Frog Hollow Nursery School

Community Subscriber

Berkeley, CA

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

Home-Based Daycare/Preschool
DSS Facility License #: 
Ellen Dressman
510 525-2566 or 510-467-9036 (cell)
edressman [at]
N. Berkeley near North Berkeley BART/Totland/Monterey market
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
24 months - 70 months
Monthly Cost: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
8:30am - 4:00pm
Additional Services & Features: 
Part-time available, Year-round, Sibling discount, Breakfast provided, Lunch provided, Snacks provided, Organic options, Vegetarian options, Special diet support, Potty training support, Special needs support
About Our Program: 

Frog Hollow is a neighborhood preschool dedicated to creating a warm, caring community for both children and their families.  We believe that children are unique individuals who have a natural desire to learn and who are attuned to their own interests and needs in this process.  In order to respect children’s varying ways of learning, the teachers are facilitators, offering an emergent curriculum with an emphasis on time for indoor and outdoor social play, the development of conflict resolution skills, healthy eating, and weekly enrichment classes in music, yoga and dance. We offer art activities, stories, trips to local park, and quarterly family pot lucks.  Teachers are well educated and experienced in Early Childhood Development.

Parent Reviews

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I first reviewed this school after we were there just 3 months. It's been 2 years, and we are locked in for our third. We are opting to keep him in this safe space instead of uprooting him for TK. Ellen and her family have created a warm and welcoming environment, and my son has thrived there. He is supported in all his areas of interest. The daily flow is relaxed and kids can choose to play outdoors or in the several indoor activity sections. my son enjoys playing basketball, digging in the garden and outings to Totland.  I love when I see a group of the kids sitting on and around a teacher reading to them. The kids feel comfortable there and it's palpable. We love Frog Hollow, are thrilled to have another year there and will be sad to say goodbye when the time comes. 

My son is about to start his 3rd year at Frog Hollow. We couldn't be happier and feel so lucky to have found this GEM.

When I first walked in it felt like walking through a time portal and back into my own preschool. Ellen has been running it for over 30 years, and there are the classic books, games, art supplies and activities that have stood the test of time. The style of Frog Hollow is also that: Classic. It is nothing fancy. It is simple, very cozy and not a lot of theory or methodology that gets in the way of kids being kids.

We love that there is a very strong family atmosphere at Frog Hollow. As there are only 12 children per day, they get to know each other so well, and truly learn how to take care of one another.

We love that there are male and female teachers, who are very patient, fun and wise. They always take the time to talk about my son, the day, and will give advice if you need it when it comes to child development.

There are 2 small but very well maintained outdoor spaces for students to play in at Frog Hollow. Outside you will find a garden that the kids tend, riding toys, play houses, sports equipment, a tree house, and a sand box that is covered up when not in use. There is a lot of emphasis on outdoor time, which is calming and nice for the kids.

Our son has really loved the various activities at school. There are wonderful resource teachers visiting on a weekly basis that include yoga, dance, music, and story telling. Also, the older kids get to take a specialized art class, and our son brought home an awesome portfolio last year when it was over!  Also during the week they take multiple trips to Totland. I love hearing the stories about their weekly journeys and the songs they sing on the way.

When I drop my son off, he goes directly to the “book nook” to check out the frequently updated library. Other kids are doing art projects, playing with blocks, puzzles, role-playing with dress up, dolls etc. It is so fun to see each student grow in their own way thanks to the loving guidance of their teachers and friends.

I love the flexibility of Frog Hollow. They are very accommodating with giving you the days you need, and also the pickup times. The snacks and lunches are healthy and inventive. (also, huge bonus that I don’t have to pack anything!)

Frog Hollow really feels like a second home. We love it!!

My daughter has been attending Frog Hollow since she was two and a half years old. We transferred her from another preschool of 25 kids in El Cerrito where my daughter talked about kids hurting each other and would often come home seemingly traumatized. Her response to attending Frog Hollow was dramatic; I could tell she was supported emotionally and the 12 kids attending were friendly and welcoming. She quickly made friends and has made great leaps in her development, both socially and intellectually. The teachers are down-to-earth, endlessly patient and encourage kids to follow their own interests. Frog Hollow's curriculum includes lots of self-directed learning, ample time for physical play and imagination, art, earth science, yoga, music and many other assorted rotating, varied stations set up for children to choose what to play with. I am so lucky to have found Frog Hollow and for my daughter to have been able to attend for so long.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Sept 2014

We are three classes in to my son's first year at Frog Hollow, and it feels we definitely made the best decision. I visited and investigated many local preschools. Ellen was the only one who had me bring my son on our first visit. I took that as a great sign. We were allowed to go with a flexible - 2 day a week - schedule, which many other places would not accomodate. So far, he's done yoga, visited Totland and played with a lot of trains, and he is excited to go back to school again. New Frog Hollow parent

June 2014

Re: Moving to N. Berkeley - looking for a preschool

We go to Frog Hollow Nursery School and we love it. The excellent, caring staff guide the children toward being sensitive to one another while celebrating each person's gifts. Kids play outside a lot. lb

May 2014

Re: PT Half Day Preschool Fall 2014 for 2.5 yo

Hi, I would recommend you look into Frog Hollow Nursery School in North Berkeley. It is a small school with lots of attention from loving, experienced teachers. My son learned a lot, including about gardening! Email Ellen at edressman [at] Lydia

Jan 2014

I haven't seen much information lately about Frog Hollow Nursery School, so wanted to recommend it. My son has been attending FH in N. Berkeley since he was almost 2. We love this place! The teachers are attentive, loving, and accepting; (set limits with love). My mom advised me that when choosing a preschool, in addition to caregivers, priority should be given to a small school; there are about 12 kids or so on any given day. Kids have plenty of outdoor time, creative time, music/dancing. Parents contribute to lunch, which means kids are a) all eating the same meal and b) eating new foods and is c) less work for parents. Great program! P.S. My son is 4 1/2 and still loves Frog Hollow! lb

Feb 2012

Hi there. We are trying to decide on what the best route for preschool will be for our daughter. We visited Frog Hollow and liked it a lot. It is convenient, hours are good, liked the teachers, the space, the overall program, and the price. Our main hesitation is for how kids do there in their final year. Our daughter's bday is in February, which means she would be there when she is 5 years old. Our concern is that she won't be stimulated/challenged enough by the activities offered, since it is a mixed age school and the activities are not divided between age groups. Can parents who have older children there now, or attended very recently, comment on this? Also, if your child attended Frog Hollow and then went onto public school, how did the transition go for them.? It seems like the change between 12 kids and 20+ might be tough. Any thoughts and impressions on your children's experience there would be very helpful. Thanks! undecided

Hi- My older daughter went to Frog Hollow and is now in first grade, my youngest is currently there. Frog Hollow is an amazing place. I think I also originally wondered what my oldest would think at age 5, but she LOVED it. This past summer we sent her for a day with her little sister to help the little one transition, and honestly my eldest came home asking why we didn't let her go all summer.

Our transition to Kindergarten took about a week. It was a rough week, and then she did great. I think this was true for most of the kids in her class, no matter where they went. Frog Hollow teaches kids how to be a good friend, and that I think is the best skill you can have for kindergarten (and for life).

My now 6 year old has been doing great in elementary school, and the teachers have always commented that she seems to really understand ''how to learn''. She has TONS of friends, and absolutely loves school.

You can't go wrong with Frog Hollow! one of many happy frog hollow parents

Nov 2010

I was wondering if anyone had any recent reviews of frog hollow preschool? likes and dislikes if any thanks anon

Frog Hollow is a great preschool. My sister- in- law who has a Masters in Early Childhood Development told us while we were looking for a preschool - that at this age it is all about class size. It isn't about the philosophy (Piaget, High Scope, Montessori, etc) the number of kids around them makes all the difference to their development. Frog Hollow has one of the smallest class/school sizes (12 children total /day) and a very warm and nurturing environment. When my first son entered kindergarten he was reading within the third week of school- thanks to all the books he had been read in preschool. Frog Hollow is play based but the kids really learn a lot when not forced to. Judie, Ellen and Kimi are amazingly patient and caring teachers - and they take the kids on lots of field trips too. They are also great at creating a sense of community - we were there from 2006 - 2010 and my second son just started kindergarten and keeps asking to go back to visit.

We were very satisfied and felt we were lucky to get a spot. You too would be lucky to get a spot since there are usually only 20 families with the various schedules and there aren't many openings but we wish you luck. Happy Frog Hollow Graduates anon

Jan 2007

Hi - I'm looking for a more recent review/recommendation of Frog Hollow Preschool in Berkeley (a smaller home based preschool) and Duck's Nest in Berkeley - both very different environments. We are considering both for our 2 1/2 year old son for next September and the reviews are both pretty old. Are parents very satisfied with the programs? jamie

Both my daughters went to Frog Hollow. The younger one graduated last year and is now in kindergarten, the older one is now in second grade, both at Tehiyah Day School. Both started at Frog Hollow at age 2 and stayed for 3 years. They LOVED it, and both still talk about it. My older daughter just asked last week if she could go back and help out. It is a very loving and playful place. As I understand it, it is very different from Duck's Nest, so you really need to decide what you are looking for. Frog Hollow is totally play-based, so if you are looking for any type of academic/kindergarten prep, that is not what it is about. Ellen, and the parents of the kids who go there, believe that kids have the rest of their lives with structure, and that preschool is a time to focus on social skills through play. There are several enrichment classes (the specialists for music and drama are excellent, and I understand that they have added yoga), and daily art projects but most of the time is really spent in imaginative play. Also, the mixed age structure gives the older kids a chance to be mentors, and the younger kids a chance to learn from the older kids. That was great for my kids. It does, however, limit the types of projects that they can do, since for the most part, while they occasionally separate the older kids to do a project while the younger kids go to the library, or vice versa, usually they are all together. I will admit that by the end of the third year for each of my kids I wondered if they should be in a place that gave them more age appropriate activities/enrichment, but that came from me, and not from them. And now that they are both in elementary school, and have had no problems with the transition, and are excelling socially, I feel very grateful for the love and freedom that Frog Hollow gave them. Ronnie

We've been very happy at Frog Hollow preschool for the past two years. What do we love about it?

-The teachers are gifted and intuitive, and support all sorts of different kids, from the shyest to the most outgoing.

-The curriculum is varied and exciting, including art classes, drama/creative movement, yoga, music, library and playground visits. We also have lots of great field trips- this year we've already gone to a pumpkin patch, to Crab Cove, the fire station, and we're going to go to Tilden on a nature walk, Ardenwood for monarch butterflies, and to a slug walk!

-The facility is warm and inviting, with lots of opportunity for the children to get outside every day. The materials are rich and varied, and the art and literacy programs are outstanding. Whatever your child likes, Frog Hollow has great materials to support his or her evolving interests.

-The families at the school are unpretentious and diverse, and support the program in a low-key but meaningful way. -My son, now at the end of his preschool days, is self-confident, good at making friends and communicating his needs, knows how to be in a mixed-age group with older and younger children, and is academically ready for a challenging private school kindergarten. Frog Hollow has supported his entire being, and we couldn't be happier.

Two thumbs up from our family for Frog Hollow! cloudberry

Nov 2004

My three year old daughter is in her second year at Frog Hollow preschool, located on McGee, just a few blocks north of Totland. My older daughter just graduated from there last year. It is an extremely warm and cozy home-based, play-based preschool, with 12 kids and 2 teachers. My kids love it. The program runs from 8:30-1:30. Not sure if you are looking for right now or for next fall, but you can call 525-2566 and talk to Ellen, who runs it. Almost everyone who attends lives within walking or biking distance of the school, so it is also has nice neighborhood feel to it. Ronnie

August 2003

My daughter's preschool has (1) opening for a lucky 3 or 4 year old child. Frog Hollow Preschool is a small, nurturing school, run by wonderful, warm and talented teachers. It is truly a special place! My daughter has blossomed beautifully in this family-like environment. There are up to 12 children and the hours are 8:30 - 1:30 with possible extended care. There are up to 4 mornings available. You can contact the owner for more information: Ellen Dressman at 558-6810. Jennifer