Childcare for Student Parents

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Hi! I was just admitted to a graduate program at UC Berkeley and now am facing the daunting task of finding a hidden gem of a preschool/nursery school for my daughter to begin at the end of August.

    I’m looking for a play-based, child/centered program that offers ample outdoor time (Reggio Emilia inspired or project based/emergent curriculum would be a plus) that also offers sliding scale tuition or scholarships. 

    I applied to be added to the waitlist at Aquatic Park School, and contacted the director of BHNS, but BHNS stopped providing scholarships because of pandemic related cut backs. Nothing against head start programs, but I’m hoping to find a site with a lower teacher to child ratio and play-based is a must. 

    Any advice is appreciated. Thank you! 

    UC offers grants for graduate school parents specifically to help meet this need, and also has several on-site preschool programs that offer subsidized tuition for grad students, assuming you meet the income requirements. I'd start there. Duck's Nest in West Berkeley might also be a good match for what you're looking for, and offers some financial aid. Adult-to-child ratios are set by the state, and most preschools in the area staff pretty close to the state limits (1:8 for centers/schools or 1:12 for home-based programs). So I wouldn't assume you will get a lower ratio in private vs. public programs, though of course you'll find a much wider ranger of program philosophies. Congratulations!

    We were very happy with Albany Preschool! It’s a co-op so the rates were much better, but you do have to do participation hours. Definitely other Cal grad student parents while we were there :) it’s play based/Reggio Emilia

    Hey there! 

    I agree with the previous post about looking into on-site preschool programs with the UC. If not, try the Berkeley School's Early Childhood program. We met quite a few UC families when our child attended preschool for two years at the ECC. They offer a Montessori, Reggio Emilia, play-based program. Lots of hands-on, getting dirty, exploratory learning. The children spend most of their time outside. The teachers are warm and are very intuitive to their little student's needs. Every day our child came home happy and excited to tell us what they did at the ECC. I cannot brag about this preschool enough. Unfortunately, they do not offer scholarships, but they offer tuition assistance so that it may be worth a try?

    I would try for Duck's Nest in Berkeley on 4th Street. It's definitely a play-based, emergent-curriculum format, and it's a wonderful campus and community with caring, dedicated teachers. They offer financial aid (need-based): you have to apply and the application asks for pay stubs, tax returns, etc. We received financial aid for 3 years there. Good luck! I really can't recommend DN highly enough. 

    Hi! Please check into Step One in Berkeley! They are a great play-based school and they offer scholarships. Good luck!

    hello! My daughter goes to Child Education Center, and there are families there with some subsidy!

    Blue Skies for Children in Oakland has offered financial aid in the past.  Hopefully they're still able to do that.  It's a great, play-based program.

    As a former UC student parent, I know the grants help but don't stretch that far. It is not play-based, but Nia House really helped me out when I was in grad school and location is perfect. Congratulations and you've got this! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews




April 1999

I wonder whether someone has had any experience with childcare centers for a 2-year old at Stanford University or in the surrounding community. The three centers I have found out so far are Bing nursery school, Stanford arboretum children's center, and children's center for the Stanford community. I would like to hear both recommendations and bad experiences for these three centers or any other centers nearby. They all seem very expensive. Any information on good but more affordable centers is much appreciated as well. In addition, what are some alternatives to nanny care or large children's centers? Any suggestions for Montessori schools near Stanford? L.

When I attended college at Stanford and had a newborn daughter, I found a good child care provider in Redwood City, just 15 minutes from the Stanford campus. So, one option is to look into childcare provided by someone from their home. I too looked into the childcare centers at Stanford, but found them too be too expensive and many did not have space available at the time. Also, I know that there are several individuals who live on-campus in graduate student housing, Escondido Village, who provide in-home childcare. I would suggest for you to go to the Bulletin Board located in Tresidder Union where many babysitters/childcare providers post listings. Another option is to call mothers' organizations, to get referrals. I think there is an organization called Redwood City Mother's Club or something like that, and they provide a childcare network of mom's who provide childcare in the Redwood City-Woodside area. This is how I located our sitter. Good Luck! Cecilia

I also did that research when choosing grad. schools. The lack of affordable childcare I could locate was a big part of my decision to not attend Stanford as well as other schools. If you are a student, you might want to look at what grad students actually do there for their childcare needs, especially babysitting arrangements in their housing complex. Good luck.