The Lake School

Oakland, CA

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The Lake School Corp.
(510) 839-4227
Lake Merrit
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
30 months - 72 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Additional Services & Features: 
Afternoon option, Pre-K program

Parent Questions

Parent Reviews

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Archived Reviews: 

May 2012

Hi, I was hoping to get parent feedback on the Lake School. If you have any thoughts to share about you or your child's experience there I would love to hear it. Thanks. mom to a 3.5 year old

Hi there! I am a very happy Lake School parent and would love to chat over the phone or email to answer any specific questions you may have about the school.

In general, I love the school. We've been there for 2 years now and my son LOVES it. My daughter will be starting in the fall. I could go on and on about the staff and director (whom I love love love!) about how much they are dedicated to the children and truly look to inspire and enrich them but I think that's given when you're dealing with a great preschool as The Lake for me, it was more about my child's happiness and how well he was making friends and learning new things. The Lake School gets straight A's in all of the above! Not only does my son get angry at me if we miss school, he will actually ask to go early! He has made strong friendships, where parents regularly reach out for play dates! I guess 3-hours a day is sometimes not enough when you're having fun. Also, I have been very impressed with how they've prepared my son for kindergarten. In addition to the parent/teacher conferences that meet twice a year, you are provided with an in-depth written summary of your child's temperament and skill sets, indicating strengths or areas of improvement..this is at least a 4 page statement! This was tremendously helpful when my husband and I were assessing if he was ready for kindergarten-which he is more than ready, thanks to The Lake School! Did I mention, he can read and crack an egg flawlessly?

Also, the parent community is AWESOME! The first week my son started mid-year, I was approached and welcomed by so many was so different considering my son had been at 2 preschools (due to moving and didn't like the other)....I'm not really sure what the magic is when it comes to the parent community but there definitely is something good happening. I suspect #1 reason you end up feeling at home w/ the school and community is because the school is at drop off and pick up, you see the same people every day or once a week because its the same start and end time...that's not really the case at schools that provide part and full time care (our previous 2 schools) where parents come and go familiarity seems to be a key player as to why The Lake School community is actually have a chance to get to know the parents your kids play with...even if you weren't planning on it like me!

Lastly, I have never been one to participate or volunteer in anything but interestingly, I have become a VERY involved parent, though not required at all! There is a strong parent board and executive board with A LOT of parent participation...not just 5 moms!...these groups coordinate events for the school and parents all year long..matter of fact, there's an event in 2 weeks.. You should check it out! I can send you details..just email me. Hope this helps! Linda

My family has been at the Lake School for three years now. My older daughter spent two years before heading off to kindergarten and my younger daughter is in her first year. We have loved the Lake School. The director and the teachers are wonderful - they create a nurturing and playful environment for the kids. The curriculum is play-based with an incredible variety of activities and skills for the kids to work on (activities are changed up on a daily basis). The outside playyard is fairly large for the size of the school and the kids spend a lot of time there (it's part of what sold me on the school in the first place). The teachers have a ton of experience (several have been working there for many years) and really work to connect with the kids and families. The kids attend school three hours a day for 2-5 days a week, usually the younger kids go in the morning and the older kids in the afternoon. This schedule does not work for everybody, but if you can swing it, it's well worth it. The parent community is also very active. My girls are really different - and the teachers found unique ways to engage each of them. My older daughter has had a great year in kindergarten - both academically and socially - and I credit this in large part to the skills she learned at the Lake School. Kate

I love the school for my 4 year old son. He has gone there for two years now and will go again next year to the Lake School's Developmental-K program. The teachers are wonderful and really get to know your child. Each day my son comes back from school to tell me who he played with and what his favorite activity was that day. It could be playing outside, painting a picture or feeding the chickens at the school. What always impresses me is how activities I view as simple crafts or playground time are actually designed with attention to your child's development. My son has thrived at the school and I look forward to my younger son starting there in another year. Really Happy Mom

We are big fans of The Lake School and actively involved in making the school a more magical place. We have girls who are 3 and 5 at the school this year. We been at the schools since our 5 year old was 2 1/2. Next year our youngest will be in the 4 Day AM class.

The teachers have exceptional skills, enthusiasm and experience. Their knack at teaching in a play based environment is second to none. It has a nice community of parents, who help make the school a better place to be. If the class schedule works with your childcare schedule, The Lake School is a great place to be.

If you have any specific questions or concerns, I am happy to share our experiences. Cheers, Matt

July 2011

Re: Seeking excellent Pre K program with 2011 openings
I'd urge you to take a look at The Lake School. Our son attended the Developmental Kindergarten (''DK'') program last year and loved every minute of it! It's a wonderful school, a fantastic program, and the philosophy and feel of the school are so, so special. The kids really benefit from the caring teachers and experienced Director. Come take a look! R.

June 2011

Re: Bridge K/Transitional K Programs?
I'd urge you to take a look at The Lake School. Our son attended the Developmental Kindergarten (''DK'') program last year and loved every minute of it! It's a wonderful school, a fantastic program, and the philosophy and feel of the school are so, so special. The kids really benefit from the caring teachers and experienced Director. Come take a look! R.

April 2011

Re: Preschool in Berk/Oakland for shy 4.5 yo
I would urge you to take a look at The Lake School, where you son would be warmly cared for and supported in his preschool experience. The Lake School teachers and Director are all experienced with meeting the kids where they are, be it a bit reserved, bouncing with energy, creatively inclined, etc. My son spent three years there, and my daughter is now finally enjoying her time at the school, after years of enviously watching big brother head off to the best place ever!

The Lake School is a small, private, non-profit preschool located in the Lake Merritt neighborhood of Oakland. Set in a turn-of-the-century home with a large outdoor space, it provides a comprehensive, developmentally-appropriate program in a creative, warm and relaxed environment. The school offers 3 hour programs for children starting at 2.5 years of age by Sept. 1, including a developmental kindergarten class. Younger children attend a morning session and pre-K children attend an afternoon session.

Feel free to email me if you'd like more parent perspective. You may also learn more by visiting, or contact director Jaynese Davis at (510) 839-4227.

Best of luck to you and your son in your search! Rachel

March 2011

We are looking at preschools and are very interested in the Lake School. I'm just a little worried about the 3 hour it enough? Also is play based better than Montessori or something more structured? Our son currently attends a Montessori school but beginning to feel that my son should play more...since he'll probably be in school for at least 16 years! He is turning 4 so this would be the year to prepare him for kindergarten. We just want to make the right decision for him especially since we are planning to apply to Head Royce and other private schools. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Our family is just completing our 5th and final year at The Lake School -- both my kids will have spent three years there each, and we have loved the entire experience. It is a warm and nurturing environment with really experienced teachers, and the family community is great. My son is now in first grade, and was very prepared to enter Kindergarten last year. While we opted for public school, many Lake School kids go on to Head Royce, Bentley, etc. While the hours are limited and the program is play-based, the kids are learning so much every day and having a lot of fun in the process. There is a clear curriculum for each month, including art, science, music and lots more. Please feel free to email me if you want to discuss The Lake School in more detail! sb

Feb 2007

Re: Afternoon Preschool Programs
I do not know of an afternoon co-op preschool but would highly recommend the Lake School in Oakland. While they are not a co- op they do have huge parent involvement in many aspects of the school and they have an afternoon program. The school is truly a wonderful and amazing place. dolby

June 2006

Can anyone give me your experience of the Lake School? The recommendations are a few years old and don't really address the experience of the children there. I am wondering how my son, who is just over three, will fare transitioning from a small, home- based preschool (which is suddenly closing) to a larger environment. Is this a good school for children on the shy side? Also, what do parents do for after care if they need it? Any comments will be appreciated.

My son attended Lake School a couple of years ago and my daughter currently attends. I have found the teachers, and Director to be extremely attentive towards children that are on the shy side. Both of my children LOVE the Lake School, as do I. As far as after care, I know that some parents have caregivers pick up their children when school ends, but most families either have a flexible schedule or one parent is at home. If you decide to send your child to the Lake School he will be in the best hands.
Happy Lake School Parent

Our son is finishing his first year at the school, and he absolutely loves it. The environment is warm, friendly and safe. There are tons of activities and projects for the kids to do, and the activity options literally change every single day. In my opinion, there are two main things that make it such a great school: continuity and parental involvement. On continuity, it begins at the top with Jaynese, the Lake School's director. She has been in charge of the school for 16 years. From that experience, she knows so much about creating a wonderful environment for the kids. She also has a very apparent love for the school, which translates into an excellent cirriculm. She is also extremely responsive to parents' questions or concerns. In addition, the teachers, for the most part have been there for many years. Two of our son's teachers have been with the school for over 15 years. The teachers also provide excellent observations of the children's development, which are given out at twice yearly parent-teacher conferences.

On parental involvement: Parents play a key role at the school, with a strong and active parents' board. While some schools may shy away from parental involvement, the Lake School welcomes it. The parent board plans many activities, including parent education nights, school field trips and whole family social activities. I know that my ability to be involved in the school makes me feel better about sending my child there. Regarding your son being shy, our son tends to be shy too, but he has really blossomed at the school and has made lots of friends.

To answer your other question, there is no aftercare at the school, so parents are left to make their own arrangements. In all, we love The Lake School. It has been a great place for our son to attend.
Lake School Family

Lake School is a hidden treasure that does not need to advertise. It is usually all word of mouth. The school has been around for 25 years. And the teachers are experienced, long time teachers who have strong child development backgrounds. My son was very shy and hestitant with preschool even though we had been doing toddler classes from 18 mos. The Lake School was great for him. First they bring the classroom outside as well as inside. My son adapted well from the get go, because he was always intriged by the creative set ups. Second the teachers are very supportive of all kids and know what to expect developmently. It's one of the few schools I saw where there was no issues on the playground, the teachers main focus is social development and it shows. As for after school care, most families have nannies or pair up with a friend/carpool for that. There is no extended care

I highly recommend the Lake School. My daughter is just finishing up 3 years there and my son will start next year. It has exceeded our expectations. I can't say enough good things about it. But it is only part-time. It's in a small house and each of the three classrooms are very cozy so transitioning from a home-based program shouldn't be too much of an issue. The staff is very qualified and knows how to deal w/ transition issues. If you want more info., call the Director (Jaynese) at 839.6774 or email me back. Good luck

The Lake School is a fantastic school. We have teachers who have been here for over 15 years. They're really up on child development. I don't think of The Lake School as ''big''. Probably because the school and the Parent Board do a great job of bringing everyone together. btw, there's no work requirement at this school, it's volunteer only. The parent organizations at Lake are pretty amazing (they're probably more together than those of most grade schools out there). As for shy kids, my daughter has shy aspects to her personality (as so many do at this age), and the teachers understand that. If there's a group activity that she doesn't want to do, that's no problem, and a teacher will often hang back and comfort her if she's feeling overwhelmed. As for the school hours, I heard that the school was founded 25 years ago to provide part time preschool. So those of us who need more hours have babysitters/nannies/au pairs/relatives for child care. We hope you'll join us at the Lake School--the kids have so much fun!
Happy Lake School Parent

June 2005

Re: Nurturing Preschool for 3 year olds
Look into the Lake School, in Oakland. It is a terrific program. We love the teachers (very experienced). My kids made a great transition to school when they were 3.

Feb. 2004

Re: Developmental Language Disorder: Appropriate School?
I just visited The Lake School on Lester Avenue near Lake Merritt. It is a wonderful part-time only preschool program in a great space (a Victorian house with a large outdoor play space) with professional (and wonderful) teachers. They focus on social and emotional development, conflict resolution and language development. Some of their students receive speech and language intervention within the context of their day at the school.

Because one of their goals is ''to perform ongoing assessments of each child's cognitive, physical and social growth,'' the staff at the School are particularly astute and offer parents lots of insights based on their observations. There are formal assessments of each child in the Fall and Spring! Call the school at 510-839-4227. Wanda

Oct 2003

Does anyone have any recommendations (good or bad) or information regarding the Lake School in Oakland? Thanks. Kristin

Our daughter is in her second year at The Lake School, and we are very pleased with it. The school has been around for nearly 20 years, and I believe the director (Jaynese) has been there as long. Most of the teachers have been there for 8 or more years. All of them are wonderful--very loving and engaged. The school is ''play based''--they teach children through developmentally-appropriate play. They are sensitive to families who will be applying to private kindergarten (they do Kindergarten-readiness assessments and informational sessions about the schools, etc.), and I am told that is well regarded by private schools. If you haven't already done so, you should send your postcard expressing interest in the school ASAP, as preference is given to sibs and those who are first to return their postcards. Lisa