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Readers' Choice: Nominate Your Favorite Preschool

Tell us about the best options for the little ones in West Hartford.

This week's Readers' Choice contest moves to a category with blocks, finger paints, swings and sandboxes: Best Preschools.

This can be an emotional category because most of us love the schools we choose for our children, but many parents are still in that "looking" stage, and your comments may help them narrow down their choices.

Tell us about why you chose your preschool and what makes it special in the comments below. The nominations will close on Thursday at 5 p.m., and we'll announce a winner based on comments and Patch Places reviews by Saturday morning.

Anna Stillman March 19, 2012 at 02:28 PM
The School for Young Children at Saint Joseph's College...it combines best practice with such a warm and welcoming environment. It is a model program and my daughter loves going to school there!
Ronni Newton March 19, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Both of my kids went to First Church Nursery School in the Center. We had a fantastic experience there with wonderful teachers that they still talk about and remember, more than a decade later.
Cheyney Barrieau March 19, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Lillipop Tree Nursery School - Very hands on with a low teacher/child ratio. Its a true family there!
Liz Culbert March 19, 2012 at 03:54 PM
We loved School for Young Children (@SJC) for many reasons. Initially loved that the building was isolated with lots of green space and a nature trail for the kids to visit. Classrooms all have large windows and nice light. The philosophy encourages play and letting kids solve their own problems before being guided by a teacher toward resolutions. SYC was everything we wanted and more. The kids were socially and emotionally ready when kindergarten came and have so far thrived on that great foundation!
Jessica Christensen March 19, 2012 at 04:49 PM
The JCC Preschool! It uses a creative curriculum that is more academic than daycare yet play-based so that kids are still having a ton of fun and instilling a liflong love of learning. They facilitate friendships and do a great job of providing resources for families. The staff is AMAZING!!! They have a good sense of humor, a genuine warmth, and make every effort to get to know not only every child in the school but every family. As one of many non-Jewish families, we have been welcomed with open arms. They also make extracurriculars a snap as they take my kids to their dance, cooking, karate, sports, swimming, etc. classes after school so that I don't have to drive all over town. Getting a gym membership with my tuition is an added bonus too!
Courtney Lee March 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
The School for Young Children at St. Joseph's College is fantastic. We have been welcomed into their family with open arms even before we decided to enroll. The teachers are all true lovers of learning, and encourage the kids to explore and also do develop the self help and social skills they need to begin to navigate the world with their peers on their own. The building is warm and inviting and very homelike, with neutral colors and comfy couches in each room. The kids are exposed to great new experiences like nature walks, field trips around the community and a great inter-generational reading program with elderly folks. We love SYC and our daughter does too!
Ronni Newton March 19, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Please be sure to keep this comment thread to a discussion of favorite preschools.
Deidre Horan March 19, 2012 at 08:58 PM
We love the Science Center pre- school. All 3 of our children went there. The staff are warm, fun, and my children felt accepted and comfortable at the school. The relationship with the science museum is a huge bonus. Weekly trips to the museum and planetarium shows added to the fun and educational experience for our children.
Judi Houpert March 19, 2012 at 09:33 PM
First Church Nursery School is wonderful! My two boys (now sophomores in college and high school) thrived at FCNS. They were safe, loved and they learned how to be good people. The peace of mind I had as a parent, knowing my boys were safe, well cared for and that they were having fun was such a gift!
Judy Brenner March 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM
The Hebrew Academy is my recommendation as top preschool. For a Jewish based curriculum with the best preschool director ever, this is the place. Crafts, both Hebrew and English learning, as well as the best pool of parents, children and administration. My kids still go to visit the preschool whenever they get the chance and run to their former teachers every day when they come into school!
N. King March 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
My son attends the Quaker Lane Cooperative Nursery School and our whole family has had a wonderful, rewarding experience there. The co-op model means that every parent who wants to be is involved in our children's introduction to the educational experience. It gives the school a uniquely welcoming feel, like a second home. My son's teachers have been caring, gentle and nurturing. The teachers welcome and encourage parental input and involvement, and the result is a very special place where kids are proud to see their parents in the classroom and families know each other well.
Anna Huttner March 20, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Solomon Schechter Day School has an outstanding Early Childhood program. The teachers are warm, loving and creative. The classrooms are clean, open and welcoming. I took a lot of time before making a decision on schooling for my children. I have been more than impressed with every aspect of this hidden gem in our community.
Jewish non-Prophet March 20, 2012 at 05:48 PM
It would appear as if editor Ronni Newton had my repudiation of Jessica Christensen's choice removed, stating "Please be sure to keep this comment thread to a discussion of favorite preschools." Opposing viewpoints are part and parcel of a discussion of best preschools. I am sure that those readers who are in the market for a preschool for their children would want to know other people's opinions--both good and bad--when making their decision. By removing my comment you do your readers a disservice.
Monika Russo March 20, 2012 at 06:44 PM
My son attends Quaker Lane Co-op Nursery school.The teachers are so caring and nurturing. The parents are very involved, from being helping parents during the school day, to setting up and participating in school fundraisers, to getting together on and off school property for play-dates, field trips, pizza parties, and other social events. My son was slow to warm up to the school setting, and the teachers always guided him gently and embraced him. He's so proud of his school and has made some amazing friendships.
Joy Russell March 21, 2012 at 01:25 AM
We LOVE First Church Nursery School!!!! We have enjoyed being part of the First Church family for 4 years. My 2 sons have thrived in the warm and caring environment provided by every single staff member. My older son entered Kindergarten this year, fully prepared by the fun and enriching educational program he experienced at First Church. My younger son has grown in every way since he began his educational journey in September. I highly recommend this daycare/preschool.
Jeremy Pressman March 22, 2012 at 04:42 PM
I’ve been really impressed with Solomon Schechter’s early childhood program. The teachers are nurturing and loving, enabling the children to learn through creativity and exploration. The creative curriculum used by the school encourages the children to grow and discover through a combination of play and academics, so their imaginations really thrive in their early years. Learning about the Jewish holidays through art, stories, and songs is mixed alongside the general studies curriculum. The school has an extra, afternoon program including classes in sports, art, computers, and cooking for children who want or need an extended day. I also have noticed the kids benefit from being part of a larger school (it continues into K-8). Young children visit the gym for phys ed, have weekly library visits, attend music class regularly, and celebrate the holidays with the entire school. They develop a really beautiful sense of family with the older kids through interactions like reading buddies. It is heart-warming to see 8th graders stopping by the 4-year-old classroom just to give hugs. Each of my 3 children has been prepared for and excited about kindergarten after Schechter’s early childhood program.
Rebecca O'Neill March 22, 2012 at 06:33 PM
First Church Nursery School is wonderful. Our family has been a part of the FCNS family for almost 4 years. We have experienced every level of their program from the infants and toddlers through their excellent pre-kindergarten program. We have never doubted that our children have been receiving the best care and early education. The staff is amazing and there is very little turn over in staff, which says a lot. They are nurturing and truly treat each child as an individual. They go above and beyond. Our family loves being a part of this community. The pre-k program was an absolute gift for our son who was not quite ready for kindergarten. I would HIGHLY recommend First Church Nursery School.
HW March 22, 2012 at 08:01 PM
The Preschool of West Hartford has been amazing experience for us. The staff and facilities offer so much for our children, it is truly amazing. The teachers honestly care for kids as if they were their own and have taught my son so many new things, it's wonderful!
Keith Griffin March 22, 2012 at 08:36 PM
My vote is for Knight Hall. It has a caring faculty that has done an excellent job with my daughter. It's the right combination of professionalism and fun.
Susan Schoenberger (Editor) March 22, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Thanks for you wonderful and descriptive nominations! Check back on Saturday for our top Readers' Choices.

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