Piccoli School

El Cerrito, CA

No longer in business

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

DSS Facility License #: 
Laura Castell-Kemp
(510) 234-3230
El Cerrito
near Potrero
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
24 months - 60 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
About Our Program: 

Editor Note (Aug 2018) Piccoli has apparently closed. A license was not found at California DSS

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Feb 2015

RE: preschool near El Cerrito Plaza

Hi there, I can't recommend Piccoli in El Cerrito enough! If you want to see sweet, cooperative, creative, active, gentle, friendly, well mannered children in action - go for a visit. Laurie has operated her preschool for more than 25 years and is a true professional. With her there are no gimmicks, no marketing strategies, or websites, just pure love, knowledge and experience with children. My kids have loved their time there. There is art, lots of out door time, cooking and music, sharing, and lots of kids just being kids time. There are plenty of reviews on BPN as well. I hope you check Piccoli out for yourself.(510) 234-3230 Jennifer

July 2014

If anyone is looking for a wonderful preschool in the El Cerrito area, I'd like to recommend Piccoli. Our family has spent 5 combined years between our children and has enjoyed every minute. We began our preschool search by touring many of the widely known schools in El Cerrito. But after hearing glowing ''word of mouth'' recommendations from friends and acquaintances about Piccoli, we decided to check it out - and we're so glad we did!

The director, Laurie, and her staff are experienced, dedicated teachers who genuinely care about the needs of each and every child and family. Piccoli is a play based school where the children learn to navigate the social world through play - which is so important in this increasingly anti-social world. That being said, there is definitely an emphasis on Kindergarten readiness as well. Children learn to recognize and write the alphabet and numbers. There are special "units" (turtles, penguins, etc.) throughout the year. And all learning is reinforced through fun art projects, circle time, music and even cooking projects.

Our children have loved being at Piccoli - made many close friendships over the years. Seeing my children happy about going to preschool everyday and that they are being cared for in a safe and nurturing environment everyday is of utmost importance. For more information about Piccoli call Laurie (510) 234-3230. Pleased Piccoli Parent

Dec 2013

Re: Recently moved and no space in preschool!
Hi! Piccoli preschool in El Cerrito is a wonderful school and daycare center. It's been on business for 25+ years with competent and caring teachers. It's play based with all day care. I believe it has a few openings. Very affordable and fun. Ginger music on Fridays, cooking on Thursdays and pre-k program from 9am-1pm daily. My kids went there for a few years before transitioning to Kindergarten, made friends for life and were very prepared academically and socially to the ''big kid school'' . Piccoli (510) 234-3230 Happy Piccoli Parent

Feb 2013

Re: smallish preschool in El Cerrito
Please call Laurie at Piccoli in El Cerrito! - I can't praise Laurie, or her caring staff enough. Though there aren't many recent reviews on BPN, the reviews and recommendations you'll find speak very highly of the wonderful program they have and I can only echo the sentiment. My son spent 2.5 happy years at Piccoli, and loved every minute of it - he wanted to know why he couldn't be there on weekends too! My daughter is currently there and is having the same experience. I hope you'll call and love it too!(510) 234-3230 So happy at Piccoli

June 2010

I am considering enrolling my 2 yo into Piccoli this fall, but have a few concerns and would love to get feedback (positive and negative) from others who had (or have) their 2 yo there:
Naptime: Naptime or "rest" period is scheduled from 2-3. This seems really late (and short) to me, especially for a 2 yo. What was your experience with this? Was your child overly tired when they came home?
Toilet training: I read a few negative experiences related to this in the archives. Would love to hear more feedback from others about their experiences at Piccoli with potty training. Do they need to be out of diapers by 3, and if not, then what??
Feedback on these and anything else, particularly from those with younger ones, would be much appreciated! Anon

I'm sure you have read many great reviews of Piccoli on Berkeley Parents Network, and I can only echo those posts. As far as your concerns go, I can say that the children at Piccoli can nap for as long as they like. The 2-3pm naptime is just a general schedule, kids who are extra tired often sleep until 4 or sometimes 4:30 (usually the younger ones), the kids who do not seem to be falling asleep (usually the older kids) start to get up around 3. As for the toilet training, the school does generally want the children to be toilet trained by age 3, which is perfectly reasonable, and in my opinion, it really is in the child's best interest, they feel like a ''big boy/girl'' and the growth in all areas really is noticeable. As you may have found already, many schools have toilet training policies. The environment at Piccoli is warm and caring and if you havent already seen, the children are very happy =) Carebear

April 2010

Re: Preschool near El Cerrito/Richmond
I would strongly suggest giving Piccoli Preschool a call for a visit. They have had many positive reviews on Berkeley Parents Network..Piccoli is a fantastic play-based school, that does include structured activities throughout the day- circle time, art, science and cooking projects based on the alphabet letter of the week. They promote strong social skills and kindergarten readiness. The teachers there are great- very warm and caring. Piccoli is open from 8am- 5pm. and located in El Cerrito on Richmond St. The phone number is 510-234-3230 and the director's name is Laurie. Michelle

Nov 2009

Re: Affordable preschool for 2.9 year old?
Although not in Berkeley or Albany, Piccoli Preschool, very close by in El Cerrito, on Everett St., is a fabulous preschool that I highly recommend. They have full time and part time hours available between 8 am and 5 pm. They are a play based program that includes a curriculum and routine focusing on letters, numbers, science units, music, cooking projects and learning through play. All of the children that I have seen come from this school are very ready for kindergarten and very well adjusted socially. The teachers are great-very energetic and friendly. I know they have space available and I would call to set up a visit. Their number is 510-234-3230. Director's name is Laurie. Michelle

Oct 2009

I'd like to add another voice to those who have been very happy with their experience at Piccoli School. My son (almost 3 1/2) has been attending for about ten months now, and absolutely loves it there.

First, the teachers are truly wonderful. My son is very fond of all of them, the head teacher Bindy in particular. When I drop him off, he always gets an enthusiastic greeting and usually an invitation to join in or start an activity. When picking him up, I have come upon - at one time or another - all of the teachers answering his myriad questions with fondness and patience (he asks a lot of questions!) In my experience, all of the teachers are warm and loving with all of the children.

Second, the kids seem really happy, very social, and very well- adjusted. I have never seen an instance of aggression nor even a temper tantrum.

Third, the 'curriculum' is fantastic. Their program places an emphasis on art, books and science and they also have weekly cooking projects and music. The kids also spend a good amount of time outside in a nice yard.

The director Laurie is terrific with the kids - able to set limits as well as be loving. And I have been quite impressed with her observations of and insight into my son's personality, food preferences, etc.

As to the potty training, I thought the staff was quite helpful. They recommended a great book that really helped me when training him and when my son was learning, they took him to the toilet three times every morning.

The rates are very reasonable (conmpetitive even with local co-ops) and Laurie could not be more flexible about hours. She also allows kids to start mid-year (actually whenever you want i think) which was very helpful to our family. In short, I highly recommend the school! Another Happy Picooli Parent

Oct 2009

Re: Any openings at your preschool for a 2.5 year old?
I would highly recommend Piccoli Preschool, located in El Cerrito on Richmond St. It is not a Montessori school but a wonderful play-based program that also does plenty of academics-alphabet, numbers, fabulous science units, etc...They have full-time and part time families. I believe the minimum schedule for part-time is 3 days a week, 9-1pm and the price is definitely under $600. I would for sure give them a call and set up an appointment! The phone number is 510-234-3230. Good luck! =) Michelle

Sept 2009

Re: Need a kind Preschool for a 2.9 year old boy
Many of my friends' children have attended Piccoli Preschool in El Cerrito. The parents and children were all extremely happy with the care and academics that were provided. The teachers are all highly qualified and very nurturing. I have been to visit a few times with my friends and have seen how well the teachers interact with the children and how much the children love them. The school is beautiful and it is obvious that there is a lot of learning going on both academically and socially. It is a play-based school with full time or part time hours available and they currently have space available. The phone number there is 510-234-3230. Good luck!

Dec 2008

We are considering these two preschools: Piccoli and Little Village. However, the reviews for the school are from 2007 and 2006--we would love current feedback about the schools. anon

You couldn't find a better pre-school than Piccoli. The Teachers provide a safe, fun and loving environment while also encouraging and teaching important social behavior. There is a definite structure to a day at Piccoli but remember this is a pre-school it is not meant to be as rigid as Kindergarten, only to prepare your child to enter into a more strict classroom setting. They do art and have circle time, there is usually a letter of the week and a theme to go with it, they read to the children and encourage the children to look at books on their own, etc... My son has been attending Piccoli since he was 2 1/2 years old, he just turned 4 and is far more prepared than children we know who go to much more well known schools. The kids are all very sweet and polite, they share their toys easily, I have never seen any child have a tantrum or in any way be mean. All of the teachers at Piccoli have been with the school for many years, they all genuinely love the children and spending time with them. Just as important as the child to child social interaction is the way your child interacts with grownups, at Piccoli they create an environment for your child to learn both. I honestly would not trust my son with any other school and I can't wait until my daughter can go. Geneva

We came to Piccoli from another preschool that was closing. We knew about it because our niece went to Piccoli and loved it. Three years later, we have a 3 year old still at Piccoli and another who has very successfully moved on to elementary school and is now in 1st grade. I credit the Piccoli staff with helping prepare my oldest for Kindergarten academically and socially.

The staff at Piccoli is warm, consistent, and genuinely cares about their students. They are very kind and interesting people that we enjoy interacting with on a daily basis. More importantly our children both looked forward to going every day and felt/feel nurtured and encouraged.

The Piccoli staff works with all of the children, but particularly the Pre-K children to be sure they are well prepared for Kindergarten. All children are exposed to art on a daily basis and much emphasis is put on children learning to play together and socialize in a positive manner.

We truly love Piccoli and are thankful that circumstances led us to them. Maya

Piccoli is great - for some families. I agree that the structure and 'curriculum' are excellent and that the staff is often very warm and loving. And, yes, many families absolutely love it and their child/children thrives/thrive. My family, however, had a lot of difficulties with the school. They did not provide the support that my child (whom I will call X) needed in potty training, yet they insist that children be potty trained by 3. Several times I picked up X with soiled diapers. Also, when X was having difficulties socializing with the other children, they did not work with X to develop skills but instead labeled X as 'a problem'. When I tried to talk with them about X, my conversations were cut short and I received little feedback. After about six months, X started to cry really hard every morning at drop off and begged me not to leave (this was well after X had already become comfortable with the preschool experience and separating from parents). There was no loving support from staff at drop off, but rather they would usually ignore both of us (literally would not look at us). Finally I took X out. X is in another preschool now (full time) and thrived from the very beginning after we switched schools. Again, I reiterate that the school is wonderful on many fronts. But a post asking about Piccoli would not be complete without at least mention of the difficulties that my family faced. Good luck! former Piccoli parent

We too had our child at Piccolli and had the same experience that another parent wrote about. Our son was the youngest there, by about 3 - 4 months. He started at the beginning of the summer and we thought he was doing great, as we heard nothing to the contrary (and we asked). Upon returning from a two week break, our son had difficulties and was aggressive toward other students. We too tried to talk to the director and were immediately cut off as we were told '' we don't do that here so you must be allowing it at home''. After further conversation, the director told me that maybe my son, who was not yet 2 1/2, ''should be bitten so he can see how it feels''. She then said, ''not that we would allow that here''.. Again, all attempts to find out what situations it occurred in were met with ''we don't do that here''. My husband and I are child professionals (two doctorates in child related fields) so we know what typical developmental behaviors are. A friend of ours has/had her children there and are very happy but, I guess that only holds true if your child fits the 'good child' or child with no aggression - beyond a tiny hit or push.

Jan 2009

I would like to respond to the previous reviews of Piccoli Preschool and offer my own opinions and experiences. I have had both my children at Piccoli and we couldn't have been happier with the experience. My children and I were always greeted by friendly, outgoing teachers who couldn't have been more helpful or caring. The teachers were always available for giving feedback and advice whenever I was in need and always have kept their focus on the needs of the children, where I believe it should be, instead of the parents. My children made many friends at Piccoli, many of whom we still we see on a regular basis and I credit Piccoli for helping to build these friendships. All of the staff members at Piccoli are highly educated and experienced professionals whose opinions I have always trusted. I highly encourage parents looking for a quality preschool program to take a look at Piccoli. =)
Very Happy Piccoli Parent

Feb 2007

I am interested in possibly sending my child to Piccoli Preschool in El Cerrito. I was wondering if there were any parents out there that have recently sent their kid(s) there and can give me any feedback about your experience. I have already toured the school and understand that it is play-based and that the children can do what they'd like and that there is very little structure. I loved the outdoor play space and the children all seemed happy. My concern is that although I want my child to play (and believe that play is how they learn for the most part), I still want him to learn the academic basics. Do they focus on that at Piccoli? I have read the past reviews, however, I am looking for something a bit more recent. Thank you in advance for any and all responses. anon

I have 2 children who attended Piccoli preschool in recent years and I feel that my kids were very well prepared socially, mentally and physically for kindergarten by the outstanding and warm teachers of Piccoli. When the group of older children are in the last year of preschool, they take special effort to get them ready for kindergarten. They do creative exercises in numbers, letters, colors, etc. that get the thought process going in their little minds. It is done in an exciting and fun way, usually only 3-4 kids doing the project at a time and then they take turns to give everyone a chance at the table. The little ones are introduced to the letters, also. Every week they work on a letter of the alphabet and do projects in the theme with snacks/cooking (A is applesauce, P is pancakes, L is for Lemonade),art projects, storytelling, and circle time all revolves around the letter of the week. They also do it with numbers and colors. I am truly thankful for the loving and nurturing teachers at Piccoli that have become a huge part of my childrens' life and set them off in the right direction in life. They will always have a special place in our family memories and in our hearts. My youngest in in Kindergarten now and she is doing very well with the academics she is being taught. Not to mention that both my daughters are well socially adjusted and when in groups of different age ranges, they know how to respect everyone's personalities, from babies to tweens. I believe that a big part of that came with the mixed age group Piccoli has. Both of my kids where there from age 2 until kindergarten. It was a very happy time in their lives. Kerri

We have been a Piccoli family for many years and have put 3 children through the preschool. The program is play-based, however they do weave ''academics'' into the school with things like ''letter of the week'' where they focus learning on one letter during the course of the week - even to the extent that the week's cooking activity is usually a food that begins with the letter of the week. If a child shows a propensity towards academic based activites (e.g. writing letters of the alphabet), the teachers will offer further instruction and encouragement, however if they feel that it is at the expense of developing other skills (e.g. gross motor skills), then they will encourage and redirect the child to do other activities. Piccoli aims for an environment that produces the well-rounded child. I am just offering a couple of examples, and you should know that for me it was important NOT to have academics at the pre-school level. This is a legitimate issue for Piccoli's Director to address and I would assume that she can offer a more detailed explanation to what sort of ''academics'' they offer. Parents don't always feel comfortable with the Director (which is another potential issue for any prospective family), however my children are still the happiest, nicest kids around (and they still ask to go back to visit) and I credit Piccoli, the Director and the loving teachers. Anon

My son has been at Piccoli for two years. It's not at all fancy or progressive, just a solid traditional preschool, with a stable structure for the kids, and great results. The socialization is first rate; the children are very kind to each other, even with mixed ages, and a large group of 4-year-old boys. And they are being prepared for kindergarten, without overt pressure or competition. Most of the four-year-olds already write their names. They know all the letters, numbers up to 20, can follow directions, are responsible. The simple academics are woven into the day's activities - reading, music, art, and many imaginative science projects - at a low-key pace that each child, whatever their age or ability, can be comfortable with.

We feel very lucky to have found this school.The initial parent visit may not sell you on it, and the first days of leaving your child are hard anywhere. But eventually, when your child is happy everyday, loves his friends, and comes home singing new songs, that's what it's all about...! a thankful Piccoli parent

So here's the scoop on Piccoli. I ultimately thought it was the right school for our family and my child(ren) thrived there. Play is so important at this age as the kids learn so many social skills that are crucial to future school success. Piccoli is play based but has gentle 'pre-academics' for the younger ones and more expectations for the pre-K kids. It is a very good mix of play based and pre-academics. By pre-academics I mean there's the letter and number of the week which weaves itself throughout all the activities of that week. The kids write letters, their names, numbers (both numerals and words), and they work with colors, shapes, seasons, reasoning activities, composing stories (which are dictated), simple cooking, and simple science (earth science - volcanoes and weather, biology - insects, life cycles, anatomy, and plants, chemistry - oobleck anyone?, etc.). There is a structure for the day; they have free play inside, art projects available, then the outside is opened, snack, circle time, lunch, play, rest time, play, etc. Circle time works with concepts such as sitting still, paying attention, taking turns, working as a group, following directions, responding appropriately, etc. All things that will be important for kindergarten. Every day the kids have the opportunity to do wonderful art projects that are seasonally themed. There are special activities they do occasionally like "Pet Shop" and "Mail Day" and on certain days of the week there are other activities like sharing, cooking, dance, music, etc.  I liked the gentle structure that becomes more mandatory as the kids approach Kindergarten age. I liked that it was a medium sized school and had more than a dozen kids so that my child (ren) could get used to managing in a elementary-like group without getting lost in a huge school. In addition to the above, the physical structure of the school is good, the selection of toys and supplies is good, and the price is good, and there is attention to diversity and the boy/girl ratio. The teachers are fabulous and there is NO turnover in staff. Almost everything about the school is great\x85.

The head teacher/owner. Let me just say that she's great with the kids and knows how to run a GREAT preschool, she's been doing this for a long time and knows her stuff. The head teacher/owner's philosophy is "The kids are great if the parents would just get out of the way". She can be not very forth coming on specific info on your child- preferring to say "oh, the group is doing great", she is not very good at working WITH the parents on problems that may arise. On the flip side, she will allow your child "practice" for some time with a caregiver bringing the child for progressively longer and longer times BEFORE she starts charging the normal tuition. This makes for a great transition for the child and alleviates some parental uncertainty at the beginning. I would have liked to have had a more two-way relationship with my child(ren)'s preschool teacher. But, ultimately, she is good with the kids. She and the other teachers are good at what they do, the school is nice, the program and structure she has designed is GREAT, the kids are happy and become well prepared for Kindergarten. anon

I would like to respond to the post, from the parent at Piccoli Preschool. I am a parent of 4 children under the age of 6. We feel so lucky to have the love and guidance that the Piccoli teachers have given our family. My children are greeted with open arms every morning. As a teacher, I know how difficult it is to try to balance parents and students in the morning transition. The teachers at Piccoli do this with ease, their concentration is where it should be. . . on our children. Elsa

I fully agree with the previous postings from the February 19th newsletter, but I just had a few things to add about Piccoli. My son started at Piccoli this year - he is doing really well and absolutely loves the place. In comparison to other preschools my son's friends are attending, the number of activities and projects at Piccoli are really quite impressive - a good half-hour circle time, music, dance, cooking, ART, ART, ART, science, learning the letters, storytelling, etc. Did I mention art? The projects he brings home every day are SO much fun, although I do feel that some art projects are too contrived, without much actual creative input from my son.

I chose Piccoli also because it is a large facility - multiple rooms with lots of fun things to do in each room, and a large outdoor area. My son is extremely active, and I felt that a good-sized facility with lots to do was very important. And I was right, he thrives on the balance of unstructured play in all the different rooms and gently structured activities that are woven throughout the day. It is academic where it counts, and my son is learning a lot.

Another huge bonus of Piccoli is the fact that the tuition is broken down to the half hour! That is, you pay just a small amount more for every half hour you want to send your child, as opposed to the two-tiered tuition based on half-day or full-day at most schools. This has proved to be VERY helpful for our family, in that he started out very part time and we have slowly transitioned him to a full-time schedule. Other schools would have required we pay full-time from the beginning if that is what we ultimately wanted, so this flexibility is very unusual and very welcome for us. Tuition in general is very affordable.

The initial visits, the 'practice' transitioning time, and the early days of leaving him alone were VERY difficult for me and my child. Many a days I was pushed to tears. Let me be very clear that the Director is NOT harsh with the children. In fact, I think her attitude with the children is very beneficial for them - she is firm, consistent, respectful, and caring. All the children at Piccoli are very well-behaved, and I think this is in large part to the limits she sets. I am actually very happy that she takes upon the role of  'authority figure' because I think it is good for children to have that in their lives, and again I think she does it effectively without being hurtful. I would certainly welcome more communication about her strategies and techniques, but those times that she DOES actually talk to you about your kid she is very thorough and has given me good feedback. That said, it was VERY difficult to deal with at times. One main area is potty-training. She insists that children become potty-trained by three, and by two and a half is really pushing to have it done. I know that this has made some Piccoli families' lives very difficult when that third birthday is nearing (or passed!). I do not personally agree that potty- training should be pushed this strongly, but she has managed to at least get me started with the potty-training at home when I probably would have waited a bit longer. So, bottom line is that her methods with parents are not as great as her methods with children, which ARE great, and her results ARE great. And, she isn't the only teacher, of course. The other teachers are fabulous - and they are loving and supportive. Given all the struggles and tears, I am VERY happy that I stuck with it and stayed with Piccoli. Again, my son is thriving and I really am happy that he is where he is. anon

There have been a lot of posts about Piccoli, all of them valid. I think the bottom line is that Piccoli is a FANTASTIC preschool with wonderful teachers. It has a great balance of play and structure, the kids are VERY happy, and the kids get to experience and learn a lot about so many different things - socialization, respect, the alphabet, science, cooking, music, dance, art... They are definitely prepared for kindergarden in all the important ways. My thanks to the Piccoli staff for a job very well done! (If any prospective parent wants to talk about Piccoli, I'm glad to.) Amy

I currently have 2 boys attending: 2 yrs and 4.5 yrs. They both love going and the most challenging thing about it is trying to get them out the door to come back home as they don't want to leave! It is play based, and the kids learn so much through this play. They also have a letter of the week, and learn about the alphabet in fun and creative ways. They do science projects (2 favorites were ''housing'' real ladybugs and butterflies that they set free), fun art projects everyday, weekly cooking, music classes (with real instruments for the kids to participate with), and dance classes. The teachers are also great about reading to the kids. There is a fun and interesting outdoor play yard and a lot of toys that get the kids' imaginations going. The director and the teachers are very loving, happy, skilled and good at helping the kids to work through conflicts with each other while fostering their ability to learn to play with others, share, take turns, etc. There is also a nice balance between structure and freedom during the day. They take students as young as 2 yrs old and they do not need to be potty trained - just require it by age 3. They offer full-time or part-time schedules for the kids. The preschool is very good at preparing the pre-kindergarteners for kindergarten and helping parents to make that difficult decision about when their child should start kindergarten. We love the school and highly recommend it! Suzanne

May 2005

Re: Looking for a pre-school with openings
You may have luck for Piccoli, in El Cerrito. It has really been a wonderful environment for my children. Piccoli parent

Re: Part-time affordable non-coop? (Jan 2005)
Try calling Piccoli in El Cerrito. We have enjoyed their family-style, open teaching for the past 4 years. The kids are are well socialized, happy, have the freedom to pick what they want to do during the day. They have circle time, art and crafts, cooking, gardening, dance class, and a music teacher. They take children as young as 2. They are open from 8-5, Mon- Fri.

There are many single income families that go there on a part- time basis. It is affordable and within your budget. Of course you should be able to bring your child to visit a preschool, I would be wary of a school that didn't let you. A school needs to determine if your child is a good fit as well as you seeing how your child interacts with the group. I am amazed at the idea of putting a baby to be on a waiting list for a so called ''good'' school. How do you know what your child will be like? The structure and lessons that are geared to making a kid grow up faster than their age group is scary. What happened to letting a kid be a kid and giving them some old fashioned play?

I beleive Piccoli has a few openings. It is not a co-op and the only parent particpation ever asked is to come to the annual picnic on the last day of school (which runs through the summer). Laurie is the director and you can call her to set up a visit. 234-3230 Kerri

Re: Part-time affordable non-coop? (Jan 2005)
I researched El Cerrito area preschools extensively last fall, and have a couple of ideas for schools you can check out. The other school is also in El Cerrito, near Richmond St./Potrero, called Piccoli. I liked it a lot but the hours didn't quite work for our family. The director, Laurie, sounded very flexible about part-time hours and seemed to have very reasonable rates. She's also very down to earth, and will be happy to talk to you about the school and let you visit. A friend of mine's child attended preschool with Laurie before the school was at it's present location, and was very happy with the care. There are positive recommendations for both of these schools in the archives. Good luck in your search! Gayle

March 2003

Re: Part-time preschool in El Cerrito or Richmond

Try Piccoli Preschool in El Cerrito, near Potrero. My girls went there three mornings per week and we were all very happy with it. This was about 8 or 9 years ago, but I would still give them a enthusiastic recommendation. Laurie Castle-Kemp is the director. Phone number is 234-3230. Wendy

Re: Culturally Diverse Montessori School (Dec 2002)
Try giving Piccoli in El Cerrito a call/visit. Although they are not montessori, Laurie did teach in Montessori schools before opening Piccoli. They take children as young as 2, it is a mixed age preschool.

My daughter loves it there (she is almost 4). They have many activities during the day and week, from cooking, dance class, music, art, and a huge play yard. I can't say enough great things about the staff and their tender care of all the children. I believe the rate for full time (9-5/5days) is $660/child, but don't quote me on that (give or take $20). She does give a 10% discount on second child.

you really should check it out, it is conviently located on Richmond street at Potero. You can reach Laurie at 235-3230. FYI-They will be on holiday break from 12/24-1/2. Kerri

October 2002

My daughter's preschool has openings due to the large number of kids who went off to kindergarten this fall. We've been with the Piccoli School in El Cerrito (near Target) for 3.5 years (2 kids), and love it more and more the longer we are there.

Here are some of the facts: 
- Ages 2 - 5.5 years (diapers o.k.) 
- Small teacher/child ratio 
- Music, art, dance & cooking 
- Large indoor/outdoor space

The Director and her staff are extremely knowledgeable and have guided our family through many new experiences in dealing with both of our children. All the teachers have been there for years, and when one of them left a year and a half ago, the Director couldn't bear to replace her, so the school currently enrolls less children as a result.

Piccoli is a major part of our lives in so many ways from the songs my kids sing at home (which they learn at school) to all of the artwork in our home which they do on a daily basis. The kids are even disappointed on weekends when there is no school. I highly recommend the Piccoli School and would be happy to offer more detail to anyone interested in exploring Piccoli further. Call Piccoli directly at (510) 234-3230. Daphne

In my opinion, my child has a whole life time ahead of her for academics, I want her to enjoy being a kid first. So I'd thought I would recommend to you her preschool "Piccoli". Laurie Kemp has been running Piccoli for 20+ years. It is a play-based preschool with a mixed age group (ages range from 2-5). Each day consists of something different, including art, science, cooking, gardening (or bug-searching), music and dance class, letters, numbers and good old-fashioned play. Everything they do seems like fun! They have a big outdoor play ground with swings, sand, play cars, play house, etc. The school itself is a converted home in El Cerrito dedicated to being a school. Each room in the school has something to offer, games, reading, role playing, art, cooking, blocks/legos, circle time and rest. Laurie and her teachers are wonderful. Every day my daughter is greeted with warmth and hugs. When I pick her up in the afternoon, I sometimes hear Laurie tell her she loves her. The bond my daughter shares with these women is incredible. And I see in it each and every child and teacher. They take personal attention to every one. Bindy has been with Laurie since 1994. Jean has been teaching for 10 years. It is a very relaxed environment. The kids have the freedom to participate in the activities or play by themselves if they choose. My daughter has grown with positive confidence in such a loving environment. This is her third child care situation (early age daycare and EC Teeter Tots before Piccoli). On Saturdays, she is always ready to go back to school, and see her friends and is disappointed that she has to wait another day until Monday. Finding a care situation is always a hard decision. I knew walking into Piccoli it was the right place for us. You may want to give her a call, she has a few openings left (part-time and full-time). Her number 510-234-3230. Hannah's mom