Montclair Community Play Center (MCPC)

Community Subscriber

Oakland, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

DSS Facility License #: 
non-profit parent cooperative
preschool [at]
Montclair on Thornhill Drive
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
18 months - 60 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Additional Services & Features: 
Afternoon option, Sibling discount
About Our Program: 

MCPC is a parent-run, non-profit, co-op Preschool comprised of 25 families. We provide a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment where children ages 3 to 5 learn to build self-esteem and to value diversity. Our programs are based on three key principles: free-play and hands-on experience, supportive learning for both parent and child, and conflict-resolution.

For younger children, we offer a free-play toddler program for children 18-36 months. Toddler Playtime promotes beginning socialization through free-play, creative art projects, large and small motor skills, music, snack and circle times.

Parent Reviews

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RE: Summer camp for 4-year-olds ()

It really depends on your particular kids where they will thrive but our kids both did really well at Trackers at that age. Also, Monkey Business has a special camp for preschool age kids. It's a separate location and staff from their 'big kid' camp and our son loved it when he went at age 3. I don't know if they are running it this summer or not, so many things have changed due to covid.

Lastly, my son's preschool, MCPC in Oakland, runs a summer camp for 3-5yo each summer. They run two 3-week sessions. I think it's usually in June and July though, not August. Though dates haven't been firmly set yet for this summer, also because of covid and cohort restrictions, etc. Good luck!

Welcome! First off, in OUSD there's not an issue with keeping your child back. BUSD is very strict but we had zero issues with OUSD.

As for schools, this depends on exactly what you are looking for and how far you are willing to drive! East Bay Waldorf school is a trek from Oakland but they have a ton of space (I want to say 80 acres?). They do go indoors but the kids go outside rain or shine as well.

I have to give a shout out for my son's current preschool, MCPC, as well. It's much smaller than what you're describing but the outdoor space is much larger than the indoor area, and since covid the kids are pretty much always outside. I liked my daughter's preschool but my son (and all his friends) are happier at MCPC than I have ever seen kids. It's a co-op so I know this firsthand. The social-emotional learning and conflict resolution are amazing. The anti-bias curriculum with an emphasis on social justice is incredibly well-implemented in just the way 3-5yos can take it in. And it's actually a truly inclusive school when it comes to non-neurotypical kids. My son thinks nothing of it if he has a playdate with a kid on the spectrum. He's unfazed when someone who he formerly knew as a 'he' decides they want to be a 'they' or a 'she.' And he already understands that it's very real for BIPOC to be treated differently from white people — and that it's not okay. Lastly, his social skills outshine those of lots of older kids we know because of the way the teachers patiently, from day one, model how to talk to other people whenever there is a conflict or someone gets hurt.

The teachers and the community are incredible and we even have a part-time Spanish Immersion program. I can't say enough good things about this school. We'll be having a virtual info night sometime in January (date TBD) so if any of that sounds interesting look us up!

We're in our 3rd year at MCPC (with kid #2), and I'm so grateful this school and community exist.

If you're looking for a thoughtful, communicative play-based co-op model school, look no further. 

My daughter (who has Down Syndrome, so you're the parent of a child with a disability, harken ye!) started at MCPC at age 3. I knew she'd be welcomed, supported and met where she was.

The teachers are warm, loving and have a magical way with young children. The space itself is gorgeous with ample outdoor play space. By the time our youngest is done we will have done 5 years in total as a part of the community. Are co-ops work? No doubt about it. But being involved so closely in your child's school experience is worth every minute.

MCPC has been nothing short of amazing for our family. Between our two kids we've experienced 4 different preschools in the East Bay (our daughter's first preschool closed after her first year) so I feel like I have some perspective. At 2yo our son attended a very highly regarded preschool — but it was also very structured and he didn't love it. We started looking for a new school and landed at MCPC, where both my kids had attended Toddler Playtime. I can honestly say my son is having the best possible experience (and I thought my daughter had really loved preschool!). He absolutely loves going to school everyday and misses it on the weekends. 

The outdoor space is huge and varied (we even have chickens), every day brings various art projects and activities, but mostly, my kiddo gets to decide what he wants to do with his time. If he wants to do art for an hour, he can. If he wants to spend the whole morning running around or playing in the sand box, that's fine too. Now, at 4, he has also started learning Spanish in the afternoon immersion program with Maestra Susana, former director of the school. MCPC strikes the perfect balance between free-play and just enough structured time that Kindergarten won't be a total shock for the kids who graduate!

Most preschools these days talk about social emotional learning but MCPC actually walks the talk in a way none of the other preschools we've experienced have. At MCPC no child is a 'bad child' or even has 'bad' behavior. The kids learn that everyone is doing their best and practicing new skills. When conflicts arise the children are gently led through a resolution process that actually works — and teaches them how to do it themselves. MCPC also really practices acceptance and celebration of diversity, on every level, and is fully inclusive (we have several neuro-diverse kids).

Lastly, it's an amazing experience as a parent. Not only are we welcomed into the fold of this incredible community, we also get so much hands-on parent education. No book or class can compare to watching our phenomenal teachers help the children navigate conflicts that arise, and then getting the chance to try it yourself and get feedback from those same teachers. Having working parents at the school really makes it feel like a village. We are raising our kids together and we all really know each other.

And now I've seen how the teachers and parents have come together and risen to the challenge of COVID and could not be more impressed with the response. From making the commitment to keeping our teachers to all the physical changes that had to be made to our school, every step has been carefully thought out and every voice gets a chance to be heard.

Yes, it's a co-op, and that means there is a fair amount of work to be done. But I wouldn't trade it! With that work and physical presence at the school comes so much learning, and so many connections with the other families. It's a treasure I will take with me when we graduate!

Check out MCPC Toddler Playtime in north Oakland! It’s not drop in as it runs in sessions but I did it with both my kids and they loved it. You get full access to an amazing preschool space with other parents and kids including an optional snack and circle time facilitated by a teacher. We tried some city-run programs which were fine but MCPC is on a whole other level. I couldn’t recommend it more!

MCPC! Montclair community play center. She may be a little young for the preschool program but they offer toddler play times which are so much fun! Beautiful space and nice folks. This was one of our favorites for our two kids and we had friends who were in the preschool and loved it!

I highly recommend MCPC’s toddler program.  My son has been attending twice a week since he turned 18 months old and absolutely loves it. The program runs year round (there are separate sessions for each season and usually a week or two break between sessions) and you can sign up for more than one class a week space permitting. The teachers are fantastic and engaging. The outdoor area is spacious and thoughtfully designed (including different play structures and a chicken coop). MCPC is a kid heaven that does not disappoint!  

You might be interested in Montclair Community Play Center (across from Thornhill Elementary). They have a small and well-regarded Bridge-K program, but it's a co-op with an afternoon schedule, so it doesn't work for every family. 

We'll always be grateful to the MCPC Bridge K program for this year of growth, learning, and friendship. The other reviews mentioned the Bridge K experience as a gift, and our family completely agrees. Our son has a fall birthday so was eligible for TK, but the long days, large classes, and less developmentally-appropriate curriculum wasn't a good fit for our slow-to-warm, sensitive boy. We were lucky to get a spot in the MCPC Bridge K program, and it has turned out to be the best parenting decision we've made. Our tenderhearted son started the year as a self-conscious kid who held himself back out of fear of trying new things. Nine months later, he's a kid who still observes before joining in, but who is confident about expressing his feelings, approaching kids and making friends, and feels so much more comfortable handling conflict. We credit MCPC, where the teachers are loving, funny, and wise, and the community is enthusiastic and kind. Teachers Jamie, Anthea, Jolie, and Nick treat the kids as the capable people that they are, but also skillfully help the kids work through big emotions, resolve conflicts, learn new skills, and broaden their vocabulary to better communicate feelings and ideas. The year has also been transformational for me as a parent. Because MCPC is a co-op, I worked in the classroom once every two weeks, and those hours, together with the monthly parent meetings and seminars, have truly made me a better parent -- and, I think, a kinder and more empathetic grown-up!  

The school site is small but they've made it a wonderland for kids (chickens! a terrace made out of tires! a giant sandbox! a zipline! Shelves and shelves of impeccably organized books, toys, manipulatives, art supplies, games, you name it! Also field trips and bike days!). Teachers Anthea and Jamie skillfully mix lots of play with activities designed for Kindergarten readiness (all of the kids are "graduating" from Bridge K as readers!). The teacher/student ratio (2 teachers and a working parent for 11 Bobcats this year) is fantastic, such that the teachers and all of the working parents really know each kid. And the parent community is so very supportive. It's bittersweet to end this wonderful year for our son, but we know that our family will take everything we learned at MCPC with us. 

We enrolled our 5yo son in MCPC’s Bridge K program in Fall 2016 when deciding between Kindergarten and another year of pre-school and couldn’t be happier with our decision.

Our son has grown significantly in the 7 months since the program started in September.  He has taken ownership of his school, which he LOVES! And he has blossomed under predictable daily schedule of academics and play (threaded through with social emotional practices).  Within that schedule Teachers Anthea and Jamie have found what works with him as an individual and encouraged his confidence and growth in areas where he had lagged behind in preparation for next year.  The small program and low student/adult ratio makes this possible.  As a co-op the work requirement is a 3 hour shift/family every 2 weeks, which we love because we get to know the teachers and all the kids and see the program in action.

If you are considering giving your child the gift of an extra year, or want an alternative to TK - you should take a look at MCPC.  It’s a wonderful place.

I suggest contacting Mills College School of Education to see if you can post a job there; they have a lab school on site, and their grad students at the school of ed have experience working at the school. Our experiences with their grad students have been fabulous. You might also check out Montclair Community Play Center in Oakland. They have a toddler play time in the afternoons that's a great way to meet other families, and it's a good way to ask around about babysitter recommendations. UrbanSitter is also a way to find sitters that have been booked/recommended by Facebook friends and others in your network. We found our sitter this way. Kindergym with Dawn (just google it) is also a good place to meet other parents and exchange childcare intel. Good luck! 

I will always be grateful to BPN, because this is where I first learned about MCPC.  When I realized there was a preschool Coop nearby our home, I was over the moon. When we actually got in, I was beyond thrilled. But what does that really matter? It was my son's enthusiasm that was truly important. And he has never wavered in his LOVE for MCPC. From the time that he joined (we were on the wait list for his first year in the preschool program), he has been empowered to be his best self by teachers who truly pay attention to who he is and support him in every way they can. By being part of a coop, I have learned so much as a parent how to support my boy in being a kind and honorable citizen of humanity. I'm especially grateful for the Bridge K program because it has given my child a year to be truly ready for becoming a Kindergartener. If you understand the importance of play-based education, and agree with the idea that kids are best served when they are respected and honored as themselves, then MCPC is the place for you.  Now that I'm looking at Kindergarten programs, I realize even more how happy I am that my husband and I made the choice that we did to keep our boy at MCPC for BK even though he was 5 years old in time to enroll in Kindergarten.  There are so few play-based Kindergartens in our area and I believe very strongly in the importance of play for children.  If our good fortune doesn't endure past this year and we don't get a spot in one of the few play-based Kindergarten programs available, then at least we had this last year of kid-centered school before we head into the next 13 years.  The MCPC BK class is small which is great for the kids who are lucky enough to get a spot.  Being part of a coop is a lot of work, but its the kind of work I can't imagine ever regretting because I see how happy my child is every day he goes to school. 

The Montclair Community Play Center Bridge Kindergarten program exceeded my expectations in every way. The two devoted, skilled, endlessly energetic and creative teachers took the time to immediately get to know every child's unique interests, personality, motivations and hurdles and worked directly with everyone, strategically with the group, and thoughtfully with the parents to help each child have an amazing pre-Kindergarten year of socializing, playing, exploring, crafting and getting excited about pre-reading and pre-math skills. 

The curriculum engaged my child and every other child in this small 10-child program daily. My daughter wanted to go to school on Saturdays and Sundays and begged for playdates at school (which is open on weekends for those families that need it!) with her teachers and her MCPC Bridge K friends when she found out that weekends are not school days.

The teachers made the time to hang out in the yard with parents for 15 min - 45 minutes after school every day! They shared their observations of our children from the day, answered the parents questions, gave the parents solicited advice for the challenges we faced with our little ones at home, and modeled how they helped our children gain conflict resolution and inclusivity skills.

I could go on and on about this program, but I'll leave you with this instead: this program was amazing for my child (and a HUGE boost for my parenting, with all the parent-coaching I received!) and every family I've known who has gone through it says the same!

We enrolled our 4 year old son in the bridge-K program offered by MCPC, and it has been the best decision we made.

The program is small, max 15 kids, has two loving and amazing teachers (Anthea and Jamie) and is connected to the very thoughtful preschool and its director Jolie.  MCPC is amazing because they understand early childhood development and educate parents, the community is very active as a cooperative and parents truly help each other out. The bridge-k program focuses on social skills needed for Kindergarten.  They emphasize inclusionary behavior and conflict resolution. As the parent of a very active and verbal boy we had experienced feedback from other Rockridge preschools that our son had behavioral issues. This did not sit right with me as a former teacher and it became clear that many preschool teachers are not trained in classroom management, so active and verbal kids can work them over. MCPC celebrated and engaged our son.

As a full time working parent the half day schedule and time commitment to work every other week for 4 hours were not taken lightly, but our family figured out how to swing it for the 10 months. I highly recommend.

I love, love, love this place. Our daughter went to the bridge k program last year, and it was *amazing* for our *whole* family. Teacher Anthea and Teacher Jaime are incredible. They love what they do, love their kids and it shows. The whole philosophy of the school is amazing, and the mandatory parent meetings were *really* helpful simply in terms of learning helpful parenting skills!!! When the director of the school put up a slide during a parent training at the beginning of the year saying "There are no bad kids", I was sold. So much care goes into this place, and so much close attention is paid to each kid and to establishing a culture of love and acceptance of everyone. My only wish is that we could have spent even more years here! Cannot say enough good about it!!!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

April 2015

RE: 4 years old in July - What are my options??

Hi, I would like to offer this in response to your concerns about your child who will be 4-yrs old in July. If your child is not 5 by September 1st, s/he would probably be a great candidate for MCPC's Bridge Kindergarten program. Teacher Anthea teaches an emergent curriculum and provides a fun, stimulating, extremely creative experience for old 4s and young 5s ... the program is small (12-15) and each kid is personally focused on to a great extent. The class combines play time, physical challenges and lots of very creative art with some academic rigor: the children are learning to write and achieve other milestones that OUSD expects of their incoming Kindergartners. My son regularly comes home with original art, seeds he has planted, jewelry he has made ... another benefit is that the program runs from 1-4pm, so it helps kids make that transition to the typical Kindergarten schedule of 9am-3pm. I believe they are still offering Bridge K tours for anyone who is interested. Julie

Feb 2015

RE: Transition Kindergarten recommendations?

Hi, In response to your post asking about Berkeley TK programs, I am writing even though the place I'm recommending is in Montclair. It is worth the drive. If your child is not 5 by September 1st, s/he would probably be a great candidate for MCPC's Bridge Kindergarten program. Teacher Anthea teaches an emergent curriculum and provides a fun, stimulating, extremely creative experience for old 4s and young 5s ... the program is small (12-15) and each kid is personally focused on to a great extent. The class combines play time, physical challenges and lots of very creative art with some academic rigor: the children are learning to write and achieve other milestones that local schools expect of their incoming Kindergartners. My son regularly comes home with original art, seeds he has planted, jewelry he has made, etc. ... another benefit is that the program runs from 1-4pm, so it helps kids make that transition to the typical Kindergarten schedule of 9am-3pm. My son is SO much more ready for Kindergarten than he would have been without taking this program. I cannot recommend it highly enough. More info can be found at -Satisfied TK mom

April 2014

My son attended MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center) Bridge K the Fall of 2011. He turned 5 in August so he was eligible to go to Kindergarten but we decided he was really at the cusp and why not give him another year?? Kindergarten is tough these days, not like K when we were growing up. My husband is also European and in many European cultures, academics at 5 is not the norm. My experience is that children all catch up academically but social/emotional catch up is difficult. Why push them? Anthea Peck is the Head Bridge K teacher and is wonderful. The transformation from the beginning of the year to the end and confidence going into Kindergarten is priceless. Jennifer

Feb 2014

My 7 year old attended the MCPC Bridge K program and my little guy is all enrolled for this coming year. Teacher Anthea is amazing. This program gives them an emotional, social and academic year of preparation, growth and fun! It is getting increasingly popular with the Sept 1 cut off. Bridge K to me is much better than a 3rd year of preschool. Also, for summer etc. bdays that are just not ready yet for the kindergarten curriculum (very different than when we were kids) or they are just not socially/emotionally ready and they need another year to build confidence. Jennifer Jennifer

March 2013

If your pre schooler is young or not quite ready for kindergarten, I highly recommend MCPC Bridge K School in Montclair. My son could not be happier & loves going to school...even wants to go on weekends! It is the perfect transition from pre school to kinder. Teacher Anthea is very killed & the kids are respected & listened is amazing to watch the thoughtful redirection & positive response from the kids in return. My son's time at MCPC will, no doubt, be some of his fondest early school memories. leah

Aug 2012

MCPC has a curriculum rooted in play and hands-on experience. Pre-literacy and pre-math are taught through art projects, science experiments, drama, music, cooking, and carpentry. This program emphasizes social skills, emotional literacy, and helping children learn to solve conflicts. [I think there are here are spaces available now in the Bridge kindergarten program] For more information on The Bridge K go to:

May 2012

If you are on the fence about whether or not to send your fall birthday child to Kindergarten or a ''Bridge K'' preschool class, I have a great school for you to consider. MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center) is a non-profit play-based co-op nursery school that is amazingly supportive and creative. Your child needs to turn 5 by December 31 of this year to be eligible and enrollment is limited to 12 children. Two teachers and 1 parent work with the Bridge K kids each day, and if you know anything about public schools, this ratio is unbelievable! My first son (birthday 11/20) went to a private school for 3 years before starting Kindergarten at our local Oakland public school. His Kinder year it was 24 students to 1 teacher, no aides. My youngest son, who will graduate as a Bridge K ''Bobcat'' this year, was at a family daycare for 1 1/2 years before MCPC and I have to say that between the daycare and MCPC, he is better prepared for Kindergarten than my $40,000-worth-of-private-school son was. My Bobcat is thrilled to go to school each day, and between trips to the library, sewing, painting, gardening, cooking: academically he is already writing and reading at a beginning 1st grade level. That could just be due to his own readiness, but whatever level the child is at, Teachers Therese and Anthea are able to bring out the best in him/her. The teachers are warm, loving but firm and able to work with the kids on the social skills and habits that will be needed for Kindergarten. The only bummer about this program is the time- it is offered from 1-4 pm M-F. I have had to change my habits to take advantage of the afternoon time when he is in class, but I have come to really appreciate the mornings that we spend together. I feel like this year has been a gift to both of us- this 1 amazing year before the demands of Kindergarten has enabled him to build confidence and self-esteem and ''play'' while learning. I think that will have life long benefits; he sees himself as a child who is capable and successful at school. For instance, 2 of the children that my older son started Kinder with that were very bright but 2 of the youngest in the class, have now had to repeat 1st grade- not because of academics, but because of lagging behind emotionally. You are welcome to contact me for more info about our experience there, or call Jennie Votel at 510-316-3529 to schedule a ''playdate'' with the Bobcats while class is still in session. Or, you can e-mail her at jvotel [at] There are still spots for fall. I don't think that many parents have heard about this newer Bridge K class at MCPC, and our experience there this year has been so great that I just needed to share it with other like-minded parents! Lou

May 2012

I wanted to make a plug for the MCPC Bridge-K Program. I know they still have open slots, and I cannot say enough good things about it. All of the teachers at the facility are fantastic - but I have a special place in my heart for the Bridge-K teachers. Anthea and Terese take the time to know each child on an independant level and always have time to chat with a mom over what went on during the day, questions, or concerns.

I opted for the Bridge-K vs Preschool because there's just that little bit ''more'' that they can gain. I feel like he's much more ready for Kindergarten than he would have been without the program.

I give a big thank you to the teachers for making this transition in his life so happy, and for helping him prepare for the big move to Kindergarten. I would recommend this program to anyone. Amy

March 2012

Re: Looking for a preK or Bridge K in Oakland
Look into the Bridge K program at MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center). My child is in the preschool program there and I've seen first-hand the quality of the curriculum and the amazing, skillful teachers involved in this little gem of a Bridge K. The kids are nurtured and challenged, with plenty of art, science, literacy building, and lots of fun, imaginative play. The group is small and the student/teacher ratio can't be beat. From my observations, the teachers never miss a moment to enrich and support the kids emotionally and intellectually, and there is an emphasis on social skills and conflict resolution. MCPC is a parent co-operative, so you get to be directly involved, but the participation requirement at the Bridge K seems manageable for working parents. mcpc parent

I'm not sure when your child turns 5, but you might consider checking out Monclair Community Play Center's Bridge-K program at It is a much more affordable program than most in the area, and it is an amazing community. Hope that helps! Good luck. Anthea

Feb 2012

I'd like to make a plug for the pre-school my son attends. He attended two other pre-schools prior to Montclair Community Play Center and it's wasn't until MCPC that I realized just how dissatisfying the other two schools were.

MCPC has been a wonderful school for our son (who is in the Bridge-K program), and a great community of people. The two Bridge-K teachers are terrific. They are knowledgeable about the developmental milestones of preschool children and are continually developing that knowledge further. Before our son even began at MCPC, one of the teachers came to our house and spent an hour with him, focusing completely on him and what he wanted to do. That attentiveness has continued throughout his time in the Bridge-K program.

At his previous pre-schools, our son cried nearly every day at drop off and when asked at the end of the time there about how the day went, he'd respond, ''fine'' in a heartbreakingly apathetic way. At MCPC, however, he has come out of his shell so much. Drop-off is no longer a traumatic experience. He has friendships that he talks about and projects/themes that he is enthusiastic about. When asked about his day, a common response is that it was ''super great.''

Hard to beat that. Check it out. Happy MCPC Dad

Feb 2012

Re: Looking for pre-school for visiting five year old
Have you looked into the Bridge K program at MCPC?

I have been at MCPC for two years with my son in the preschool program. The teachers are fantastic and the community is the ''village'' I've been looking for to help me raise my son. We've had such a wonderful time and both my son and I have grown in so many ways. I cannot say enough great things about MCPC!

The Bridge K Program is an extension of the co-op Preschool Program located in the Oakland hills. The BK class runs from 1-4pm Monday through Friday with Parent Participation once every 2-3 weeks. It's a play-based program with a very rich curriculum.

For more info, check out the website, Good luck! Tristan

July 2011

Re: Seeking excellent Pre K program with 2011 openings
Hi! I have 2 sons, both with late fall birthdays. We had my older son continue with a Pre-K year at his local private school and he entered public Kindergarten at age 5 and turned 6 y.o. two months after the school year started. We don't regret waiting, at all. Kindergarten is no joke these days! What we do regret is spending over $38,000 for 3 years of playdough, snacks and napping when he could have been just as prepared and had just as much learning as at MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center). My 4 year old will be going starting there this fall, and it is amazing! There will be 2 incredibly overqualified teachers to about 10 children, and I love Teacher Therese already. Our private school had some great teachers, and some not-so-great teachers, and there was quite a bit of turnover and lots of drama. MCPC has been around a long time, they get it, I have done their Toddler programs and summer camps and it is always more organized than the private school was. Check it out, I have looked at many schools around the East Bay for over 7 years, and MCPC is still at the top of my list. lou

Jan 2011

Re: Recommendations for preschools in Montclair area?
I want to invite you to visit our fantastic co-op school, Montclair Community Play Center ( My son started there in the fall, and we have been thrilled with the school and the community. MCPC is a close-knit community of 25 families. The curriculum is incredibly rich, the professional teachers are devoted and experienced, and the opportunity to be involved in your child's education is just wonderful. Plus, it's incredibly affordable, for such a high-quality program.

We're leading tours every day in February. You can check out the web site to learn more about the school, or ask the moderator for my email address and contact me directly if you want more first-hand information. Mom of a happy MCPC kid

Jan 2010

Re: Program for 4 yr-old not quite ready for K?
My 4 year old is in a similar situation. He is currently at MCPC (which we love!) and they are starting a new bridge-k program this year. It sounds amazing. The parent info night is Thursday, February 4th at 7:00. Good Luck! lori

Jan 2008

Hello, I'm exploring different pre-schools in Oakland that are parent cooperatives or have highly engaged parent programs. So far, I'm aware of Peter Pan (Maxwell Park), Sequoia (Montclair), and Inch-By-Inch (Mountain Blvd). Do parents have any others to suggest? Thanks--much appreciated! Laura

The Montclair Community Play Center ( on Thornhill about 2 1/2 blocks from Hwy 13) should be on your list. We have been SUPER happy there. It's hard to get in because the applications to openings usually is 3-1, but it's worth applying'cause you might be lucky. The teachers are fabulous, the curriculum is interesting/stimulating and the physical plant is clean( parents keep it cleaned daily!) and nice. I think that learning from the teachers has made me a better parent. The parents-only information night ( mandatory attendance) is Wed, January 23rd at the school. Call the school to find out what time it is. After you get the big picture from that, you can get a tour when school is in session ( you and your partner and your child are encouraged to come). Good luck! Jean

Feb 2007

Re: play-based schools?
My child is currently enrolled at MCPC. We have been very happy with the program, the curriculum, and the director. I can't speak to the issue of kindergarten readiness, but I did want to address your situation as the parent of twins. At MCPC, we try to divide parent duties so that each family is responsible for roughly 1/25th of the aggregate workload. Each family has one workday, one ''job,'' specific fundraising obligations, etc. In order to keep this equitable, parents of twins (who reduce the community from 25 to 24 families) are asked to perform the full range of duties for each enrolled child. In other words, parents of enrolled twins would have two workdays each week, two jobs, twice the usual amount of fundraising obligations, etc. I believe the only exception to this is attendance at the monthly parent education meetings. I don't mean to warn you off MCPC -- it's a great school, and we have had twins enrolled in the past and have an alumni set due to begin in 2008 -- but if you think the increased workload might be an issue for your family, it might be worthwhile for you to inquire about the policies for families with twins at each of the schools you're considering before you get very far along in your search. Best of luck to you. MCPC Parent

May 2006

Re: Desperate for a Summer Preschool Program
MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center) on Thornhill in Oakland offers an excellent morning summer camp program for that age group that runs for about 6 weeks, broken into two sessions. My daughter attended for the last three summers, but now she will no longer be eligible as she is moving on to first grade. She keeps asking me if she can go again! The camp gives priority to incoming or continuing students, but they usually have some open spots for those just interested in summer camp. Unlike their regular preschool co-op program, there is no obligation for you to work It's just drop off. For more information, go to Good luck! tiffany

January 2004

Looking for inpute re Montclair's Community Play Center's Preschool program. Can anyone share their experience with sending their child there in the last 2-3 years? Is the space big enough? Does anyone feel it is too ''play based'' and not enough structured activities or ''learning''? All input appreciated. looking for insights into MCPC

My daughter is in her second year at MCPC. I can not say enough great things about MCPC. Susanna the director and Marianne the teacher are both wonderful. My child has florished there. You asked whether it is ''too play-based.'' I'm not entirely sure what you are asking. If you are asking if your child will be bored, the answer is absoultely not. There are many activities available to them. The curiculum is very rich. There are all kinds of things going on. You also ask if there is enough ''learning.'' It is not academic, and they do not work on letters. They do, however, learn a great deal. The social skills they learn are invaluble. It's great to see two boys who previously hit each other over a conflict be able to talk it out and work out their conflict. They also learn science, pre-math, and pre-reading (they often cook their own snack.) The art projects are varied, and sometimes I'm jelious that I can't take a branch of leaves and dip it in paint and slap it on a huge piece of paper when I saw that was the art project.

Is the space small? Yes it is. It works though. The kids can run and jump. Some play their own version of football with goals and everything.

There are alot of great pre-schools out there. MCPC is one of them. You need to figure out what kind of philosophy that you want your child's preschool to have whether it be play-based, montessori, or what not. The information night for MCPC is next week, so you can check it out yourself. (check the website for the information )There is also a school tour scheduled at the info night for a school day, so you can actually see the school on a typical day. It's a great place. I hope you consider it in your search. (I hope I wasn't too preachy. I'm just passionate about the place.)

A Fan of MCPC

Nov. 2003

Re: Afternoon Mom/Toddler Classes
Hi - The Montclair Community Play Center has classes most afternoons 3:30-5 and may also have some early afternoon classes beginning at 1 or 1:30. These classes have everything you are looking for - free play, circle time, snack time. Go to and follow links to toddler classes. Enjoy! Ioana

I recommend MCPC's afternoon toddler class. It has been a while since I did it with my daughter, but at the time there were two classes to choose from - 1:30 and 3:30. It is basically just like preschool except a parent or caregiver stays and it is an hour and a half. MCPC is located across from Thornhill Elementary school in Montclair. Lisa

MCPC in Montclair has exactly what you are looking for. You can find all the information on It's a pre-school in the mornings, and in the afternoons is has a toddler program with parents attending. It's a great way to meet other parents as well.

Jan 2003

Does anyone have any recent experience with Montclair Community Play Center preschool? I'd like some more recent feedback than what is on the website. Also, if there are any other preschools in the Montclair area that you might recommend. Thanks. Cecile

To the person looking at Montclair preschools...have you checked out Montclair Community Play Center? Our Web site is MCPC has been around for over 70 years, and is a parent co-operative. We have a director whose teaching is inspired, another great teacher, and 4-5 parents working each day, so the ratio for kids to adults is excellent (about 6:1). We offer a play-based developmental curriculum, with lots of art and science projects, and an incredible focus on conflict resolution--we are trained to help kids resolve their own conflicts. Our co-op requires 1 work morning per week, holding an administrative job, and a number of 2nd year parents are on the board. As my son visits kindergartens, I hear, without fail, how the kids from MCPC are unusually prepared for kindergarten. The emotional care they get at MCPC is really great...and you get a wonderful chance to be with your child as they start off on their educational journey. Anyway, if you want more info, check out our Web site. We'll be having a prospective parent information night from 7-9 on Jan. 29. Interested parents must RSVP. We'll also have a table at the East Bay Moms preschool fair on Jan 25. Good luck in your search! Therese

Dec 2002

Re: Afternoon Mom & Toddler Classes

I recommend the toddler program at MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center). It is located on Thornhill in Montclair. THere are two afternoon classes - I think at 1:00 and 3:30 - most days of the week. It is just like preschool only shorter and a parent (or caregiver) must attend with the toddler. There is lots of indoor/outdoor freeplay, a snack and story time, and a circle/music time. My daughter and I started when she was 18 mo. and it was a great way to get her ready for school. Lisa

I have heard great things about the parent/toddler program at MCPC (Montclair Community Play Center)... like a weekly ''preschool'' for toddlers and parents together, complete with messy art projects, snack and circle time. I believe it's an hour or an hour and a half each week and that they are taking sign-ups for the next session right now. Check out the website at Sarah

July 2002

Has anyone attended the toddler program at the Monclair Community Play Center? There is an old posting recommending the preschool, but I'm wondering if anyone has had recent experiences with the toddler program. Thanks! Christine

Our son has been in MCPC Toddler program since he was 18 mos old (completed two sessions) and we LOVE it! The program is very loosely structured, perfect for young kids. The teacher sets up lots of activities for the children such as crafts, art, puzzles, trains, waterplay, etc and most of the session (1.75 hrs) is free time for them to play indoors or out in whatever they are interested in, with the only structured times being a nap/story time (families switch off bringing snack) and a circle time with singing at the end. We attend the Saturday morning session, since our son naps in the afternoon when weekday sessions are held (after the regular preschool schedule) which allows my husband and I to switch off accompanying him. My husband enjoys the time with his son and other kids and likes the other the parents who attend with their children (lots of dads in the Saturday session.) The classes are small (12 children) enough not to be overwhelming, and a lot of the children from our first session were also in our second, so there was nice continuity there as well. I will say that at 18 months our child was the youngest, and probably a child of two would get more out of the activities besides free play in the yard than an 18 month old, but the teacher is very kind and accomodating and tries to find things to engage all the children. You also get preference in preschool enrollment at MCPC if you have attended the Toddler Program, which is great since we hope to enroll our son when he is three. The Toddler program is a great way to ''test drive'' the school and ease your child into a socializing, play based environment with other kids and get them familiar with the school itself. The children are not just from Montclair, but from other areas as well. I can't say enough good things about the teacher, Brianna Offill, or the school. The facility is intimate and very child scaled and friendly (also an old house, shows definite signs of child presence and wear) although they have plans to build a new building which may or may not affect where classes are held in the next year or two. cabernard

We love MCPC! My daughter is in her last few weeks of attending the Wednesday afternoon session. When she started, about 1 1/2 years ago (just before turning 2), she called it ''art class''. It has been a great ''pre pre-school'' class -- they have circle time and do a lot of pre-school type art projects and other activities. It is a great way to introduce a child to formal group activities. The Wednesday class, at least, has been wildly popular and has had a waiting list at least since we have been attending. I could not recommend it more highly. Stephanie

Hello, I am the president of MCPC's parent-run board this upcoming school year. I am so glad to hear the very positive posts about the Toddler program! Brianna, who teaches Toddler, also team-teaches the preschool afternoon program for kids who enroll at age 3, so Toddler children who come to MCPC for preschool will know her for quite a while (more continuity)!

I wanted to let everyone know that MCPC is NOT going to build a new building any time soon. We may do some minor renovations that will not affect Toddler or the preschool program. The rebuild idea has been around for quite a while, but the membership has elected not to go forward on rebuilding any time in the forseeable future. Therese

May 2002

Re: summer camp for 3 year old
Montclair Community Play Center on Thornhill Drive in Oakland has a great summer camp for 3 year olds. There are two 3-week sessions that run from 9 AM to 12:30 PM. Their number is 510 339 7213. Frances

Oct 1999

I wanted to recommend an excellent preschool, called Montclair Community Play Center. It is located on Thornhill Drive in Oakland and is a wonderful, nurturing place for children. Both my daughters have gone there. It's a cooperative, which means that parents work in the classroom one day a week and do an outside job for the school. The parental involvement is time-consuming, but all that interaction creates a cohesive and loving community. The school also has a toddler program for children 18 months to 3 years where kids go with one of their parents or a caregiver. The school also has a great annual auction where parents can pick up great deals on children's classes, clothes, toys, etc. This cooperative preschool is 67 years old and is a wonderful place for children. If you want a great school and a sense of community, look into it. Call 339-7213 for information. Franny