Duck's Nest Preschool BerkeleyCommunity Subscriber
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Our daughter goes to Duck’s Nest and I just can’t tell you enough how great the school is. From the teachers to the amenities and the projects the kids do - everything is top notch. They also implemented Anjiplay structures on their playground which is an internationally recognized philosophy and approach to early learning. Our daughter thrives there and loves going to school.
I couldn' t be happier with Duck's Nest Berkeley. i was a bit nervous as my child was one of the youngest ones in the Duckling class this year. But within a few weeks she was loving it. She absolutely loves her teachers. The transition from being home with mom will challenging where ever you end up, but the teachers at Duck's Nest did an amazing job making the transition as smooth as possible for us.
I highly recommend Duck's Nest Preschool on 4th Street in Berkeley (just off Gilman), for all the reasons you list and then some. We knew as soon as we entered the gate that we had found 'the one.' Our son is currently enrolled and our older daughter attended for two years. We have been very, very happy there--kids and grown-ups both!
I recommend Duck's Nest on 4th street. I have a recent graduate and a son returning for his second year. They place kids by age group but spend a good chunk (a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon) on their amazing yard for all age play. They had an offsite garden, lost the lease and are creating a new garden on site. And there are Chickens! We have been thrilled with the curriculum and the warmth and creativity of the teachers. Both are boys have thrived there. Good Luck with your search!
We just learned that Ducks Nest (which has amazing outdoor space and gardens) has a couple of openings for next year. Won't last long though.
Check out Duck's Nest's Berkeley campus. The yard is phenomenal, as is the rest of their program, facility, and staff. We're about to send our second child there, and are thrilled to bits.
I love, love, love Duck's Nest. It's hard to find words that can come close to describing how much love, appreciation, and deep gratitude I have for this school. I am the type of parent who researches everything and I visited about 10 different preschools in Berkeley (and had a spreadsheet with well over 30!). We chose Duck's Nest and I feel really lucky we did. There was another school we liked, but we chose Duck's Nest because the administration was very responsive and helpful with my millions of questions and also offered us extremely generous financial aid. I was really crazy and wanted my kids to be in a particular classroom with older kids because I thought they'd learn more. There wasn't space, but the administration said if space opened, we could switch. Now I LOVE our classroom and our teachers and feel so lucky we didn't switch! In retrospect, I see I was being crazy and I really appreciate that the administration did their best to cater to my irrational whims, but didn't bend over backwards in response to a crazy parent, me!
I also have gotten to know many of the other teachers and they are all amazing! I am not exaggeratingl. My daughter is starting at DN next fall and I would be happy with any of the teachers at DN! Since our kids have been in school there, they have become such awesome little people. They are kind and empowered little explorers who are nurtured, but not coddled. They have made good friends and they love their teachers. I love the other parents, teachers, administration, and kids. I love watching the kids playing when I pick up - they are all normal, energetic kids, but I also witness these amazing moments of kindness or conflict management that are 100% the result of the amazing, intentional teachers at DN.
The parent community is really great. The parent association is active, but low key. No time is wasted - every meeting has a purpose. Most parents work, but there are lots of ways to feel involved. I thought I might feel out of place because we receive financial aid, but I have never felt like I am not valued or draining school resources (those are my own issues to work out). The parent association is very intentional about making sure events are accessible to everyone. I could go on and on.
One more thing to add - based on a review below, I really wanted my kids to be in the puddle duck room, but having been in the wood duck room, I have realized that every classroom is amazing. You'll think the one you're in is amazing too. I am not one to exaggerate when it comes to teacher quality, but I would really be comfortable and happy with any teacher I've met at DN. They are a different breed - they are magical people with endless patience and energy for nurturing little imaginations and growing the best little people. They should get paid a gazillion dollars a year.
Sending my kids to Duck's Nest is one of the best decisions I have made as a parent. I wish they would consider opening a K-12 Duck's Nest charter school!
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Updated feedback on Berkeley campus
I have read the reviews for Duck's Nest, but I wanted to get some updated feedback specific to the Berkeley campus. First, is Pacific Steel still an issue at that campus? Or, for that matter, is there anything in the neighborhood that's an issue? Second, I feel like DN in general gets mixed reviews, but it appears that most of the negatives are for the other two campuses, not Berkeley. Is that right? Are there those with criticisms of the Berkeley campus? Finally, my child is born in January, so she'd be starting there at 2 yrs + 7 or 8 months (depending on exact start date). Does that mean she'd be a Duckling, with the ''young 2s''? I worry that that won't be so stimulating for her for the whole year. Any thoughts? Many thanks! Potential DN Parent
We are finishing up our third year at Duck's Nest in Berkeley and wholeheartedly recommend the school and its staff, facilities, community, and kids.
Our son started in the Duckling classroom and is now in the Mandarin (oldest classroom) after a middle year in the Wood Duck room. He actually started off in another classroom his second year, but we were able to move him to a younger classroom because he had a hard time finding a niche in the classroom. The school was very accommodating and easy to work with in this classroom change.
We have experienced no issues with air quality save for some brewery smells from Trumer across the street (which I kind of like, to tell the truth). There have been no other neighborhood issues, and honestly, the entire ''Gilman District'' area is rapidly gentrifying, so if you have any concerns about the hood, they'll rapidly be overtaken by an onslaught of boutique coffee shops and eateries.
We have a very active, very high energy, very smart and sweet son who is a definite challenge. Throughout all of his classrooms, from all of his teachers, we've experienced nothing but positive support for him and great feedback on how to get him to listen better, calm himself, and be a loving friend and student. We really love the Reggio Emmelia method practiced at the school; it has served our son really well.
I also can't forget the garden program and Heather, the garden teacher. Both are gems. The garden is down the block and absolutely lovely. Duck's Nest is a deal for the garden alone.
This is a community full of families with whom you will *want* to be friends, and you will be. There are a lot of outside activities planned, both formal and informal, and I'm happy to say we count many parents among close friends.
Duck's Nest mama
Duck's Nest Berkeley vs Aquatic Park School
I am hoping to get updated information about Duck's Nest Berkeley and Aquatic Park School. I read some reviews about Duck's Nest, but I think they refer to the Piedmont campus. I really love both schools and they have similar philosophies, so I imagine other parents have compared the two and would love to hear which you picked and why. Thanks! Prospective Parent
I can't say enough good things about this past year at Duck's Nest Berkeley. It was everything I could have dreamed of for my daughter. She entered last fall right before she turned 3. It was a magical, transformative year, and her Duckling class teachers were so nurturing, loving, fun and creative. I like the fact that there are several teachers per class, and my daughter has truly bonded with each in unique ways. We like to sing a lot around the house (although I can't carry a tune), and they would incorporate the same philosophy into their mundane activities, as well. ''Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up.'' In addition, there is an amazing music teacher that comes once a week. Plus, the gardens (both on campus and the one they cultivate a block away) are lovely, and the children spend one day a week playing and planting and learning there. The other children in her class are loving, as well, and she has made some fabulous friendships. She's been at school 4 days a week, from 8:45 until 5:15, and she still can't wait to go back the next day. I am getting choked up just writing this, as I don't want the experience to end. I have gotten familiar with the other teachers, though, as has my daughter (on the playground during afternoon hours and at Parents' Night Out), and I know this upcoming year will be just as rewarding for her. Lastly, the administration is remarkable and very communicative & responsive. My coworker's kids are at Aquatic Park School, and she's pretty happy with it, too, for the most part. I'll let her or someone else speak to that, though. I just have to say that in the four years I've been reading these newsletters/BPN, this is the first time I've been compelled to take the time to respond. That's how important my message is! Duck's Nest Zealot
My children were accepted at both APS and Ducks Nest. I was impressed with both schools but chose Ducks Nest as each class is in a self contained classroom which felt contained and not over-stimulating.
The teachers have all been great. My children were provided with an incredibly supportive and nurturing environment.
Ducks Nest has a great community of parents and is a very social school. There are lots of parties and other community building event. It was great to get to know parents in different classes as many of the kids will end up in elementary school together.
Our time at Duck's Nest was wonderful. It was a great preschool for my children.
Re: Looking for a Preschool with a Garden
Ducks' Nest has 2 wonderful gardens -- one in the back by the older kids and one accross the street. The kids play and work in the garden a lot. It's a large preschool but is very very well run, most of the teachers are wonderful and the place is full of wonderment and and playtime fun. The admissions process, at least 4 years ago, was not as pleasant. They do get many applications. I have found that if you ask at the last minute they sometimes find they have an unexpected place. ruthe
Duck's Nest vs. Other preschools
Looking for specifics on/comparisons of three preschools: Cedar Creek Montessori, Hearts Leap North, & Ducks Nest. We've visited all three pretty extensively, but are looking for some specifics from a parent POV. How is each in terms of teacher turnover, teacher experience, & relative teacher quality - i.e., are all teachers within the school comparable (in all three it's not clear exactly which teachers we'll get)? More specific questions: CC: How was your child's creativity nurtured? How did they deal with spirited kids who rebel against structure & transitions? DN: Compare younger 3s to older 3s classrooms (Wood Ducks vs. Puddle Ducks)? HLN: Teachers experienced enough to deal with spirited kids? Compare Juniper & Sequoia classrooms? Any other advice? Thanks! Trying to Decide
We were at Duck's Nest (Berkeley campus) for 3 years [my son is now in kindergarten].
Regarding your question on ''Wood Duck'' room vs. ''Puddle Duck'' room. Without question, the Puddle Duck room was the most dynamic, engaging, project-based, hands-on-fun of the two.
Teachers Corey and Megan are *fantastic*. Every day was filled with activities and special projects. My kid is in his second semester of kindergarten and still talks enthusiastically about all the stuff he learned as a Puddle Duck.
A few of the things they did when were were there:
1). Building a giant castle out of boxes: with a a moat, a dungeon, windows, etc. The whole ''castle unit'' was fantastic with lessons on knights, queens/princeses/ladies-in-waiting; books on Medieval times, a dress-up day with knighting ceremony.
2). Shark unit -- including field trip to aquarium at Pier 39.
3). ''Abiyoyo'' unit: building a huge monster/robot out of boxes that the kids painted silver. Books on giants, robots, etc.
4). Dinosaurs -- of course. The unit culminated with construction of a almost-life-sized paper-maiche Pteranadon that hung from the ceiling.
5). planets/space unit. Again, they did construction: a space capsule this time; the kids played in that thing for months [keyboard, windows, glowing stars inside]. Planets hung from the ceiling.
6). Butterflies. The kids hatched a bunch from a caterpillar/cocoon kit. Lots of art and outdoor fun around butterflies.
We conidered year #2 as our favorite. You should lobby for the Puddle Duck room. anon
Re: Preschools that have the most quality outdoor time?
You should take a tour of Duck's Nest Preschool in Berkeley [on 4th St. near Gilman]. It's hard to imagine a more comprehensive, attractive, and integrated outdoor program. happy nature/animal lovin' parent
Re: Seeking a preschool with Reggio-Emilia philosophy
Ducks Nest is a fantastic Reggio Emilia school. We've sent 3 happy kids there and the program is amazing. christine
We are considering Duck's Nest in Berkeley for next year and while I have a pretty good understanding of the Emergent approach, I am looking for more detail on how they incorporate languages into that specific program. Are they offering French or Spanish? I can't tell from the website as they mention both. Thanks. tania
Duck's Nest offers both Spanish and French, but these programs are optional. There is an additional cost, and the children leave their classroom to go to another room for the instruction. A former DN parent.
Our son has thrived at Duck's Nest. One of his amazing teachers is from France and taught the kids how to sing a French lullaby and make crepes. The formal lanuage program at Duck's Nest includes classess in Spanish and French taught twice a week by the school's language teacher. While the classes are good, I think the schools real stength is in its diverse teaching staff, who naturally teach the kids about different lanauges and cultures. Happy DN parent
I have a child enrolled at Ducks Nest West Berkeley. Foreign language costs an extra $40 or 45 dollars per month for an hour a week. While this is a great preschool for many reasons, I can't say that language has been a strength at Ducks Nest for our child; more likely it's been their weakest link.
From what I can tell, both Spanish and French are taught by seemingly non-native speakers and the 'lessons' consist of reviewing printouts from a book and doing art projects.
If language is a must have for you, DN may not be your best fit. DN Parent