Preschools for Children Who Need a Lot of Structure

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Aug 2001

My daughter needs a lot of structure and clear limits in her environment to feel safe - this has to do with her history of abuse and severe neglect. She has been in several schools, ranging from Waldorf to a state run preschool and (contrary to my personal philosophy) she does best in a school that is pretty strict. Does anyone know of a school who can provide that kind of structure and limitation setting but at the same time has caring teachers and a quality education? Has anyone any experience with "therapeutic" schools? I would appreciate feedback very much. Thank you. Martina

I would recommend looking at Montessori programs for a child who needs a lot of structure. The various Montessori schools vary quite widely, however, between schools and between "grade levels". My daughter went to Growing Light Montessori, and the "preschool" (3-4 year olds) had less structure (and more kids) than the "pre-K" (4-5 year olds). Although all of her time there was a very good experience, what a (positive) difference fewer kids and more structure made for her! Margery

There are two options that might work for you. You might want to look at some of the Catholic schools with an older teacher. I've heard that the teacher who used to be at St. Theresa's who was much beloved but deemed quite strict is now teaching at St. Lawrence O'Tooles in Oakland. I can't say anything about the quality of the upper grades, but I've heard very good things about the quality of the program that she runs. A school with a fairly formal kindergarten which is also a preschool is Treehouse, First Covenant, in Oakland on Redwood Road. It's Evangelical Christian, which may make it a no-go for you, but the staff seems very experienced, and quite good.