Sheffield Preschool

Berkeley, CA

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Home-Based Daycare/Preschool
Mary June Sheffield
june [at]
S. Berkeley on Stuart
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
36 months - 60 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Additional Services & Features: 
Afternoon option

Parent Questions

Berkeley area preschool with good outdoor area(15 responses)

Parent Reviews

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I highly recommend you look at Sheffield Preschool.
Both my daughters went there and we we have been so happy with the whole experience. I find it to be a very nurturing environment for kids. Kids learn to socialize and play with one another as well as learn skills to resolve conflicts. The backyard facilities are fantastic for the kids, with a play areas, play/shade structure, garden etc. Though they focus on play based learning, they surround the kids with new topics (dinosaurs, circus, the solar system) every month, as well as toys and art projects that coincide with the topic of the month. Its great, the kids learn so much in a relaxing environment.
Music is also very important so the kids learn a lot of songs and Sheffield has a drum teacher come in a few times a month to teach rhythms. My 4 year old can clap the clave beat quite well!
And at the end of the day, my kids don't want to leave and my 7 year old likes to spend a few weeks in the summer going back.

Bravo to June, the staff, the parents and the children

Archived Reviews: 

Nov 2015

I'm looking for recent reviews of the Sheffield Preschool - any Sheffield parents out there who can share their experiences with the school? We're looking at preschools for next fall for our daughter who will be almost 3. I'm interested in any feedback in general about Sheffield, but in particular, I'm wondering whether they use time-outs. Their handbook on their website says they do, which surprised me, so I'm wondering whether that's outdated. Thanks! Anon

We're currently in our third year at Sheffield and we are very pleased with our experiences there. Our daughter has thrived at the school, emotionally, socially and academically. We love the school so much that we opted to keep her enrolled there for another year rather than sending her to BUSD TK. June and the other teachers provide a safe, nurturing and downright fun environment. The kids get a lot of outside playtime in the beautiful yard. The community of families involved at the school is wonderful, too.

As far as time outs, my observation is that they are used as a reset and not as a banishment (in line with a positive discipline/nonviolent communication approach). Mom of a Happy Sheffield Kid

July 2012

Re: Looking for a Preschool with a Garden
Take a look at Sheffield Preschool. June Sheffield has been teaching for 30 years, her school is a gem, with a big beautiful yard of garden and play areas. There are only 12 children at a time in a very nurturing environment, and a play based curriculum. Happy Sheffield Mom

Feb 2009

Re: Looking for a preschool with an afternoon session
Call June Sheffield at 510-849-9352. She is currently restructuring her preschool and has added an afternoon program. My eldest daughter went to Sheffield Preschool for 1 year and emerged well balanced, confident and excited about going to Kindergarten. I will send my younger daughter there next year ('09-'10)for the afternoon program, and am looking forward to joining the Sheffield community again! Kristen

Feb 2008

My younger son has attended Sheffield Preschool for the past two years and I have been so incredibly happy with the experience he has had. Our family came to Sheffield after the small home based Waldorf school our children attended closed, my older son was on his way to kindergarten but my younger son still needed a preschool. The only school I wanted for him was Sheffield. I am a big advocate of the home based preschool experience for young children and I had heard so many positive things about June, the director, from various families. The first time I called there were no spaces available, but I persisted for the next few months and thankfully a slot opened up. My son has thrived under June's care, along with her staff of amazing teachers, they do the most incredible activites and celebrate so much about just being a kid. The school takes full advantage of it's location in Berkeley by taking field trips, like going to the firehouse, Alameda Beach, seeing the Nutcracker at Julia Morgan, and the curriculum celebrates the culture of the Bay Area, right now they're doing Chinese New Year, and African American History Month, my son has even participated in two peace marches put on by the school. Not to mention the support I get from June as a parent, she is so full of information on everything about being a mother, a woman, a human being and she generously shares her time and herself to all the children and families in the program. She has become a very important part of mine and my children's lives, which I think is the way it should be, after all she is helping to shape the person my child will become, which I think is the best any parent could hope for in sending their child to preschool. My son will be moving on to kindergarten in the fall, and I know we will be very sad to leave Sheffield, but we are prepared for what comes next in part because of our time there. Sheffield Preschool: 849-9352

Nov 2007

Hello, I am wondering if anyone has recent thoughts on The Sheffield Preschool. We are thinking of starting our son there in July at the age of 3. June seems so great but is there a fair amount of teacher turnover and, if so, do you know why? Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks for the advice

Our son has attended Sheffield preschool for a year and a half now, and ABSOLUTELY LOVES IT. The school environment is warm and welcoming, the teachers are fantastic, and June, the director, runs a well-organized and thoughtful program. Parents are always welcome to discuss school and home issues with June - she has a wealth of information and experience. As a parent, I feel very informed about the curriculum and my son's progress at school. I have visited many preschools, and haven't found any other school that has the same level of organization or dedication to individual needs as I've found and loved at Sheffield Preschool. Kate

Oct 2006

Just wondering if anyone could post a review of the Sheffield Preschool. Last one on this site is 4 years old and I was wondering what current participants thought of the place. Thanks! lia

I am writing to recommend Sheffield Preschool in Berkeley. Our family has been at Sheffield for 3 years, and we have been very happy there. It strikes a nice balance between being free- play oriented but also providing daily activities/projects (re- enacting the Rosa Parks story, decorating t-shirts for Father's Day, baking cookies, etc.). It is small (about 20 kids) and nurturing. I also like the fact that it is mixed age. The Director, June, is an amazing educator, and we parents have learned so much from her. She is available for one-on-one consulting on child development issues, and also conducts parent meetings on topics such as positive discipline, sibling rivalry, etc.

The other wonderful thing is the scheduling--you can do full or part-time and if the latter, you can pick whatever days you want. I am amazed that June can be so flexible in this regard, but it seems to work.

The school currently has openings, particulary for 4 year olds. I'd be happy to talk to anyone who is interested in Sheffield. Erin

This is my daughters 3rd year at Sheffield. I can not tell you how happy we are we found it. When our daughter started she had been at home with me exclusively, so needless to say I was anxious. But it was a smooth transition and now she attends full-time. I think the small size and intimacy of the surroundings is great. The mixed ages allow for the little ones to learn from the older kids and the older kids to learn more responsibility. I like the play-based program and see my daughter learning new things all the time and truly enjoying it. Every month there is a theme and there are lots of wonderful activities that express that them. I remember my daughter coming home one day, seeing a bus and telling me the Rosa Parks story. That certainly impressed me. There is lots of family involvement and June (the director) is available and helpful with any developmental questions or concerns you may have with your child. We are having another child and I have no doubt we will remain a Sheffield family. If you have any questions feel free to call. 510.845.4880 Cindy

October 2002

We are posting this message to recommend Sheffield Preschool in Berkeley. We have been with Sheffield Preschool for the last five years. Our son attended for 2 1/2 years until he started kindergarten. Our daughter has been there since September 2000. We are extremely happy with the school. Over these years, we, and especially our kids, have enjoyed the multiple assets this preschool offers.

First of all, we find that this home-based preschool is the perfect transition between home and school, since it provides a wonderful and caring environment for our kids. Moreover, the program meets the challenging needs children experience through the developmental stages of ages 2 1/2 to 5 years. Quite a difficult job!

Additionally, the director of the program, June Sheffield, is an extraordinary teacher and director. She is extremely knowledgeable about child development, relationships, and conflict management. Over the years she has provided us with very useful and meaningful parenting guidelines. June has always managed to run the school in such a way that, even when new teachers came on board, our kids still experienced a stable and caring environment. June has always been the cornerstone of the school, and the current team of teachers is outstanding. As for the daily routine, the school provides an excellent balance between indoor and outdoor time. The kids participate in a variety of activities/projects that are an integral part of a well designed educational program. Kids learn and have fun, and each child has the opportunity to explore and develop his/her interests.

We highly recommend it. Eric and Bel

June 2002

Two of my three children are at Sheffield Preschool now and I intend to send our third child there soon. . I'd like to respond to each point made by Allison in the Feb 2000 posting.

1) Art. Sheffield is well organized and I do not dispute that June is particular about the tidiness of the place. She is particular about everything, lucky for us. I am an artist myself and was hopeful that my children would have every freedom to mess around. Indeed they do all kinds of art projects---structured and unstructured---there. Some are planned and guided but they always have access to all kinds of drawing and sculpting materials and when outside, they can pick up a brush and paint whenever they want to. Our portfolios are bursting with all the great work they bring home.

2) Outdoor time. The children are outdoors well before lunch and stay there until at least 1:30 at which point they go in for a nap and snack and then they are out again by 4:00 or so until 5:30 when the day ends. On nice days they are often outdoors much earlier. I doubt the routine has anything to do with dirty shoes, since they remove their shoes (a nice custom, I think) before they come in for quiet/nap time. I will say in honesty that I was concerned in the past with limited outdoor time in drizzly or rainy weather, especially because my son so loves to get out and run around. I understood that it was, in fact an attempt to control the mess. I explained that my son felt pent up inside on those days and that drizzle didn't seem prohibitive to me. Soon thereafter I noticed a change in attitude about those ''iffy'' days and an effort to take the kids on walks between showers. I am amazed at how accomodating the teachers are of the needs of each child.

3) Teacher turnover. I too worried some initially about teacher turnover. All I can say about that is that it's dated information. The three teachers now working at Sheffield are indescribably, out-of-this-world fantastic. They are smart, loving, empathetic and incredibly willing to grow and learn. June herself is quite deeply learned about childhood issues. She is often but not always perfectly diplomatic, but if you can get beyond a few rough edges (as I'd assume any reasonable adult can), you will find her open to peaceable, frank dialogue. Mercifully, you will not get sappy sweet talk about your child or your concerns.

We have had many ups and a down or two at Sheffield. Our son had a difficult first year, due, in retrospect to an age gap between him and the other boys. We considered moving him but June was so helpful and so committed to making it work for us that we stayed and it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made. Also, there was a somewhat turbulent reorganizing of the way the school is directed because June felt a need to have more of a life outside the school. She was incredibly open with us about her feelings, and it was not neat and administratively correct. We as parents came together and supported her as she has supported us, and now the school is virtually humming with good energy. Romney

Allison (2/00)

We left Sheffield School after a year and are now at Heart's Leap. We are very happy we made the switch. Some of it was not being clear at the outset about what I wanted in a preschool. I want to be fair in my comments so I will lay out some pros and cons.

Things I liked about Sheffield:
1. June, the director/teacher, is very knowledgeable about children, their temperaments, developmental stages, etc. She gives off a real feeling of expertise.
2. The back yard is more spacious than a lot of home-based preschools of that size.
3. The "homey" feel, which you just can't replicate in bigger schools.

Things we didn't like about Sheffield (in no particular order):
1. Art is fairly regimented, partly because she is trying to protect her house, so it only happens at certain times and in certain places. (The kitchen, when the teacher calls you in a few at a time, or outside, once they go down at around 11). As a result, my daughter never did any art, really. Her interest and practice has exploded since we moved schools; where she is now, art is just out there for the doing, and they lay out a different interesting project every day (gluing buttons, making mobiles, making tote bags, sewing snakes, etc.).
2. Again because she is trying to protect her house, as a rule she doesn't let any of the kids outside until just before lunch, so that they won't track dirt in on their shoes after playing in the yard. This means that sometimes when the noise/energy level gets crazy, you stand around wondering why we aren't all outside letting all of this steam off. In a way this rigidity is a shame, given that one of the benefits of a small home-based preschool might be the flexibility to respond to different situations.
3. A LOT of teacher turnover. She has had some real trouble keeping folks on, after a spell where she had the same crew for I think 3years. In our year there my daughter had maybe four or five new teachers pass through. Some of that must be the labor market coupled with what she can afford to pay, but part of it is that I think she might be hard to work with/for.
4. Big Disney presence (and other branded toys). My daughter just glommed right onto all these Disney stories, and we don't read them to her and generally don't let her watch them (or didn't, then) and all of a sudden she was coming home telling us about Scar and Beauty and all the rest. Very unsettling to have the great satan come into our house uninvited. :)