The Room To Grow Preschool

Community Subscriber

Oakland, CA

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

DSS Facility License #: 
Kristin Taylor
Rockridge on Broadway
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
33 months - 60 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri

Parent Q&A

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  • Dear parent community,

    Looking into pre-schools and one school that has positively caught my eye is 'Room to Grow' on Broadway in Oakland. We visited the school and left both very impressed and confident this would be an excellent place to send our children to. However, before deciding looking for some references here from parents who possibly have sent their child there to confirm our positive impression.

    Thanks in advance!

    My child was there from 2009-2012 and we loved it. If Kris Taylor is still running things with Jill Buckey, I can't imagine it's changed much, as they are both excellent. 

    It has been 2 years since we graduated from Room to Grow. We spent 2 amazing years at RTG. What a gem of a school. It doesn't look fancy and in fact, a lot of things look a bit worn down. But, don't let that fool you. Teachers are amazing. Their philosphy is right on. My now 1st grader still uses tools and skills she learned at RTG -- being kind, problem solving in a democratic way, teamwork. She often fondly talks about her years at RTG and how she misses it so much. (It is a BIG change from the RTG bubble to OUSD public school...) It can seem a bit chaotic, and I can't say it's for everyone. If your parenting philosophy is to let the child take the lead and take risks and explore at their own pace, this is a fantastic place. We wish the same philosophy exists at public schools. 

    Can absolutely recommend Room to Grow! Our child had the time of their life and developed into a confident, curious, sparkling person. I wish I would have had that preschool experience myself. 

    Some things that stand out:

    - Truly child-led, but with sufficient daily routines. Kids form their own classroom agreements, how they move through the space and choose their own projects. Project can go on for months if the energy is still there, resulting in a few dinosaur, cooking and paper airplane experts in the group! When doing art, kids are given materials, and can pick and choose what they do with it. This is not what you see at many other preschools, where all art looks the same, which suggests that kids were given instructions on what to make, there is a "right or wrong" and that restricts their creativity. 

    - Teachers are incredible. I learned so much from observing them, our conversations, and the parent nights. 

    - The community is amazing, with 2 family camping trips each year (organized by families) and weekly pizza nights. Our child is now at Kindergarten with none of their RtG buddies, but we are still continuing these camping trips and pizza nights. We definitely also made friends here, not just our kids.

    Overall, this was a great match for us. We were looking for a place where our kid could get dirty, climb trees, stay curious, and learn how to work with others, express feelings and claim their own space. We were not looking for a place that would prepare for Kindergarten, or would help them calm down. This is such a precious age where kids can truly still be kids. Room to Grow and the Reggio philosophy provided exactly that. 

    I can confirm with confidence and also with gratitude to the amazing teachers at Room to Grow (RTG). Even though we just joined this August, I can't say enough good things about the school and am sure that my daughter will continue to thrive in the upcoming 2 years. The previous review by nomsalina on 9/7/2019 is quite thorough, so I won't repeat those. One thing I'd like to highlight is the school and teachers have great communication with us parents.

    - First example, before the school year starts, each child is assigned with a advocate teacher, and the teacher will pay a casual and low-key home visit (or at the places the kid and family are comfortable with) to get to know more about the child and kick off the communication with the family. To be frank, when I first learned this I was surprised, because this requires a lot of time devotion from the teachers. But that's how RTG does things, they really care about each individual kid and is willing to listening to them and respect them.

    - Second example, everyday the teachers post some pictures or videos of the school day. This not only helps parents get an idea of what's going on but also provides some good topics to talk about with the kids during dinner time. I always enjoy reading the comments too, which sometimes describes the development they see within a child, or why they set up a certain project.

    Hope this helps. :)

Parent Reviews

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I enthusiastically recommend Room to Grow. Our 3rd grader still uses the skills they learned at RTG -- empathy, kindness, inclusiveness, sharing, conflict resolution, verbalizing emotions and suggesting solutions, etc. Heck, we often think she has higher social emotional intelligence than 40-someting year old us and our therapist is constantly impressed by her self-awareness and ability to recognize her needs and articulate them.  Some of the teachers are still there. Teacher Jill is awesome! Our child has developed strong friendship with quiet kids, active kids, sensitive kids and all types of kids at RTG. We learned valuable tips and tricks from RTG as well. It's small and does not look fancy. Things look "well-loved" but we look back and think what magical two years were at RTG. Good luck with your search!

Our child spent 2 wonderful years at Room To Grow. Don’t let the small and somewhat “well used” environment deter you. They spend every inch of their space very well and work with all types of kids wonderfully (including high energy kids). My own child who is on the high energy did very well there and I saw many extremely high energy boys thrive. 

I can only recommend The Room to Grow Preschool in Rockridge. Our older kid went there for two years and our younger kid just started. 

It's a play and project based school (Reggio). The kids get to pick projects that they want to participate in, there's usually an art project, a garden project and a building project (blocks, tracks etc) going on at any given moment, all based of the kid's interests. The school is small in terms of square footage and number of kids which might be a deal breaker for some parents, but we love the close knit community and the fact that all the kids get to play with and really get to know each other. It's super cozy and welcoming and the teachers use the space well. There is a backyard with a tree house, sandbox and all sorts of climbing structures that the kids may use freely. They don't have a restricted schedule for outdoor time, as long as there's a teacher in the yard they may use it. If there is not currently a teacher in the yard they may request it. This kind of flexibility is only possible in a smaller setting and we appreciate that a lot. In general the kids have a lot of freedom to explore, discover and experiment.

Our son has grown into an inquisitive, creative and independent Kindergartner in his time there and I credit the teachers and the wonderful environment at RTG with that. He still loves to come and visit when we pick up his sister. Our daughter loves being there and has already grown so much in the few weeks she's been there. We feel so lucky to have found this wonderful school and are glad we get to experience another 2 years of RTG joy.

I can confirm the recommendation about Room to Grow. It is our second year there. The school philosophy (Reggio Emilia) acknowledges that every child is unique, so the curriculum is set up in a way that kids can choose from various activities. That can include napping or not napping. There is a separate room for the younger kids (3 yrs) where they are being encouraged to nap. The older kids often roll out their mat in the main area, and would have some quiet time while browsing through a book. After a while, they can quietly get up and play in the art room. Mo-Thu there is "literacy group" for the older kids where they would read a chapter book together and create art about what they have just read, while younger kids are napping. No real age cut off restrictions to join one group or the other. Kids can decide for themselves and parents can voice their preferences to the teachers.

I am pretty sure they currently have openings so no need to wait until the new school year. Good luck finding a solution that works for your family.

Try reaching out to Room to Grow in Rockridge. Our child went there. It was a wonderful play-based preschool. It can seem chaotic especially if you visit during their free play time, but they did not require kids to nap. They encouraged kids to nap and had designated nap time for 3 year olds, but my kid didn't nap consistently and they worked with us. Their philosophy is child led, so if the kid is not a napper, they don't force the kid to nap and will let the kid have quiet play time. 

Check out The Room to Grow on Broadway in Rockridge. It is a small preschool that follows the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Kids get to make up their own projects from the abundant materials present in the classroom, the school agreements are democratically created, they can run in and out to the yard at their own convenience and yes, they do get dirty! Teachers are just wonderful, guiding the kids with so much respect, creativity and passion. My kid brings home tons of art work, they go on trips to the farmers market with BART, build a fort from cardboard, then wood and nails, do yoga and learn about how to recognize and express emotions through colors etc etc. Seriously, I wish I went to a school like this when I was a kid!! There are a lot of options to get involved as a parent, but no pressure if you don't want to. Family camping trip twice a year, potlucks, and you can hang out at school with your kid as long as you like to read books, help on projects etc. Not unimportant, hours are 7.30am - 6pm, very convenient for working parents. Good luck on finding the right school for your kid!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

March 2015

RE: Preschool in Oakland that follows the school calendar

The Room To Grow Preschool in Rockridge follows the Oakland school district (OUSD) calendar. The full summer isn't off (thankfully!), however all other holidays and weeks off, and the yearly start date are aligned. We highly recommend RTG- it is an awesome preschool! J

Jan 2015

Re: Playbased preschool for next year?

I highly recommend The Room To Grow preschool, in Rockridge.  We *really* love it, our son loves it there, and all of us parents always seem to be discussing how lucky we are to have found such a great place!  The teachers are *wonderful* and loving.  The philosophy is great(it is Emilio Regio based), and they actually really practice it. It is community and kid driven, and play based, and they really pay attention to what the kids are interested
in, and in the children themselves.  The teachers really embrace each child as they are,
especially our active and boisterous and loving boy.

We moved to Room To Grow from a different preschool, so we do have a comparison- this is a wonderful preschool!  We even commute to it from a different neighborhood.  Definitely
check it out!  The one thing I am not sure about is the ''almost 3'' part- but talk with
the director Kris- she is great to talk to anyways!

Good luck!
Happy RTG parent

Oct 2013

Re: Play play play!! Is there a school?
The Room to Grow preschool in upper Rockridge. I recommend it highly! The school uses the Reggio Emilia approach for the children to explore their world through play. While my son was there the children led many projects such as an elaborate water sculpture that evolved over many days, recreating scenes and characters from favorite books and stories and art work using natural materials. It's a small school with nurturing and fun teachers. anon

Feb 2013

I can't recommend The Room to Grow Preschool in Oakland enough. My son went there for nearly two years and thrived under their care. We recently moved out of state and I have had the opportunity to compare our experience there with that of another well-respected Reggio Emilia school, and it makes me see even more clearly what an unusual gem this school -- and its teachers -- are.

First of all, and most of all, my son loved it. First thing he would say every morning when he woke up was, "Is today a school day?" And if it was, he'd cheer and jump around the house running to get ready. He was at the school five days a week for the length of a full work day - and yet he'd still beg for more time at the end of the day to spend with his friends or teachers. He isn't of a disposition where I would have assumed this would be the case - he's very active, strong-willed, creative, loves to build things and do things with his hands all day, and had trouble at first sitting still and following rules in the class. But the teachers have a lovely way of finding kids' strengths and working with them where they are and as a result we felt he was very valued and seen for who he is, as well as pushed out of his comfort zone to develop in appropriate ways. I am so grateful that his earliest experience of school was such a positive one - this is a precedent that I hope will help him the rest of his life.

If you visit, you will notice that the space is relatively small (especially outdoors) and the materials and resources seem simple. But the teachers create incredibly richness - more so than I've seen in other settings - out of this material. They do natural material art, garden, have a literacy club, learn about the solar system, make "music factories" build with real tools, take everything apart, learn to solve interpersonal conflicts and create rules democratically, sing, dance, do yoga, read, count, go on field trips, etc etc. They develop kids' curiosity and their resources to pursue what they are curious about. The children they graduate are very well prepared for kindergarten - but they seem to absorb the skills they need in the course of all the fun projects and play that happens naturally day to day.

In terms of fit, I think this is a good school for people who are pretty relaxed and don't mind mess and chaos. When we visited, one of the things that we loved was that there was one kid running around in his underwear, another licking a window, and another running around with purple glitter stuck in his 'fro. The kids go outside in all kinds of weather, and come home covered in paint and sand and mud and what have you. (It's not just the kids that are chaotic - paperwork and organization for parents is not their strong suit - that was probably our only frustration working with them.) There are plenty of girls in the classes and they certainly seem to be happy and having a great time - but I think this school is a special gift to high-energy boys since not every environment seems to love and care constructively for those kids.

They have an amazing private facebook site where teachers post photos and document anecdotes of what the kids are doing each day. It is a wonderful way to keep up to date on what your children are doing and have good opening topics of conversation with your kids when they answer your questions with one word. It's also a great way to build community with other parents and teachers, whom I've found to be warm, friendly and down-to-earth. (There is typically a fun camping trip each year to get to know each other, as well as several other events throughout the year.)

Now that we've had the opportunity to compare RTG with our current preschool - which is a highly respected Reggio Emilia school with tons of funds and a fancy campus in Massachusetts - I can see even more clearly that size, funds, resources, and educational philosophy don't matter a hair as much as the quality, investment, energy, creativity, caring of the teachers. And RTG has that in spades. We are so grateful for the excellent education and community we found at RTG - and hope that others who will thrive there find it as well!

Jan 2013

Re: Need a full-time preschool near Rockridge
I think you would find lots to check off on your wish-list at The Room to Grow, in upper Rockridge (top of Broadway). My son is now in kindergarten and spent a very happy 1.5 years there. 655-0300 Valerie

Check out The Room to Grow on Broadway (x Taft). My older son went there, and my younger son is there now. They have the best kid/teacher ratio of any preschool I've seen, and they have dealt with many ''slow to warm'' kids. The teachers are really warm and loving and creative, and the curriculum is very student-driven and creative as well. It doesn't have your ''nice to have'' items, but if you can live with that you should check it out. We really love it. They don't take kids until 2.9 (I think) and they must be potty trained, but if you can wait a few extra months it will be worth it! Happy Room to Grow parent

Oct 2012

Re: Best Preschool for an Easily Overstimulated Boy
I highly recommend The Room to Grow, in upper Rockridge. It may be a bit far for you in North Berkeley, but I encourage you to check it out. My son, now in kindergarten, had many of the same issues at age 3 as you describe - especially the difference in behavior in a large group of kids versus one-on-one with an adult. In fact, he started at another preschool and after three months it was obvious he was having trouble. I found RTG and made the change. The teachers at The Room to Grow encourage child led activities, allow for each child to be an individual while at the same time teaching the kids how to play and work together. What really helped my son was that in the afternoons and on Fridays, it was a much smaller group. I needed full time care, but about half the kids are there part time Mon through Thurs 9-3pm. The afternoons and Fridays are generally more mellow times. Don't be put off by the somewhat small outdoor space. they use the space very well, and my son did better with a more confined area. The teachers are right there with the kids. the have a garden, great loft area, wonderful art teacher, cooking, etc. They embrace all kids and don't back away from boys with big energy. Give them a call at 655-0300. Valerie

Sept 2012

Re: Moving to Oakland in 2 weeks, need preschool ASAP
Check out Room to Grow preschool in Rockridge on Broadway. The curriculum is emergent, but they manage to somehow tie in academic skills in a completely non-pressured way. The teachers love the children--head teacher Jill is a gem-- and are wonderfully hands-on and present. My daughter (and I ) loved it and were sad to leave to go to kindergarten! Happy RTG alum parent

Aug 2012

Words cannot express our gratitude for the extraordinary care and guidance that our daughter received while at The Room to Grow. She was truly excited about going to school each and every day, and reluctant to leave at closing. I can't think of anything else for which she has shown the same level of unwavering enthusiasm. It was such a comfort to us as parents to know she was at such a nurturing place where she learned to follow her curiosity, develop self reliance, practice greater empathy, and acquire tons of self confidence. All the teachers there are truly present, and it was awesome to see all the amazing things that the kids were capable of when their ideas were validated & they were able to follow their interests through the masterfully practiced emergent curriculum. Some of the really cool stuff they did as part of their 'lit group' included illustrations, plays, music and cooking projects inspired by books they were reading. Of coarse there was also a lot of fun, fantasy play, messiness and silliness that made our daughter rush back for more each day. As our child leaves TRTG to start kindergarden, we say a weepy good bye for now, but can't wait to come back to this truly special place with our younger child when she turns 3. Miriam & Justin

Nov 2011

Re: Oakland preschool openings in January?
My son goes to the Room to Grow Preschool on Broadway in Rockridge, and we love it. It has a great teacher/kid ratio, and there are only about 16 kids there at the moment. The yard is not big, but they make the most of the space (tire swing, clubhouse, side yard for running). It's a very warm and loving environment with very sweet kids. anon

Sept 2011

Re: Relocating to the Bay Area, looking for a walkable neighborhood
We live in and love the Rockridge area of Oakland It's highly walkable and close to BART, good restaurants, etc. though as not as comprehensively useful as Piedmont Avenue. Admittedly it's not the cheapest place to buy a house.

We also adore our pre-school, Room to Grow. It's a reggio inspired program with really caring adults, who go the extra mile for the kids. You'd be amazed what kids can accomplish given adults who are open to seeing what they can do. The outdoor space is small, but they make the most of every inch. You get yoga, lots of art, great science exploration, cooking, and a gentle place that really understands kids.

It currently has openings. Our older child who is now in elementary went there for 2 years, and our youngest has been for six month. Happy Parent

July 2011

Re: Full-time preschool needed in Oakland ASAP
Our 5 year old daughter is at Room to Grow preschool in Rockridge (on Broadway at Taft). She is leaving at the end of the month to start kindergarden. We have been at the school since she was 2 years 11 months old. We love Room to Grow as does our daughter. The teachers are amazing and the philosophy of the school has been wonderful for our daughter--it is play based Reggio Emilia. The projects are kid-directed which is wonderful. They let kids be individuals, if they are working on a certain project that they are into, they are not forced to go onto another activity just because it is on the schedule. It is a loving, caring environment which makes the kids feel safe to make their own choices and concentrate on the activities they enjoy. Our daughter has thrived at this school and is very well prepared for kindergarden. Feel free to email me with any questions. L.

Jan 2011

Re: Nurturing preschool for very active son
Try the Room to Grow Preschool on Broadway in Rockridge/Temescal. The outdoor space is on the small side but is available for kids' play almost the whole day. Much care and attention is paid to socialization skills as well. - active kid sympathizer

Dec 2010

My husband and I both work full-time outside the home and moved to Piedmont this past year. We are planning to place our boy/girl twins in preschool in the fall (they will be 3 and 1/2 then) but the co-ops in Piedmont with PT schedules are not an option for us. Their primary childcare to date when we are working has been in our home with my mom and/or a nanny. We need something convenient in terms of location in order to pick up and drop-off timely with our work schedules. Any input, positive or negative, on any other schools I may be missing that are less than 3 miles from ''lower'' Piedmont would be much appreciated!! Thanks! -Piedmont Mom of Almost-Preschooler Twins

Check out Room to Grow in Rockridge. When we were looking at preschools, both Rainbow and Duck's Nest were at the top of our list...and they both had wait lists that seemed ridiculous--I was in a panic that I wouldn't find a place I loved for my daughter.

Then I stumbled upon Room to Grow. I immediately loved the vibe-- sort of crunchy, very hands-on (for kids) and warm.

My daughter loves it, loves her teachers (asks if they can come over for dinner, wonders what they're doing on the weekends), and we're so thrilled she's in a place we feel she's given the freedom to explore and grow at her own pace.

There's cooking and reading and daughter comes home filled with new words and ideas and is truly stimulated each day.

Please take a tour and check it out. One caveat: they are somewhat disorganized, which is frustrating. The teachers are spot on, though, so don't let this discourage you. Happy Room To Grow Parent

Nov 2010

My daughter has been thriving at The Room To Grow for two years and is well-prepared for kindergarten next year. The Reggio-Emilia approach has been an ideal environment for her inquisitive personality. Her days are filled with art projects, impromptu plays, science queries, literacy development, gardening, and lots of excellent playtime. She sometimes doesn't want to come home! The teachers are fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough. I know that there are openings right now in Oakland (the SF campus is filled). I encourage any family currently looking to check it out. We have loved it. Emily, parent

May 2010

Re: I'm thinking Montessori may not be right for my son
My son spent a year at a Montessori preschool in San Francisco before we switched to a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool--the Room to Grow in Rockridge, which has openings for fall, by the way!--when we moved to Oakland a year ago. Montessori seems to work well for kids who are comforted by structure and rules. My son did fine there. And because I didn't know any better at the time, I was not disturbed by the lack of creativity and imaginative play in the classroom. The weekly photos sent out to the families always showed groups of kids gathered around some wood pegboard numbers game or a map of Africa, learning some important new thing. And sure, it was cool that my son could identify Africa on a map at 3 1/2.

But now, at his Reggio Emilia inspired school, they might spend the week exploring leaves, or the worms they found in the compost pile, or the Wizard of Oz (my son is now obsessed with the Wizard of Oz!). They work with puppets, explore different textures and art materials, bake muffins, grow plants, build rocket ships out of paper towel tubes and tape, and basically let the kids' curiosity drive the agenda. Now my son comes home covered in paint, dirt, or whatever the material of the day might be, but man is he a happy kid. It's not a quiet environment--in fact, it can get pretty chaotic--but there are quite a few ''spirited'' kids there, and the teachers are very adept at handling them with compassion and respect, while giving the kids enough free reign to be themselves. So for us, there was no question that Reggio Emilia was a better fit--not only for my son but for our family (since we're the ones cleaning him up at the end of the day!). happy mama of a happy preschooler

Jan 2009

Re: Preschool Opening for 4 year old?

My daughter has attended the Room to Grow in Oakland, on Broadway since it opened last November. I know they have room for kids to start immediately. It's not far from Highway 24, if you are looking for an easy commute.

It's a play based school which lets the kids' interests drive the curriculum to some degree. There was a posting in the same newsletter issue you posted in. The website is sparse, but here it is nonethless:

My daughter is very happy there, is also 4, and has grown a lot. You should come by and check it out. Good Luck. Claire

Nov 2008

Re: Preschool opening for 3 yr girl in N. Oak
Hi, I'd highly recommend the school that my daughter attends, The Room to Grow in N. Oakland. ( It's on Broadway, as you head up to highway 24. It is a play based preschool that very much follows the children's interests. The head teacher Ramee, is more than you can imagine: kind, patient and yet stills enforces the rules. And all of the other teachers are great too. They really work as a team.

My daughter has been there since the beginning, and we've had a great experience. She's learned about science through simple experiments and cooking, they garden the back yard, go on walks around the neighborhood to collect objects, read stories, do art, and have plenty of child-directed play. She doesn't much care to leave some days, and often asks ''what day do I go to preschool next?''

My daughter has thrived and has made some great friends there. They do a weekly blog where they add pictures they've taken through the week to keep you updated.

There are too many good and nice things to say here. Feel free to email me if you want more info. Good luck. Claire

Sept 2008

Re: Any openings at your kid's great preschool?
Room To Grow in Rockridge. It's the second year of the new East Bay campus for a long standing SF program. It's play based (Reggio Emilia inspired) with great teachers, and it's small. The outside space is not big, but is well arranged.

We're brand new there but very happy. There are still changes being made to the space, but I think that they are going to be great ones. There is art, gardening, music, and lots of fun, but very little ''instruction''.

Since it's new they've still got spaces. I don't think that'll be the case next year. Happy Mom

May 2008

I would like to make a recommendation for The Room To Grow Preschool in Rockridge (on Broadway at Taft). Their Rockridge location opened late 2007. They also have a location in SF that has been open for several years. Since they are so new, as of May 2008, they do have openings left for the 2008/2009 term. They take kids from potty-trained through Kindergarten.

My 3 year old daughter loves it there. Each night she asks if tomorrow is a school day. Each morning, she gets herself dressed, eats and is waiting at the door. I think she is disappointed to have to spend so much time with us on the weekends!

As a parent, I appreciate how comfortable she is there (and how comfortable I feel when I am there). I love the balance of free play and educational activities. I'm amazed at the art, knowledge and fun memories that my daughter comes home with every day.