Seeking a play-based, Spanish-immersion school


We are looking for a daycare/school for our daughter who recently turned 2. Not sure if we are asking for too much, but we are hoping to find:

  • Play-based - ideal would be if the owner / teachers are familiar with or just naturally follow a RIE or child-led approach
  • Spanish-immersion
  • Serves healthy lunches and snacks - I know healthy is subjective, we mainly just care about added sugar 
  • Somewhere in Berkeley

Anyone know of a unicorn place that meets some or all of these criteria? Thank you so much!

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Try Wawasi in Albany? They speak Spanish with the kids, though not immersion, and serve healthy food. My kid ate vegetables there that he never ate at home. They’re mostly play based but I think they did do some basic letter and number stuff. 

New School is not Spanish-immersion, but they are an excellent play-based preschool in Berkeley that does not allow added sugar.  They serve hearty healthy snacks but don't provide lunch.  My kids went there and thrived.


I can highly recommend two such pre-schools.  La Familia is owner run in her home, very loving, and homemade healthy food -- a great community!  We loved it.  She doesn't have a webiste, but knows child development and each child's need.…

The other one is a coop.  Las Semillitas.

KSS in Albany offers a play based Spanish immersion preschool starting at 2.  It is in Memorial Park near Solano Ave and only a few blocks over the Berkeley border.

Via Nova near Ashby BART may be a good fit. You would be providing the food, but it meets the other criteria. 

You might try Arbor Berkeley or Oakland, both are on the border between Berkeley and Oakland. They are not immersion, but they do Spanish-English, and they are very open and play-based, with many parents that are into RIE. Their snacks and activities for the kids are more diverse than most places, and they don't do junk food or sugary snacks. They also focus on a lot of outdoor time, which my kid loves. 

They start at 2.5 and are good up to about age 4 to 4.5. They are great with the younger kids, but don't have anyone on staff for TK, and have a required 2 hour nap/rest which doesn't work for a lot of the older kids as they outgrow nap. This is a general issue with preschools though, so if you're kid's not a great napper, or won't go to bed after napping, 1/2 preschool (if that's an option), or a preschool that has a program that goes through K or later can work better because they usually don't require the nap after 4. Some of the Montessori preschools are 3-6, which seems to work better for the older kids, but universal TK seems to be making leaving preschool early a more popular option. The only other warning about Arbor is that they're just a couple years old, so things are not entirely ironed out yet with the management and processes, and they have shorter hours than most places with extended care. 

Another popular option for Spanish immersion is EBI, which is a certified international baccalaureate that starts in preschool and goes through grade 8. There are lots of reviews of EBI online since they've been around longer. Applications are in the winter for the following fall. Mi Mundo is another preschool on the Oakland/Berkeley border, and small like Arbor. There are other Spanish language preschools around, and many have reviews on Berkeley Parent's Network. It's best to check them out in person though, because that's the best way to get a feeling about fit for your family. 

Check out arbor! Their Berkeley location in the southeast corner of Berkeley has been amazing for our kiddo. If you want more info about our experience, let me know

Our son goes to Kidsland Berkeley and we absolutely love it. Feel free to message me if you have any questions, otherwise I highly recommend reaching out to Ana and doing a tour. Facility is super clean and my child lights up every time we walk up to the door—he loves his teachers and it’s mixed ages which I think is so great for development. Good luck!