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POLL: Where is the Best Preschool/Day Care in Acton?

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.

Last week we started our series of week-long "Best of Patch Readers' Choice" contests. The first category was "Best Breakfast in Acton" and was voted best breakfast spot.

This week the category is: Best Preschool/Day Care.

Here's how it works. Vote in the poll below. Add comments supporting your decision and influencing other Acton 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, Patrick Clark), based on poll results, comments on this story and reviews on Patch Places. Please vote only once per survey.

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!

And check out similar polls in the nearby towns of Concord, , and Wayland

[Editor's note: We started off calling the contest "Best of Acton" and have changed it to "Best of Patch Readers' Choice." It's the same contest, just with a name that's more descriptive.]

Michelle McMahon March 05, 2012 at 10:23 PM
A thought to add: ACS offers FLEXIBILTY! Which for me and many other parents is key. With the type of work I do, typical preschool schedules that require children to attend on particular days or at set times, didn't work for me. With ACS, we got the flexibility of choosing the days that worked best for us and the times (just preschool and optional extended hours) that we needed.
Beth Falk March 05, 2012 at 10:26 PM
There certainly won't be a single "right" school for every family, but the Acton Barn was and always will be a very special place for me and my kids. My older daughter had some developmental issues that required patience and special attention, and the teachers at the Barn worked tirelessly with us to help her. On top of the wonderful experience the Barn offered our kids, it helped my husband and me to find a community of like-minded parents and to develop some longstanding friendships. Those kinds of family connections create a safe and loving place for young children, which means a wonderful introduction to school. I think the Barn got all of us off to a great start.
Rebecca Kamieniecki March 05, 2012 at 10:31 PM
The Acton Coop is a great place. Our family has been there for several years now- and it is hard to put into words how strong the Coop community is. My oldest is in 2nd grade and she has maintained many of her "Coop friends" even though none of them have been in her class for the past two years- and the same can be said for me! Because parents volunteer in the classroom they get to know every child in the class- and the teachers. This makes the atmosphere on the playground incredibly safe and friendly- Literally every kid knows every adult. (And all the adults know each other as well.) I have been very happy with all aspects of the classroom- including art, music and movement classes, and project-based learning (but since I have only ever been at the Coop I cannot fairly compare to other preschools). All this and the price is unbeatable too!
Danielle Fryer March 06, 2012 at 01:01 AM
That's odd, I had my daughter there for a short time and was really dissapointed, she is now in Learn and Play and is loving it there, she is learning so much.
Danielle Fryer March 06, 2012 at 01:04 AM
They are the lovely red school nearly opposite K mart between Julie's place and K Mart on the Main Road, wonderful school, my daughter goes there and it is fantastic. She was in the Acton Barn and I was very unhappy with it so after looking at several other schools I am pleased to say Learn and Play is perfect for her. The teachers are highly trained most with a minimum of a batchelors degree, superb school.
Michelle Morey Nelken March 06, 2012 at 01:24 AM
The Acton Children's School offers a flexible day care like schedule with a family feel. We started with the school when our boys were 2 1/2 and 4 yrs old. The school was terrific in meeting our needs and listening to our expectations. In the toddler room, Aparna offered a wonderfully caring and nurturing environment full of love and security. The teachers are calm and positive and offer proper choices for the children to think independently and appropriately. Our youngest progressed into Dawn's fun and nuturing group and is now in Dianne's transitional kindergarten class and is thriving much like his older brother did. The flexibility of the schedule brought us to ACS but the family vibe of the school made us stay.
Danielle Fryer March 06, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Glad it has been added, it is a wonderful school ,y daughter loves it, superb teaching.
Amy Itzkovitz March 06, 2012 at 01:42 AM
We are very happy with Learn and Play, which offers an environment where my son feels secure and stimulated. It is small enough and structured enough that he doesn't feel overwhelmed, but at the same time his learning has really blossomed since being there. I would highly recommend this preschool.
Beatrice Chrystall March 06, 2012 at 02:25 AM
You could not find more for your child than is offered by ITC, the Infant Toddler Children's Center. I sincerely cannot imagine any way in which it could be improved. The teachers are all deeply committed to stimulating the children to the fullest extent possible, expanding their mental horizons and encouraging them to explore every aspect of our world. They expose them regularly and sophisticatedly to the natural world, taking them out weekly into the woods for "Science and Nature", where they learn to think and notice and wonder and ask questions. They are challenged and stimulated in so many creative and wonderful ways. I am constantly amazed by how thoughtful and sophisticated in their thinking the teachers are. They are above all unfailingly calm, kind and loving, and fun! When anything happens outside school hours, my children say "Oh I must tell [the teachers] about that", they are so much part of their thinking. The teachers have always been a great support to us as parents, noticing things about our children and thinking through with us about how to handle things the best way for the children. They are also very sensitive and responsible about laying the foundations of respect and open-mindedness that our children will need in going out into our complicated world. Every day I am thankful that my children have been able to go there and have their eyes and minds opened to so much. It is an amazing resource, and the best possible start in life for a child.
That Guy March 06, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Am I the only one that thinks this survey is flawed? Most people have probably only used one or possibly two centers in town, so the vote essentially becomes an attendance count. Of course schools with higher enrollment numbers are going to get more votes. At a minimum, you should be computing a weighted average - have people rate the centers they've used, then average them out. The way you're conducting this seems a bit arbitrary...
Danielle Fryer March 06, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Very valid point.... I have taken my daughter to 3 places, The Acton Barn School which I was very dissapointed in, the Jewish Community Center Early Learning which is outstanding but did not have a place, and Learn and Play where my daughter is now. I agree, Acton Barn have large classes and lots of parents hence why they probably have so many boted, Learn and Play is amazing but is small like the Jewis Community Center..
Gwen Gulick March 06, 2012 at 11:45 AM
We've had our daughter at ITC for 2 years, and I have been so impressed with the experience and knowledge the teachers throughout the school have and the effort those running the school make to keep the experience as wonderful as it can be. I also like the fact that each class has it's own play yard so they can be outside a lot if they want to be, the willingness of the teachers to get into messy projects with the kids, all with an eye on helping them learn. They also have a once a week nature program with preschool up where they explore in the woods and learn about animals -- the kids learn so much and love it. They also do really wonderful parent education sessions and community building events at the school, which gives us the opportunity to meet other parents in the same boat.
Sharon Metzger March 06, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Agreed. It's not like a restaurant where any number of people could have attended all of the candidates at any time.
Danielle Fryer March 06, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Hello, I had my 4 year old in one of the schools that ironically seems to be ranking quite high at the moment, I took her out of the school as I was very unhappy with it and the lack of teaching that was going on. I looked at many schools after that severel of them are above as well. She is now thriving in Learn and Play which is an excellent school. I have been in child care myself before I had kids, 20 years of nursing and nannying, teaching little ones etc and Learn and Play is a wonderful school. Very good value for money, in fact more reasonable than some of the others and gives your child so much more. Flexible hours for working parents, 1/2 days, early morning care, just perfect in every possible way..
Patrick Clark (Editor) March 06, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Are you a business owner or manager? Claim your business listing on Acton Patch in Patch Places.
Jenn March 06, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Our family loves Nasoba Valley Children's Center. It is a very small, warm and caring environment.  Children receive wonderful instruction and nuturing from the very experienced teachers and director. Once you are there, you feel like part of a family.
Sarah Corbett March 06, 2012 at 03:44 PM
We've had a wonderful experience at The Acton Children's School. Both of my boys started in the toddler room and processed to the preschool room (the younger, who's nearly 4, is currently still there)--and I can't really think of a time when either of them wasn't excited to go to school. I think that's really saying something for kids that age (and is a testament to the environment that the caring teachers there create). And I echo what Michelle and Michelle say above: you can't beat the family feel nor the flexibility (Pat has "saved" me more than once when I've had a last-minute work meeting and needed to extend the boys' schedule by an hour or two) at ACS! Highly recommend.
Jan Bramhall March 06, 2012 at 04:12 PM
The Acton Barn Cooperative School has been a rich, nurturing, and diverse environment since its inception in Gail Michael's barn on Concord Road 40 years ago. The levels of enthusiasm and involvement by parents are encouraged and mirrored by the loving and dedicated teachers. The pre-school has grown in diversity and programs offered over the years, which is wondrous, since it was so wonderful when my 3 children attended so many years ago. My daughter started in 1975, and we were an active part of the school until my youngest entered kindergarten in 1982. They happily still remember their time at The Barn, and have sought similar environments for their own children in Wisconsin, Texas, and Florida. It's a wonderful place!
Terence Lobo March 06, 2012 at 05:46 PM
My son attends The Acton Childrens School and he loves it and looks forward to going to school each day. We are amazed by how much he has learnt. We appreciate and love the care and attention he gets out there. Our experience has been most positive and wonderful and we already know that the one our son goes to is the BEST school in Acton :)
Sarah Santos March 06, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Both of my sons attended the Acton Barn and we could not have been happier with it! We searched high and low, looking at preschools in 4 different towns before choosing the Barn, and we were so glad to have made the decision we did. The teaching staff is amazing, kind and incredibly nurturing, and the families within the school are equally as impressive. It is a community that we greatly miss now that my younger son is in kindergarten. I feel that the school prepared my boys very well for elementary school and also helped to grow their natural inquisitive nature which has helped them to learn and grow beyond the classroom. Beyond that, I loved being able to be a part of the classroom. I had the opportunity to meet all of the students and parents in my sons' classes and to see first hand what they were learning and doing in school. And there were also events and activities that were for parents only that helped me to build new friendships myself. Thank you, Acton Barn for making the preschool time one that our entire family enjoyed!
Jason Fitzgerald March 06, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Don't let facts get in the way of a good story.
Allison March 06, 2012 at 11:51 PM
The director and teachers at Nashoba Valley Children's center are so loving and they are wonderful teachers and care givers. They are very experienced and provide a nurturing learning environment in a bright and clean space. I have had a lot of experience with different daycares and preschools and I am so happy that I have found a place for my children to call home. As a working mother there is nothing better than the peace of mind of knowing your children are happy and well cared for.
Kelly March 07, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Does anyone know if any of these provide drop-in daycare?
Amy Kierce March 07, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Learn and Play Preschool in Acton was our first choice, and both children attended. I loved my time at Learn and Play, as much as my kids! I made friends for life and my children were very happy there. I especially loved their school plays. In all, the devoted staff is wonderful, the facility is clean and sweet and creative, and the program is outstanding. My rating: A+
Patrick Clark (Editor) March 07, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Great comments from everyone! This is fantastic exposure for all the day cares/preschools here in Acton. Click on this link to claim your business listing on Acton Patch if you are an owner or manager of one of these day cares/preschools: http://patch.com/A-qLXX
Abigail March 08, 2012 at 02:43 PM
My son, age 3.5, is at Acton Children's School and I think it may be his favorite place on Earth. Really! There is something special about the atmosphere there -- the kids have a loving place to explore and learn and just have fun. For my son, I love that the older groups have time both within their age groups and as a mixed group, too. For me, I couldn't beat the flexibility. I have a part-time job that requires two full days of care (long hours that many other preschools don't offer) and occasional extra hours (last-minute flexibility that, again, many other preschools don't offer). And don't forget the teachers, who do an amazing job every day. I had the kids at a more traditional daycare before this, and I can't tell you how much I love that my son is getting the best of both worlds -- the hours of a daycare, but the exploration and support of a preschool.
Kelly March 08, 2012 at 02:46 PM
The Acton Coop school is fantastic. The teachers and director are warm, dedicated, and great people. The families play an active role in the school (and are great people too). My kids love it there and have been so happy!
Diana Brown March 08, 2012 at 02:50 PM
We have been so happy with Acton Children's School. We switched our daughter to ACS after the chaos and inexperienced staff at a different center started negatively affecting her. Within one day at ACS, she was back to her happy, school-loving self. In the year since then, she has blossomed even more and talks nonstop about her friends and teachers. We have been delighted with the quality of the programs there and only wish we had started going there sooner.
erica March 08, 2012 at 06:51 PM
All three of my children go to, or have gone to Nashoba Valley Children's Center. We absolutely love the program and the staff! They are nurturing, enthusiastic, and genuinely care about each child in their class. The owner is amazing, and on a daily basis, goes above and beyond all of my expectations! The schedule is flexible, which is a life saver for me and my husband (I work part time). Honestly one of the best decisions we've made as parents is sending our kids to Nashoba Valley Children's Center!
Patricia Barr March 09, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Patty Barr Children at Acton Children's School are very creative thinkers. They always surprise me with their out-of-the box ideas. The children are caring to each other, which I attribute to the multi-age group time, fostering a more sibling-like feeling. Caring teachers who promote individuality make this a great school

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