We have loved the JCC at Brotherhood Way (one of three SFJCC preschools). I have to disagree with Sandra re: her depiction of the JCC preschools and agree with the other poster who mentioned them. It sounds like the JCC preschools must have been quite different back when her son was there. Our son started in the young two year old class and will be "graduating" this year. The school uses the Reggio Emilia approach (worth googling to learn more -- my MIL has a Ph.D. in education and was very excited about Reggio) and is guided by Jewish principles, such as friendship and repairing the world. Reggio is somewhat similar to Montessori, but they are not the same. The children learn everything they need to to be ready for kindergarten, but the environment is much more play-based than academic, especially in the younger classes. For example, in the four year-old class, kids can (but do not have to) sign themselves in at drop off (parents sign the real sheet) and practice writing their names. They work on letters by doing something fun and feel like big kids in the process. While the kids are taught how to behave in various situations (staying quiet at nap time and during story time, respecting others, using kind words, not hitting, etc.), the environment does not feel strict. It feels loving and nurturing. It's a place where kids feel safe to grow and develop in all facets of their lives. In the early classes, the teachers focus heavily on social and emotional development, along with fine and gross motor skill development and cognitive development. As the kids get older, the teachers emphasize different developmental areas, but all classes focus on all areas. By cognitive development I do not mean they are teaching the kids some sort of academic curriculum. It's much more of a developmental one. Again, the kids learn letters, numbers, science concepts, and more, but in a play-based context, which recent studies have shown to be the most effective ones for preschoolers. It's important to note that your family does not have to be Jewish to attend one of the JCC preschools. If you are not Jewish, rest assured that your family would be welcomed and that Jews do not try to convert people to Judaism. In fact, it's quite a process to convert! Here is a link for more info if you're interested: http://www.jccsf.org/ece/ece.aspx?catid=14 . My husband and I could not be more thrilled with the loving, nurturing environment at the Brotherhood Way JCC, and our son has learned everything he needed to for kindergarten. For what it's worth, plenty of JCC preschool kids get into the most difficult to get into private schools. Many also go to public schools -- point is that the play-based, Reggio environment certainly does not hinder the kids in any way academically. I actually believe it helps them become more creative thinkers.