Heart of a Child

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 #: 
Theresa Malki
(510) 527-1831
N. Berkeley
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
24 months - 60 months

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

July 2008

Re: need a preschool for my twins
My son is about to graduate from Heart of a Child and it is an amazing preschool. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be an option for your twins. The director has already admitted her new group of students for the Fall, and she only admits new students every three years (kids enter as two year olds and then the entire group stays together for three years until they are ready to move on to kindergarten). Good luck with your search!

July 2007

Hello, I'd love to hear some recent reviews of Heart of a Child on Hopkins. Thank you! anon.

My daughter has gone to Heart of a Child for the last two years and we are VERY happy with it. She has blossomed in so many ways there. The environment is well- balanced with lots of physical play, quiet time, social interaction. Theresa, who runs the school, is extremely well-tuned to the kids, loving and excellent at teaching the children respect for themselves and others. Gale who works with Theresa is also very warm and at the same time, very good at limit setting. They each have so much experience. We have benefitted from our daughter going there by learning from Theresa and Gale and getting to know the other children and parents. It is not a co-op but I still feel a strong sense of community with the other families. I really can't say enough about how great we think Heart of a Child is! I wish Theresa would open up a grammar school as well! anon

My son attends Heart of a Child and we are so happy to be a part of such a lovely, nurturing, special preschool and preschool community. As you may know, the school is run a bit differently than other preschools. Specifically, new students are accepted every three years and then that group of children spends three years together, starting out as 2 year olds until they are 5 years old. It is a small group, just 12 kids (the first year it is only 8 per day at the beginning of the year and then 10 per day beginning in January; it increases to 12 per day in the second year. No more students are added, people just add days per week that their children attend). As a result, the community is very tight knit and the teachers know all the children and their families very well. The current group was born in 2003, so the next group to be accepted will be those born 12/05-12/06 who will start Fall 2008. The program is a wonderful mixture of developmentally appropriate activities that grow and change as the children grow and change. There is a beautiful garden that the children tend, cooking, tumbling, music classes, art, field trips, backyard chickens, and so much more. It is primarily play-based, but there are some Montessori elements, . . . I guess it is overall an eclectic approach that takes the best of many different approaches. The director, Theresa Malki, is one of those truly wise people who understands children with such depth that it is almost shocking how well she ''gets'' your child after knowing him or her only a short time. The other teacher, Gayle, is so lovely, gentle and patient, and she finds teachable moments in virtually every interaction she has with the children. They have worked together for years and care for each other as friends, and I like how they model kindness, caring and compassion for the kids. One of the things I love the most about Heart of a Child is how absolutely non-institutional it feels. So many of the materials are homemade, old fashioned, funky. For example, there is a regular old record player and other toys and things you will recognize if you grew up in the seventies. Children can really be themselves and explore their world. In warm weather, they can be barefoot, they run through the sprinklers, they get dirty, they learn about kindness and communication and being part of a community. I think kids with all sorts of temperaments can thrive there. My son was VERY slow to warm up and transition, and they were so helpful and patient with him and supportive of me being there for a couple of weeks and even beyond.

One downside is that it would be difficult to send your child there if both parents work full-time. Hours the first year are 8:30-12:45 with extended care until 1:45. Those hours extend in the second and third year, and kids can stay until 4 p.m. If your child was born in 2006, it's definitely worth checking out. It is truly a gem and we feel so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful school.

Feb 2005

Does anyone have information, opinions, or feedback to share (positive/negative) about Heart of a Child Daycare/Preschool on Hopkins in Berkeley. There is a write-up in the NPN book but no information that I could find in the BPN archives. The idea sounds intriguing (kids of the same age enter the school at the same time and are together for three years). I'm curious to hear your experiences if you have a child there or know of a family that has been involved. Thanks. Emily

My child is going to graduate from Heart of a Child preschool this summer, and my older child went there for the previous 3 years too.

The first thing to tell you is that if you have any interest whatsoever you should call and give Theresa Malki your name. She takes the first eligible children that are on her waiting list, and fills up quickly. If you haven't already called her there is probably a small chance you could get in...but no harm in trying!

As for the school -- I cannot recommend it highly enough. Heart of a Child takes children all born on the same year and keeps the same group of kids for 3 years. When they begin there are 8 kids each day -- and it gradually increases to 12 kids each day. Each child has their own schedule -- usually they come 3 or 4 or 5 days a week. These kids are immersed in a developmentally enriching program which grows as they grow -- they develop social skills, small and gross motor skills, they learn a tremendous amount of fascinating things about nature and the world around them...The school has a wonderful sunny back yard full of fruit trees and a vegetable garden they tend, chickens to gather eggs from, rabbits and cats, rats and a turtle..I could go on and on. If you want to hear more about it you can e-mail me directly... We are already dreading saying good bye to this amazing experience for our whole family...