is quite difficult to get a spot. You generally have to start the September after your child turns two. There are often only one or two spaces, since siblings are given priority. However, it may be worth a try! Happy Duck Pond Parent

Oct 2006

Any new feedback on Duck Pond preschool on Park Blvd? Pros and cons of the school?

I am responding to the question about Duck Pond on Park Blvd. I think it is a great safe space for young children. The home-like atmosphere (the school is in a house) adds to the general feeling that it is a comforting and cozy space. Also, I have seen the school being thoroughly cleaned every afternoon and after every party (there are many). It is painted every year and the toys are rotated very often. The backyard has a fabulous new playstructure (bought by annual auction proceeds) and has a place for the children to garden. As for the more important question, how is the director. Lois Cottrell is an excellent teacher with a very progressive vision. She wants the children to learn to be independent but also realize that they are part of local and global communities. She is like many of the people who work with young children: great with kids but sometimes not the best communicator with adults. However, she seems to be working on it and if parents approach her, she is willing to discuss anything. It would be a good fit for an open-minded, giving family that is willing to participate in a community, as opposed to simply wanting a place to drop off your kid so they can play.
lucky DP parent

Feb 2004

Hi -- we're considering Duck Pond Preschool in Oakland, and I'm wondering if anyone out there has some current feedback (the most recent post on this in the archives is a year old). What do you like/not like about it? I've heard Vanessa may be leaving next year, and I'm wondering what impact this will have. Any and all comments appreciated! Thanks. mom of a soon-to-be preschooler

My 4 year old started at Duck Pond this year, after waiting to get in for more than a year. We couldn't be happier. My only regret is that he only gets one year of this wonderful, creative, and nurturing experience. I spent several days with him at the school over the summer while he was transitioning in, and since he often doesn't want to leave when I come pick him up, I've spent many hours sitting in the backyard observing the scene while he plays for ''just a few more minutes.'' So I think I have a pretty good feel for the place.

As a parent, I really appreciate how thoughtful the teachers are about the individual needs of the children and the best way to help them grow and learn. Any issue I've raised with them has been dealt with promptly, kindly and creatively, and I really trust Lois's observations about what's going on with my son at different times. His creativity has blossomed there, and I love seeing how the teachers pick up on the kids' interests and obsessions and turn them into curriculum. For example, my son and his friends got very into playing restaurant. Soon they were writing (!) menus and making signs for their restaurant. Then they went on some field trips to real restaurants to learn what happens in the kitchen. My son can't stop talking about those experiences. Every day he comes home with armloads of stuff he made there, all of it inspired by his own ideas and those of his friends, not a teacher's decision about what he should make.

In addition, there is a wonderful group of parents at the school. It feels like a real community.

As for Vanessa, while she is a terrific teacher and one of the original attractions of the Duck Pond for us, she's only there part time as it is. The fact is, all the teachers are terrific, and Lois has a real knack for hiring smart, educated, creative, loving people. The newest teacher on the staff, Abby, started this fall, and she is amazing.

If you have any particular questions, please feel free to contact me. Dashka

My favorite anecdote about the Duck Pond is that after I told Lois (the director) that my daughter was resisting brushing her teeth, she planned a field trip to the dentist's office and incorporated a whole discussion about tooth brushing into her lesson plan. It made all the difference--now my kid actually reminds me when she hasn't brushed her teeth! Aarti

March 2003

Re: Preschool for child with food allergy
My child attends the Duck Pond (see previous messages) on Park Blvd. in Oakland. My son has food allergies to casein (dairy protein) and peanuts. He will generate hives at the point of contact with these items or will generate hives all over the body if ingested, eventually affecting his respiratory system.

Several of the Duck Pond students have food allergies/sensitivity issues and the staff are very good about making sure the children are not exposed. In addition, they educate the other children about their friends' particular needs in regards to their diet.

Currently, Duck Pond has a no peanut policy. The director was particularly concerned that peanut butter can spread to objects very easily and indirectly expose my son. The Duck Pond also excluded berries from its premises when a different child had berry allergies. The Duck Pond staff are very good about letting me know if he was accidentally exposed to these items and if they had to apply and/or give him medication. Furthermore, the Duck Pond reserves a Cuties/popsicles for my son when families bring cake/icecream for birthdays. It makes him feel special.

If you have further questions, you may contact me directly via email. Good Luck with your search. Doreen

March 2003

Does anyone have any recent experience with the Duck Pond on Park Blvd? Our impression of it was that it seemed lively and fun for kids, but that it was in pretty shabby condition. Also, the snack the day we went was just a box of bran cereal on the table, and none of the teachers were actually engaged with the kids -- they were just supervising. For those reasons, it would not be our first choice for our 2 1/2 year old to go to preschool, but she didn't get in anywhere else. Should we go to the Duck Pond or find a family daycare for a year and try to get in somewhere else for the following two years? My thinking is that my daughter can survive a messy environment for a year if it provides a lot of stimulation and love, but is that worth the cost? needing some insight...

My daughter has attended Duck Pond for the past two years, and we are extremely happy with it. It's true that the facility is not state-of-the-art (although it IS usually cleaner and tidier than what you describe), but in my experience, that kind of thing is more important to parents than their kids. What kids do respond to is the teachers, and Duck Pond's teachers are uniformly excellent -- warm, loving, fun, engaged, and very knowledgeable about early childhood development. Because the school's philosophy is that the teachers should facilitate the children's play rather than direct it, you do see them doing a fair amount of observation and supervision, but there is also lots of warm interaction between the children and the teachers, and plenty of structured time during the morning art and circle periods, for example, and at weekly music and dance classes. Another thing I love is Duck Pond's emphasis on experiential learning -- the children take field trips to places like Crab Cove, Ardenwood Farm, and the Steam Train at Tilden Park, and weekend family field trips create a real sense of community among the Duck Pond families. I guess the main reason I am happy with Duck Pond is that my daughter is so happy -- she loves going to school, loves her teachers and friends, and is developing strong academic and social skills. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to e-mail me. Karen

My son started in Duck Pond this year (moved from a ''less shabby'' school and I had lots of other preschool choices) and I am sending my daughter there next year. You are right: it is not neat, not modernized, and the facility is somewhat shabby. But the care is outstanding. In all the things you noted, what's most important? That the ''children are lively and fun.'' The philosophy is not one in which teachers lead but rather observe the children and develop activities and environments based on the children's interests. The teachers have extensive experience and participate in (in fact, teach) professional development classes. Duck Pond is also dedicated to creating a community of families that support the school, which is so important. I recommend it without hesitation. But you need to be comfortable and confident -- and that's a very individual thing. If the messy environment or less structure makes you uncomfortable then maybe it's not right for your family. But if you can get past that, I think you'll find it very rewarding. sbedford

To the parent asking about Duck Pond Preschool: I would look and look again before sending my child there. My son was enrolled there in the fall of 2000. After visiting numerous times with the old owner there, the school was sold to Lois (the current director) in fall, and parents notified of the sale (at least the new ones) AFTER enrolling in the fall. That was not pleasing to me at all. One reason I enrolled there was because of the old owner, and having her leave without much notice was upsetting.

My son was just about 2 1/2 when he started at Duck Pond. He's very verbal, but had a hard time adjusting to being away from home (he went 3 days a week, 9-3 or so) and from me. I was always very clear with Lois that if he cried for more than 10 minutes or so, I wanted to be called, so I could decide whether to come get him. After a number of times doing that, I was then told by Lois that everything was fine with him when I left, and at nap time. Another parent who was there with her child at nap time observed my son crying and crying (on numerous days) and finally called me to tell me about it. She was worried that his adjustment was being misrepresented to me. In addition, Lois described my son to ANOTHER parent in a parent/teacher conference as a ''troublemaker.'' He was 2 1/2! Lois did not choose to confide in me about her concerns or complaints about my son-- once again, I was told this by another parent, with whom Lois was supposed to be discussing HER child. As soon as I heard about this, I withdrew him from the school (this was November).

I did not speak to Lois frankly about why I was taking my son out of the school. I very much wanted to, but one of the parents who had told me about these things requested I not say anything, as she was keeping her kid in for the rest of that year and feared some kind of retribution. I don't mean this dramatically, just that she thought that Lois might not be as kind to her child if she thought the parent had been instrumental in our departure. Lois did call and want to discuss our leaving, and it was very hard not to tell her precisely how I felt, but I kept the confidence of the other parent and simply told her we felt my son wasn't adjsting well.

Other things that happened: my child fell down the back steps and had a pretty big bruise and a cut, which I saw immediately upon picking him up one day. It was not a teeny scratch. No teacher admitted to seeing him fall, although he told me that one of them did and did not comfort him. When I spoke with her, she denied seeing it or seeing him crying after it, though she was ''on duty'' in the back area--so either she missed everything completely (as she claimed, which indicated a serious lack of attention), or she chose not to comfort him, which made me sad. To this day, he describes Duck Pond as ''the place where I cried and cried for you.'' Fortunately at the time, I was able to hire back our old babysitter, work part-time from home, and enroll him the next year at MCPC, a co-op where we've been very, very impressed with the compassion and skill of the director, even in the most challenging moments with kids. She reminds us all never to label kids. It's just hurtful.

All that said about Duck Pond, my son did love Vanessa, who is still there. I thought she was very talented with the kids and liked her immensely. She was caring, and my son really missed her when he left.

The place was not a mess when my son was there, and the snacks were better than you described, so I'm not sure whether they've fallen off in quality there or if you went on an ''off'' day food-wise. I did like the attention to pre-literacy, and they had some great materials, and the animals were wonderful. But all in all, I would definitely advise visiting multiple times.

I'd like to add my response to some of the email postings I've seen regarding the Duck Pond Preschool.

My family moved from the South Bay to Oakland in December of 2001. The transition was much more difficult for my 4 year old son than we ever imagined. We were lucky to get a spot in a small, nurturing preschool/daycare, but my boy was not happy. After 5 months of tearful separations, I asked the school's director what she thought. She replied, ''He really could be happier; maybe this isn't the place for him.''

I called the Duck Pond, which had no openings when I was searching in the fall. This time, I lucked out. I spoke with Vanessa (then the co-director) and told her about my concerns regarding my son's East Bay experience. She assuaged my fears and assured me that the Duck Pond was a "Happy place!'' She was right; we enrolled our son and never looked back.

The Duck Pond's entire staff, Lois, Vanessa, Cynthia, Billy, Leticia et al took our son under their collective wings. He is a gentle soul, and was easily overwhelmed by even a small group. This said, he adapted himself to the routine and loving, fun atmosphere almost at once. His separation anxiety disappeared almost overnight. Lois and Vanessa were diligent in reporting on my son's progress. The following fall, when it was time to think about kindergarten in a year, Lois informed me that she really didn't think my son would be ready, even though chronologically he was the oldest child in the school. We knew she was right, but it was still hard to hear. Her honesty and professionalism were right on the mark. Our boy has always been very young for his age. In the spring of 2002 Lois was concerned about our son's ability to seemingly detach from the group. She recommended that he see an Early Childhood specialist to ensure that he would be on track for kindergarten. We found a therapist that our son bonded with immediately and Lois has worked with him to target the best way to teach to our son.

Our son has absolutely blossomed at the Duck Pond. I love and respect the staff and will always be grateful for the attention and professionalism that is reflected in their work everyday. lsenauke

Our impression of Lois while she taught our children at Hearts leap was that she was very practical, very utilitarian. She wasn't much for being touchy-feely and we observed her talking quite sternly to children when she didn't know that we were in the hallway, having arrived early for example. She also didn't give parent and child much transition time for saying their good-byes. She may be a great adminstrator. I do not know. I do know, however, that she didn't seem really nurturing and my then three-year old asked to leaved Hearts Leap because he didn't like Lois. (He did like the assistant teacher, however.) We then found a pre-school more in keeping with our attachment parenting style. Happy to be out of the pre-school picking stage

Our four year old son has attended the Duck Pond Preschool for the past year. We are very happy with the staff, the facility and the philosophy there (we're former Hearts Leapers, too). We like the professional direction of Lois and the rich mix of staff experience. The Duck Pond is well run, organized, thorough and family-oriented. Family participation and cooperation is encouraged. The staff is diligent about reporting all illnesses and injuries, major and minor. I have always felt confident that our son is in caring hands. We love the home-like layout (library, kitchen, yard, room for dress up/imaginative play, room for block play/circle time, arts/projects room, stations for fine motor play that change each day, etc.) Clearly, a lot of thought and knowledge go into the facility and resources. The environment has never struck me as messy or shabby. To us, it looks well loved and utilized. Small children are active and involved in a wide variety of projects there every day. We find the staff to be responsive to all our concerns. Lois and her staff give thoughtful, insightful and caring answers to our questions and we appreciate the feeling that they believe in communcication between home and school to provide the best care for children. For example, the staff requests information about changes at home (trips, visiting grandparents, death, illness or changes in the family, etc.) in order to be as sensitive as possible at school. We rely on Lois and the staff for help with our parenting issues as well, and find their advice to be caring and sound. Our son is thriving and learning, both academically and socially, at the Duck Pond. We'll be enrolling our younger son next year and highly recommend it to other parents. Please feel free to email me for more information. Kristi


Duck Pond pre-school in Oakland -- Wondering if I can get some feedback 

on the school. We're looking at it for our kids, and I'd love to hear about people's experiences there. Thank you! Irene

Our daughter has been at Duck Pond full time since December 1999, and is just going on to kindergarten in a couple of weeks. She has been very happy there for the whole time. It has changed quite a bit in the last year due to a change in ownership, and I've lost track to some extent of how things are done now versus under the former owner. I would say it is more structured now, a little more academically oriented, a little less project/art oriented, stresses responsibility more, has much more parent/family involvement, and is more community oriented. There are fun field trips on weekends as well as weekdays. There are special music, gymnastics and African dance classes you can sign up for (and pay extra for). The teachers are all great - Cynthia was there before my daughter came, Luma for two years, and Venessa came with the new owner Lois from the center they were both at before. Perhaps the best recommendation comes through my feeling that my daughter has learned to interact with all ages of children (and adults) in a very positive way, can talk about and work through hurt feelings, has retained her excitement over things like spider eggs and snails, and retains her natural exuberance. I just hope kindergarten will continue to support all her positive feelings about herself and the world around her. Susan


To the Montclair parent interested in recommendations on Oakland preschools: We did a fairly exhaustive search for preschools near(ish) our Oakmore home (just below Montclair, just above Glenview). Our 3 year old is now at the Duck Pond on Park Boulevard, which we love, but which required more than a year's wait on a waiting list. I would be happy to share our search experiences and perspectives on a range of local possibilities, but it would help to know a little more about your preferences (e.g., play-based -v- academic? full-day -v- half-day program?). Diana