Reader’s Choice Pre-School Winner is ….

Here's our second contest in our new "Readers' Choice" series. Poll votes, reviews and comments below this piece all factored into our selection, which was announced Friday. Click "Keep me posted" for an email update on future polls.

Update: March 11, 2012

After tallying the votes and comments on Benicia Patch and reader reviews we have a top choice.

Readers shared their views of the many pre-school programs available in Benicia.  Hopefully this will help parents make informed decisions about which program is best suited for their children.

The pre-school program run by the Benicia Unified School District got he highest number of votes with 16.  One reader said this about the program: I love benicia unified school district! First day of preschool, my lil one was on a field trip to the science academy in San Francisco with her class! which was so amazing for a 3year old.

March 5, 2012

Do you remember your first day at pre-school?  Chances are you don’t but your parents do.  If you are a parent you probably remember the first day you sent your children to pre-school.

If you could do it again, would you choose the same pre-school for your kids?

Benicia is a city that identifies as the town with Solano County’s best schools.  With good schools come generally lower crime rates and generally higher property values and good schooling starts with good pre-schools.

Benicia families are fortunate to have numerous choices when it comes to preschools.  The city boasts seven pre-school programs at 10 locations throughout the city.  has pre-school programs at each elementary school site, , , and

Other preschools include , , , , and .

Click on the links above and rate the business on its Patch Place listing. You can even leave a review.

If there is another local pre-school that we missed, start a write-in a campaign in the comments section below. In the event of a tie, we will break it based on the comments, so please explain your choice.

(Because our poll is not scientific, it is not the sole consideration in choosing a winner. The winner will be determined by the Patch editor, based on poll results, comments and reviews on Patch Places. Please vote only once per survey, per Patch.)

The poll closes at 9 a.m. Friday.  Come back later that afternoon for the results.

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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com

Linda Y. March 05, 2012 at 02:14 PM
My son went to Tender Hearts. While the teachers seem well meaning enough, it was quite chaotic. When he got to Kindergarten I realized he knew almost nothing compared to the children who had gone to Happy Hearts and other pre-schools. All of those children seemed to be able to read and he had not been taught any reading at all that I could see.
lablimo March 05, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I have been extremely happy with Happy Hearts. I have two boys. One now in kindergarten and doing well and one in his first of two years at Happy Hearts. The teachers are really caring and considerate to both the students and the parents. I would highly recommend Happy Hearts for your child.
BJ Coleman March 05, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Both of my children went to Tenderhearts. I am so glad I put my children there. They both loved the teachers and got their first experience of a structured day. I live that they have animals and paints and have "mud day". They experience all of the gooey things that kids should be doing at that age. Preschool is to prep for kindergarten, but a 2-4 year old should be playing and learning social skills. I didn't want to put too much academic pressure on the so early. They both are doing great in school and at the top of their classes. I love that Tenderhearts allows them to be children. It was perfect for my kids!
Linda Y. March 05, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I agree that kids should be having fun and unstructured play. I still remember, however, my dismay upon discovering that my son was academically VERY far behind all of the children who had gone to other local preschools.
Riley Willerson March 05, 2012 at 03:28 PM
So why is the patch requesting that the citizens of Benicia pit one school against another? This poll will only point fingers at one another, which will result in a negative view of the school in question, with the potential of adversely affecting a local business. How about just giving thanks to the variety of preschools in Benicia .
Robert Livesay March 05, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Good comment Riley. It is much different than rating the best hamburger in town.
BJ Coleman March 05, 2012 at 05:59 PM
" Linda, I wasn't commenting on your comment. I was just stating that I really loved tender hearts. I would help them out today of they needed a driver on a field trip or help in the class. I believe in their mission. I'm just saying that my kids were not behind in kindergarten and I'm glad they went there. Thank you to tender hearts for being the preschool that "I" wanted them to be, and for what my kids needed. ( my son had bad separation anxiety, he needed they social skills. They were WONDERFUL with him).
"The Black Panther of Poetry" March 05, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Yep!!! I agree with Riley Willerson about the ultimate message of this poll!!! All pre-schools in Benicia should be supported with positive energy and given a little "kinder care"!!!
ayana March 05, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I love benicia unified school district! First day of preschool, my lil one was on a field trip to the science academy in san francisco with her class! which was so amazing for a 3year old. They offer alot the staff at robert semple loves these kids are so patient, kind and responsive to parents!! I love it and it costs alot less than some private preschools.
JB Davis (Editor) March 05, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Thank you for the comment Riley. The idea wasn’t to pit one pre-school against another but rather to give readers a chance to tell other readers what they like about particular pre-schools. The hope is that the reviews will give parents some insights so they can make a more informed decision about where to send their kids. I don’t consider Patch to be an authority on pre-schools. The more feedback readers and pre-school operators give, the more informed the public will be about the various schools. It’s all part of the dinner table conversation we try to have here.
JB Davis (Editor) March 05, 2012 at 10:39 PM
This just in from an interested parent: Joe Henderson Preschool is accepting applications for preschool registration for 2012/2013. Call Child Development Programs 747-8367 for more information.
David Johnston March 05, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Selecting the right pre-school is more about how you feel about the program and how your child fits into the program. Our first went to A Garden of Children, and she had a great experience there. Our second started out at Kinder Care (on Rose) but after 2 weeks, she hated it. It was too noisy and the kids were grouped together towards the end of the day so staff could start clean-up duties. We ended up moving her to St. Doms, even though we’re not Catholic – and she blossomed there. Lesson learned, if your child is not doing well in a certain pre-school environment, find another one that they will thrive in.
Susana Komoda March 06, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Noah's Ark has provided a wondeful balance between free play, messy art, academics, and laying a sweet christian foundation that is just right. My kids were prepared for school and full of joy and love.
Jenifer Stouffer March 06, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I love that my child gets dirty too - and she is learning a ton! She has been so happy since I switched her over to Tender Hearts. :)
Jenifer Stouffer March 06, 2012 at 11:47 PM
We started my daughter at Kindercare and I took her out after about 8 months. My daughter cried and every time I went to pick her it was absolutely chaotic. They switched the teachers around so often in there, it was really hard for me to keep track of who my daughter's teacher was, let alone a 2 year old. She was also starting to show lots of discipline issues. I started her at Tender Hearts and I wish I would have started her there sooner! The teachers are amazing and my daughter has been learning so much! They let kids get dirty, use their imaginations, and problem solving skills. I love that the kids have "jobs" and are expected to help. They need to use "please" and "thank you". They are AWESOME!!! I can't say enough how much I love them! :)
T. Gunter March 07, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Tender Hearts all the way!
Liz Edwards March 07, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I've had two children go through Noah's Ark preschool and I JUST signed up my 3rd today. There's a perfect balance of unstructured/structed play, lots of fun, field trips and VERY kind and loving teachers. I appreciated the academic prep in the 2nd year. I also love that they really work on basic character building ( kindness, helping etc..). And best of all, as Susana said, there is a solid Christian foundation which is evident in all that they do. We love Noah's Ark!!!!
JB Davis (Editor) March 07, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Another comment from a reader: "You forgot to add Tiny Tots preschool run by Parks and Rec department for the City of Benicia. That's my choice. Love that preschool!" Thank you for pointing out Tiny Tots and my apologies to the Parks and Rec crew!
Trisha DeCosta March 09, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Stepping Stones is not on your list. This is my favorite, I keep going back. I took my son 15 years ago, went with my friend who had twins 9 years ago and now I take my niece. Sign up through BUSD.


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