My friend’s heart was broken and she poured her sorrow out on Facebook. This was not a tale of infidelity or malice, but the crushing blow that her son wasn’t accepted into her dream school. Did Harvard make a mistake? Not exactly.

Her crushing post involved her two-year old’s rejection at a popular co-op preschool (the one with the beautiful yard, chickens, progressive curriculum and low rates). She is not alone in her pain. I know, I’ve been there. In the East Bay, the search for a preschool is not for the faint of heart.

Across playgrounds, mothers in hushed tones whisper hot tips on preschools still accepting applications. Others stand in long lines of prestigious schools with websites that don’t list tuition costs. School starts in September and the preschool frenzy is in full force. Dive in now. 510 Families Preschool Listing and Berkeley Parent’s Network websites are a great place to start. Ask your friends, family and neighbors about what they like and don’t like about their schools.

There are many schools out there and plenty of education philosophies. Montessori, Waldorf or play-based? It’s hard to know what’s best for your kid, but do your homework. Teacher/child ratio is good to know, but also question conflict resolution and discipline policies. If there’s a waiting period for acceptance, apply to more than one school. Even if you don’t get into your dream school, you might eventually.

Be careful about biting off more tuition then you can afford (guilty!). That can cause more stress on your family. Co-ops offer lower tuition for more volunteer hours. Many schools offer part-time hours and afternoon care. There’s also some great in-home daycare if that’s all you can afford. Diversity is embraced, which is a good thing.  Some schools also offer low-income tuition.

Oakland’s Bananas is an excellent resource for daycare, nannies and preschools. There are also supportive homeschool communities if that’s your chosen path. This Saturday, January 25, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., the East Bay Mom’s Preschool & Childhood Resource Fair gives you the chance to check out over 80 childcare programs in the area.

Good luck out there and we’ll see you in September.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

One Response

  1. Julia Rose Wolfe

    Hello, parents! We have openings in our home-based preschool program located in Maxwell Park, near Mills College. We accept children ages 2-5 years old and specialize in potty training.

    We are a small group with a low student/teacher ratio. Our curriculum is Montessori-inspired and Spanish bilingual. We nurture children’s social-emotional, physical, & cognitive development and encourage each child’s independence & self-confidence.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Julia Rose Wolfe
    Lead Preschool Teacher
    A Step Ahead Preschool


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