Which preschool/day care for 4YO coming from India?

We are a full time working couple from India.I work from home and my wife works near UC campus as consultant.Our 4 year old son is coming to join us in June 2017.We are very new to the pre-school world and looking for help/suggestions from group members and other parents.

Below is my son's status currently:

4 year old boy(very active at home).He was going to a nursery school in India till now, just learning basic alphabets.Can't speak or understand English much, except his mother tongue(not english).Date of birth is in March 2013.None of us are US Citizens.Currently in India with his grand parents.

He is coming to US in June this year and we have below questions:

a).Shall we look for a pre-school or day care?

b).Do we need to choose pre-schools or day care centers only based on our street location or can we join him wherever we like?

c).We are currently in Berkeley and thinking of moving to Albany. Do you think Berkeley is a better place for pre-schools or Albany?

d).Since he can't speak/understand english yet, will that be a problem for him in pre-school or day care? Is it mandatory to speak/understand english for joining pre-schools?

e).Since he is not here yet, can we still apply for pre-schools OR do we need to wait till he is physically here?

f).Are there separate public and private pre-schools in Berkeley /Albany area? (I don't think we will be eligible for any govt subsidy)

g).Can you please suggest any good pre-schools or day care centers in Berkeley/Albany area?

Sorry for too many questions..just started exploring this world.

Appreciate your help/suggestions,


Parent Replies

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Hello, I'm sorry I can't speak much to your questions about your son's transition given his lack of English skills. Our daughter is finishing at Bright Star Montessori School this year, and we've been happy as has she. It's right on the Berkeley/Albany border so would be good for you. Our daughter did mention there was one little girl whose family lived in another country for a while so the child came back speaking no English. She seems to have transitioned fine. The student population is incredibly diverse for a private school and there are a lot of international kids. I would contact the school, director is LaRhonda Martin, for more information. (510) 558-2080. Good luck!

How great that your son is coming to stay with you. Are you planning to remain in the U.S.? If so - I would pick a preschool. You would like him to be ready for kindergarten when the time comes for him to start.  You can go to any preschool or day care that you'd like except for the headstart programs which I believe are restricted to residents of a particular city. preschools in both Berkeley and Albany are fine. The Berkeley schools are getting better and Berkeley High is fantastic for a motivated kid. I volunteer tutor at Jefferson elementary school on Rose and Sacramento in Berkeley and its a wonderful school with excellent teachers and a fine principal. If you move to Albany, the Albany YMCA has terrific support for working families with preschool care, after school care, and summer camps. Look to enroll your son now - some places may want to meet him first but inquire now. It takes a while. In Berkeley Step One, Duck's Nest, Gay Austin (limited hours, small, well run). The kids who come to kindergarten from good preschools who are ready to sit, track, know alphabet, numbers 0-10, colors, have a good start for kindergarten. There are fun, project based preschools but those kids are behind. School expectations have changed and kindergarteners are expected to read by mid-year. Vocabulary words these kids have learned to read and write: I, me, my, he, we, is, she, you, jump, play, friend, go, look, like, see, be, can, do, up, on, in, it, here, yes, no. When the time comes - consider him for a TK or transitional kindergarten class which gives him an extra year before full kindergarten. When he graduates from college no one will care if he started kindergarten at age 5 or 6. It's more important that he is ready for the challenges of his grade level. If he starts behind, he'll be behind every year as he goes along which is discouraging. Many kids start preschool not knowing English. The sooner he is immersed in with other young kids, the more rapidly he will learn. The younger the better - young kids pick up language quickly.  Much luck to you and welcome to the bay area!

Hello -

How exciting to have your son with you soon! Here is the input I can provide.

It is up to you on whether you choose a day care or preschool. Around age 3, generally kids transition to pre-school. In Albany, there is a public preschool which you can tour before your son arrives. Go to the AUSDK12 website and look for information. For private preschools, I do not think it matters where you live. When considering schools, you'll want to think about the hours of care you require, location, whether food is provided or not (and what kind of food), and cost, among many other factors, like teacher:student ratio and what you observe about the teaching style and environment. You can certainly start your research now. I would not worry about your son's command of English. Albany/Berkeley are very diverse, and your son is so young -- he will be fluent in English before you know it. It's a good question to ask specific schools that you tour, though, if they would be comfortable if he doesn't speak English right away; it can help you narrow down options.

I recommend a few preschools, based on my family's experience and those of my friends. Duck's Nest in Berkeley. Claremont Day Nursery in Kensington. Albany Preschool (co-op). Albany Children's Care Center (the public preschool). Shu Ren and other language emersion schools. There are many, many high quality pre-schools to choose from. You can check BPN for day care openings if you prefer that route.

Good luck!

Thanks for all your responses.I got some idea based on your comments.I will start talking to individual schools and see which works better for my situation.Thanks once again.