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Archived Q&A and Reviews
Re: Preschool in North Oakland or surroundings?
All 3 of my daughters have attended Giggles preschool in Rockridge and have enjoyed it there. But especially the teachers. Two of them had major separation anxiety issues but the teachers are so helpful in the departure and are so loving and warm. I was always reassured by a phone call later that she was distracted as soon as I left and at pick up there are always smiles and loving goodbyes. The 7 year olds loved their teachers and the youngest who has one more year, is also enjoying each one of her teachers.
As a parent, I've felt very supported by the teacher.If I had behavior issues going on at home, they've always offered great advice. It's a small school with only about 24 kids on any given day. The parents are a close community as well. I highly recommend you take a look.
I'm just starting to look at preschools and I'm intrigued by Giggles Preschool. The location and price are appealing, but I've never heard a parent mention it. Everyone always talks about the same 3 in Rockridge: Claremont Day, Rainbow and Little Elephant. Anyone with good or bad experiences with Giggles? Thank you! Caitlin
We are at Giggles, and have been happy with it. The teachers are very warm and affectionate and our daughter has been pretty happy there. They have an absolutely fantastic art teacher, who introduces the kids to various real artists and styles and then has them interpret them. And there's other nice enrichment like yoga, cooking, walking to the library, etc. They have a very convenient schedule and location - I can walk there - which matters a lot to us. To be honest, I am never looking for the ''best'' preschool, just one that is supportive and loving and makes our family life easier (like not driving across town for it or having to make a really early pick up time or having lots of long vacations). And so we love Giggles. Giggles parent
My relationship with Giggles dates back to 1999 and I must say I am amazed by the consistency in care that has been provided to both my children. The genuine concern for each childs development and well being; the love and warmth displayed by the wonderful teaching staff and Cynthia, the Director; the creative and developmentally appropriate curriculum; the continued improvements to the environment and the outreach to make parents feel involved in their childs experiences are evidence of a true labor of love being performed by the enitre staff. The lifelong lessons learned by my children from their experiences at Giggles will not only help to make them successful students but also successful and caring individuals. I cannot thank the teachers and Cynthia enough. A Thankful Parent
hello! I am inviting input regarding Giggles preschool. Please be very candid! We checked it out and liked it but would like to see more recent reviews. Was it easy for your child to transition, good for tots who are very sensitive and ''slow to warm?'' thank you! anonymous about giggles
My son has been at Giggles for the past year and he told me yesterday that he wanted to go to school everyday because he likes it so much. I LOVE the teachers at Giggles they are all very kind and warm with the kids and I like that fact that they bring a lot of diversity to the school(one Trinidadian, one African-American, one Indian and one German (I think)). All the teachers, including Cynthia, the Director, help the new kids adjust to school. I've witnessed several kids crying when their parents leave, but they have always been hugged and loved and comforted until they feel better. It took a while for my son to get used to us leaving him there, but I think that's normal. Especially if your child is slow to warm. Overall, I like Giggles. The staff is always open to discuss issues with me and parent input has sparked some changes over the past few months. It's definitely play-based, so make sure that's what you're looking for before enrolling. I think there will always be room for improvement, but I would recommend it. jeanne
Giggles is a wonderful preschool. They are great with the transition - they invite the parent to stay and read a story to the child if the child (or parent) is not ready to say goodbye. I've never seen a child upset for even a minute without a teacher coming to comfort him/her. Whenever I'm there (which is a lot), the teachers are very involved with the kids, reading to them, helping them with potty training needs or snacks or teaching them to resolve conflicts. They have a wonderful art teacher who has daily creative projects for them to do individually and collaboratively. The staff is very receptive to parents' needs, and flexible. I have always felt they do what is best for the individual child. (Some schools I visited seemed to try to mold the children according to their philosophy. Giggles puts the child's needs first.) The teachers and director are involved, loving, and seem to really enjoy their work - I totally trust the staff. My daughter was comfortable by the third day and eight months later, still runs into school every day! Happy Giggles Parent
We are thinking of sending our son to Giggles Preschool next year. There are only three reviews on file and only one is relatively current. I am wondering if any Giggles parents would be willing to share their experiences? Thanks! anon
Our son attended Giggles last year for 3 months. We chose it because we missed the spring deadlines most places have, and were looking in June. They had openings in the afternoon. It was close to our house, and the afternoon times worked well for our schedules. From the start, the house, yard and toys didn't strike me as very clean, and the house in particular was very echoey and noisy. I thought all preschools were like that! Anyway, after the novelty of the place wore off (2days) he HATED going every day. I thought he just needed to settle in, but he continued to object. The teachers were not particularly sympathetic--one report about his day was ''he was a little less whiny than usual''. The last straw for us was when we were told that as an afternoon student he couldn't attend the morning Halloween party, but they would try to save some goodies for him. We withdrew the next day. On the academic side, I didn't see any evidence they were doing any teaching. Also, he didn't bring home a single art project in 3 months. Unless things have changed dramatically, I would classify Giggles as more of a daycare than a preschool. anonymous
Our daughter went to Giggles for about six months. She hated it. we ignored obvious signs - staff which mainly cared that children not give them trouble, an owner that drove an expensive car and often talked about financial concerns, a small play area supplied with plastic toys, teachers that called it a music lesson when they simply played cassettes to the kids. Additionally, when two children were bullying our daughter, the lead teacher kept telling us that it wasn't a problem ... even though my daughter was in tears when we'd pick her up. A week after we left, our daughter thanked us for stopping and told us how she didn't ever want to go there again. Since that experience, we have listened to her much more.
My 3 year old son began at Giggles this summer. I admit I didn't shop around. The school is within walking distance of my house, and that is very important to me. I didn't want to drive all over town with two kids in car seats to get to and from any school. Plus, I wanted my son to make friendships that he will hopefully take with him to the neighborhood elementary school. We really like it. The teachers have been very supportive and helpful and seem to be genuinely interested in my son. I will admit it's not the preschool with the frills, but then I'm a firm believer in you get out of things what you put into them. I don't throw a ton of money at Giggles, so I don't expect them to have shiny new toys all of the time. My son seems happy there, he enjoys going to school, and he talks about the projects they do and the walks they take. Heather
My daughter recently attended Giggles (for over two years) and had a great experience. Giggles was recommended to us by a friend, and we chose it after visiting several other preschools. Most importantly, my daughter loved her teachers. I found the Giggles teachers to be warm, caring and responsive to my daughter's needs. While Giggles is a play-based program and not for someone who wants mainly structured activities, there were engaging activities each day (my experience was that most of the structured activities take place in the morning). My daughter loved music days, art projects, (she had something to bring home almost every day), cooking and circle time. I was also happy to be part of a terrific community of involved parents. Good luck in your preschool search! A happy Giggles parent
I was surprised to read some of the negative comments regarding Giggles preschool in last week's newsletter. My daughter attended Giggles for over a year and our experience was nothing like those described last week. To address some of the specific concerns mentioned: with one exception (see below), we found the staff to be patient, loving, energetic, and inventive. Never did I feel that they were primarily concerned that children ''not give them trouble'' -- my daughter, I'm sorry to say, gave them plenty, but they remained positive and loving in their interactions with her, both those I witnessed first-hand and those she reported to me. Nor did I witness any bullying, and the staff worked with my daughter consistently and compassionately when she had issues with aggression. (There was one teacher who was clearly burned out and in the habit of! saying impertinent things to parents, but she has left the school.) Concerning the curriculum, I disagree with the implication that preschools teach and daycares don't, but regardless, students at Giggles are ''taught'' and read to throughout the day, weekly themes are carefully developed, art projects are plentiful (and stored in two separate art files, which one parent who wrote last week may have not realized), and students sing songs and play musical instruments during music time each friday. Concerning the facilities and financial matters, yes, the facilities are a little small and run-down, and there are more plastic toys than expensive wooden ones. But, despite the fact that the tuition is on the low end for the East Bay, there is an outstanding teacher/student ratio of almost 5:1. My daughter still talks about the director, Cynthia, and several of her teachers with great affection. I find this a far more important consideration than the price of Cynthia's car (which, of course, she may have paid for in any number of ways). To the writer of the original question, let me add that what I most appreciated about Giggles was the school's awareness that all children are different, and different in innumerable ways. While many schools pay lip service to this idea, Giggles was the only one I found that truly let kids be who they were, develop at their own pace, and follow their own interests without pressure to fulfill someone else's idea of developmental appropriateness. There was a striking absence of cliquishness among both girls and boys and many friendships across the genders. Kids go on nature walks and ''field trips'' to the park and library, they make big collaborative art and individual projects, and they also learn to sit and sing, listen and share at circle time. I don't think Giggles is perfect -- no prechool ! is -- but it's a good fit for a lot of kids, including mine, and it may be for yours, too. a former Giggles parent
Re: Seeking Current Opening in Preschool
You might check out Giggles Preschool, 601-6526. My daughter has been there for over 2 years and they have a lot of what you are looking for- play based, unstructured, very warm and loving teachers, incredibly diverse staff and kids. The price is also pretty good: $185.00 per week for full time 7:30-6pm. I have had mixed feelings about the school over the years. I don't like the food they serve for lunch (processed, lots of pasta, some sugar snacks, though they forbid the kids from bringing sugar to school), there has been quite a bit of staff turnover over the years, the setting isn't super clean, though not too grungy. However, the director is great and is always making improvements. There is a new assistant director who has brought new life to the school. She works with the 4-5 years olds and is providing a bit more structure, which I persoanlly like for my daughter who turned 5 in January. I would be happy to talk with you more if you are interested, just email me. A.
Re: Preschools with Afternoon Programs
Two years ago I looked at Giggles preschool (on Colby near Claremont in Rockridge), and I remember they had an afternoon program that ran from 12 to 5:30 or thereabouts. At the time, the director said they generally had fewer kids in the afternoon. You might give them a call to see if their schedule is still set up this way. Jennifer M.
My 3 yr old currently attends Giggles and it is the right place for him and us. My child started full time as a 2-1/2 yr old and I liked its home-y feel. I did not want him to feel like he was in a school. Nice structure, activities, weekly themes. The Music Lady comes once a week. The teacher/caregivers are very loving, give lots of feedback and are very responsive to any question or concern. I encourage you to go visit to see if it is right for you. Margery