LA's Newest Preschools: 9 Schools To Check Out Before Everyone Else Finds Them

Kids Collective
Kids Collective

Choosing a preschool is no small feat, especially in LA where there are so many options. From Montessori to Reggio and from nature-based to play-based, each preschool offers educational methods as varied as the colors of the rainbow. Of course, another thing most schools offer is waiting lists, so it's great to get in ahead of the curve on new preschools, before everyone else in town figures out how great they are. The nine schools below are all new to the scene, and all worth checking out!

1. A-list Montessori Preschool
Culver City
Year Founded: 
Age Range: 18 mos - 4 years. Toilet readiness not required.
Hours: Mon-Fri, with part-time (8am - 12pm) and full-time (8am - 3pm) options. Extended care available mornings (7am - 8am) and afternoons (3pm - 6pm).
School Year: Sept-June with summer program July through August.
Snacks/Food Provided: Organic snacks
Parent Participation: Not required
Tuition range: upon request

Educational Philosophy: Based on Maria Montessori’s teaching, this preschool’s method focuses on practical life materials and sensorial activities through which children enhance their motor skills and develop their senses. Children are grouped in three-year age spans to mimic a sibling dynamic: the younger ones learn from the older ones, while the older ones develop leadership skills. Teachers play a secondary role and let children choose their work.

Special Features: Homelike school setting with inviting classrooms and an outdoor space featuring a playground with climbing structures, sand play, water play, painting, tricycles, and gardens.

Admission Info: To enroll, parents must schedule a tour, sign up for a four-week Acclimation Program, and fill out the application. Admission is based on availability. Once accepted, parents and children must attend the Acclimation Program’s weekly hour and a half class designed to ease the transition into the preschool.

2. Kids Collective
Culver City
Year Founded: 2015
Size: 13 children per classroom; teacher/child ratio is 4:5.
Age Range: 2.5 - 6.5 years. Toilet readiness is encouraged.
Hours: Mon-Fri, with half-day programs in the morning (8:30am - 12:30pm) or afternoon (1pm - 5pm) for two, three, or five days a week.
School Year: September to June. A Spanish immersion summer program is offered for children ages 3 to 6.
Snacks/Food Provided: Organic recipes made with in-house produce.
Parent Participation: Parents are encouraged to share their talents, including reading, singing, and cooking, or benefit the school by volunteering with fundraisers and newsletters. There’s a parenting education curriculum, two parent/teacher conferences per school year, and an open door policy.
Tuition range: $675 - $1,285/month, plus an annual $250 fee for materials.

Educational Philosophy: Kids Collective offers a combined Montessori and Reggio program focused on child-centered exploration and discovery. Children are grouped by stages of development, rather than by age. The child is seen as a “social being” and an active participant in learning. Hence, the study program follows the child’s interest.

Special Features: Kids Collective’s Montessori classroom offers easily accessible educational materials made out of wood, glass, ceramic, and metal, and the Reggio atelier boasts natural and nature-inspired elements. There is a shaded outdoor classroom, plus a natural playground (with a river rock stream, a balance bridge, and a Hobbits playhouse) and organic garden. Some extracurricular activities include Spanish, yoga, organic gardening, weekly cooking classes, and music with guest artists.

Admission Info: Parents are encouraged to tour the school before completing an application and should visit again with their child before enrolling. Admission decisions are based on the need to assure an age-balanced group of children. Kids Collective is currently not offering tours and not accepting applications — parents can be put on an interest list for the preschool’s second location once it opens.

Photo courtesy of Kids Collective

3. Maple Tree Academy
Year Founded: 2018
Size: Class sizes vary by age group, but it ranges from 8 to 16. Teacher/child ratio is 1:8.
Age Range: 3 mos – 5.5 years. Toilet readiness is initiated, if children are ready.
Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am - 5:30pm (ages 2-3); children ages 3 to 5.5 can be enrolled in full-time (7:30am - 5:30pm) and part-time programs.
School Year: Year-round school
Snacks/Food Provided: Yes
Parent Participation: Not required
Tuition range: $850 - $1900/month, depending on the age group and hours of care

Educational Philosophy: Maple Tree draws from R.I.E (Resources for Infant Educarers), Reggio Emilia, and Soka (Value Creating) education. The preschool curriculum is based on social constructivism and experiential learning (children express interest and teachers help explore them). The environment functions as a “third teacher” and inspires creativity in the children.

Special Features: Maple Tree Academy is a dual language (English & Spanish) immersion program for all ages.

Admission Info: Parents must attend one of the scheduled tours in order to learn more about the enrollment process. The school is in its final stage of a complete remodel and projected opening date is March 1.

4. Meadow Preschool 
Santa Monica
Year Founded: 2017
Size: 15 children per class. The student/teacher ratio averages 6:1 and frequently becomes smaller throughout the day, especially on enrichment days.
Age Range: 2 years, 9 months - 6 years. Toilet readiness preferred, but accepting children that are not potty trained, too.
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am - 2pm, with extended arrival time (8:45am - 9:15am) and pick-up times (2pm - 2:30pm). Parents may choose to send their children as much or as little as they desire.
School Year: September to mid-June.
Snacks/Food Provided: Meadow provides morning and afternoon organic snacks. Children often collect fruits and vegetables from the on-site garden, and once a week they help cook their snack, as well. Parents are expected to provide a healthy packed “trash-free” lunch for their children.
Parent Participation: No, but parents can volunteer inside the classroom by reading books, assisting with cooking activities, or helping with art projects. Also, they can host a “party book” party or help organize carpools. In addition to informal meetings, there are formal parent/teacher conferences held in February each year.
Tuition range: $16,500/year, with different payment options. Meadow Preschool offers financial aid and discounts to eco-conscious families that agree to walk, bike, or take a bus at least three days per week.

Educational Philosophy: Nature-based, Meadow uses the outdoors, nature, and natural materials as a regular focus in most activities. There is an emphasis on teaching environmentally conscious practices. Mixed-age play is alternated with age-specific activities (i.e. special art project), so children are put into smaller groups of similar age for a short part of the day.

Special Features: Meadow boasts an ecological park blended from natural elements and landscape. Enrichment type classes, such as karate, yoga, sustainable agriculture, and music with guest artists, are included in the curriculum and rotate during the school year.

Admission Info: Applications can be downloaded from the website. Priority enrollment goes to families living within walking and/or biking distances.

Photo courtesy of The Nest

5. The Nest
Year Founded: 2017
Size: 14 children. The student/teacher ratio is 7:1.
Age Range: 2 years 9 months - 6 years. Toilet readiness is required before the school year begins.
Hours: Mon-Fri, full day (8:45am - 3pm for pre-K children only), and half day morning (8:45am - 11:45am) and half day afternoon (12pm - 3pm).
School Year: September to June
Snacks/Food Provided: Parents takes turns to buy snacks for the whole classroom two weeks per year.
Parent Participation: Parent participation is reserved for special occasions (i.e. birthdays and community program).
Tuition range: $23,000 for the full day (reserved for little ones in their final year of preschool) and $16,500 for the half day programs (either 8:45 am -11:45 am or 12 pm - 3 pm).

Educational Philosophy: Montessori method is imbued with the preschool’s teaching of peace, love, and kindness.

Special Features: Classroom features different areas for practical life, sensorial, math, language, and geography exercises. The outdoor environment is for exploration and gardening. Extracurricular classes include art, music, yoga, and physical education. Mindful meditation is practiced each day at a special time — children rest, relax, and reflect.

Admission Info: Parents are encouraged to attend a tour and complete an application by January 3 prior to the desired September enrollment date. Parents and their child must visit the school before enrolling.

Photo courtesy of Silver Lake Center for Creativity Preschool

Atwater Village
Year Founded: PLAY has been operating since 2008, however, the new location opened in 2017.
Size: There are four different classrooms with a 30-children capacity each. The student/teacher ratio is 6:1.
Age Range: 3 - 4 years. Toilet readiness is not required.
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am - 3:30pm. PLAY offers two, three, and five half day (9am - 12:30pm) and extended care (3:30pm - 4:30pm and 4:30pm - 6pm) programs.
School Year: September to June, with summer camp available in July and August. PLAY follows LAUSD holiday and school break calendar.
Snacks/Food Provided: There is an optional hot lunch and snacks program at an additional cost.
Parent Participation: Not required
Tuition range: $564 - $1,340/month. Early morning care is $55 per month and afternoon extended care costs between $55 and $75 per month, depending on the time slot chosen.

Educational Philosophy: PLAY has a development-based method designed to instill in children positive self-esteem and respect for themselves and others. Much like Montessori, at PLAY children learn at their own pace through interactions amongst themselves. Teachers are there to support them through developmentally appropriate activities and imaginative play.

Special Features: PLAY’s 11,000-square-foot location sits on one acre of land and boasts a one-of-a-kind outdoor play structure, which includes a padded floor, a 10-foot long crazy bones bridge, and two 6-foot slides. The shaded artificial grass area features a high-pressure misting system used during warmer days.

Admission Info: PLAY accepts applications year round on a first come first serve basis. Once enrolled, parents are required to tour the preschool with their child.

Photo courtesy of Silver Lake Center for Creativity Preschool

7. Silver Lake Center for Creativity Preschool
Silver Lake
Wonderschool: Part of an early childhood program that combines the best childcare centers’ quality standards in an in-home environment.
Year Founded: 2018
Size: 12 children. Student/teacher ratio of 6:1.
Age Range: 2 - 6 years. Toilet readiness is not required.
Hours: Mon-Fri with regular days (9am - 2:30pm) and extended days (8am - 5pm) available three or five days per week. It offers early drop-off (in the first 15 minutes of the child's scheduled start time) and late pick-up (in the last 15 minutes of the child's scheduled end time for the day).
School Year: Year-round program, but the new program year officially starts each fall.
Snacks/Food Provided: Two organic snacks during the day.
Parent Participation: No, but SLCC welcomes continuous involvement in the classroom and family community events through volunteering.
Tuition range: $1,120 - $2,000/month.

Educational Philosophy: Reggio-inspired and research-driven, SLCC provides hands-on, collaborative learning experiences and explorations that help develop a child’s creativity, imagination, and problem-solving skills. Children spend equal parts of their day in the mixed-age classroom working on projects with fun materials, and outdoors, mingling with nature.

Special Features: SLCC is a cabin-style cottage located on a private, gated property with a grassy backyard. The school offers a Spanish immersion program. Afternoon extended care programs include Music, Spanish, ASL, Yoga, Art Enrichment, Natural Science Explorations, Clay Works, Superhero Fantasies, and Kids in Motion.

Admission Info: Parents must tour the school, submit an application, and enroll.

Photo courtesy of Smile + Wonder

8. Smile + Wonder
Year Founded: 2017
Size: 12-13 children per classroom. Student/teacher ratio is 6:1.
Age Range: 2 - 5 years. Toilet readiness required. Smile + Wonder offers toilet training classes.
Hours: Mon-Fri, with full (8 am - 5 pm) or partial (8 am - 1 pm or 1 pm - 5 pm) two-day, three-day, and five-day programs. Extended care is available every day from 5 pm to 6 pm.
School Year: Year-round program.
Snacks/Food Provided: Wonder provides meals by a local chef and nutritionist as a part of their curriculum. Each child is involved in their meals and nutrition from gardening to cleaning their plate. Menus are prepared monthly and based on seasonal produce. There are vegan, vegetarian, and medical options available.
Parent Participation: Wonder allows hands-on parental involvement in the classrooms. The preschool offers ongoing parent education workshops.
Tuition range: $550 - $825/month. Extended care ranges between $50 and $100 per month, depending on the program. There is an annual $100 fee for materials.

Educational Philosophy: Holistic, child-centered, and evidenced based. Children learn through sensory-rich and natural projects. Their interests and discoveries are nurtured by a team of educators and multi-disciplinary specialists, including cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional experts.

Special Features: There is an organic garden (where children seed, pick mature fruits and vegetables, help create snacks and lunches), a large outdoor playground, and indoor sensory gym. In addition to the preschool, Smile + Wonder offers pediatric therapy and diagnostics, child enrichment classes, and summer camp.

Admission Info: Tours, staff interview, and classroom observations are available throughout the school year. During the enrollment/admissions process, Wonder’s team of experts schedules a home visit with the parents to observe the child in the natural home environment and determine the best classroom placement. Enrollments can be submitted at anytime throughout the school year. Admissions are based on classroom availability and appropriateness of the program for each child.

9. Voyages
Mar Vista
Year Founded: 2015
Size: 14 children. Student/teacher ratio is 4:1.
Age Range: 2.5 - 5 years. Toilet Readiness is not necessary.
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm. Half day programs are offered in the morning (8am - 12:30pm) and afternoon (2pm - 5pm) for five, four, or three days per week.
School Year: August–June, with summer camp running in July and August. Voyages follows LAUSD calendar for holidays and school breaks.
Snacks/Food Provided: Parents takes turns to buy snacks for the whole classroom twice per year.
Parent Participation: Not required. There are monthly teacher and parents meeting where parents share their visions and ideas regarding community programs and cultural trips, which happen monthly.
Tuition range: $1,225 - $1,625/month, plus annual $500 fee for materials.

Educational Philosophy: Reggio-inspired, Voyages is a social constructivist preschool that values the bonds and interactions with families and the community.

Special Features: Voyages is a small school dedicated to strengthening the bonds with the community. The school is very involved with different projects, including the intergenerational program which brings children to visit a senior center once a month.

Admission Info: Parents must visit the preschool prior to filling out an application.

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Ivy Station - 10:00 AM Pick
Slumberkins Slumber Party with Kids Club
Americana at Brand - 10:00 AM
Year of the Rabbit Storytime
West Valley Regional Branch Library - 10:30 AM
Manhattan Village Kids Club
Manhattan Village - 11:00 AM
Make a Valentine Crafternoon
Jefferson - Vassie D. Wright Memorial Branch Library - 3:00 PM
Neighborhood Guides
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