[UPDATED] POLL: What's the Best Pre-School/Day Care in Newton?

The second in our series of "Best of Patch Readers' Choice" contests. Vote in the poll, defend your choice in the comments, and come back Friday at noon to find out the winner.

Updated 3/6: Temple Shalom Nursery School, The Children's Cooperative Nursery School and Happy Child Day Care have been added to our poll. Thank you for the comments and support, keep them coming!

3/5 1:45 p.m. Due to the high number of comments, Brookline Infant Toddler Center has also been added to the poll.

11 a.m. Due to the high number of comments, we have added Newton-Wellesley Hospital's Children's Corner to the poll.

Last week we started our series of week-long "Best of Patch Readers' Choice" contests. The first category was "Best Sandwich" and . 

This week the category is: Best Pre-School/Day Care.

Here's how it works. Vote in the poll below. Add comments supporting your decision and influencing other Newton residents to see that you're right, after all.

The poll closes at 9 a.m. Friday. Because this poll isn't scientific, it isn't the sole consideration in choosing a winner. The winner will be determined by the Patch editor (that's me, ), based on poll results, comments on this story and reviews on Patch Places. Please vote only once per survey.

Editor's note: Due to the high number of pre-schools and day cares in Newton, we put all of them into a random generator that selected 15 schools to start. If you feel a different pre-school/day care should be on this list, tell us in the comments below. If enough people comment for a particular school, we will add it! EMAIL SUBMISSIONS DO NOT COUNT.

And now, the nominees, along with links to their Patch Places pages:

The winner gets bragging rights and a framed certificate from Patch. Let the voting and commenting begin!

Kimberly March 07, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I love Riverside! As a parent it is so comforting knowing that my son is well taken care of everyday. The ratios are amazing, the teachers are all educated with degrees, and the Director is very helpful and supportive. We love everyone there like they are our extended family.
john March 07, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Our son attends Riverside Children's Center and he is very happy there. He attends Monday through Friday. He was in the nursery and now the rainbow room. We love the teachers. The teachers are very educated and knowledgeable, as well as caring and nurturing! The ratios are wonderful and our son is able to get a lot of love throughout the day. There is no other place we would rather be.
Mary N. March 08, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Walnut Park is an exceptional school. Gifted teachers and administrators instill in the children a love of learning, of self, and of each other. Children experience the wonders and joy of reading, math, geography, and science, and develop a sense of confidence, independence, and conflict resolution through the Montessori method that is truly wondrous to see in children so young. Walnut Park is a diverse and special community of children, families, and teachers and a beautiful place for children to grow and blossom.
Phil March 08, 2012 at 12:53 PM
"Riverside Children's Center is an outstanding program! We joined the center 11 years ago when our oldest child was a toddler. Our oldest two children are now RCC alums and our two younger children currently attend. Since the beginning Riverside has consistently provided our children with exceptional care and a high quality education. Many of the teachers have been at Riverside for over 20 years and all of the teachers are superb. The center values children, families, and teachers. We highly recommend Riverside and couldn't imagine sending our children to any other center
Jan Gilpin March 08, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Although I applaud your efforts to raise awareness about quality early education programs in Newton, and personally send an enthusiastic vote for the Newton School for Children, a terrific, diverse, high quality program with a wonderful staff, where my child has grown and thrived, I object to the concept of there being one "best" program in Newton. One program cannot serve all children in Newton, and one would hope that there are enough terrific programs in the city to serve all families looking for a great preschool. I don't think I need to point out the obvious flaws in this "poll" where parents who hear about it vote for the programs where their children attend, and others who don't come across this poll will not vote, and some schools will be underrepresented. It would be better to have a more independent assessment of schools to see if they meet clear benchmarks of a high quality program, such as NAEYC accreditation, well-trained staff, low staff turnover, age-appropriate curriculum and facilities, AND parent satisfaction. Families do not visit preschools like they visit restaurants. I doubt many have experienced more than one or two personally and it is misleading to have these types of polls. Note, location and availability are also important factors, my older children, now 11 and 13, attended the Barn at Lasell College, which was also a great program, but by the time we had our third child we had moved farther away, and NSFC has a slot open before the Barn did.
Paul Giragos March 08, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Parent helping at Burr Cooperative has helped me understand who my children are with their peers, a tremendous insight for me as a father. it has also allowed them to get to know other parents and build a sense of community, which I think is so important for a good educational experience.
Igor March 09, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Happy Child Pre-school is an excellent school. Our first born son started at Happy Child 11 years ago and our youngest son is finishing his last year here. Happy Child provided our boys with a strong curriculum, a loving environment and a fun place to lean and grow. We highly recommend this school, please add them to your list.
CFL March 09, 2012 at 12:58 AM
My daughters attended Walnut Park Montessori school and we all cried when our experience there ended. The teachers love what they do and that love of learning is contagious. The children have a safe environment where they can explore subjects at their own pace and depth, with gentle guidance from the teachers. Both of my girls took away a joy of doing "work", and now in their spare time frequently recreate their favorite "works" at home. Over the course of our years there the school really felt like family, and when we go back to visit we feel like we are coming home again. Such a joyful school, with bright and stunning facilities as well.
Jack March 09, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Riverside children's center rocks Great teachers, wonderful community of families and superb leadership!
-G March 09, 2012 at 03:51 AM
BITC is such a loving, caring, warm place where it truly feels like family! Awesome teachers and administrators! We LOVE LOVE BITC
Jackie March 09, 2012 at 03:57 AM
I want to echo the accolades for BITC. We joined the family when our son was 12 weeks old, and over the past 2 and a half years, have remarked to anyone who will listen about what an exceptional place it is. Lesley and Laura set the tone for the warmest, most authentic setting you can imagine. Our teachers have been gifts and many will (we hope) be part of our lives for years to come. The blend of nurturing and exploratory learning is amazing and fosters the growth of so many self-assured little ones. Truly, our son's happiness and confidence as a person owes so much credit to BITC- truly the best childcare environment one could hope for.
Suzanne March 09, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Riverside Children's Center is the best! The teachers are fabulous. They've been a part of our lives for over 10 years. All of my children have loved their time there.
HF March 09, 2012 at 05:04 AM
We had a *very* bad experience with Golden Days Children center. Only after couple of months we found the director self-centered and out of touch. We decided to move our 2year old son to BITC. Our experience could not have been any better!. We now have our daughter in BITC and our son graduated 2 years ago.The directors at BITC and the staff are the best. You can be assured that your kids gets the most love and care in a stable environment at all times.
annaleelopez March 09, 2012 at 05:26 AM
We have THE MOST AWESOME parents!!!
OS March 09, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I love Btci❤❤❤ When I was looking for a place for my third son I thought I saw it all.... I was so surprised to find BITC! I felt right at home. The first thing I noticed was the kids smiles, they were so happy & engaged. Then, I started walking at the school & I saw all the beautiful art work everywhere. Talking with some of the teachers & admission I knew right away this is the place for my baby! & I wasn't wrong! He loves it! I love it! We are blessed!
greg March 09, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I would like to echo Jan Gilpin's comment, that the underlying concept that a poll of parents, who have limited exposure to Daycare/preschool programs other than their own, is essentially flawed. There are likely many top-notch programs in Newton, serving many families well -- as all the glowing previous emails attest. A more useful guide for parents considering where to send their toddler would be a more objective listing of how each program rates on a series of indicators, such as: teacher-student ratios, length of staff tenure/rate of staff turnover, NAYEC accreditation, cost, etc. All of that said, I do want to sing the praises of Riverside Children's Center in Waban. Not only is the program fully NAYEC accredited, but it is notable for extremely favorable staff-student ratios (1:3 in ages 1-3, 1:5 for ages 4-5), long teacher tenure (avg ~10 YRS), AND HIGH PARENT SATISFACTION. IT'S DIRECTOR AND STAFF GO OUT OF THEIR WAY TO ADDRESS EACH CHILD AND FAMILY'S PARTICULAR NEEDS. THERE IS A SPECIAL COMMUNITY FEEL AMONG THE STUDENTS, FAMILIES, AND TEACHERS. I ENCOURAGE THE NEWTON PATCH AND OTHERS INTERESTED TO COME FOR A VISIT! (AND ALSO COME TO OUR ANNUAL FUNDRAISING AUCTION THIS SATURDAY NIGHT FROM 7-9 PM!)
Dennis March 09, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Absolutely love BITC! Caring teachers, great kids. terrific playgrounds. After 10 years of knowing BOTC---I would know!
Dennis March 09, 2012 at 12:58 PM
HM March 09, 2012 at 01:24 PM
BITC has two fantastic directors, quality teachers who do tons of projects, teaching, field trips, etc. my kids won't leave if I pick them up early! My kids love the lunch food (more than home meals!). Fantastic program.
Juliet March 09, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Couldn't agree more with all the wonderful things said about BITC!
Susan March 09, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I was very happy to see Riverside on this list! My two boys "graduated" from Riverside and we couldn't have been happier with our experience. Our children LOVED going to school each day and were disappointed when it was a "home day"! The center has been NAEYC accredited for years and, as an involved parent, I saw first hand how committed the program staff is to excellence. Riverside is governed by a board that consists of parents and staff members...everyone has a voice! Without a doubt, Riverside is one of the very BEST programs in Newton!
Peggy Suarez March 09, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Bitc is a fantastic, loving, warm family oriented child care that I absolutely love. Coming from a cooperate center that was supposedly all about the family, this center is what it says. Teacher ratios that are above par and they are all lead teachers. Fin activities for families and teachers alike and all the care that it takes to make little ones happy. My vote is for the brookline infant toddler center.
Anupa March 09, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Riverside rocks! What other center has as many dads waxing poetic? I often meet friends of my eldest (13) whose parents get teary when I mention that our youngest is at Riverside. They ask about the teachers, and very fondly recall having the same wonderful people in their lives a decade ago. We are very lucky!
Mariah March 09, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Riverside Children's Center in Waban is the best! Our two sons have attended Riverside and are wonderfully cared for. We have considered moving out of the area in the past to find less expensive housing, but we could not bring ourselves to move away from RCC. Thank you Riverside!
ella fleming March 09, 2012 at 02:38 PM
We love children's corner at newton wellesley hospital. I had 2 girls there (one now in kindergarten the other still has 2 more years) and we couldn't be happier. convenient hours and great staff! the girls couldn't be happier!
Julie J. March 09, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I would like to sing the praises of Burr Cooperative Nursery School...a wonderful, close knit school and community that shaped our early education experience in such a positive way. Our two daughters each attended the program for two years from 2008-2011. During that time, the teachers and director Barb Day did a phenomenal job helping to expertly guide me as well as my girls through the ups and downs of the preschool years. I would often call upon the teachers for advice in dealing with and recognizing age-appropriate behaviors and milestones. The mixed-age classroom was a blessing. The girls had both the opportunity to gain confidence as leaders and mentors to the younger children, and also benefitted greatly when they themselves were new and needed some extra TLC from the older kids. Burr Coop was (and is - we are still involved with the community even though we are alums) a unique and extremely special place!!
Melanie Graham (Editor) March 09, 2012 at 03:17 PM
FYI - The Readers' Choice poll closed at 9 a.m., as mentioned in the story. Thank you all for the fantastic comments you provided! You are doing a great service to your Newton neighbors letting them know about some of the fantastic pre-schools and day cares we have in this city.
Erin O'Donnell March 09, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Brookline Infant Toddler Center (BITC)! It is a warm, loving environment that encourages growth and development. Strong leadership and teachers that have been there for 10+ years make for a truly special day care. I am totally comfortable leaving my baby boy there and he LOVES it. Whenever we run into a developmental stumbling block (like stubbornly refusing finger foods for 2 weeks), his teachers are on top of it and have already created a plan that is thoughtful, fun, and well-informed by their continuing education on child development. Oh yeah, did I mention their giant playground? Fun!
Katie Donovan October 08, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Please add Auburndale Community Nursery School - we have 2 locations (Newtonville and Auburndale) that inludes over 100 Newton families! It's a great school!
ATN December 17, 2012 at 03:49 AM
We had the same experience at Golden Days children center and withdrew our application after a few days of their adjustment period. I agree with you, and I didn't think the teachers were that good, the place looked sloppy too. We are now back to starting the search again.... I was so frustrated with the director that I had to take the boys out, we were there for just 3 days for 2 hrs each when I noticed her behavior and after taking the check from my folder, I realized there's something wrong


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