Old Firehouse School (OFS) Walnut Creek

Walnut Creek, CA

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

DSS Facility License #: 
Kimura Shigeko
(925) 934-1507
ofswalnutcreek [at] gmail.com
Walnut Creek
Eckley Lane
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
12 months - 60 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Editors' Notes: 

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


June 2009

Re: Suggestions for a preschool in Walnut Creek
I would recommend checking out The Old Firehouse School. The Old Firehouse school is a play based developmental preschool based on Emilio Reggiano. The Lafayette branch has a long wait list, but the Walnut Creek school is newer and more likely to have room, and has a larger outdoor space. I toured most of the preschools when we moved out to Lafayette and found their philosophy to be the most similar to our daughter's current program at the Child Study Center at UC Berkeley. We love the Child Study Center but wanted to have her closer to home, and the director of the Child Study Center also recommended Old Firehouse. Vali

Jan 2008

Re: Preschool that accommodates language delayed child
I would encourage you to check out Old Firehouse School in Walnut Creek. It opened just last year, and while growing (about 40 families right now, accommodating 2 - 5 YO) it is still very intimate. And while I'm not specifically aware of the school's approach toward language-delayed children, I do know of one student who was delayed and he has since thrived. The staff is incredible and works very hard to meet the needs of each student. I have seen them learn basic words in Farsi, Chinese, and Spanish - as well as sign language - in order to communicate with their students. You can learn more about the program itself at www.oldfirehouseschool.com, or contact the WC school directly at 925.934.1507. good luck, OFS mom

June 2007

hi! i'm considering sending my toddler to either the old firehouse school or diablo valley montessori and would like candid opinions about either school. i know the old firehouse focuses on nurturing the emotional well being of the child and focuses on communication and the DVMS is more ''task oriented'' but i know those two aren't mutually exclusive. i'm sure kids at the old firehouse school learn and i'm sure at DVMS, they also nuture the emotional needs of the child as well. i went to both schools and they both seemed good. i've heard though that the old firehouse school can be viewied as just glorified daycare. they also are much more expensive. i just don't know what to do. he will be starting with the 2's and i wanted to make sure i make the right decision. i would love to hear any and all opinions anyone has had with these two schools. i'm mostly curious on how kids from both schools turn out when they enter kindergarden and what difference if any might be. thanks a lot! undecided parent

I assume you are looking for a full-time preschool. If only part-time then there are many more options than those two. I would recommend NOT choosing OFS. They are WAY more expensive than equivalent schools and do not live up to the costs. They will nickel and dime you for lots of things beyond tuition. I am sure you are aware of the pot of money to keep teachers at the school. That will set you back a pretty penny. Don't feel like going to the fundraiser? You will have to pay some kind of donation in lieu (which I would always do on my own, but don't want it to feel forced). Another ft option is White Pony, but I have heard nothing but great things about DVMS. Also, have you ever heard a preschool not described as ''nurturing''? Anon

Hi there, My child attends the Old Firehouse School in Walnut Creek and we absolutely adore it. I am honestly surprised to hear that some have called OFS ''glorified daycare''. This is the 3rd preschool for us, and I have definitely seen my share of glorified daycares. OFS is not one of them. Their holistic approach toward teaching and engaging the children is impressive and effective. Of course the students have tasks, whether they help prepare the fresh snacks served daily, water the plants they are growing, or pull out cots for naptime. The project-based curriculum engages the children far beyond any ''sit down and learn this'' curriculum. Not that Montessori is that way, but the Reggio Emilia-project approach really empowers the children to determine - as a group - the course of their learning, and in that way, encourages and sustains their interest in topics far beyond the scope of anything I've seen at other schools. In talking with a few local teachers, I've heard only great things about the students they get from OFS. These kids have, in essence, 'learned how to learn'. They are often socially developed beyond their peers, and generally right on par academically. There isn't an inordinate amount of focus on rote reading, writing, etc...but there is enough pre- reading and fine motor skill work that the kids are not behind in any way. What they have instead is a more sophisticated understanding on a range of topics (ie. the 3 y.o. class this year studied outer space; by the end of the project, these children could grasp this very abstract concept, could name and talk about all the planets, and discuss flying (rockets) in a way that showed they ''got it''...more than some parents!). I'll just add that the emotional connection that the teachers make with the children is incredible. They really work with the families and the children themselves on specific issues, and provide a genuine network of support. As for the 2s class, one thing you might be interested in knowing is the high number of students that are potty-trained; I've never seen so much progress made in one class in such a short time! I don't know anything about DVM, but I have considered other Montessoris. I am, however, grateful everyday that I pick my child up that we opted for OFS. She is benefitting tremendously from the nuturing atmosphere and impressing us constantly with her newly acquired knowledge. If you haven't yet, check out the OFS website (www.oldfirehouseschool.com)and perhaps visit the WC school. Happy OFS mom

A quick follow-up to my previous post, courtesy of my husband: The amount of work that goes into the Reggio Emilio project approach makes it hard to believe that anyone would call OFS ''glorified daycare''. Because the kids themselves are integral in shaping the content and direction and depth of their project, the teachers have to be genuinely resourceful, creative and energized. The teachers have no way of knowing at the beginning of the year what projects the class will be doing; there is no agenda they must adhere to...they just have to listen to what the children are asking for. Obviously we are having a strong reaction to this one term, but hopefully our reasons for disagreeing with it help answer some of your concerns. There will always be dissatisfied parents and legitimate reasons for dissatisfaction at every school. But I thought my husband's input was particularly insightful, especially as it took some time for him to come around to the less ''traditional'' approach toward learning. Once again, Happy OFS Mom & Dad...& Child!

I can only tell you about DVMS, as I have no experience with Old Firehouse. I don't know if you are looking for a full day 2's program or half-day 2's, but I do know that there are only 12 half-day 2's spaces, and most of those go to siblings, so the chances of getting into the half-day 2's program at DVMS is not great. I would apply to both schools and make the decision when you find out if they have spaces available. Good luck.