Call it choosing a college for toddlers—picking a preschool is no easier than choosing a college for your teen—except that you probably have to travel less. How far is the school from me? Does it lead to a good kindergarten? Are diapers acceptable? Should my child be doing more classroom learning or is it time to play and socialize? How’s the food? Is there food? What is the cost? Are the teachers cool? Will my child like it? We’ve got a place for you to start looking at the range of schools in Santa Cruz, and the prognosis is good. There is a huge variety of preschools here, from ones that have kids playing out in the woods and farmland to those that have them ready to read. We’ve got schools offering mindfulness, creativity and academics. Take a look through the guide and start heading to their open houses to get a feel for which you prefer.
Coast Redwoods Montessori
255B Mt. Hermon Rd., Scotts Valley
Coast Redwoods Montessori provides infant, toddler and preschool learning environments utilizing Montessori principles of education. Our curriculum includes language, math, science, culture, geography, courtesy, practical life, art and music. Our convenient location includes a 7000 square foot yard with a park quality climbing structure and garden. We offer programs for children 6 months through 6 years old.
Little Acorns Montessori
1215 Chanticleer Ave., Santa Cruz
Little Acorns Montessori provides a warm and caring environment, encouraging children to develop self-confidence and social and academic skills. We have a beautiful corner lot in Live Oak. Our Montessori trained teachers provide a unique, individualized learning program for children 6 months through 6 years old.
Mount Madonna School
491 Summit Rd, Mount Madonna
Our Montessori-based program provides a loving, safe, and stimulating learning environment where children, three to six years old, are encouraged to develop at their own pace. We strive to nurture a child’s innate sense of trust, goodness, and wonder. At Mount Madonna School, we focus on developing kindness and respect towards ourselves and others. We offer a developmentally appropriate indoor environment fostering curiosity, confidence, and creativity in all aspects of the learning process. This, combined with our 375-acre outdoor classroom, invites, and empowers children to fully engage in their education. By including abundant time for imaginative free play, children are inspired in all areas of their development.
Natural Bridges Children’s Center
255 Swift St, Santa Cruz
Natural Bridges Children’s Center is a play & inquiry based preschool where lengthy exploration is honored and where children and families are provided the gift of learning, growing, & persisting together. Our team of degreed and qualified early childhood educators use neuroscience to guide & teach our youngest of learners. NBCC leads the charge for sustainable education, social-justice curriculum, and in raising students’ awareness & compassion for others and the environment. We are proud to serve Santa Cruz families, providing a safe & loving campus that values Inspiring Children, Creating Community, and Building Bridges. Call us today at 831.429.NBCC to schedule your tour!
Pacific Preschool at Pacific Elementary School
50 Ocean St, Davenport
Pacific Preschool is a child- and family-centered program for ages 3-5. We offer a rich, hands-on learning environment focusing on outdoor activities: gardening, creative play, social development, practical life skills, art, climbing wall, pre-K skills, etc. Breakfast and lunch daily. Award-winning food program features nutritious, local, organic food. 8:30-12:30; extended care until 2:30. Flexible 3-, 4-, or 5-day schedules. Highly experienced staff and bilingual aides. FREE tuition for income-qualified families. Preschoolers have priority for enrollment in Pacific Elementary School kindergarten. Start your child at a small public school with quality programs and a close, diverse community from around the county.
Quail Hollow Montessori
187 Laurel Dr., Felton
Voted “Best preschool in San Lorenzo Valley”, Quail Hollow Montessori offers an excellent, individualized learning experience for your child with a solid foundation in both academic and social skills in a beautiful, neighborhood setting. Our goal is to help children blossom into self-confident, compassionate, inquisitive, and respectful individuals with a life-long love of learning.
Rocking Horse Ranch Preschool
4134 Fairway Dr, Soquel
Rocking Horse Ranch is a play-based preschool located on 3 beautiful acres in sunny Soquel. We offer morning, afternoon, and full day sessions. Our outdoor space offers lots of room to explore, including our gardens and many different kinds of animals. Come visit us!
Tara Redwood School
5810 Prescott Road, CA. Soquel
Tara Redwood School offers children a strong academic foundation, rich in the sciences, emotional intelligence, and the arts. Our global curriculum is a blend of Montessori and Creating Compassionate Cultures (CCC), a framework known as the 7 Steps to Knowledge, Strength and Compassion developed at the school for more than 30 years. The CCC pedagogy provides a unique approach that nurtures the children’s innate positive qualities through critical thinking and contemplative practices, empowering them to have a positive impact on the world through their thoughts and actions. Our integrated approach to learning has a strong focus on environmental studies and exploration of the natural world. Our classrooms extend into the outdoors and our playground is 108 acres of redwood forest and creeks in Soquel. Young Children program ages 20 months to 3 years, Preschool ages 3-5 years.
7545 Soquel Dr, Aptos
Dr. Jackson and her staff love children and are specially trained to put them at ease. We teach your children the proper way to take care of their teeth and, just as important, they learn that going to the dentist can be fun. We provide comprehensive dentistry in a caring environment for children of all ages. We are preventive-dentistry oriented and very thorough in our evaluations and consultations. We have a pediatric anesthesiologist on our premises and are able to treat special, challenging children safely and comfortably under a general anesthesia. We have a 24-hour emergency service available for all of our patients.
Nannette Benedict DDS & Associates
5015 Scotts Valley Drive
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
Dignity Health Medical Group
Visit us at dhmf.org/Dominican
Capitola (Santa Cruz) Pediatrics:
(831) 476-3000Aptos Pediatrics: (831) 612-6264
For many, health care has been on hold—but it’s time to get back to caring for yourself and your children. Dignity Health Medical Group wants to make it safe and easy. Whether you choose our video visit option or an in-person visit at our clinic with increased safety protocols, you’ll get medical expertise and personal attention—safely and comfortably. Our primary care teams and pediatricians focus on delivering comprehensive care for infants, children, and adolescents. Also important for parents, our Urgent Care Center is open seven days a week from 8am-8pm. It’s located on 41st Avenue in Capitola (next to our Pediatrics Care Center).
Plaza Lane Optometry
Jennifer Buell, OD
Brittany Heyano, OD
1537 Pacific Ave, Suite 100, Santa Cruz
Preschoolers depend on their vision to learn tasks that will prepare them for school. Make sure your little one has the vision and eye teaming skills they need to succeed! A comprehensive eye exam with a Doctor of Optometry is recommended by the age of 1 even if there are no obvious concerns. It is also important to understand that vision screenings, such as the ones that take place during school and your pediatrician’s office, can miss as many as 60% of children with vision problems. Give your child the best chance by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Buell or Dr. Heyano today!
Santa Cruz County Oral Health Program
The Santa Cruz County Oral Health Program in collaboration with local community partners invite you to view our website focusing on the importance of having your child see a dentist when they receive their first tooth or when they have their first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association agree: children should see a dentist by the time they get their first tooth or celebrate their first birthday. Healthy baby teeth lead to healthy adult teeth, and a healthy smile helps kids feel good so they can focus in school, eat healthy foods, and feel confident.
Adventure Sports Swim
303 Potrero Street #15, Santa Cruz
For the past 35 years, our instructors have strived to develop a special relationship with each child, encouraging them to stretch their limits as their abilities grow. Our swim program seeks to provide high quality and individual accomplishment in each lesson. In the end, this means technique, safety, and smiles for everyone.
Looking for activities to do with your kids at home? Have a kid that always wants to help in the kitchen or curl up on your lap to hear a good book? Love getting packages? The Bookakery has just the thing: Bookakery Boxes, a monthly subscription box for kids aimed towards fostering a love of reading and baking. Each Bookakery Box comes with a hardback picture book, kid-friendly recipe card, baking item and activity, all based around a theme of the month. Order yours today! Use code GUISE10 for 10% off any subscription length (renews at standard rate). Expires 12/31/2021
First 5 Santa Cruz County
First 5 Santa Cruz County promotes the healthy development of children from birth to age 5. Parents and caregivers of newborns can contact First 5 to receive a free “Kit for New Parents” with parenting videos, children’s books, information on caring for babies and local resources. First 5 also offers parenting support through the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, a world-renowned program that strengthens families by building positive relationships. To find Triple P classes or quick tips, visit triplep.first5scc.org or www.facebook.com/triplepscc
Jim Booth Swim School
Harvey West pool in Santa Cruz and Watsonville
Be a water wonder! From our Little Otters swim class for parents and their babies to Aquaphobics, our adult beginner class, the whole family splashes together at Jim Booth swim school. Little Otters is a gentle introduction to our 94-degree pools that will make you confident that you are guiding your infant to a happy water experience. Our group lessons emphasize quality swimming in an exciting class taught by our caring, well-qualified teachers. The whole family can swim at Jim Booth Swim School!
3910 Portola Drive, Suite 2, Santa Cruz
June Bug’s Gym is a place where your child can experience a fun-filled adventure in movement. We have a caring, respectful, and supportive staff that encourages every child in their growth of large motor skills and gymnastics along with social, emotional and cognitive development. Our goals for our students are to help them feel control and empowerment in their bodies, to build self-esteem through success, to open up imaginations, and to feel confidence and joy in their exploration of movement.
Music Together, Canta y Baila Conmigo, & Rhythm Kids w/MusicalMe, Inc.
Locations throughout Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County
Our online & outside classes offer the best in Early Childhood Music Learning for ages Birth to 8 years. Music Together®: A music program for children birth to age 6—and the grownups who love them, enhancing children’s learning in multiple domains (mentally, physically, socially, etc.), increasing family engagement and, adding richly to each family’s “toolbox”. Siblings are welcome, especially infants who may attend free if they are 8 months or under. Canta y Baila ConmigoTM : A unique curriculum for young children (ages Birth to 6 years) with dual, complementary goals of music education and language immersion. Designed for beginners and native speakers alike, CyBC creates a playful, interactive atmosphere where language learning is integrated naturally and organically into the musical experience. Rhythm Kids®: A drumming, music, and movement, program for children ages 4–8 years. Classes naturally support children’s rhythm development and help them prepare for formal music lessons. Contact us today to try a free class and bring the joy of music into your family’s life.
Santa Cruz Gymnastics Center
2750 B Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Gymnastics
We at Santa Cruz Gymnastics Center understand how important physical movement is in developing a healthy brain in children. Healthy brain development leads to proficiency in learning and overall confidence to lead a successful life. Our gymnastics instructors take pride in offering gymnastics training packed with a lot of fun in every class! Each lesson offers a wide range of sensory integration activities through the usage of our gymnastics equipment on the floor, bars, balance beam, vault and trampolines. We offer a range of classes from preschool to competitive teams. Check our website to see what is available for your child today.