The Lake School



The Lake School is a small, private, non-profit preschool located in the Lake Merritt neighborhood of Oakland. The school’s curriculum is based on the philosophy that children are naturally curious and eager to learn. 

Nationally recognized since 1981

The school’s success is due to the warmth and enthusiasm provided by exceptional teachers dedicated to providing an environment which stimulates and educates children through play. Established in 1981, The Lake School has provided a creative, warm and relaxed environment for children over the last 35 years. There are both morning and afternoon classes offered.


The Lake School is one of the first Play Based schools in the East Bay. It was founded on the premise that an organized and enriched environment provides a child with a sense of themselves, their world and their own development; providing a supporting and stimulating preschool experience in which the child's needs are recognized and their skills and interests are broadened. The Lake School provides a learning experience, which reinforces the child's fundamental need to learn and to play in a joyful and challenging environment.

In practice, Play Based means that children should be given opportunities for hands-on learning, by allowing them to explore different materials and processes. As childhood changed so should the educators. Children nowadays don’t get as many opportunities to interact with older peers that will help them elaborate their play and take it to the next levels of learning. Therefore a modern play based educator must be able to wear many hats. To name just a few, sometimes act as a classic educator during circle-time and when introducing new themes, sometimes as an older playmate going in and out of play in a way that respects the children's autonomy while helping them move their play to more advanced levels of learning, sometimes the educator will help by asking (what seems like) a simple question that will allow the children to move to a higher deeper level of play, and sometimes the educator will join into the play and then exit out of it when the group is ready.

In The Lake School, we believe the children benefit from having choices and that the children’s free will should be respected. The child's individuality is encouraged while emphasizing social behavior such as cooperation and respect for others. For example, children in the yard get to learn about the world, nature, weather, how to be part of a group, how to share, take turns, respect the environment, and about living creatures and plants.  Indeed, the school encourages many opportunities for play during the day with an emphasis on outside time.

Our Educators treat children with the utmost respect, help scaffold opportunities for children to direct their own emergent learning; children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing; children must be allowed and encouraged to explore; children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.

Most importantly, the learning experience needs to be fun and exciting so children develop a lifelong love of learning and curiosity.


At The Lake School, we expect that our parents' ideas, talents, and support will be a vital part of our school. We recognize that the wholesome development of the child depends upon how well parents and staff work together. The Lake School welcomes your interest and involvement. The Lake School has an active Parent Board, which engages in a variety of community-building events, arranges various get-togethers for families throughout the year, sponsors parent education activities and assists with other school activities. There are also opportunities to serve as room parents. We also welcome your informal participation.


The Lake School IPM Plan (Integrated Pest Managment) 

In our Program, we comply with the 2007 California law that extends the Healthy schools act to child care centers.

The Lake School,  implements and practice IPM to manage pests in the buildings and grounds to minimize the exposure of children and staff to pesticides.

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