My husband and I toured every daycare and preschool in our area, and chose Smart Start. We're in our second year, and our daughter loves it. She comes home with all kinds of great projects, and talks about her friends and what's she's learned. We all love the director "Miss Cesi," she's smart, kind, and very dedicated to the school.They use the Reggio-Emilia approach to preschool education, which translates to students leading the learning. They cover the basics (colors, numbers, letters, etc.) but when our daughter asked where bread came from, they also spent a day learning about bread and how to make it. There was another boy who loved peacocks, so they spent a day learning about and making paintings of peacocks. For Father's Day, they made a "Father's Day First-Aid Kit" -- a box with all kinds of fun things for their dads to look at and play with when they miss their kids. There is also Spanish time each day, where they work on learning Spanish vocabulary. We're very, very, happy, and highly recommend this school.
We needed temporary daycare as our Nanny required medical leave for 2+ months. I frantically called several daycare facilities in Jersey City to find space for my two children, who were roughly 3 1/2 and 18 months. After visiting and talking to several daycare facilities we choose Growing Tree II in downtown Jersey City. It was not the most convenient to where we lived but from what we saw it had the best care for our children. The teachers were fabulous and showed real care for our kids, while being able to discipline our older one properly. It was a tough transition for both of the kids, never having been in daycare, and within several days they loved being there. I believe it was because of the teachers. I loved that they provided all the food besides the late day snack, that they went outside for a walk or to the park everyday, and that the older ones were given responsibilities (like making their own cots for nap time and handing out cups/utensils for meals).
Our daughter has been at Growing Tree for the last 2.5 years, since she was three months old. As with any daycare or school, there will be issues. It is unnerving to leave such precious young children in the hands of others, and there will always be instances of disagreement. However, the staff at Growing Tree 2 has been wonderful. Our daughter truly considers it her second home, and has developed strong bonds with the teaches and other students there? Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But our daughter has grown immensely during her time there - she is happy, healthy, well socialized and is now experiencing the foundation of her education. Organizational issues have been addressed and improved over the last couple of years, and while problems remain, we are very happy with our experience at GT2.