Narnia Playhouse

Oakland, CA

No longer in business

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

Home-Based Daycare/Preschool
DSS Facility License #
ZeZe Cole
Redwood Heights
Maximum Capacity:
Language(s) Spoken:
Ages Served:
30 months - 60 months
Editors' Notes:
  • As of July 2014, this daycare is listed as "Closed" at the State's licensing site.

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


August 2011

My kids old preschool has a few openings for fall. Zeze Cole, the director, is a wonderful lady, calm and good with children. Her school has a great outdoor play area where the kids can paint, play with ride on toys and play with the climbing structure. Inside they have a nice room with lots of toys. I really like that on Wednesdays they have a music teacher who comes and sings and plays instruments with the kids. Narnia is a great place, open to ages 2-5, M-Th from 9-1. It was really reasonable, and gave my kids a great preschool foundation- check it out. Former Narnia parent

Nov 2010

Re: Part time preschools in Redwood Heights 
I highly recommend Narnia Preschool. My son just finished 3 happy years there. It's small, play-based and very nurturing. We miss it a lot! Good luck! Paula

August 2010

Re: Schools Using Non-Violent Communication 
You might want to look into Narnia Preschool in the Oakland Redwood Heights area. They are very small, they only have about a dozen students, but they go all out in their efforts of teaching the children. Most importantly to us, they do not allow bullying behavior, e.g. hitting or kicking, among the kids. Last year, we had to go through four (!) different preschools to find one where our strong willed yet highly sensitive toddler felt safe. I couldn't believe at what behavior teachers (and other parents) look the other way! Our son was afraid to go to school on a daily basis, we had to go with him every single day -- and teachers would tell us they let the four-year-olds work things out themselves. However, that changed when we started him at Narnia. He feels safe and nurtured there and he is thriving. They have a music teacher and they do wonderful artwork. They have a backyard area with nice shady trees, all the usual toys and structures, and even a couple rabbits. We are so happy we found them! Good Luck!

March 2009

Re: Preschool 3 days a week, mornings? 
For Nana's granddaughter I highly recommend Narnia Preschool in the Oakland hills (on Tompkins). Zeze Cole is the director of this fantastic school. Our now first grade son attended and our youngest daughter is about to ''graduate'' to Kindergarten. The day she leaves will be heartbreaking; she's already talking about going back to visit every day and bringing one of her teachers with her. Narnia offers full-day or part-time placement. It's small and diverse with the most loving teachers we could hope for. The kids are engaged in art, music, capoeira, learning letters, numbers, cooking and a million other projects piquing their curiosity. My car is full of Bea's artwork, as she brings piles home, and daily she regales us with interesting facts about animals, Portuguese language or books they have read. At first my daughter had separation anxiety, but Zeze patiently helped her through the transition. Now Bea cries when she DOESN'T have school. I see that as a terrific sign. You should check it out. hilary

June 2006

Can anyone offer a current review or input on Narnia Playhouse preschool in the Redwood Heights area of Oakland? I am looking at for a 2 year old, who would hopefully fit in there until kindergarten. Is it an appropriate setting for a social 2 year old who has had undivided attention thus far? Do the children learn at an appropriate preschool level as they get older, to prep them for kindergarten? Thank you! mea

My daughter attended Narnia's playhouse part-time from 18 months until she went to preschool (this was when it was more of a pre-preschool program). ZeZe Cole is so wonderful! She is very loving, calm and kind. My daughter did so many wonderful art projects. ZeZe created such a great environment for the kids- lots of books, toys, messy art and a very kid-friendly yard. My daughter had a great time. I highly recommend ZeZe. Good luck 

Feb 2005

My son Phineas (3 in April) goes to Zeze's Narnia Playhouse twice a week; I wish we could afford to send him every day.I cannot say enough good things about his experience there. I was looking for a way to supplement his daily childcare situation with a caregiver with limited English. My good friend had sent her daughter(s) to Zeze years ago when Narnia first opened. I remember going with her and how her daughter hated to leave. Phin initially had severe separation anxiety-''I don't want to go to school!!'' But Zeze calmly assuaged his fears. After a few weeks he completely changed his attitude. Now he insists that we drive by Zeze's house every day just so he can wave and holler hello! With Zeze he gets music, art, creative play, time to socialize with kids his own age, and tons of healthy loving. It's a good sign when a child is grumpy and demanding to see his teacher. ''I want Zeze, mama!''

I love that he brings home piles of interesting artwork, and new songs in his repertoire. The kids even got a cd from the music teacher Zeze brings in! I appreciate Zeze's flexibility, her true love for our kids, the small size of the group. I only wish it were an all day affair.

Should you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to email me. Hilary

My son attended Narnia last year for six months between a two- kid home nanny share and traditional preschool. I now wish we had found Narnia earlier -- we absolutely loved it! The director, Zeze Cole, has many years of experience running Narnia and from other preschool environments. Even though Narnia is run out of her home, she follows standard procedures and provides proactive communications (e.g., using gloves to change diapers and wiping kids' noses, setting out a menu every week for parents to sign off on, having parents sign in/out, posting a holiday calendar for the year). Every morning she sets up different learning-based toys for the kids to play with (in addition to lots of free play items), and she rotates them regularly. She feeds healthy, homemade snacks and lunches.

The group size of six kids was perfect for our son to transition from home to preschool. I feel that Zeze encouraged each kid to be independent about things like toilet training and feeding themselves but provided gentle intervention and supervision when necessary. She has a very calm, nurturing demeanor and the kids were very friendly and loving toward one another.

Narnia is a great place for kids to be kids! They get their ya- ya's out playing indoors and out, but at the same time have structure with a regular routine that includes morning snack, visits from an outside music teacher, lunch, etc. What really struck me most was that Zeze seems to really appreciate each child. Even though we were there for six short months, she took pictures that documented our son's time at Narnia and created a keepsake photo album for him that he cherishes to this day.

I think Narnia takes kids from about 18 months to preschool age. It's a great place for kids to socialize and bond in a small, play-based, familial environment. It was a fantastic experience for us.

Feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions. Noreen

April 2003

I'm currently looking for a preschool for my daughter, to begin this Fall (she'll be 15 month but I could wait if necessary). I checked the website for recommendations and was wondering if anyone had any additional or more recent comments regarding Narnia Playhouse. Thanks so much! L. Mitchell

My son has attended Narnia's Playhouse for 2 months. We are extremely happy with this daycare. We had a bad experience previously in another place, where he did not adjust well (the providers could not get him to take naps and he was extremely wired, cranky, and clingy as a result; that was just one of several problems). At Narnia's he got into a regular nap schedule in 3 or 4 days, he has a great time, and sometimes even wants to stay playing when I pick him up at 12pm. Zeze is warm, and calm, so are the great assistants that she has there. The house is very well childproofed, the yard is big, shaded and full of fun toys, the meals are nutritious, and the atmosphere is happy. The emphasis is on playing and having fun, somewhat unstructured (which is what I was looking for), although Zeze provides as well some structured activities. She has music circle twice a week, encourages art, and I understand sometimes takes the children to outside activities (such as a trip to the library), although I don't think she has done it recently. She is welcoming and allows for parents to linger a bit in the mornings when dropping off their kids, if they feel is needed. Zeze is also very respectful and a good listener to parents'concerns and requests (something that I did not find in the previous daycare). She accomodates children's needs, instead of forcing them to accomodate to her needs (for instance, she has children who nap at different times, and she respects that instead of trying to force them all to the same schedule). I feel very confortable leaving my son in her care and I am hoping he will stay there for several years. Isidra

December 2001

We highly recommend Narnia Playhouse, a home day care operated by Zeze Cole, a licensed preschool teacher. Narnia is located in Oakland's Redwood Heights Neighborhood (4509 Tompkins, 531-5546). We found Zeze after checking out many home-based day cares and feel very fortunate with our "find." Our oldest son, now in preschool, went to Narnia for three years, and our younger son (17 months) is just about to start. In general, Zeze takes kids at around 18 months.

Zeze is a creative, loving, energetic caregiver. She devotes most of her home to the children, and even has a dedicated art room downstairs. Her shaded backyard has a climbing structure, a large sandbox built by parents, and plenty of room to run around. Music, dance, art, walks around the neighborhood, cooking, and both structured and spontaneous group activities provide a stimulating, but relaxing (no pressure) environment for the children. Most of all Zeze understands the importance of play in the development of children; she firmly believes that play is a child's work and values and respects the freedom that children have at this time in their lives. She has made a wonderful contribution to our oldest son's life, and we are truly looking forward to beginning with her again for our younger son. I would be happy to answer parents questions about the daycare. Ann

I would like to agree with the recommendation from the previous newsletter about Narnia, a home day care located in Oakland's Redwood Heights Neighborhood. Zeze Cole has developed a program that nurtures the child's self esteem and development. My son was fortunate to have spent two years with Zeze and we both grew to love her as family. She has a devoted, loving heart that communicates to the children the importance of not only what they do but also who they are.

If anyone has questions, please write me or see my recommendation on the UCB Parent's Index of Recommendations for Narnia when we started in 1998. After all this time, my beliefs in the quality and heart of Narnia and Zeze remain firmly intact. Dorothy


I would like to highly recommend a home daycare called Narnia's Playhouse. It is located off of Redwood, about 10 minutes from Montclair. It is at the home of Zeze (pronounced SaySay) Cole. She devotes a large part of her home to the children, and encourages song, dance and outside play. She also provides many toys, books, art, breakfast, lunch...and much love. The children love Zeze and her home, which is very much like home to them. She has part-time positions available now. I would like to encourage anyone looking for quality care for their child to check it out. Her phone number is 531-5546. p.s. Jane Timberlake comes to sing to the kids every week, which they love. D.

Narnia Playhouse, my 27 month old daughter's home-based daycare provider, has several new openings (several of her longtime charges are off to preschool in the Fall), beginning in mid-August.

The director, Zeze (SaySAY) Cole, is a licensed preschool teacher who opened Narnia about two years ago. She has two assistants, Graciela and Jo, who are calm and loving presences. I have heard the kids saying "I lobve you" to Zeze, who is warm and open but gently firm when she needs to be. (I know, I'm making her sound like a mattress..) Her home in the Redwood Heights area of Oakland has a gorgeous backyard with climbing gym and a huge new wooden sandbox that several of the parents built for her last weekend. Nearly the whole home has been given over to areas for kids to play in. There is a separate art room downstairs. Each kid's pace and style of play is respected; none must participate if they don't want. Zeze has Jane Timberwolf, a well-known local music teacher, come in for circle time on Tuesdays. Besides English, the children are exposed to Portugese (Zeze and Jo are originally from Brazil) and Spanish. Needless to say, there is no TV. This place is well worth driving a little out of your way for.

As far as I know, 18 months is the youngest age, although my daughter was just shy of that when she started. I know of at least two situations where parents came to visit significantly earlier than that an were so taken with the place that they simply waited for their kids to be old enough so that they could start at Narnia. While looking, I visited six caregivers and nothing else came close. Another parent told me that she'd tried twelve with the same finding.

Narnia Playhouse is closed from August 1-15 for Zeze's family's annual vacation. Patricia