Seeking School Recommendations in El Cerrito and/or Berkeley

My husband and I have been growing increasingly concerned about the academics and social environment at our child's current school. They are in the second grade and attend a small independent school in Berkeley. As of yet we have not decided to extend our contract into next school year because we are considering possibly switching their school.

We are most concerned about the lack of structure around writing and reading, where our child has fallen gravely behind. We supplement at home as much as we can but the curriculum at school is inconsistent and overly focused on social and emotional well-being, which we believe is important but the fundamentals are being gravely compromised. We recently applied for them to attend another independent school in our area. Unfortunately they weren't admitted over concerns about their academic readiness. We were heartbroken that the very thing we were seeking support for became the very thing that disqualified them from admissions. 

We are at a turning point where we're trying to decided whether or not to leave them in their current school or transition them somewhere else that will have a stronger more coherent curriculum structure. While we were previously very committed to independent schools we are now becoming more open to public school options as well. We live in El Cerrito and are districted for Harding Elementary. Does anyone have any experience with 3rd grade at Harding? I understand that teachers can vary greatly but we are interested in knowing how the curriculum fairs at the school, especially in reading, writing, and math? Is it robust, with co-curricular classes like science, music, art, etc?

Also, we are interested in recommendations for independent schools in El Cerrito, Albany, and/or Berkeley that have strong academic curriculums. By strong I mean, the grade levels and co-curricular classes function in communication and build as the child grows through the years. Thanks in advance for any advice and guidance. 

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My children have thrived at Harding Elementary; one (now 8th grade in Korematsu Middle School) did wonderfully and enjoyed his time there (performing at or above grade level); the other (age 9 and now in 4th grade) was diagnosed with dyslexia in 3rd grade and has made awesome progress to get to grade level through Hardings intervention programs.  The teachers are all great and the principal (who is retiring), just announced that they have a full compliment of teachers for the new academic year; all positions are filled.  Yes they are understaffed, but everyone shows up everyday and supports one another. They have a very strong PTA community which supports performance arts and a number of other educational activities.  See

The regular enrollment period for Harding/West Contra Costa for next fall has already closed - even if you decline later, please complete the online registration right away or Harding might not even be an option for you:

My experience as a Harding parent was over 10 years ago, and it was a wonderful K-6 time. Because our experience is dated, I want to suggest you become familiar with the CA Curriculum Frameworks, These were very important to me as a parent, and specifically why I choose public school for my child, to make sure no basic academic skills were overlooked in my child's education. Besides the academics, which were very good at Harding, as well as Korematsu and El Cerrito High School, we loved that Harding has this great theater, and the school really used it well, for music, choir, and drama presentations, by and for the students. Additionally, my child enjoyed the after-school enrichment program. I think it is open to the public, not just Harding students. Here is the link of current classes: