Seeking a Daycare or Preschool in Oakland

Parent Q&A

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  • Trying to decide which preschool

    (4 replies)

    Hi - 

    We've toured many preschools and have been offered spots at Duck's Nest 41st and Rockridge Little School on College. We liked them both, but they are so different and I really can't decide. Location-wise, Little School is probably easier for us. I liked that Duck's Nest basically has smaller class sizes. I worry Little School would get loud/overwhelming all day in one big room, but my daughter is loud herself and probably wouldn't mind? All of the kids there seemed quite happy. Diversity is super important to us and it seemed comparable among the students at both schools, but better among the teachers at Little School. I also got concerned about some negative posts about Duck's Nest - even though they were from a few years ago, it seemed like lack of supervision/taking parent concerns seriously put some kids at risk in the past. We haven't applied to Step One or Aquatic School and who knows if they'd even have spots for the fall (our daughter will be 3), but wondering also how those compare. Thanks for any thoughts. I tend to be on the anxious/indecisive side even though my preschooler is much more easy going than I am, lol. 

    We loved our time at Duck's Nest on 41st--my older child came in just after the issues in the negative reviews (which occurred nearly 10 years ago, before the school moved to its current location) so we were a bit nervous as well, but we found that the leadership had done a great job addressing the concerns, including thoughtful design of the play yard in the new location. Our kids graduated ahead of the pandemic so I know less about about how they have handled COVID, but we know families whose younger kids are still there who continue to be happy with the program and with how things have gone over these crazy couple of years. I also really appreciated how intentional the school was about naming challenges around and attempting to address diversity, although I think like many private preschools, the cost continues to be a huge barrier to true socioeconomic diversity. (Duck's Nest does offer need-based financial aid and works with BANANAS on subsidies, but I don't know that it makes a huge dent in a systemic challenge.) The teaching staff was quite diverse while we were there, though I know there have been some transitions due to retirements and the pandemic, so not sure what it's like today. We also loved that there were a number of male teachers--a rarity at many preschools.

    My kids spent a total of five years at Step One and I can't say enough good things. Experienced, caring teachers; beautiful large outdoor space; music in the classrooms; and much more. I credit my kids social skills, deep friendships, and love of music to the foundation built at Step One.

    We also really loved our time at Duck's Nest on 41st.  The teachers were absolutely fantastic and we really loved the Reggio (emergent curriculum, where they really take note of what the kids are interested in and design activities and lessons around those, to encourage curiosity and a love of learning).  We had a good level of ethnic diversity in our teachers, less so in the kid population, but I think the class younger than ours was when they really stepped up in prioritizing diversity in the enrollment process.  We graduated the year the pandemic started, so I also can't comment on pandemic stuff.  Overall we were incredibly happy there and would highly recommend it!

    My child is in 3rd grade now and they still talk about their deep love of being at Rockridge Little School-College Ave. It's big, and open, but somehow they create a wonderful flow and plenty of space at the school. For us it was the Reggio approach, new things all the time and so creative. I have a sensitive/shy child and she thrived in the setting.

  • Hello parents,

    We are looking at the new mountain blvd ABS French preschool or La Plazita school for our 3.5 year old son. I was wondering if anyone has recent experience and is willing to comment on highlights/lowlights and if they would recommend?


    My now almost 5 year old went to la Plazita and it was great, we highly recommend. There is a lot of structure, learning, and fun activities for the kids. She always LOVED her teachers and going to school. 

    Our oldest has been at ABS West Oakland pre school for two years now and will begin his third in September. His younger brother will start in the TPS class in September (he attended one week of summer camp as well). We really love Coralie (the director) and the teachers. They have only had one “covid scare” (last June) and had a prompt and comprehensive response. The food at school is well balanced and exposes my kids to new flavors and combinations (plus many of the vegetables are grown right on site) - and they are willing to eat things there that I can’t get them to eat at home. We have no French at home and comprehension by our children has been wonderful to watch progress. I also really like the flexibility of a school year and summer camp (July and August are week by week enrollment), so you aren’t paying whether you use the program or not. Also, I appreciate that the teachers come from many French-speaking countries, exposing my kiddos to more cultures. In all, we are very big fans of ABS preschool. I don’t have specific experience with the new location, but if Coralie brings the same passion and joy will be a wonderful place for the children to grow and develop.

    My two kids (2yo and 4yo) have been at La Plazita since late June. So we're still pretty new to it, but we love it so far! Feel free to get in touch if you have specific questions.

  • Hello!

    I am very last minute looking for a play based preschool for my 3 year old. Ideally located relatively near to Oakland's Dimond district. I'd love to find a place that has great outdoor space that is used often.  It would be great if the program has an emphasis on teaching social and emotional skills, equity and participating in our community. Activities in cooking, dirt digging, music and drawing also a plus :)

    If you know of a preschool that has openings? (or that is worth contacting to see if they have openings). I would love any feedback.

    Thank you!

    The New School of Berkeley sounds perfect for you, though not the exact location you are looking for.  They have openings.

    Check out Lakeshore Children's Center.

    Hi, our daughter just graduated to kindergarten but before that she was at Daisy Child Development Center, near Mills College. I highly recommend Daisy. It's a wonderful preschool with a huge outdoor space where the kids play often. (There are even goats and chickens!) The staff's endless patience and love really helped the kids learn social and emotional skills, too.

    Have you looked at Oakland Montessori? Obviously they are Montessori, not play-based, but they may offer much of what you're looking for.

    Check out Oakland Garden School. No idea if they have openings but it meets many of your criteria, including a beautiful outdoor space.

    Please check and see if they have any openings.  We absolutely loved it for our kid and it's set a very high bar for everything that's come after!

    Our kids are grown now, so I hope you get a lot of more up-to-date responses, however...

    There is a preschool located at the northeast end of Dimond Street, right next to the redwood grove in Dimond Avenue.

    This has been a preschool for at least 30 years.  It has gone through numerous changes of directorship, so I don't know who is operating it now.

    If I were in your position, I would check out their program, simply because of location, location, location.   Our son attended there when it was part of Oakland Montessori School.  Our friends' son attended when it was A Child's World.

    I would be curious to see what the program is like these days.

    I sent my two kids to Blue Skies for Children, which is near Dimond.  It's an amazing, wonderful school, that fits the bill you describe.  I don't know if they have openings but you should check to find out.

    My daughter was at Lakeshore Children's Center for 8 years of preschool, aftercare, and summer camps. They have a nice outdoor play area used multiple times daily, weather permitting. And when weather doesn't permit, they have a large indoor play space (the church social hall; LCC is operated non-denominationally by the Lakeshore Baptist Church)

  • We have 3 year old in pre-school that does not seem to be working out for our kid. The school seems well structured but better suited for kids that are more outgoing and don't need much social coaching. I'm starting to realize our kid does need additional support in making friends, interacting with others, and handling her own emotions. Does anyone have any recommendations for Oakland based pre-schools  with a very warm environment and where the focus is really on social-emotional development? 

    Blue Skies - an almost unbelievably great preschool in Oakland. We spent many happy years there, and the teachers taught me more about parenting than any other entity ever has. All our Blue Skies friends say the same, and I know families who had kids there for upwards of 12+ years. Do yourself a favor and check it out - visit, do a deep dive. I could not have been more impressed. 

    Hearts Leap. They are a play-based school that is Very focused on social and emotional development. I think they have a waiting list but you can ask about their various locations. (We are at the Julia Morgan Theater in Elmwood). 

    Hello, we loved Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) for preschool. Very warm and caring teachers and the IB curriculum was also very creative and holistic, wonderful music program, and Spanish immersion. We would have stayed but private K-12 was not an option for us. Highly recommend you tour it  :) 

    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!

  • East Oakland preschool recommendations

    (4 replies)

    Hello! Looking to crowd source some information from this great group. My son is  25 months old we live in maxwell park and I am pregnant with our second due in October. We are currently part of a nanny share that we absolutely love but our son is ready for more socialization and outdoor time. Can anyone reccommend preschools with good outdoor areas or nature philosophies anywhere near east oakland, alameda, San leandro etc. We would prefer not to commute too far but would consider a bit of a drive for the right place. Thanks in advance

    Our girls just loved Bernice & Joe's Playschool! (And so did us mamas.) The school has a HUGE yard where the kids get to spend a lot of time doing the important work of children- PLAYING! And the teachers there are sooooo good at helping the little ones navigate social relationships, sharing, and learning together. When kids graduate and go off to TK or kindergarten they're still allowed to come back to "visit" (childcare for YOU!) when their school has a PD day or something. Our kids loved coming back to tell the others about "Life in the BIG World." haha

    We miss it.


    Absolutely recommend Peter Pan Preschool in Maxwell Park! This is a co-op preschool that is amazing. Fabulous outdoor space (upper park all the time, lower park during designated playtime), very strong play emphasis but lots of pre-literacy activities, fabulous art projects, and an amazing community. These are people that your kids will probably be friends with for the rest of your life, and you with the parents. So if you're not aware of it I'd strongly recommend checking it out. Now that we're coming out of Covid, there will probably be lots of pressure on preschools so get on their wait list ASAP and attend open houses or whatever they are doing. Best wishes!

    We send our 2.5 year old to Pilgrims in Laurel and we love it.  It is a no-frills environment with loving teachers that have been around for many many years.  I toured several preschools in east oakland and while Pilgrim's outdoor area may not be as nice and fancy as some others, they get plenty of time outdoors or inside with the windows open.  He is in a class of 5-6 kids with the same teacher and all the kids mask up, it feels very covid-safe.  

    Blue Skies for Children is pretty close to you, and it's a great preschool.  My 2 kids went there and they have great teachers and great staff.  Their outdoor area is not great, but it's pretty good.  And your kid will have a ton of fun playing with the other kids.

  • Hello! We are considering a spot for my daughter this fall at either Les Petites Francophones or Duck Pond Preschool (both in Oakland on Park Ave). My daughter will be 2.5 by this fall and will have been home with/with an amazing nanny share up until she starts. If anyone has feedback about either school and is willing to share your experience(s) please reach out! 

    Thank you!

    Our daughter started at Les Petits Francophones in January and she is loving it. Communication from the school has been a bit lacking - might be COVID related and the director is on maternity leave - but overall we're very happy with the school. Our daughter comes home knowing new songs every week, proudly shows off her art projects and counts to herself in French regularly. She happily talks about other kids in her class and her teachers to us often. I am hoping that as we are able to interact with the school more often that there will be a better flow of communication, but the most important thing for us is that our daughter is content with the program and she is! Happy to answer any questions you have. 

    We have a just-turned-three-year-old at Duck Pond (a Froggy) and absolutely LOVE the school; we couldn't recommend it more highly. Our kiddo is excited to go to school in the morning, engaged in all the classroom and outdoor activities, and gets lots of love and encouragement from the teachers. It is everything we had hoped a preschool experience could be for our child. That said, I think they may have very few openings for Fall 2021, so I'd reach out to them before you get your hopes up. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. 

  • Toddler Daycare Recommendations - Berkeley

    (8 replies)

    Hello -

    We are moving to the East Bay (targeting Berkeley/Rockridge) this summer, and will need childcare for our almost 3 year old. We are currently living in the DC area, and I am assuming that childcare is as competitive (if not more so) in the East Bay, so I'd like to get on some waiting lists now as we will need care starting in the late summer/early fall. 

    It's easy to do online searches to find daycares, but it's so difficult to distinguish the great from the good from the probably not for us options solely online. Where we currently live, we were lucky to have a strong parents network that we could tap into for recommendations and advice, so I'm hoping to find that here. 

    What we're looking for:

    • Smaller class sizes
    • Very fun and engaging atmosphere
    • Lots of outside time and activities-based play
    • Loving, caring providers 
    • Not super concerned with a lot of book-based curriculum- we want our kid to be active and happy
    • Centers are fine
    • An exceptional in-home would be a possibility
    • Outstanding safety precautions, especially COVID-related
    • Connected parent community (it would be great to make some friends with other parents, since we'll be new to the area)

    Thank you very much in advance for your suggestions and advice! 

    I can't recommend Blue Skies for Children highly enough. Fantastic, dedicated and knowledgeable staff, thoughtful curriculum, lots of outdoor time. We've been there through COVID and there have been no cases among students or staff, and they've communicated very well through the entire experience.

    Blue Skies for Children, in Oakland, is great.  Both my kids went there and it meets all your checklist items.  Lots of great play-centered activities for the kids.  It's not in Berkeley, but not too far away.

    We have been happy with Rockridge Montessori. Our almost 3 year old has been there since August.  We like the socio-emotional learning bit.  He can tell us he is frustrated or angry and understands that they are different. The teachers have pointed out behaviors to us to look for at home and suggested how they are addressing them at school.  We live in Berkeley but my husband and I both work in Oakland.

    Our two kids (ages 2 and 4 yo) have been attending Panoramic Learning Academy since the beginning of the year. We've been very happy with Renée and so have the children.

    Check out Skytown Preschool in Richmond. Due to limited covid precaution numbers it’s currently full but they are opening up a second pod in the fall   It check all your boxes, it’s a coop so chocked full of community, currently all outdoors due to covid and entirely play based. I think they are Reggio inspired. Our 3.5 year old has been thriving there. 

    It’s not the city you’re aiming for, but if your plans change and you are closer to El Cerrito, I highly recommend Tiny Footprints Daycare. Our son started in January at 20 months. They are pretty booked right now, but you could look into it for the future. Cecy, the owner, meets all your criteria. Since we joined during covid, it’s been slower to meet all the families but we have WhatsApp group chat for group announcements with Cecy and she is very into making everyone feel welcome and connected. She also speaks English, Spanish, and Italian. She usually has at most 13 kids. We couldn’t be happier and neither could our son. 

    Good luck in your search! It’s a very good idea to look very early. 

    Our children attend Little Elephant Too! Montessori in Berkeley and it checks all of your boxes. My 3.5 and 5.5 year olds have both been there since July after the pandemic interrupted our other childcare plants. The school has consistently exceeded expectations. Communications from the director related to Covid and health have been EXCELLENT. My girls absolutely love it at school, the teachers are warm and caring, tons of outdoor time, and a child-led learning approach. If the Montessori learning approach resonates with you and the hours meet your needs, I highly recommend setting up an intro with the Director, Natanya. I know they're enrolling for the fall. Bonus (for you) - they have a Rockridge location if you end up there :)

    Garden Day on Parker (and Acton) is wonderful. Both our kids have gone through the program, can't speak highly enough about the school. Play-based, supportive and nurturing, excellent outside space, with a wonderful community. It's usually fully enrolled due to word of mouth, but might be worth reaching out to Jenny, the director. Could be a great fit. 

  • Hi parents!  We are expecting our second child later this year , when our first will be around 2.5.  We are looking into daycare / preschool programs in Oakland that start with infant care and continues through preschool so we can have both kids at the same place, which i'm assuming would make dropoff / pickup much easier.  However, I am also well aware there are a lot more preschool options out there than infant programs. I definitely don't want to make a school decision based on "convenience" but have been told it would make our lives a lot easier.  So basically would love to hear 1) recommendations on schools in oakland that offer both infant and preschool, and 2) if you had kids in 2 different places, what things did you consider in that decision?

    thank you!

    Check out Hearts Leap, they’re in Elmwood. That might be convenient depending on where you live in Oakland and they go through TK (and will even have a Kindergarten class next year, though I’m not sure how permanent that will be).

    Check out Tudorka Tots. They have two Oakland locations, one near Montclair and the other is above the 580/ Redwood heights/Mills area. My daughter has been going there since she was 5 months old. They different classes in different buildings with separate outdoor playgrounds by age. I believe the classes are Infant/toddler/pre-school. We like it there, my girl is now getting ready to transition to the toddler class. 

    Mills College Children's School !

    Rockridge Montessori has both and I think Chatham too.

    We love Chatham on redwood road. The owner and teachers truly care for the kids and put so much effort into the activities and everyday operations of the daycare. Our 7 month old has only been attending for 2 months they do a great job with his nap and eating schedule. When I drop her off I see the older kids excited for their day at Chatham 

  • Hello! We are looking for a small, caring in-home daycare beginning in late June/early July 2020 for our 8.5 month-old son. We would prefer a daycare close to our home, in the Laurel/Dimond/Fruitvale/Redwood districts, and we will need care at least Monday-Thursday (ideally 8am-6pm but we could work with 8:30am-5:30pm). We are also willing to pay for full time care, M-F.  I have searched this site and reviewed the many listed daycares but am also interested in any current recommendations and possible openings for this time period. Thank you for your help!

    My daughter went to Carmen's Family Daycare at 1957 E 38th street in the Dimond. We were very happy with the providers who are both named Carmen (although they went by Tia and Nina).

    Hi! I hope you will check out Compassionate Child Care (CCC) between the Laurel and Dimond districts. Sonam and her family are amazing! They are listed on BPN

  • Hello-

    I am looking for recommendations and/or advice on appropriate preschools for our daughter. Sleeping has always been a challenge for her, and despite our best efforts, she rarely naps (and generally holds up well for the entirety of the day). She will be 2.5 this fall and we'd originally thought to hold off on school due to her sensitive nature, mainly her attachment to "mama" and difficulty around separations. However, she has started to demonstrate more independence and we are regretting our decision to hold-off on schools as we are now thinking that she will be more stimulated and distracted in a school setting, oppose to at home with a nanny. She enjoys being around other children and in a stimulating/engaging environment. Of course, now most preschools are full for the upcoming year. We found one Reggio style school with an opening that seems like a good fit in many ways, however, their options around napping are likely too rigid for our daughter (expected to occupy herself quietly on a nap amidst sleeping peers). We are not opposed to other school models (Montessori, Waldorf, etc.), and are more interested in a play-based program, with supportive and positive teachers (and a higher teacher/student ratio). We would likely be starting her at part-time until she is adjusted, with the hopes of transitioning to something closer to full-time by the time she is 3/3.5. We are considering programs with current openings, or holding off until fall 2020 for a better fit. Any advice regarding this transitions, and programs that seem like a good fit are greatly appreciated! We are in Oakland near Park Blvd, so the closer the better. 

    Places we're already considering if you have any feedback on these programs (and interested in new ideas too):

    My Own Montessori (a little far from us and no extended afternoon care options, but seems like a solid program with alternative activities for non nappers)

    Duck's Nest 41st (no space for the upcoming year, but it seems like a good program with full-time options at a good price point compared to the other schools we're looking at. However, it would mean waiting until fall 2020, and that is if we get in. Does anyone know how hard is it to get in to this school?)

    Children's Workshop Oakland (Lovely program with full-time options, but no nap alternatives so we may not even be able to make use of full-time schedule. Also, it is relatively new, so there are not many reviews, etc.)

    Holding Hands (Would have to wait until Fall 2020 based on minimum age requirements, but nearby and have heard positive things)

    We have had a wonderful experience at Duck's Nest.  The environment and the teachers are superb.  I can confirm that enrollment is difficult, perhaps flexibility on days and part-time can increase your chances.  Feel free to contact me directly if you have specific questions on the school.

    Regarding your concerns around naptime, I can also confirm that other families struggle with this - especially through the transition of dropping naps!  Prior to enrolling in pre-school, I'd advise you to research state regulation as well as school policies around offering undistracted rest (nap) time.

    Hi There - My kids went/go to Bloomers, a small home-based, play-based, and reasonably-priced preschool in lower Glenview. They have both been very happy there, and get a lot of attention, which is great for my mama's girls. The kids are expected to rest during naptime (which I believe is shorter than most preschool naptimes), but the teachers put on soothing music, and I think sometimes kids who can't nap are moved to different areas or rooms so they don't keep others awake. You may want to talk to the owner, Carolyn, about her strategies for non-nappers. She has been in this business for decades, and has a strong, informed philosophy about early education practices and experience with all kinds of kids. My girls have never napped well, but very surprisingly (to me), neither was that bothered by resting during naptime at school, and sometimes actually fell asleep, even YEARS after they stopped napping at home. Bloomers teachers are very intentional about social-emotional learning, and there is a big focus on kindness and community. I really feel my girls have benefited from this approach. Also, being a neighborhood place, we've made friends with lots of other families that live within a mile of us, and that has been absolutely wonderful!

    Hi! Responding to your query about Ducks Nest on 41st: It's a great school! They handled our slow-to-transition, very mama-attached 2 y/o in a beautiful, caring way. And there were always kids in his classrooms (even at 2 and 3 years old) who didn't nap, and I don't remember it being a huge deal. However, I worry you won't get a spot for your daughter as a 3 y/o, because most of the 2 y/o class (Ducklings) goes on to the 3 y/o class (Wood Ducks), and if one or two students do move away or leave for whatever reason, those spots are nabbed so quickly. Maybe just go ahead and get on a waitlist for 2020-21 anyway? Best of luck!

    We are at Duck's Nest 41st and have friends who've been at My Own Montessori and Holding Hands, and all are great options.

    I will caution that you may find some nap challenges at any preschool, though, because California licensing requires preschools and daycare centers to have a quiet nap or rest time for all children. So while a school can certainly offer alternatives to nap for children who do not fall asleep during that time, they are required to have them rest for a period of time before moving on to other activities. (Some strategies our school uses to accommodate non-nappers include placing children who do need to nap in quieter areas of the room; having non-nappers play outside before coming in for the required rest period at the end of the nap block rather than resting at the beginning, so that they can get up again as other children start to wake; and having quiet activities that children can take to their rest areas to do instead of sleeping.) We also know some kids who don't nap at home ever who nap daily at preschool, though, so be prepared for that too--a full day of school can be exhausting!

    Re: Duck's Nest 41st specifically, enrollment is very fluid, so although it is "full" they do always take a few kids over the summer as people's plans change (and usually 1-2 during the year, too). It is always worth calling to check. Although many children start at 2, they do take a number of kids at 3/3.5 too given how they split their classes. Again, call early and often if that is something you're interested in. If you are near Holding Hands, though, you might find drop-off and pick-up to either Duck's Nest or MOM a bit of a grind over time. I would definitely look carefully at schools close to home too, since you have a number near you. Good luck with the search!

    Don't overlook Lakeshore Children's Center (Lakeshore near Mandana). My daughter went to preschool there, then aftercare and summer camps. The staff has been remarkably stable over the years, and my (now HS freshman) daughter still goes to visit her old teachers. It's play-based and affordable, and doesn't fill up as fast as some of the smaller, more exclusive preschools. I don't think they offer 1/2 day rates. My daughter wasn't much of a napper at age 2, either. One of the teachers created a reward chart and she would get a star every day that she napped. After 6 months, she only had 2 stars. She had to  try to nap, but they did let the kids who didn't fall asleep engage in quit activities. My daughter hated nap time, but it is a legal requirement (as I understand it) for preschools to have one, so there was no getting out of it entirely. 

    Hi. My daughter attended Highlands Preschool for two years (not so far from you - we lived in Montclair at the time and it was a 7 min drive). She's also attended Temple Sinai preschool and my son attends a preschool in the Philly suburbs, where we are currently. Among these schools, I have the fondest memories of Highlands. It's a co-op preschool (so a parent or nanny etc.) volunteers about once every two weeks. My kid thrived with the routines and curriculum that had all these little rituals built into them that made her really feel like she belonged, had a role, was "home." The teachers are enthusiastic, caring, and experienced.

    Have you looked into Berkeley Rose Waldorf School? My children are there and have been since 2.5, now 5 and 8 and both very happy. Lovely community, outdoors, active and academic. 

    Good luck! 

    you should look at The Berkeley School Early Childhood Center. they fit the bill except location might not be great for you. Central Berkeley near campus. We're in our 2nd year there and very happy with our choice. Kids are met where they are and it's a warm happy place. feel free to PM me for more info. 

  • Hello. We have a 4-month-old but are hearing from other families that some preschools have long waiting lists and that we shouldn't delay in exploring our options.

    We are planning to take some tours this spring but wanted to hear any other parents experiences with any of the following preschools: Kids Konnect, Oakland Garden School, Chathem Nursery School, Holding Hands, Skyline Preschool, or Duck Pond. 

    Thanks in advance for your input.

    My son attends Duck Pond and I also highly considered Skyline Preschool. I did start the application for both a year in advance of his start date.

    Duck Pond only accepts a small amount of children per year and will only accept applications in the fall of the year prior to starting. I was, literally, standing at the door the first day they would accept applications as I also heard it was very hard to get into preschool.

    As a back-up, I applied to Skyline which I really loved. The outdoor playground is very nice, the teachers are especially sweet and the tuition costs are manageable. Our neighbors son goes there and loves it. We would've ended up there but amazingly our son was accepted to Duck Pond so that is where we landed. 

    I can't say enough about Duck Pond. They have enrichment programs four out of five days a week and the class size is small enough where I know my son is getting individual attention. They have a lot of activities for the families outside of school as well so you are constantly surrounded by community. So much so, I tend to run into the Duck Pond families by happenstance on the weekend. It makes the experience that much better. 

    I looked into Chatham as well upon the recommendation of a few friends whose kids went there. The waiting list is long there and spots fill up fast. The cost is much less than Duck Pond or Skyline but the class sizes are, subsequently, a lot bigger. We had/have a nanny for our son and daughter and because they were going from a situation where they got 1:1 attention all day long I strongly felt they needed to transition to a school with smaller classes. If that hadn't been the case, Chatham would have been a contender as well. 

    Finally, I did research Oakland Garden School and found they had a high teacher turnover rate - so immediately discounted it as that made me uncomfortable.

    Good luck! You're doing the right thing by starting early. :)

  • Can anyone recommend a play based preschool with a nice outdoor space in Oakland that your children love? Spanish is also a plus. Our daughter is 2, and we're looking for May 2019. Thanks!

    Sequoia Nursery School.  They don't enroll mid-year, only in September, but it is worth the wait.  The best outdoor space you have seen at a preschool.  Loving teachers.  Engaged parents.  I had four children go through there and they all say it was the best school they ever went to.  

    Information Night is usually held in January.

    Our son started at Storybrook Oakland this school year.  It is play based and they have an amazing outdoor space.  They have a cooking/farming teacher and art teacher in addition to the classroom teachers.  My son loves it there!

    Skyline Preschool at the UCC church on Skyline (but not religious), fantastic outdoor space.  Bloomers in Glenview has a nice space, but it's just the backyard of a house.  We loved both, but that was 12-14 years ago.  Both basically play based.

    If your daughter will be 2 years and 9 months by the time she starts, I highly recommend Monteverde. It's in South Berkeley and attracts a very diverse group of families from across Oakland and Berkeley. It’s a Reggio Emilia school, so activities are play- and project-based, very hands-on, and creative. The “curriculum” follows the kids’ interests and they get lots of variety and choice. 

    In terms of play, the outdoor space is amazing—there’s a lovely garden, room to race tricycles, and a semi-wild little hillside that the kids love. There’s also a big indoor space for tumbling, climbing, dancing, yoga, etc. They also have a dedicated art teacher, weekly music, storytelling, science experiments, theater, cooking, crafts, critters—you name it. I’ve seen both outgoing, active kids and shy, introspective kids thrive at Monteverde because they’re free to explore whatever they’re drawn to, with the full acceptance and support of an amazing group of teachers. 

    There isn’t a Spanish language program per se, but they do incorporate some Spanish, as well as sign language. Families are also encouraged to share their own language, food, holidays, and traditions. 

    Other aspects of Monteverde that we appreciated: their emphasis on social-emotional development (resilience, respect, kindness), a mixed-age grouping that allows kids to both learn from and lead others, flexible schedule options, and a lower cost than most of the schools we looked at, with scholarships available. 

    There’s also just an incredible amount of love and joy at Monteverde. Our whole family felt lucky to be part of this amazing community and I couldn’t imagine a better preschool. 

    I'll second Sequoia Nursery School.  My son went there a few years ago and it has a large and super nice outdoor space. 

    I sent my boy to Escuela Bilingüe Internacional located in North Oakland on Alcatraz/Telegraph.  It's a Spanish immersion play-based preschool which then continues on K-8th grade if desired.  They have a relatively new outdoor space that my boy loved.  He never wanted to leave there after school.  Many of his closest friendships were developed there that have continued on until today.  The teachers were like warm aunties to him and made him feel like school was a second home.  Within a week after starting preschool there, he was asking me, "Daddy, why can't I spend more time at EBI?"

    Broadway Children's School is a wonderful play based preschool with a large outdoor play area. It is located on Adams Street in the Lake Merritt district, and has been serving Oakland families for over 60 years. It has been such a warm, loving and safe environment for my son who is now in his second year there. They also have a parent participation class for 2 year olds, which includes weekly parent education and discussion groups. Not sure if there are any current openings but might be something to look into. I can't say enough wonderful things about this school. The teachers at Broadway offer just enough structure, leaving room for playful exploration based on the individual child's needs. It is a nurturing environment for young minds, and I feel so fortunate to have my son attend.

  • We are currently looking for a preschool M-F. My son is 2.5 yrs old. Preferably in the mills college  /Oakland zoo / Sheffield village area  .willing to try San Leandro also. Any suggestions? 

    We go to Daisy and love it. Your child is the same age as my daughter and would probably be in the “galaxy room,” where the teachers are super loving and kind. 

  • I am looking for a great daycare for my little boy Soren. He’s currently 17 months and in a small family daycare in SF that is bilingual and we love it. But we are moving to Oakland and looking for a new daycare for him to start at Sept. 1st.

    I’m looking for recommendations that might include something similar or even a larger daycare with openings. Our new home is in Redwood Heights so we’re looking within that proximity but will travel for the right school/daycare!


    I'm not sure if it is similar to your old daycare in SF, but we have been so happy with Carmen's Family Day Care in Glenview. My oldest child is moving onto preschool this week, as are several others, and I think they may have some space for toddlers. 

    Our child is in Sakura Daycare (Japanese-Spanish emersion) which is in your neighborhood, and we love it!

  • Montclair Preschool and Day Care?

    (2 replies)

    We are moving from Albany to Montclair in a month and need to find a preschool for our 3 year old (currently at Duck's Nest) and day care for our 1 year old (currently at a home day care). We need full-time hours, M-F. Any recommendations for loved preschools or day cares in or near Montclair? Any opinions about Smiles Day School? I've researched online, but would love some word-of-mouth recommendations from those familiar with the area. Thanks for your help!

    Have you checked to see if Duck’s Nest will allow you to transfer to the 41st or Telegraph campus? Neither is that far from Montclair.

    I'd like to wholeheartedly recommend that you check out The Pumpkin Seed Childcare ((510) 633-2423). Our daughter started at the Pumpkin Seed at two and half and stayed until she went off to kindergarten at five.  Damond and Jen, the incredible husband and wife duo who own and operate the Pumpkin Seed, played a hugely important part in her growth, development and frankly, in who she is as a person and as a student today (she's now about to start high school!). The influence of caregivers on young children in full time childcare is enormous and something I don't think I fully understood as a first time parent - I knew I had to choose carefully but I didn't realize the remarkable influence that others would have on my child. What I learned is that it truly does take a village to raise a child - the Pumpkin Seed is the very best kind of village and we feel so lucky to have found them. Not only did our daughter learn a lot from them, but so did we as parents. Jen and Damond are simply wonderful people. They're the parents of three outstanding kids, they're warm, open, communicative, down to earth, energetic and smart. Their years of experience is evident as is the tremendous amount of effort they put into what they do every single day. Give them a call, go for a visit and check out this marvelous gem of a "village" right here in Oakland. All the best in your search for childcare! :-)  

  • Hi all, 

    We are in the process of moving from SF to Oakland:) My son is 4 and currently enrolled in a large play based program here in SF, and will need one more full year of Preschool. I am on 2 waitlists for next year and starting to get nervous about a spot. Does anyone have any recommendations for around that area with known openings? We are totally ok with Lakehore, or Park Blvd surrounding areas. 

    Thank you! 

    You may want to check out Lakeshore Children's Center--it's a large, play-based program that is great for working parents. Staff have been working there for many years and there is low staff turnover. 

    The preschool our daughters attend, Pumpkin Seed, has spots available due to a family moving out of state in May, my review is on BPN but I’ve repeated it here for your convenience. We literally can’t imagine raising our kids without Titi Jen, Damond and the Moodie kids too! Our daughters are becoming intelligent thinkers, creative artists, excellent members of a community and just all around beautiful human beings due in no small part to the steady leadership, education and guidance offered by this amazing place called Pumpkin Seed. I feel like my children are being raised in a larger family and caring community, something truly special.

    When my older daughter started kindergarten this past year she was 1000% prepared, it was a beautiful thing to have so much confidence in her ability to thrive in a new environment. Pumpkin Seed has an amazing program, from field trips to the library, swimming lessons in the summer, daily hikes to explore and wonder, a curriculum that inspires, beautiful art projects, chickens, music, kite nights, movie nights, date nights, breakfast and lunch prepared from scratch with a menu that makes me salivate and my kids ACTUALLY eat all their veggies! The daily reports specifically written about my children helped me feel completely in tune with their wins, tough moments, and overall what’s going on at school. The advice of Titi Jen and Damond has been so essential to our parenting experience, we feel so supported! The community they work so hard to build have become our forever friends. We couldn’t be more grateful!

    Please consider checking them out:

  • My husband and I are still trying to identify daycare center for our first child, who's due at the end of Feb 2018. We are fortunate to have combined leave until early Sept 2018, so we're looking for childcare starting then. Ideally, it'd be a place near Lake Merritt or Downtown Oakland, but we are open. 

    Any recommendations for places you love?

    Know of any openings around that time?

    THANK YOU!!! 

    Whichever one has a spot for you?? (Okay, I kid, but...sadly, not really!) There aren't very many large daycare centers in the Downtown/Lake Merritt area, and almost all have waitlists, so your best bet is to cast a wide net and get on all the lists. Smalltrans (Caltrans daycare) sometimes has openings when others don't; we have friends who liked it there although I didn't love their lack of outdoor space. It's too early for many home daycares but you can start calling to see if they anticipate openings and at least get on their radar; you may have better luck with these than with centers. The good news is that September is when older kids often head off to preschool so spots do tend to turn over then. Good luck!

  • Hi BPN!  My daughter just turned 2 and is not potty trained.  Do you know of any preschools near the Southern Oakland Hills offering a part-time preschool program?  Thanks for the help!

    We enrolled our older daughter at Treehouse and were very happy with the school. Treehouse offers a class for 2-year-olds and being potty trained is not a requirement. I’ll be enrolling my baby there once she turns two in the fall.

  • Hi,

    We just moved to Oakland (Montclair) and are looking for a half-day play based preschool for our 2.5 year old. Does anyone know of any with an opening now? We're already applying to a few places for the fall, but we're hoping to get her in something sooner.


    Hello, welcome to Montclair!  we are attending Blue Skies and absolutely love it.  It is an amazing, accredited play-based school.  If you would like, I will be happy to provide more details.

    Warm Regards, 


  • My husband and I are a bit late to the game in terms of identifying childcare options for our first child. We are due end of Feb 2018, and have combined 5-6mo paternity leave. So we're looking for childcare near Lake Merritt or Downtown Oakland beginning in Fall 2018. 

    Any recommendations for places you love?

    Know of any openings around that time?

    THANK YOU!!! 

    First of all, you are not late to the game. I just had my first child in May, I didn't go back to work until she was 5 months old, and didn't start looking for childcare until a month and a half before I went back to work. You are way ahead of the game in my book!

    Second, what type of daycare are you looking for? Centers or home-based? As far as centers, I didn't find too many in the area. There is Small Trans, which has a waitlist opening in January, and maybe 1 or 2 other places. I ended up going with my first choice, a wonderful place in east oakland, but I almost went with Pride In Learning, a Montessori school right on Lake Merritt. I encourage you to contact them for openings. If you are looking for home-based daycares, there are many in the area, and the openings vary on location. Bananas is a very useful resource. I would get a listing of options from them and start calling, inquiring on openings. For most of the places that I called that said they had a waitlist, they were opening up spots in summer 2018. Good luck and Congratulations!

  • We are new to the area and will need childcare for our son starting in November when I go back to work. We had planned on sending him to daycare in San Francisco were we used to live, but now we aren't sure what our plans are. We live near Montclair, and will commute from the Rockridge Bart station. If anyone has a daycare they love and recommend that would work logistically, we would be so grateful if you would let us know! Any bit of guidance is much appreciated.

    My daughter goes to Claremont day right near Rockridge Bart. We love it. They start at 2, and may be full, but check them out.

  • Hi BPN - we are moving in a few weeks and looking for a pre-school spot for a 4yo boy.  If anyone knows of an open spot near Piedmont, Lakeshore, Glenview or Montclair, please let me know!  Ideally looking for a play based morning program.  Father of Joe

    Hi there, our son has attended Lakeshore Children's Center for the past two years. He has loved it and will be staying in for day camp and the after school program now that he's entering kindergarten. What he loves: the large yard and play structure, the teachers, the friends he has made, the monthly enrichment programs, dance and soccer classes, the yearly family camping trip in Tilden . What we love: the teachers, the diversity in staff and families,  the decent price, the location, and the parent group that has good involvement in raising money for extra curricular activities.

    Our son is at Sequoia Nursery School and we LOVE it! It's a play-based, co-op preschool in the Oakland hills (in Montclair). It's a totally magical place for the kids and parents. The community is so supportive and involved and you can see how much it helps the kids grow. If you are interested in a co-op, you should definitely check it out. Good luck and welcome!

    Hi there, my daughter attended Highlands Preschool in Piedmont (and my son will attend in the Fall).  It is a play based co-op morning program and I can't recommend it highly enough.  The community is so friendly (there are families from all over Oakland as well as Piedmont) and the teachers are incredible.  My daughter loved it and so did I. Highlands has one free spot in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday group (for 4 year olds) so if you are interested please get in touch with carriekmarkowski [at] who is charge of admissions! Alessandra

  • My family was planning on moving out of the area but a sudden job change has but a stop to that. We have a three year old and live by Lake Merritt. Anyone know of a local preschool with openings for fall? Thanks, C

    I don't know for sure if they have openings, but Lakeshore Children's Center (near Lakeshore and Mandana, across from the park) often has spots open into the fall. 

    Duck's Nest is opening a new campus near the Macarthur BART which is going to be significantly larger than their existing campus on Broadway.

    (We've been at the 41st campus for a year and three years with our older child, half on Piedmont Ave campus, and half at 41st)

    -Duck's Nest Parent

  • I am looking for recommendations for daycare centers that accept 3-4 month olds in the Crocker Highlands or Lake Merritt area. I have found a few online but would prefer a recommendation or information on additional centers that may not be listed.

    I am in love with SmallTrans Depot!  I cannot sing its praises enough.  My eight month old daughter has been there for the last three months and they have made the transition to daycare quite painless.  I feel good going to work everyday and knowing she is in good hands!  Feel free to message me if you have questions.

  • Preschool in Rockridge

    (2 replies)

    Hi, we'll be moving to the Upper Rockridge area this summer. I would be looking to enroll my 3 year old into preschool for the fall (either pt or ft). Any recommendations? Has anyone had experience with any of these - Rockridge Little School, The Room to Grow, or Rockridge Montessori - thoughts?


    We are a very happy family at Rockridge Little School, but they are full for this fall with a long waitlist - you may be able to get a spot for next year if you sign up this winter, however!

    It's a bit farther, but Montessori Family School near UC Berkeley has a wonderful program! It is a lovely community with amazing teachers, and both my children learned to read early with the great Montessori materials and method. Check it out.

  • Hello Parents!

    Hope you're all doing well. I would love your advice and expertise in navigating the waters of "East Bay Daycare." My son Amory has been in an awesome in-home daycare in the mission district for the last year (he started in April of 2016 after a short nanny share experience) and we have loved it! He's one of a handful of kids, is learning Spanish, and the women who run the daycare REALLY love and care for him which is great. We drop off diapers and wipes when need be and every few weeks we're asked to bring milk or bananas or eggs, but we don't have to provide our own food every day which is a REAL win! They have a schedule, but because it's an in-home daycare and not a daycare center it's a little more loosey goosey and I'm alright with that. We have him there from 8:15am- 5:15pm and would need similar hours moving forward. I know that a lot of times places don't have websites so if you could share any places in Oakland/Emeryville/Berkeley I would greatly appreciate it. We are moving from the city to lower Rockridge and I work in Emeryville. 

    Thanks neighbors!


    Have you heard of Bananas? They’re a nonprofit childcare referral place. Great resource...

    Check out the Grand Lake Montessori school. My son loves it. Open 7-6 pm and there is an option for lunch 

    good luck! 

    Neelam Sahdev took wonderful care of our son at Woolsey Daycare (in-home) starting when he was around your son's age. Her info is here: (That top review is mine.)  It's reasonably convenient to Rockridge. Feel free to get in touch through BPN if I can provide more info.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Preschool and infant care at same location (near 580/880)?

Aug 2013

After finding out this week that i'll have a job to go back to in january 2014, i'm now scrambling to find a preschool that also has an infant center on-site so that i can do just one drop-off of my 4 yr old and newly-turned 1 yr old (their ages in january). I live in west oakland, will be working in san leandro, so looking for places in oakland (near 880 or 580 would be awesome), alameda, or san leandro. Back to school

Monte Tavor Spanish Immersion has openings for infants and preschoolers. Monte Tavor is in the upper Dimond close to the exits of Coolidge/ Fruitvale on 580. This is a Spanish Immersion program for all ages based on children's interest and teacher instruction. You can receive an e-packet by requesting at hmontetavor [at] or by calling (510) 967-2876. Yeira Howell

Chatham Preschool - 35th Ave campus. It is a large daycare/ preschool which serves 0-5. Chatham parent

You may want to check out Small Size Big Minds next to the Alameda/Bay Farm Island Bridge. Good luck w/ your search!

BlueSkies for Children is located half a mile off 580, between Fruitvale and Coolidge, so it is on your commute path. We currently have an opening for a 4 year old (born before 8/31/09)and will be able to enroll an infant later in the fall. BlueSkies is geared to meet the needs of young children and their working parents, accredited by NAEYC, open 7:30-6 year round. Please look at our website at and come by for a tour! Liisa Hale

I don't know if it fits your location requirement, but the Model School in Berkeley has both infant care and preschool/Pre-K in the same building. We didn't take advantage of the infant room, but I've observed that they take loving care of the little ones. There are nice places inside and outside for the babies to play. And our family has been very happy with the pre-K program. The teachers are great! There seem to be a lot of families from Oakland too. Good luck with back to school and back to work! Joanna

I just went to check out a few preschools recently and Little Stars at 169 14th St, Oakland, CA does have a preschool with an infant care as well. It's run by Chinese owners and a lot of the teachers are Chinese, but there are non-Chinese ones as well. Kids are a mix. Preschool is very affordable, however, infant care (up to age 2) will be twice as much. I did like it and felt a relaxed vibe. They have a huge playground for all the kids. Alice

Best Daycare Centers for Infants Berk/Oak?

Aug 2003

I am looking for recommendations on the best daycare centers (and the ones to avoid), that accept infants. My baby will be 4 months old when I go back to work, part-time. I have read numerous posts about various centers but they are a bit outdated. Positive and negative feedback would be greatly appreciated! I stayed home with my first child and am nervous about placing baby in a formal daycare, but finances may require it. Thanks in advance for your help. working mom

Recommendations received: