This is seriously the most talked about topic among my friends, every facebook group, moms group, neighborhood hangs, and even the mom you just met. “Where did your kid go to pre-school?” “Where is your baby going to go to pre-school?” “What age is your kid starting pre-school?” And even though i have explored almost every option here and talked to 500 women about it, i still participate in these conversations… I guess we all want to hear other mama’s opinions and also confirm our own opinions. Some of us are new to the area and some are just really clueless as to where to even begin. So here are my opinions based on the schools we have been too and based on my friends advise etc. (Order is irrelevant)
1. Saint Marks Pre-School My Daughter did her last year of pre-school here. Pre-K in room 5. It was a wonderful school and i very much enjoyed the warm welcomes at drop off, the clean playground and adorable classrooms. The times are very odd so if you have a job it would be quite difficult. Which is why we didn’t come here from the beginning. Start time is 9:00am and Pick up is 1:00pm. You can pay for early drop off at 8am and late day until 2pm but that’s as late as it goes. The few drawbacks i personally didn’t like was the lack of effort and money put back into the kids and families. Pretty sure the entire tuition goes to the church. Every single thing including snack is provided by the parents. They put ZERO effort into the Christmas program, mothers day, open house. You can’t even find a bottle of water. (Weird) If your ok with that, then it is a good school, and i really did love the teachers.
2. Saint Mathews – Montessori I love Montessori for early learning because it teaches them life skills rather than so much academics. We never went to this school but i did tour it and went to the family BBQ. The school is run beautifully, very clean and very new. The only drawback for me was that they must wear uniforms. Even at age 3.
3. Newport Coast Child Development This is the more “academic” of them all from what i hear. I do have 3 friends that currently go hear and hear amazing things! It is hard to get in and if your new i guess you get a really bad time slot in the middle of the day! Apparently it is based on “points” and if you have another sibling there you would have more points and therefore get a good time slot. I was told a good way to get points as a newbie is to join the mommy and me program, that way by the time they are ready to start you’ll have points accrued to get the time you want. Seems like a lot of work but i’m going to look into it for the babe.
4. Mariners Preschool This is beautiful, clean, and a really fun loving environment. The preschool is actually not affiliated with the church itself although it is located at the church (they are run separate). I don’t love that you cannot choose your days. You can either do full time or Tuesday Thursday, Not possible to do M.T.W. or have a flexible schedule if you work part time. They are also known to be very snotty when you call to inquire and will give little to no details until you do the tour in person at a scheduled appointment. But once your in – the consensus is you will be happy.
5. Saint Andrews This is over by Newport Heights and if your on this side of the bay it’s probably the most popular pre-school. It’s got a wonderful flexible schedule for working parents and is open 6:30am-6:30pm. They also take them as young as 6 weeks old!
6. Anneliesse Pre-School (Laguna Beach) This school is so popular and people drive here from all over orange county. It’s located in the canyon off the 73 so the commute is not so bad. They have live animals (like a zoo) for the kids, organic garden, yoga, you name it! I hear nothing but amazing things about this school. The only drawback i hear is that it lacks in academic and structure so some kids might do better here then others.
7. JCC – (Irvine)This is an amazing school for kids and although it is a jewish school you do not have to be jewish to attend. I have several friends who have attended here and have been really happy. It’s a bit expensive and you pay for the 10 month program rather than a monthly rate. But they do offer several options for times so it’s great for the working parents. They also have an amazing summer camp and there own little splash pad.
8. Newport Montessori This is an affordable school with extended hours. They open at 7am and close at 6pm. They have a toddler program that starts at 18 months and your child can go through to Kindergarten. A good friend of mine has her daughter here and she seems to be very pleased.
9. COMING SOON (Nature Center, Newport Beach) They are planning to open next year and sounds like it would be really cool for kids and to be outdoors! I’ll definitely be checking it out when they open. The ENC’s Nature Pre-school will have play areas but no playgrounds. Students will spend the majority of the day outdoors, where they will have ample time for unfacilitated nature experiences. Qualified early childhood educators and environmental educators will teach them the basics of a typical preschool and more. Indoor spaces will be warm, welcoming and conducive to learning.