Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hidden Gems: Preschools You May Not Know

My kids on their first day at preschool
This post continues to be among the most popular on my site which truly shows the need for better dissemination of information about preschools in the Los Angeles area. Please be sure to read the comment section after reading through this post as there is some great information on schools there as well.

When we started looking at preschools I did what just about every mother in Los Angeles does, I bought a copy of "Coping With Preschool Panic" and began to read about schools in my area. Although there is much that is helpful in this book, to my disappointment, it is very heavily weighted towards the West Side (we live a bit East of most of the discussed schools) and, more importantly, over time I have met parents who have sent their children to many wonderful schools that aren't even in this book! In an effort to try to give you more schools to look into as you start your preschool search, I thought I'd post a list of some perhaps lesser-known, but still terrific, schools that I either have personally toured, have been recommended to me by friends who are very much in the know about Southern California schools or are schools which the twins (or triplets) of friends of mine attend and love. 

Keep in mind that a great website doesn't necessarily mean it's a great school, nor should the lack of a web presence (or a not-so great website) turn you away from touring a school. Additionally, it is very easy to get wrapped up in trying to get into "the best" schools; remember that what is "the best" to one person may mean very little to the next. Do your research, tour and make up your own minds. I hope you find this list useful:
  1. Montessori Shir-Hashirim, Hollywood
  2. Exploring Minds Montessori, Van Nuys
  3. Green BeginningWest LA 
  4. Cassidy Preschool, Santa Monica
  5. Happyland, Culver City
  6. Beverly Glen Playgroup, Los Angeles
  7. Crestwood Hills Co-op, Bel Air
  8. Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles
  9. Wilshire Boulevard Temple Erika J. Glazer Early Childhood Center - East Campus, or Mann Family Early Childhood Center -West Campus, Los Angeles
  10. Sunshine Preschool, Brentwood 11942 Sunset Boulevard Brentwood, CA 90049 Phone: (310) 472-2212
  11. The Sunshine Shack, Hollywood 
  12. Blueberry Atelier, Santa Monica
  13. A Kid's Place, Los Angeles
  14. St. James Preschool, Los Angeles
  15. Neighborhood School, 3 locations: (a) 4528 Matilija Avenue Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 Phone: (818) 784-8446  (b) 11742 Riverside Drive, Valley Village, 818-762-1212 (c) 4433 Mammoth Ave, Sherman Oaks, 818-783-7289
  16. Evergreen, Santa Monica
  17. Circle of Children, Santa Monica
  18. Children's Circle, Van Nuys 6328 Woodman Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91401  Phone: (818) 782-9060 
  19. The New School - West, Los Angeles
  20. Woodland Hills Private School (Collins Campus), Woodland Hills
  21. The Growing Place, Santa Monica
  22. Plymouth School, Hancock Park 315 S Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020 Phone: (213) 387-7381 
  23. Garden Of Angels, Santa Monica
  24. Sunnyside Preschool, 3646 Coldwater Canyon, Studio City Phone: 818-763-7476
  25. Kigala Preschool (Kids Garden of Languages LA), Santa Monica
If your school isn't on this list and you LOVE it and think it could use a little plug, post about it in the comment section below! In addition to this list and "Coping With Preschool Panic", there is also "The Whitney Guide - The Los Angeles Preschool Edition" , SavvySource.com and GreatSchools.org, to name a few of the places that should help you find preschools to look into. If you haven't already read it, take a look at my last post The School Search Begins for tips on getting started with your search and stay tuned for more posts about schools! Ultimately, we all find the right place for our families and our children grow and thrive. It is so strange to think back to when I was struggling with this choice and then look at the children my babies have become. I am so grateful for everything that our preschool has taught them so far and look forward to all that is to come. I wish you all the same. 

Update: I have added some additional suggestions to help in your preschool search on my post More LA School Information.
Update: I have now made a list of an additional 20 preschools on a new post Hidden Gems Part 2: More SoCal Preschools You May Not Know.

Thanks for reading!
-Gina
The Twin Coach

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Christina Simon said...

Hi Gina,

My daughter attended Montessori Shir-Hashirim, a wonderful preschool. My son went to It's a Children's World, www.itsachildrensworld.com, a small, traditional preschool that's been at the same location for 50 years. I needed to find a school close to my daughter's elementary school and It's a Children's World was great. It's on the traditional side, but also very nurturing. My son loved it! Its on Robertson, 5 blocks S. of Pico. Just wanted to share with other moms.

Anonymous said...

Good list- I would add my son's preschool, which is amazing! Milestones Preschool Program in Inglewood (on the border of Culver City and Westchester). The website's supposed to be updated soon, but definitely check out this little gem of a school. www.milestonespreschoolprogram.com

Anonymous said...

Nice list! Parents might want to consider Beverly Hills Presbyterian Preschool www.bhpc2.org. It is a traditional preschool located on Rodeo near Santa Monica Blvd. The Doheny School is also good. 310-275-3004.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic List! I LOVE my daughters school, GAL...Preschool!!! It truly is a gem. It is 3 blcks from downtown Culver City & small enough for the children to get one on one attention. A must see!!! Their mission is to care for children whose parents are ill, but they accept all children! Check out their site www.getalifechildcare / 310 837 7762

HAnderson said...

Great list! By the way, the Growing Place in Santa Monica - the one on Ashland actively looks for twins. Anita, the director, tries to have at least one set per year as she feels they bring great diversity to the school and community. Plus it's such a great school!

Anonymous said...

Really great list. So appreciated! I have a friend with a child at The Early Years in Santa Monica. She really loves it. 310-394-0463. It's on Montana Ave. I plan to look at Temple Israel in Hollywood and The Holloway School (on your list) when my little one is old enough. I also have heard great things about First Years Preschool in Venice and Westwood Presbyterian Preschool.

Thanks again for putting this list together.

Anonymous said...

Awesome new preschool that just opened in Venice called The Venice Garden, www.thevenicegarden.com.

amy said...

Great list! But I think one is missing...
The Calabasas Klubhouse at Creekside Park in Calabasas. Clean, set back in the canyon w/a beautiful view. Were so happy with it!

Anonymous said...

Hi gina ,
This list is great! Just wondering if you have any recomendations for the calabasas/westlake area???

Anonymous said...

Wonderful leads! One "hidden treasure" in the west valley is Encino Creative Kids Daycare/Preschool! Many preschools do not accept little ones younger than two.

They have three teachers to 12-14 children. Wonderful ratio! Lots of attention, learning, and happy experiences happen there :)

Debra Markovic said...

Thanks for including the preschools of Temple Isaiah and Wilshire Boulevard Temple. They're fantastic! And for those of you interested in free consultations and referrals to the Jewish parenting groups, preschools, day schools, religious schools, camps and special needs programming in LA that meet YOUR family's needs best, please don't hesitate to contact a JKidLA Concierge anytime. Debra (city) 323-761-8616 or Rachel (valley) 818-464-3391.

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions for the eastside? (echo park, los feliz, silverlake, downtown area)

Due in December and can't find anything!

The Twin Coach said...

For the reader who asked about preschools in Calabasas I hope you saw the post just above yours, posted by Amy, that reads: The Calabasas Klubhouse at Creekside Park in Calabasas. Clean, set back in the canyon w/a beautiful view. Were so happy with it!

And for Anonymous who asked about Eastside schools, have you looked at Lyric Preschool in Silver Lake? http://www.lyricpreschool.com/Site_6-1/Home.html or Los Feliz Co-Op (323) 662-8300 or the Garden Co-Op http://www.thegarden.la/? in Eagle Rock?

The other thing I can suggest for East side parents is to become a member of My Favorite Things (an East side Peachhead-style chat group) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/myfavoritethingsLA/ and post your inquiry there. You are bound to get a lot of East side preschool recommendations that way.

Let me know if I can be of more help!
-Gina

cmiller said...

I'm investigating preschools in Woodland Hills and I was wondering why WHPS Collins Campus was listed, but not Oxnard Campus ... is there something I should know?
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone:

I'm looking for a place that accepts children before 2 yrs. 17/18months+ in West Hills/Woodland Hills area. Any recommendations

The Twin Coach said...

@cmiller: Regarding WHPS, and Collins campus versus Oxnard, the Oxnard campus is preschool thru 5th grade, so the preschool shares a campus with the elementary school. While the Oxnard campus is much larger, and the grounds are gorgeous ( they have a petting zoo on campus for example) the focus seems to be much more on the elementary school versus the preschool. To some parents it can feel like the preschool there was an after thought.

The Collins campus is much more intimate and exclusively a preschool and has more of a cozy feel; this may appeal especially to those who are sending their children at a younger age. Additionally, some feel the petting zoo on the Oxnard campus was dirty and a turn off for them, others like it. As with any school, one should tour and make up their own mind. I hope this helps.
-Gina

Anonymous said...

We absolutely love Beverly Glen Playgroup, a wonderfully nurturing environment and warm community. Zeke, the director, is a true gem and the setting is incredibly charming.

Anonymous said...

Los Feliz Cooperative Nursery School, 3401 Riverside Dr. www.lfns.org or 323-662-8300 is very well regarded for the mom who wanted a school in Los Feliz or Silverlake area. It is a coop school so parents need to be involved. I have several friends who have sent their kids there and loved it.

Also, Montessori Shir-Hashirim has an Eastside Campus on Berendo Street. It's a gorgeous school. See the first school on the list above for more information.

Aud Mom said...

Hi Gina - Eastside families may also want to check out Hilltop Nursery School co-op at http://www.hilltopla.org/

Anonymous said...

Berwick Buddies Preschool located in the Brentwood Glen is a terrific Reggio inspired small home school! Berwickbuddies.com

Anonymous said...

Magic Years Nursery school should have been mentioned..it is entering it's 46th year! My son just finished their 7 week pre-k program and "graduated" as he is off to K.During this special transition class, he built a wooden toolbox and his very own scooter among many other projects!.They are the most wonderful group of teachers, nurturing and guiding both children and parent's thru socialization and early learning skills. I live in the Encino hills and this school is located in Tarzana, tucked away from the street in a spanish adobe that has long been converted into multiple classrooms and the most fanatastic, awe-inspiring yard. They accept children as early as 2 1/2 and diapers are not a problem. They have a day called snow-day every year, where they prepare a snow area complete with a little hill for the children to sled down..the teachers are amazing and I had an exceptionally attached child that within 2 days of starting was ready to attend, perfectly happy and overjoyed, while I wept on my way out! If you live in the Encino etc valley area's and are looking for a nurturing pre-school program and not a day-care(the program is 3 hours long)oooh! forgot the best part, they have almost a valet type drop-off and pick-up! you sit in your car and as you come up and sign out your little one, a teacher then bring h/her out to your car and straps them into their seat! too good to be true..check them out! www.MagicYearsNurserySchool.com I feel I have written so much already and haven't even truly expressed how magnificient this school is. They have 2 teachers to appx 16-18 kids. They bake on a regular basis esp for their birthdays, when they get to pick what flavor cake(from scratch)and then have celebration where the parents attend! THEY ARE A PEANUT/NUT FREE SCHOOL AND TAKE IT VERY SERIOUSLY.
My daughter is starting this fall and we couldn't be more excited!

Anonymous said...

There's a preschool in Los Feliz called All Children Great and Small. The website is www.allchildrengreatandsmall.com, its at 4612 Welsh Place, between Franklin and Los Feliz Blvd.

Thanks for a great blog!

Anonymous said...

If Venice is your neighborhood, check out Abbot Kinney Kids!

www.abbotkinneykids.com

Christina Simon said...

A true hidden gem is The Walther School in West Hollywood. It's difficult to get in... Families love it. 310-876-4715, 1246 N. Gardner, WH

Anonymous said...

Great Hidden Gem in Brentwood- Gan Chaya Early Childhood Center my kids love it.. www.ganchaya.com

Anonymous said...

The Westside JCC was great (we had lots of non-Jewish families, too).

Anonymous said...

Rancho Co-op Nursery School!

http://ranchoco-op.org/

An amazing oasis in Cheviot Hills.

Anonymous said...

Christopher Robin Nursery School is a hidden gem in Hollywood. It's located at 815 N. Alta Vista, www.christopherrobinpreschool.com

323-934-6512 and the director is Susan Huber.

The Twin Coach said...

I accidentally rejected a comment from a reader (Karin, I'm sorry)! Here's her post:

Sunset Montessori is terrific. There is one on Sycamore near Sunset and another newer one in the Valley. http://sunsetmontessori.com/000005/home.aspx

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I'm looking for a "traditional" nuturing preschool close to the Burbank area. We moved from the westside last year and I rushed finding a preschool for my 3yr old before baby #2 came and I'm not sure it's right for my spirited daughter. I'd like to feel more involved (not necessarily co op) and a community atmosphere.

Thank you

lisag said...

I spent a long time trying to find the right preschool for my twins when they were just over 2 years old. Despite having three older children, I couldn't find a place that met our needs in terms of location, program, reputation, recommendations, and quality of staff/teachers.

Fortunately, through JKidLA (a resource for Jewish education), we found that Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills had just what we needed. Two years later, we're thrilled with the school and looking forward to continuing this year. Very professional, loving, safe, and the kids love it! Very diverse community, too.

310-276-9776 is the Early Childhood Center office and the director is Stacy Kesner.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the great list! My son attended St Joseph Early Learning Center(www.stjosephctr.org)-amazing school with great teacher-child ratio, caring, warm staff and very supportive community! The center is located in Venice. 310-396-6468 x 358

Anonymous said...

In Silverlake, Camelot Kids is great!

www.camelotkids.org

This is from an article about Camelot Kids in the Examiner: (www.examiner.com by Jessica Judd, Oct. 23
"Camelot Kids: A Successful LA Preschool" ) Here's part of the article:

Camelot Kids, a Silverlake preschool program, is setting the bar very high for other programs in the area. With an amazing new location on Rowena Avenue and under the leadership of Loni Watson, Camelot Kids offers a well-balanced program that successfully prepares its children socially and academically for elementary school, while creating a fun environment that promotes self-exploration and play.Camelot Kids, Inc. closed November 2007 and Camelot Kids, LLC officially opened the new school’s doors on Valentine’s Day 2008.
Camelot Kids offers diverse programming to preschool aged children. Keeping with an Arthurian theme, the pre-school classes are broken into Baby Dragons (2-1/2 yr. olds), Little Dragons (3-4 yr. olds) and Big Dragons (4-5 yr. olds), each group with a separate and distinct classroom and curriculum designed to best fit their developmental stage.
The school’s classrooms and play areas are immaculate and clean, filled with stimulating and creative visuals and activities. The site boasts a beautiful outside play area and has an indoor studio for creative movement, yoga and Tae Kwon Do. Both the indoor and outdoor layouts have been thoughtfully designed to cohesively bind the space, staying mindful of both a child’s need for interactive architecture while remaining eco-friendly.

The Twin Coach said...

Thank you everyone for such an amazing response to this article and for adding all of these wonderful preschools to the list. I am sure this wil help so many families!

I wanted to include the link the last reader mentioned, about Camelot Kids so that you could read the full article if you were interested.

http://www.examiner.com/x-962-LA-Kids-Community-Examiner~y2008m10d23-Camelot-Kids-A-Strong-Member-of-Los-Angeles-Educational-Community

Anonymous said...

The Jewish Community Center Preschool in Silverlake is a hidden gem!

www.sijcc.net/preschool or www.sijcc.net

Anonymous said...

The Neighborhood Nursery School in Silverlake is near the reservoir and is definitely worth looking at.

www.neighborhoodnurseryschool.org

Anonymous said...

For those in the South Bay, The Growing Garden Preschool in Redondo Beach is great. Although it is at the JCC, there are plenty of non jewish children and the student body is surprisingly diverse. Both of my kids are there and they love it.

Anonymous said...

Fountain Day School in West Hollywood is very well-liked by it's families.

www.fountaindayschool.com

Anonymous said...

For families that work in the entertainment industry, my good friend recommends Samuel Goldwyn. She sent her oldest child there when she worked at one of the studios.

Samuel Goldwyn Foundation Day Care
2114 Pontius Avenue
West LA, CA 90025

Tel: (310) 445-8993

Christina Simon said...

Hi Gina, I thought I'd add a few private elementary schools to your fabulous list of preschools. These are great elementary schools that also have PRESCHOOLS (From our book, "Beyond The Brochure")

Brawerman Elementary School at Wilshire Blvd. Temple www.brawerman.org

The Center For Early Education, www.centerforearlyeducation.org

The Country School, www.country-school.org

The Hollywood Schoolhouse, www.hollywoodschoolhouse.org

Lycee International De Los Angeles (French) www.lilaschool.org. Several locations.

Page Private Schools, Larchmont and BH, www.pageschool.com

Pilgrim School, East of Hancock Park, www.pilgrim-school.com

St. Matthews Parish, Palisades, www.stmatthewsschool.com

Turning Point School, Culver City, www.turningpointschool.org

Village School, Palisades, www.village-school.org

Westside Lutheran School, 7831 S. Sepulveda Blvd. www.wlcs.org

Waldorf Early Childhood Center, Santa Monica, www.wswaldorf.org

Anonymous said...

There's also a new preschool in the Larchmont area, between Hancock Park and Hollywood, called Larchmont Preschool. It has a combined Waldorf and Reggio-style philosophy and has openings for fall. They also take toddlers starting at 18 months. www.larchmontpreschool.com.

The Twin Coach said...

I just saw this amazing post on Peachhead about schools in Silver Lake. It was so informative that I had to copy it here:

Hi,

I've lived in Silverlake since 1993, have 2 boys and both attended preschools in
the neighborhood. My oldest attended a Cooperative Nursery school named Rose
Scharlin (70+ years in LA) and the youngest just "graduated" from Los Angeles
Family School. I'll give you a bit here and feel free to email me if you'd like
more.

There are 3 or more co-ops in the hood, Neighborhood Nursery school is one, the
others I know of are Rose Scharlin & Los Feliz Nursery School. There's also The
Garden in Eagle Rock. In all cases, co-ops tend to be lower in tuition and are
typically only 1/2 day programs. The children are all together as opposed to
being broken up into age-appropriate classes. The tuition is kept low by the
parents' involvement. At Rose Scharlin we were responsible for 1 workday per
week, maintenance days per quarter & fundraising. These can be great
opportunities to see into your child's early years, interact with their friends,
foster new bonds with other parents, etc. The downside is that it can be
taxing, difficult for 2 working parents to do and that same
interaction/involvement can prove a slippery slope when navigating a problem
between children, families, etc.
. Additionally, neither Neighborhood or Los Feliz allowed siblings on the yard
during a work day. So that ruled them out automatically for me as my second
child arrived shortly after my first began school. I couldn't imagine not
having him with me and actually having to get a sitter so I could have a "work
day." Something to consider if you've got more than one. RS & The Garden own
their properties so there's no time constraints on when you can leave - there
are for the other 2. As for Hilltop, I'm not as familiar with their program,
but I believe their school is a bit bigger than these other Co-ops and maybe not
a completely traditional co-op. The other "downside" in my opinion about a
co-op is the "erring on the side of caution" of the activities for the children.
Because you have a yard filled with kids ranging from 2.9 yrs. to 5.5 yrs.
there's a vast difference in interests & skills. I have found that the
curriculum tends to favor the younger kids due to parent's comfort zones. As I
have 2 November boys who stayed at preschool until they were 5.5, this didn't
work ultimately. And it is largely why my second attended LA Family School
instead of Rose Scharlin.

All Children Great and Small is a parent participatory school. Day broken into
2 halves / morning & afternoon. There's fundraising as well. I've heard good
things about it. LA Family school is also parent participatory and is amazing.
It is not, however inexpensive. The children have 2 teachers per classroom and
I cannot recommend enough how they foster creativity, empathy, social
responsibility, independence (I could go on and on, but it is a gem). This
school also has maintenance days and fundraising as part of the parents'
obligation.

There's also JCC, Camelot Kids and a few more that are escaping me. I hope this
hasn't been too long and has been somewhat helpful.

Anonymous said...

CHALK preschool in West LA is great. Nice, new, and very loving and enthusiastic teachers. We've been there for 5 months now and love it!

Christina Simon said...

Ad in Sept. issue of Larchmont Chronicle for Children's Center Preschool in Silverlake/Los Feliz area.

323-422-9690

Progressive and developmental, child and family centered.
www.kidslovepreschool.com

The Burton Family said...

Can anyone recommend preschools near the 101 and 405 area? We currently live in Woodland Hills but moving in the next few months so we can be closer to my husband's work. We are also new to Southern California and we are trying to find a great neighborhood to settle into. Ideally, I would like a preschool near a neighborhood with great public elementary schools. Thank you!

The Twin Coach said...

I happened to take my son to a music class today at a studio that is attached to the most adorable preschool in Santa Monica: Little Dolphins By The Sea http://littledolphins.org/ I really don't know anything about it except that the space is absolutely lovely and it just opened a couple of years ago so it may still be a "hidden gem". Do check it out....the website is intriguing and my son didn't want to leave the beautiful outdoor play space!

Anonymous said...

I found this blog super helpful! I'm struggling to find options in Studio City. What am I missing? Are there any hidden gems someone is willing to spill the beans on?

Anonymous said...

10th Street Preschool is a wonderful in Santa Monica. Check it out http://www.10thstreetpreschool.com/

Martina said...

Highland Hall Waldorf School has a wonderful program which includes a Parent & Child Program, Nursery and Kindergarten. Their website is www.highlandhall.org.Northridge, CA 91325

Anonymous said...

We live near Encino and have recently started touring preschools. So far we have liked Magic Years, Sage Academy, and TSONS. We have heard great things about all of them.

Anonymous said...

This posting is SO helpful, thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Wallaby in Silverlake is a really lovely program for kids who aren't yet in preschool. They take kids from crawling up to age 3+. It's like a mini preschool where kids and their parents or nannies do circle time, music, art, snack, stories and lots of indoor and outdoor playtime. It's a nice way to introduce your child to a routine and get them socialized and out of the house, and the teachers are amazing.

Anonymous said...

Just came across this blog. Great info...Valley residents should also check out The Little School. It's a great progressive pre-school school in Sherman Oaks, but they are moving to a bigger location in Van Nuys. My children have been so happy here. I only wish they could stay longer!

The Little School www.thelittleschool.biz

Ya-Mia said...

West Valley Christian Pre-School in West Hills is a very good pre-school. I really love the school and it also has an elementary/middle school on the same campus. The teachers are loving and nuturing. My daughter is 2 and she loves it there. Great academics and arts. My daughter takes dance and gymnastics. She learned how to ride a bike within a month and she can say the Alphabet and point out the letters, Count to 20, colors, and shape. I pulled up to a stop sign and yelled "Mommy, Mommy, look an Octagon!!!.

Anonymous said...

Temple Akiba Nursery School in Culver City is also excellent and includes families of all races/creeds/religions... Love it!

Anonymous said...

Avoid Plymouth School! I was quickly disappointed by one of the teachers and the small confining space of her classroom size. The lack of diversity was a huge issue for me as well as the lack of the security on the premise. I was concerned that vagrants could walk into preschool area (as the church nearby feeds the homeless) because there were no locked gates securing the area. The teacher's aides who prepare the snacks do not wear plastic gloves while preparing food, the snacks are too salty and drinks too sugary, and the kitchen preparation area is stone's throw from an open children's bathroom area. Finally I was disappointed by the poor and confusing communication I received from the school. My child's teacher told me one thing on a regular basis while the director told me another. The whole experience wrecked havoc and discord in my home and I often feel guilty that I ever sent my child there. Honestly I feel like I failed him. My entire family was miserable the entire time. It was a huge mistake-- one that I have forever learned from. Don't be fooled by appearances and plastic friendly smiles. As a Mom I would say if you're looking for a preschool, keep looking. And FYI: I don't think a waiting list for this school exists at all, overall it's way below average compared to other preschools in terms of basics and resources and doesn't offer enough for children (enrichment classes, art, movement, music specialists) for there to be one. Personally, I think that's just a ploy to help recruit new kids and families to their school.

Lindsay Gallagher said...

My kids both went to Christopher Robin preschool which has been in the Melrose/West Hollywood area for over 40 years. http://www.christopherrobinpreschool.com/
It's a true Reggio program and now includes a pre-K/DK. Great little school!

Anonymous said...

Another great gem in Santa Monica is Sunflower Preschool. It is a Reggio inspired preschool and has a very intimate feel with class sizes of 12 children.
www.sunflowersantamonica.com

Anonymous said...

I would add Language Garden Preschool in Los Angeles. It is a great school.

Anonymous said...

There is another hidden gem, that has been around for over 55 years, in West Los Angeles named "It's a Children's World". This school is a home away from home for the child, with a caring and a loving staff. Do not judge it from the outside, you must visit the school to get the real picture. There are second and third generation children who attend this school.
www.itsachildrensworld.com

Lisa Stanton said...

Do you have any list for specialized schools for children having auditory processing disorder? I feel that "special "schools" are needed alongside our therapy and parental support.

Gina Osher said...

Lisa, I wish I did know schools to suggest to you, but it's out my range of knowledge. Have you asked your therapists for any recommendations? I know Echo Horizon in Culver City has a special program where deaf and hard of hearing students are mainstreamed into the rest of the population of the school. http://www.echohorizon.org/domain/8 It's a K - 6 school, but perhaps they can give you some recommendations for preschools. I hope that helps!
- Gina

Daisy Gardner said...

Hi Gina,
I highly recommend The Maggy Haves School in the Valley (on Coldwater Cyn). They are innovative, progressive, and concerned with children's emotional and social development as well as intellectual. My child comes home eager to ask questions and think critically. Just as importantly, he has learned to cultivate empathy and negotiate solutions with other kids to resolve conflicts. It's been amazing.

Anonymous said...

Looking for 4:1 or better ratio preschool on the westside. Teachers need to know how to deal with kids with special needs. Esp play elaboration, speech delay, motor planning. Must have low teacher turnover. Small class size not more than 12 kids Need to find something ASAP as my child is losing her services through regional center and she is too high functioning to fit into Lausd Preschools. Desperate for advice. Thanks.

Gina Osher said...

Anonymous, I wish I had a way to contact you directly because I have a suggestion which I think may be a good fit. It is called Bright Kids. The director is Carrie Armstrong. She is out until mid Jan because of a surgery so maybe call in the new year. The number is 310-695-6700. It comes highly recommended by a mom I know who's son is there. You can email me directly if you wish: gina (at) thetwincoach (dot) com & I can give you more details. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

A great hidden gem in Burbank is BTEE Early Childhood Center. It is 2yrs-PreK and a wonderful school. The school has hot lunch for the kids. Alot of fun enrichment classes like dance, gymnastics, soccer and karate. They also have a fun summer camp. You can contact the preschool director Leeron Dvir at 818-845-6601 or preschooldirector@btee.org

Anonymous said...

University Synagogue in Brentwood! I had heard great things about their preschool and recently went on a tour myself. It's a very warm, welcoming community, developmental and has a very hands-on approach to learning. Just went on a tour there and am most likely going to be sending my twins there in the fall! As an added bonus, they recently re-did the entire preschool and it looks amazing- fun, fresh and inviting for young kids!

Cathy Denis said...

Has anyone had any experience with WorldSpeak in Westwood? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Andi Ballard said...

Our Daughter has been accepted to both Plymouth Preschool and Sunshine Shack. We've heard great things about both. Though Sunshine Shack seems more creative and inspiring than Plymouth (which my husband & I love), Plymouth costs half as much! Quite a few parents we've spoken to say save the money for the real schooling expenses, K-12 & College. They say that preschool is all about socializing your kids & letting them play in a group setting. We have 7 days to accept our Sunshine Shack offer so I need to figure this out fast. Can anyone offer any advice? Thanks!

Gina Osher said...

Andi, I am completely biased here because my children went to The Sunshine Shack for 3 years and I can't say enough good things about it. I think preschool is only about socialization and letting kids play in a group setting if that is the sort of school your children are at. At the Shack our children were learning from the minute the walked in the gate at 2 1/2 and left, 3 years later in love with learning, able to speak up and tell a teacher what they needed, able to express their feelings to a friend, able to create amazing art, able to make friends, able to contribute valuable ideas to a group, able to accept ideas from others...the list goes on. The team at The Shack is amazing and I have nothing but the highest respect for the director, Sara. In addition, the teachers she hires have a passion for not only teaching, but for children. Even a year out of preschool now, my children still ask to go back and visit. Feel free to email me directly if you have any specific questions you have: gina@TheTwinCoach.com
- Gina

Anonymous said...

Hi Gina, thanks for writing such a helpful post! I'm also wondering about Plymouth, have you heard good things about it? Due to a last minute change of plans we are postponing a move to Europe and are staying in L.A long enough for our son to go to preschool next year. Because we are so late in the game, most "name" schools are already full and our options are limited. We live in Hancock Park and visited the Plymouth School recently. It seems nice but there is so little info on it on the web (they are promoted solely by word of mouth) and I would love to hear more from someone who attended it/know someone who did.

Thanks!

Gina Osher said...

Anonymous, I actually don't know anyone well whose children attend/attended Plymouth. I know that it is a very popular school and can be quite hard to get into. I hear the director schedules her tours based on when you got on a wait list. I think that the fact that they have no web presence shouldn't NECESSARILY make you feel that it's not a good school for your family (some schools simply don't have the manpower to dedicate to keeping up a proper website, some do it to seem "exclusive", some just don't have well thought out philosophies etc.). Our old preschool, The Sunshine Shack, was a wonderful school but didn't even have a website until somewhat recently.

I think it's important to get a sense of what you, as a family, want from a preschool & then go on tours looking for a school that fits into that (as opposed to just trying to get into a "name" school). My impression of Plymouth is based on conversations I had a few years ago when we were looking for schools, so things may have changed by now, but if you would like to email me directly, I am glad to share my thoughts. gina@thetwincoach.com

Best of luck looking for schools!
- Gina (The Twin Coach)

Gina Osher said...

I forgot to say that Parents Education League is sponsoring some excellent preschool workshops this month (April 2013) which may be helpful: http://www.parentseducationleague.org/events-workshops/

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding Gina, I've sent you an email!

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

Emily Valko Monroy said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

great article! I was hoping to read through others' comments but I can't seem to access the link?

Gina Osher said...

Sorry, Anonymous. There was a glitch in trying to connect my Google+ account to this blog & it momentarily made previous comments unavailable. Hopefully you will stop back to see everything is once again accesible.
- Gina (The Twin Coach)

Zee said...

I would love to add a school as well. Esteem Preschool in opening in West Los Angeles this Sept, 2013. It is a Reggio Emilia inspired program under the direction of Lori Livrano and will serve ages 2-5 years. The exact address is 2236 S. Barrington Ave, LA 90064. It is a beautiful space with lots of light and discovery! Students will partake in practical, sensorial, science, and mathematics...all the while having fun! A must see! www.esteempreschool.com

Anonymous said...

Gina,
I realize you created this post in 2010 any updates? Do you know anything about A Child's Place in Culver City, or Treehouse in Culver City? Thank you! (We live...in Culver City.)

Gina Osher said...

Anonymous, thank you for your note. I spoke with a good friend whose opinion about these things I trust & this is what she had to say about schools in your area: "My friend sends her son to Happyland and loves it. It is a little run down looking but the director is great. A child's place is too sketchy of a neighborhood (though if the person is living there then that is fine : )). The director of that place is great too but it is on venice blvd. next to a pot place (which should be closed soon) and auto repair places. I loved A Kids' Place in Mar Vista. They added a new kitchen too. The teachers are so awesome!!" She wasn't familiar with Treehouse, but her kids are now in first grade so perhaps it's a more recent addition? I hope this is helpful!
- Gina (The Twin Coach)

Gina Osher said...

A comment from a friend about schools in Westchester, CA: "I have heard good things about Covenant Presbyterian Preschool in Westchester.
http://covla.org/wordpress1/covenant-preschool/covenant-preschool/

My kids just started at Eagles' Nest in El Segundo. It's play based. They have a few different schedule options, but nothing truly FULL day if that's what you are looking for. http://eaglesnestpreschool.weebly.com/index.html"

Anonymous said...

I know some people who were at Treehouse and left b/c of high teacher turnover. Others really like it.

Anonymous said...

My son is at Village Tree Preschool in Culver City. We really like it. The students and teachers offer a diverse background and, although not a speech specific school, attending has helped with my son's speech delay more than his LAUSD special ed class did. There are lot of kids at the school (it is right near Sony) but everyone seems to enjoy themselves, the teacher/student ratio is good and the price is affordable (I enjoy that part.)

Anonymous said...

hello everyone.. Who can recommend any great preschools in the westhills (near Woodland hills) area.. Ideally would love a cooperative like preschool..
Thank you,
J.K.L.

Anonymous said...

Love that Crestwood is included on this list! It's a fantastic school with the best play area that I've seen in Los Angeles. We've been there for a year and absolutely love it. Amazing community - highly recommend it!

mamabotanica said...

How about places that are actually on the East side (Pasadena central)? Would love to hear!

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I absolutely love this website and all the comments/commenters. Has anyone here had any experience with TSONS (Sherman Oaks Nursery School) and Sherman Oaks co op? I can't imagine either of these would be "hidden gems", but I'd like your thoughts. I am also looking for french and/or Japanese language schools/classes that would be good for a 2 year old! Thanks in advance and keep up the great work!!!

Gina Osher said...

Hi Anonymous, I'm assuming you're in or around Sherman Oaks since you asked about schools near there however, I only know one preschool that is a French Immersion (actually it's French/Spanish), but it is in the MidWilshire area of LA http://www.languagegardenpreschool.com/child-care-immersion-approach I have a good friend who sends her son there & who is very happy. I have often suggested to clients & readers of my blog that they try contacting schools out of their area to ask for suggestions. Most often specialized schools know ALL the other schools who are in their niche. Since a school in Sherman Oaks technically isn't their direct competition, they may be willing to give you that info. A quick Google search pulled up this list from the Japan Foundation http://www.jflalc.org/jle-immersion.html. Hopefully others can be of more help
- Gina (The Twin Coach)

Anonymous said...

I have a 4 month old son and wondering how soon I need to get on a preschool list? Any suggestions for the Studio City area, I didn't see any on either of your hidden gem list, I'm not familiar with the area and ANY help would be greatly appreciated!

Beth said...

I love this blog thread! My vote (and where I send my 3 and 5 year olds): Mary Alice O'Connor Family Center in Burbank. It has a safe, clean and inspiring environment. Teachers are nurturing and attentive. Children are encouraged to play and use their imagination. Parents are involved. My kids have yoga and dance lessons included, amongst other things, and I also opt in on the hot lunch program and soccer shots for both of them. I give it two big thumbs up.

Tay Vu said...

Hi all, we've just moved to Beverly Hills near the Beverly Hills Center and having a hard time choosing preschool for our 4 year old boy. Any great preschools within the 2 mile radius that you can suggest to us? Greatly appreciated!

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