Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool
To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.
Our youngest child is currently at Fuzzy Caterpillar, as was her older brother, so all told we've been involved in the school for nearly five years. Simply said, we LOVE it. In fact, our kids both love(d) it so much they would ask to stay longer at the end of the day.
The teachers are super sweet, and have developed loving relationships with both our kids. Though it is a larger school, I've never felt our children were lost in the shuffle or didn't receive the care/attention they needed. In fact, our older son tends to be quite shy, and I think the teachers' attention and more kids really helped him gain confidence and prepare him for kindergarten. Reading the older reviews, I guess I've never even considered it isn't anything other than an art and play based program because our kids come home so fantastically messy with paint and dirt from the playground, not to mention the cool and fun projects they have in-hand. On the other hand, my four year old also comes home with stories about her Freedom March (around the block), telling me about Rosa Parks, and this week... she's been explaining to me why some people don't think Pluto is planet. Every week I'm dumbfounded about the things she's learning and how much she "gets it."
I can't say enough great things about Fuzzy! I highly recommend a tour to find out for yourself if it's a fit for your family.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I have looked at the reviews for Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool in Alameda in the archives, but they are several years old. Does anyone have updated information about this school? I'm doing early research about preschools in Alameda for my son, who won't start preschool until he is 3 in Fall 2014! We're looking for a play based school (that isn't a combined with younger kids in a day care setting) that allows for a part time schedule. I heard somewhere that Fuzzy Caterpillar doesn't offer parent/teacher conferences - is that true? Any information would be helpful! Looking for play based school!
I have observed at Fuzzy Caterpillar and it is not a play-based preschool. While there is certainly play involved, they have a formal curriculum and actively teach pre-academics at a fairly high level. Hope this helps
The Alameda Parents Network Yahoo Group is a great way to get info on Alameda schools - I highly suggest you join and search the archives and ask for feedback. It is a much better source for Alameda than BPN. I do not have direct experience with Fuzzy Caterpillar (though I have heard good things). I would say in general, Alameda has far more Montessori than play-based programs, but the good news is, there are a lot of excellent preschools. Good luck! Marie
Fuzzy Caterpillar was great for our 3-year-old, but our friend's 2-year-old was pulled out after a few days, as it was too big for that family. The three-year-old curriculum is fun, with lots of art, and a beautiful facility with a great variety of things to do. The outdoor space is fabulous. Many of the teachers are very warm and fun. For 4-year-olds, I think the pre-K curriculum is way too academic. They openly admit that everything the kids do in pre-K they'll be doing again in Kindergarten. My understanding is that the pre-K program is only a few years old and was started because parents requested more academics. I hope that over time they refine it to make it less like a mini-Kindergarten and more like preschool. As for teacher/parent communication, they do a great job communicating what's going on at the school with a newsletter and calendar that come out during the first week of each month, but the communication about our individual child was lacking. There is no regular planned communication between parents and teachers at all. Pick up and drop off can provide the opportunity for a brief exchange, but the teachers you see then may not be the ones who spend most of the day with your child. Based on our own experiences, even when we try to request more communication via e-mail or meetings, the administration is not always very responsive. On the plus side, they are very flexible about days, and you can pick whatever combination you want of 3, 4, or 5 days/week as long as there's room. Not having to make lunch is convenient. And they passed the most fundamental test well -- my child seemed happy at drop-off in the morning and happy at pick up in the evening. Still, I had a hard time deciding between Fuzzy and another preschool and if I had to do it over, I would probably choose differently. Butterfly mama
Re: Alameda preschools
Hi there, Try Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool on Encinal. It's fairly new, opened last year and it's in a great space with a large shady yard. It's a play-based program with 40 children (ages 2-5) and 5 teachers. It seems to fit all your criteria. Our 3 year old son was there this year and we thought it worked well for the most part (he didn't like having to nap during the day though!). They have some wonderful, loving teachers and a pre-k program that preps the older kids for kindergarten as well. Good luck in your search Kristie
We have had our son enrolled at Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool since April 2006 just as he was turning 3. We are so very happy with FCP.
We originally had our son enrolled in one of the very established Montessori schools on the island but I was hesitating -- my gut told me that it was too structured and rigid for him. I stumbled across FCP about 2 months before my son was to start at the Mont. school. I got lots of ''warm fuzzy'' vibes almost immediately during my tour and interview with the directors even though FCP was brand new (they had just opened in February 2006) and only had about 5 or 6 other kids enrolled.
FCP is play based, not affiliated with any religion, they are licensed for up to 40 kids (though on any given day, I generally only see that 30-35 max kids show up), and there are 5 FT teachers so their ratios, even on their busiest days, are better than 1:8. I believe at least 4 of the teachers are fully credentialed, and the 5th is actively working towards it or she may have already completed. They are open 7am-6pm year round AND they provide all snacks and hot lunches, though Friday is BYOL day. There's a huge backyard with lots of play areas and equipment and the indoor classrooms are large and very spacious for the school size. They take children from 2-5 years -- one of the other facets about the school that we really appreciate is that the children are not segregated by age. Except for an hour of pre-K curriculum work for the 4 year olds from about 11-12, the children play, create art, read stories, eat and nap etc. all together. My son is one of the older children so I don't have direct experience, but from what I've seen and heard, the little ones are not overlooked or ''trampled'' and are hardly shrinking violets. They try to keep up with the older ones which I would guess really promotes their development in all the various areas.
From a more qualitative perspective, we could not be happier. My son LOVES going to preschool every day. We adore the teachers, have not had any issues with their means or methods. I know some other parents have had some issues with nap time or that there was not enough of an academic curriculum, but we have not had those concerns. We find it a nicely balanced environment of play and learning. My husband and I were recently blown away by the end of the year activities: an art auction/spaghetti dinner fundraiser for both the school and for the Oakland Zoo (they adopted a handful of aninmals that the children voted on) and the pre-k ''graduation'' event was very creative and well done.
Fuzzy Cat is on Encinal Avenue near Paru. Their website is: http://www.fuzzycaterpillarpreschool.com/index.html Very satisfied FCP parent
My family and I moved to Alameda approximately two months ago and we are looking for a preschool that would allow our kids to play in the fresh air, to take their appropriate daytime naps (my 16 month old is sleeping for less than two hours total), and would serve healthy meals or allow us to bring homemade meals. Can anyone please give us some advice? We would like to start our children in a new school in August. Thank you very much. Maria
Hi Maria, If you like lots of outdoor play in a loving environment, check out Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool in Alameda. It is relatively new (about a year old) and may have a bit of a wait list now but kids will be leaving for Kindergarten in the fall. They take 2-5 year olds so I'm not sure if your youngest will be old enough in the fall but it's worth looking into in any event. My son attends the school and it sounds like it will fit your needs very well. They have a great space with lots of outdoor play time, it's relatively large (40 kids) but they have 4-5 teachers and do a pretty good job managing it all. They are pretty stict about nap time (which is a problem for my son who doesn't need one any longer) but is great for younger kids. The other suggestion I would have would be ABC Preschool - I interviewed there and found it to be very loving with lots of good playtime. We chose Montessori over ABC at the time (mistake for us, we left it at well!) and in retrospect ABC would have been a much better fit. Check them out and good luck in your search!! Pre-school Mama