Little Stars Preschool
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Does anyone have any experience with or thoughts on Little Stars Preschool on 14th Street in downtown Oakland? Thanks
I have had my kids in Little Stars for over two years (since before they turned two), and have had a good experience. I have recommended it to others and one of my co-workers has his daughter there now, too. It is a great school for diverse, working families.
There are many things I like about the school, and my kids have grown a lot by being there. They were potty-trained there. They learned the alphabet and how to spell their names there. They have learned good social skills there. They have learned how to sing and speak in Spanish and Cantonese. What I like most is my relationship with the teachers, especially the director, Young Lee. She takes the time to talk with me whenever it is necessary, and really listens to what I do with my children as a parent so that she can be on the same page with what direction they are given at school. My boys have a lot of energy, but there are a lot of kids like that at the school; my kids are mixed-race (black/white), but there are a lot of kids like that at the school; my kids have their own styles of learning and interacting, and their styles are known by the teachers and respected.
Little Stars has been a great fit for my family, and I would encourage anyone to check it out and consider it as an option for theirs. julie
We just enrolled our 21/2 year old daughter at Little Stars and are very happy with it. I have a certificate in ECE and when she and I went for a visit before enrolling it was like the teachers had seen my list of questions before I even asked! It's play based, which fits my understanding of child development. They have such a great mix of kids from different ethnic backgrounds and they do separate the babies from the older kids, but there is an opportunity for the pre-schoolers to mix with the pre-k. They have a bi-lingual Spanish teacher who speaks to her in Spanish all day so that she doesn't lose the language (her previous care giver spoke only Spanish to her), and she's learning words and songs in Cantonese and Mandarin. The most compelling reason we love it is that when we come to pick her up, she doesn't want to go home. Email if you want more info. Melissa
I have looked through the BPN reviews and am wondering if anyone has any reviews (perferably current) of Starlite Preschool and/or Little Stars Preschool, both located in downtown Oakland, near the main library. Thanks.
Our child went to Little Stars Preschool between the ages of about two and a half and three and a half. We were not happy with this school. It's very strong on academics... in a way which often seemed inappropriate for children of this age. For example, the head teacher (eventually) told us that ''we really PUSH the children to read.'' There was a strong emphasis on performance whether the children were drawing, coloring, or copying letters.
Some teachers were very firm, even strict. Other teachers and staff were total pushovers. The net effect of this was that in the morning, the children were given almost no real boundaries, and in the afternoon everything suddenly changed and they were expected to behave, to go to the bathroom when they were told, et cetera. This was very confusing for our child, and led to a lot of acting-out.
The bathroom issue was especially problematic. For example, we would send him to school in underwear and he would return in pull-ups. When I asked why this was happening, the head teacher said that he wasn't ready for potty-training - even though he had been potty-trained at home for some time - because he refused to go to the bathroom when they told him to. Adding to the problem was that he became afraid to ask the teachers for permission to go. And the toilets were in one long row in one room, right there with the teacher changing the babies.
The more we talked to our child about school, the worse the discipline problem turned out to be. At first, he talked about his teachers yelling at him and slapping his arm and the arms of other children. When I asked the head teacher about this, she didn't say that it wasn't true, but she said that it was against their rules and illegal to hit the kids. When I kept pursuing it, she finally said that the only time they would stage a physical intervention would be if that was the only thing that kid would listen to. The scenarios she gave were situations like our kid taking another kid's toy. When he began going to Little Stars, he used to get into fights and roughhouse with several of the other children, and he was labeled a troublemaker by the teachers. When he told me about these fights, I taught him that it wasn't okay to hit other kids, even to hit back, and we worked on other solutions he could come up with. He stopped hitting kids at school, but they kept on hitting him - and now he had no defense - and he was being blamed for being hit, because ''they must have had some reason to hit him.'' When pressed, the teachers couldn't come up with any reason that the other students might have wanted to hit him, because there was very little supervision on the playground, and an illegal teacher-student ratio in the classroom. (The ratio on paper was fine, but in practice the students were often left with staff members instead of teachers, or were sent into ''time out'' in a separate room with no adults or other children anywhere nearby.) Both of these things were big contributors to the amount of violence among the children. And if children came to them for help in solving a conflict or to say that someone had hit them, the standard teacher response that I witnessed was ''Well, I didn't see it, so I don't know which of you is telling the truth.''
We also observed our son - who loved the PowerPuff Girls and had a PPG backpack - getting verbally harassed by groups of other children for ''liking girl things.'' It turned out that this was a regular occurence, which the teachers had known about for a long time. To their credit, when we brought it up with them, the head teacher waited until a day when the whole school was present and then had a talk with them about it; however, it made no difference and was absolutely too little too late. And to this day he is terrified of being seen to wear glitter or anything else that someone might think is ''girly.''
The supervision was another thing that turned out to be a bigger problem the more we learned. It turned out that for a while, when we signed our child in, brought him to the classroom, said goodbye and left, he had been walking back out to the unsupervised lobby/front playroom, trying to get out, then hiding and crying. The teachers initially did not even tell us about this, then toldus as an example of a horrible thing our child was doing. It turned out that the teacher-student ratio was so far off that they weren't even noticing when we brought Connor into the classroom, and even when we made sure to flag a teacher down, they didn't notice afterwards when he snuck out. At no point did they question why he was crying: to them he was simply misbehaving by leaving without permission. As time wore on, I started noticing other children sitting alone in the front room on days when he came to school late or left early. They always told me that they were in time out; apparently the school was sending them to sit alone in a separate room, without an adult, where they could have run out the front door if someone had come in, or if they had known how to operate the buzzer system.
But the crowning glory came when he was home sick one day and we were talking about how we did time outs. I asked him if he remembered how I did them, and he said that we sit down and talk about it. Then asked how his mom did them, and he said that she sends him to sit in a corner. Then I asked how his teacher did them, and he said, ''She grabs my ear.'' It turned out that he had tried to escape from time out and one of the teachers had grabbed him by the ear and pulled him back to the time out area. We asked him to demonstrate on us, and even though he had tiny little fingers and we have big grownup ears, it still hurt. We pulled him out of the school immediately. I would never recommend this preschool to anyone, ever. Aidan
I have twin sons at Little Stars; they have been there for two years, and will be for two more years until they enter kindergarten. I saw the most recent post about Little Stars, which was also posted about a year ago, and I think that may be the only info on this website about Little Stars, so I felt compelled to give another perspective. My kids' father and I picked Little Stars after looking at several preschools, including Hearts' Leap in Berkeley, for several reasons: the price is very reasonable (especially for two kids at the same time), they take kids in diapers and help them potty-train at school (my kids both potty-trained at Little Stars), the location is great, especially when you commute by BART to SF for work, the hours are great and there is a lot of diversity among the children and families who go there and the teachers. My kids are biracial, and both their dad and I wanted them to play with other kids of color. We think our kids benefit by being around other cultures on a day-to-day basis. Those are the reasons we chose the school; this is why we still have our kids there: there is a strong emphasis on academics, and I like that. My one son now spells his name all the time; he learned how to do that at Little Stars. My other son has a longer name, and does not quite have the hang of spelling the letters, but that is not an issue. My twin sons are allowed to develop differently and express themselves differently. However, they both have learned lots of things that make me feel they are getting prepared for kindergarten, which is important to me. I do not feel that they are being viewed as products, but are being introduced to a structured school-like environment for part of the day. Whenever I drop them off and pick them up, they are either playing in the huge playyard outside, or playing inside with blocks and toys, teachers nearby and available. In addition, another thing I love about Little Stars is that they recognize and celebrate holidays. Every holiday has art projects that the kids do, and usually something for them to bring home (on Mother's Day they each made me a card at school). For the winter holiday, there is a whole pageant. The school closes and I take off work with the other parents and family members to come and watch the kids perform. Again, one of my sons participated in a dance onstage and had a great time; the other son did not wish to and so stayed by my side and watched his brother. No pressure was put on him to do what the other kids were doing. They do something similar when the kids graduate to kindergarten, and I am looking forward to seeing my boys on stage in cap and gown with their peers. I have found the director, Miss Lee, to be very easy to talk to and very communicative with me. Whenever I have an issue, or if she has an issue, we talk about it. We also just talk when we see each other at pick-up or drop-off times, and she gives me all kinds of information on how my kids are doing. So, I just wanted to let any parents know who are thinking about Little Stars what my experiences have been there, and not to rule it out. I know that at least one parent and child have had a bad experience there, but I talk regularly with the parents of the other children that have been there for years, and it has been a good match for many. Just wanted that persepective shared as well. julie