Albany Preschool CoopCommunity Subscriber
To view the State's license info—inspections, citations, and complaints—click the License number below. Also see About Childcare & Preschool Reviews.
The Afternoon Program is a full preschool program offering a variety of activities including music, plays, games, dress up, cooking, art projects, sand play, bikes, and stories. It's run by the director and three teachers.
PM Program Schedule
1:00 – 4:30pm
1:00 Children arrive
1:05-1:20 Circle time
1:20-3:45 Choice of areas and planned activities
2:30-3:15 Snack table open
3:45–4:00 Clean up time
4:00-4:15 Small group time, when possible
4:10–4:30 Circle time and dismissal of children.
If you are interested in applying or checking on the status of openings for the current 2016-2017 school year, please contact info [at] albanypreschool.org
Re: Pros & Cons of Parent Co-ops
My kids are happy co-op kids and I am a proud co-op parent (Albany Preschool). I love the co-op model and I think it really benefits my children to have a large community of caring parents embellish their play and education. We moved to Albany just before my first began preschool and we were immediately welcomed into an amazing community of APS families and have made many wonderful friendships. Another wonderful aspect of the co-op is the rich cultural influences and traditions my kids have been exposed to by having other parents in our community act as their teachers. I also love that as parents we are able to truly participate in our children's growth and development and work with like minded teachers and parents. APS Parent
Re: Pre-K Preschool in or around Albany?
Albany Preschool is a perfect place for meeting kids heading off to kindergarten in AUSD! We are about to enter our fifth year (with two kids) at APS and love the community of families at the school. One of the best things is getting to know other kids and families who will travel with you into elementary school and beyond. APS is a parent cooperative, which means you often see parents at the school so kids and parents really do get to know each other. I often recognize older kids and their parents from our first year at APS at the elementary school now. It's definitely been a great way to get to know Albany families. I also love the play-based philosophy and caring teachers. I highly recommend Albany Preschool!
I know there are openings for the PM program (1-4:30) for the fall. There is a short waitlist for the AM program (9-12:30). Please check out the website for more information:albanypreschool.org A Happy APS Parent
Re: Any preschool openings or short wait lists?
If he will be 3 by Sept. 1, you might try my son's school, Albany Preschool. My son goes in the afternoon and loves it. I bet even if it's full at the moment, there will be a space by fall. People change their minds, drop days, and so forth. It's a great school! Anon
Albany Preschool, afternoon program
My almost 4 year old daughter has been accepted to the PM program at Albany Preschool for Fall 2012, and I would love to hear from families who have or had their children at APS in the afternoons. She's currently at a school that has a pre-k program for next year and I'm still debating whether to keep her there or try something new. I stay home with our kids, so initially I was interested in the morning co-op program, but we also have a 1 year old daughter who is just entering that one-nap-a-day phase and so the afternoons at APS might just work perfectly for us. I'm wondering if afternoon families are able to get to know each other without the parent participation aspect, and maybe what the overall energy is like in the afternoons there. On the tour it seemed quiet, maybe with fewer children than the morning, but overall a really lovely school. Thanks very much! Afternoon program
I've had 2 children attend APS' PM program in the past 3 years and have been very pleased. So pleased that my youngest son will be attending both the AM and PM programs this fall. I loved watching my 2 older kids become so independent so once it was time to move on to Kindergarten, they moved on confidently and so ready! The year before kindergarten, both of my children became really interested in writing and learning how to write letters and numbers. The teachers, particularly Teacher Cindy, would take little groups of kids who were interested in writing and together they'd make little ''books''. The teachers would respond to whatever the child was interested in and run with it! Perhaps this more quiet time is what you observed during your visit. But fear not! Outside, the kids are running around, digging in the dirt, making volcanoes in the sand.
APS has many opportunities for parents to meet each other outside of class participation. A lot of the socializing happens at parent meetings, after parent meetings (without kids), and at monthly social events or playdates (with the kiddos). I'm really happy to be a part of the APS family since 2008!! Happy Former APS PM parent (2009 and 2010)
My twins did 2 years in Albany Preschool's morning program and are now doing their 3rd and final year in the afternoon program. We love, love, love it. I feel that I've gotten to know other parents just as much as I did when we were in the morning program. Yes, you're participating in the morning, but you are participating with the same parents every time so it's not participating is the key to meeting other families. We get to school early and hang out with other parents in the play area across the street under the Bart tracks or chat in line in front of the school. Same after school, there are always families hanging out. One family job at the school is arranging get togethers - there are monthly potlucks, weekly play dates at parks and extra curricular activities organized such as visiting the fire station. There are also the monthly general meetings to get to know other parents. So yes, even though you don't have required participation in the afternoon (afternoon parents can volunteer to participate any time they want), there are abundant opportunities to make friends.
As for the vibe in the afternoons, it all depends on the day and what mix of kids are there. I've seen it pretty rowdy in the play yard when Teacher Cindy has a large group of kids building baking soda volcanos or the weather is hot so it's Beach Day and kids can put on swimsuits for water play, and other times the kids are pretty spread out through the school and it's mellower. One thing I think is fantastic about the school is that during free play time the outdoor areas are open, unlike other schools where because of their set-up there is a ''recess'' where everyone goes outside together for a set amount of time. So those kids that need to run around and expend more energy can go outside and do it, which means the other kids that want to focus on something more mellow inside can do so with out being disturbed.
In short, I highly recommend the program. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk further, my family job is coordinating tours so I can be reached at tours atalbanypreschool.org Happy APS Parent
We absolutely love the afternoon program at APS! Before my son started at barely 3, I was worried about the potty-training requirement and about him enjoying the afternoon when he was still adjusting to going without a nap, but both issues worked out just fine. In fact, looking back, it's clear that having a deadline for the potty-training was a positive thing, as he was really ready but just didn't know it. I led the training over the summer, and by the end, he was securely in underpants, and very proud of himself. He has an accident now and again at school, but it is not a big deal. And the afternoon schedule is great -- no rush out of the door, and the mornings are easier to enjoy together than afternoons were when my older child was in a morning program at a different preschool.
Most importantly, my son couldn't be happier. A couple of months into the fall term, he said to me one day, apropos of nothing, ''Mommy, I really LOVE my school.'' And it is true. He has cried when he had to stay home sick. He is always gushing about something his school has or does or whatever. The teachers do a wonderful job of making the boundaries and structure very clear, so the kids can relax and explore in an open yet secure environment. Socially, the atmosphere is very inclusive and supportive. I highly recommend it! Anon
I'm a mother of an active and energetic 2.5 year old boy. We are new to the Bay Area as we just relocated to Albany last fall. My son turns 3 this summer and we're looking for a preschool for him to start in the fall. This is the first time for us entering the preschool hunt so I'm rather nervous about finding the right school for him and our family. What I do know is that we're looking for a really loving, low-key place for our son to socialize and be around other kids. And for a school that doesn't mind a kid with lots of energy! Does anyone have any recommendations for preschools in and around Albany? Also, any insight into the Albany Preschool co-op and what kind of responsibilities parents have. I stay at home but I have a younger child so I'm worried about how much work a co-op might be. Thank you for your help.
I am a happy member of the Albany Preschool co-op. My daughter has been very happy at this lovely play-based school and I really love the community that comes with being a member of the co-op.
I have a shy daughter, but can tell you there are many boisterous boys at APS and the wonderful thing about the play-based philosophy of the school is that the kids have the choice of doing the things that interest them. The teachers and parents also use a lot of redirection and gentle reminders to diffuse conflict between kids.
When my daughter started at APS, my son was only 3 months old. Siblings are often seen at drop off and pick up and sometimes are sitting along side the ''big'' kids at circle times. The school has many events where the whole family is invited -- potlucks, play dates at parks, and special events at the school. My son loves going to APS to drop off or pick up his sister and I have had to drag him away from the train table many times when it's time to go. The teachers are always welcoming to him even though it's not yet his time to be at APS.
I love the community and wonderful friends I've made through APS. We became fast friends with a family who have children the same ages as ours. The moms have traded care of the younger siblings so we could participate in the classroom and give each other some free time. We've also had many, many play dates with APS friends and I can also rely on these parents for childcare. Perhaps most importantly for me as a SAHM is the community of other parents for support and to just hang out with other adults. It is such a wonderful community and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.
When you apply to APS you are given the opportunity to list your preferences for a family job that you will be performing throughout the year. These vary quite a bit but many are very easy to accomplish while watching other children at home. Our first year we were in charge of making the play dough for the school on a weekly basis. I was able to do this on Sunday night after the kids had gone to bed. Other jobs include laundry, cleaning and maintaining different areas of the school, planning the fundraising and special events. It's quite easy to choose a job (and you can list several that you would prefer as well as ones you would not like to have) that will work with your family and schedule.
The other commitments the co-op asks you to make are for a parent to attend a monthly meeting in the evening, a parent to participate in two different maintenance days for the whole year, and to participate in one or two fundraising events for the whole year. Our family has really enjoyed all of these events and don't feel they are a burden at all.
I hope you'll consider APS for your son next year. I really can't say enough about the wonderful community at the school. There's an open house coming up on Jan. 28 10-12 so you can check it out. Maybe we'll see you there next year. Tamara
Our very energetic 4 year old son is in his second year at APS. Our experience participating in the co-op has been all positive. I cannot recommend the classroom and community highly enough. Family participation includes attending monthly evening meetings, a family job and classroom participation. It is all doable with a younger sibling, which we also have. Family jobs range from gardening assistance to helping with laundry. Classroom participation is one day per week every other week if your child is in a three day program. It goes up to once weekly if your child attends five days/week. Many of our families with younger siblings strike up a relationship at the beginning of the school year and arrange for child care trades to cover their classroom participation days. You'll meet great families and make friends for you and your child. Come visit us at our Spring Fair on 3/31 at Memorial Park! Jen C
Re: Preschool with lots of part-time students?
We go to Albany Preschool and the vast majority of the kids are part time. There are a few that go all day every day, but most kids go 3 mornings or afternoons a week. It's a cooperative, so you really get to know other kids and families. It's a great school! www.albanypreschool.com happy Albany Preschool family
Re: Wanted - Nurturing, high-quality preschool
Albany Preschool (APS) is a culturally diverse play-based parent cooperative in the heart of Albany. We have a morning program with parent classroom participation and an afternoon program without parent classroom participation. Our cultural diversity is always celebrated in our school. We have native Spanish, Cantonese, and Urdu speaking teachers as well as families (and kids) who are bi-lingual and in addition to English speak German, Hungarian, and Mandarin. The children are exposed to many languages at APS.
My son recently graduated and was very prepared for kindergarten. He flourished socially and emotionally at APS and has been thriving in his kindergarten class. My 4 year old daughter is currently enrolled and I plan to send my youngest son next year. The teachers are supportive, loving, sensitive to the children's feelings and needs, and really understand where ''the child is''. The teachers are respectful of the children as unique individuals. Together with the teachers, the parents and families make for a strong and wonderful community. You're welcome to check the school out during a tour (during school hours) and at the Open House on Saturday, January 8. Check out the school's website at www.albanypreschool.org for more details. Joy, Happy APS Parent
Re: Albany parents, which preschool did you pick?
I'm sending my 2 youngest children to Albany Preschool, the cooperative preschool that's just off of Solano on Masonic. We love the school and my girls are thriving there. The are so excited to go to school there. The teachers and the program are amazing. There families are diverse but yet there is a strong sense of community. www.albanypreschool.org A Happy Albany Preschool Parent
Our 3 year old goes to the morning program at Albany Preschool and we couldn't be happier. It's play based with great teachers and parent participators, but what I like most is the supportive community. Sarah
We chose Albany Preschool, a parent cooperative on Masonic just north of Solano for our daughter. I limited my preschool search to a reasonable walking distance and APS was our first choice. The teachers are loving and share my joy in all of my shy daughter's milestones. I really like the coop aspect -- you get to be involved with the community of parents, kids and teachers. There are two programs -- am and pm. The am program has parent classroom participation, the pm program does not. We've been in the pm program this year and have really loved it. I know there are still openings for fall 2010 and would strongly encourage you to look into Albany Preschool. Tamara
We picked Albany Preschool because we were looking for a cooperative model. Both of our children are happy to be there and they continue to love it there. Happy Albany Preschool parent
Albany Preschool. The teachers are so experienced and so kind to the children. And the friendships that are formed between parents there create a community that lasts. Kim
Re: Summer preschool for entering kindergartener
Albany Preschool has a preschool summer program. It is a cooperative preschool but I'm not sure if there is parent participation in the summer. More info at www.albanypreschool.com anon
I'm another overwhelmed parent regarding the preschool process. I'm probably too late because my child will be 3 this spring, but I was wondering about what people thought about Albany Preschool (afternoon program) or Redwood Garden Preschool (Waldorf-based).
- Are these schools highly competitive to enter? I live in Albany, but I'm also thinking about sending my child for just 1 year due to budget reasons... But I also have a younger child who'll most likely follow the older one's path.
- Any recent reviews on either of those schools?
- Do most kids from Albany Preschool go on to Albany's kindergarten?
- Estimated cost for Redwood Garden? (There doesn't seem to be a website, but that's understandable for a home-based Waldorf school.)
Thank you in advance for your replies. daunted by preschool apps
Hi, I have 3 kids who all attended Albany Preschool for 2 years in the afternoon program. APS is currently enrolling for entry in the fall and, last I heard, has some afternoon places available. I have no hesitation in recommending it - the afternoon teachers are fantastic, all with many years experience, and it is just a wonderful school with a strong sense of community. Most kids do go on to Albany kindergartens - I have twins in afternoon kindergarten at Marin this year and there are 10 APS kids between the 2 afternoon classes, which undoubtedly helped with the transition. Feel free to email me if you want more information and, if you haven't already, I'd suggest contacting the preschool to arrange a tour of the afternoon program. The details can be found on their website www.albanypreschool.com Good luck! Becky
Dear Daunted, Looking for the right preschool for your child can be very daunting and overwhelming. I know I felt that way too. The good news is that you are absolutely not too late!
I currently have two children at Albany Preschool (morning program) and we are so happy. The kids look forward to going to school and I look forward to seeing that. I've seen my kids grow extensively in how they socialize -- how they negotiate challenging situations and how they express themselves. And it's all because of their time playing and socializing at preschool! I also enjoy the co-op model which creates community and welcomes parents and families as members of the educational team. These unique qualities of a parent cooperative ultimately leads to the success or our kids and school.My 3 year old daughter will attend Albany Preschool for another year and then my youngest son will enter in 2011. I'm enjoying the experience at APS so much that I joined the Parent Board and will be on it through next year.
The majority of children go off and attend kindergarten in the Albany school district. With only 3 elementary schools in Albany it's very likely to have a friend from Albany Preschool in the same kindergarten class. So it's comforting to know that my son (off to kindergarten in the Fall) will have familiar faces around him and a built-in network even in a new school.
Albany residents have enrollment priority at Albany Preschool and there are openings available for Fall. I encourage you to take a tour of the school, see the great play spaces, meet the teachers and perhaps talk to other parents. To schedule a tour you can contact Jenny Blattner at jennybmidwife [at] sbcglobal.net and for enrollment questions you can contact Ebba De La Rosa at ebbadlr [at] yahoo.com. Feel free to contact me as well if you have any further questions. I'd be happy to get you in contact with folks in the afternoon program as well.
Happy Parent from APS, Joy
I love Albany Preschool! We've sent both our kids to APS and they have thrived. My daughter's kindergarten teacher lives in Berkeley, but she still sent both her sons across town to Albany Preschool because she thinks that kids who have gone through APS are especially well prepared for kindergarten. What a great endorsement! It's a great community of families and even as my kids are older, their closest friends are the ones they made at APS. (Mine too for that matter.) --We love Albany Preschool
Both my kids have been in the PM program at Albany Preschool, one is there now. I like that the facility is large, both the inside space and the outdoor play areas. It is a free-choice, play-based program, so the children are allowed to go to what activity interests them. I think the most important thing about the school is that the teachers are very gentle with the children. They re-direct children and help them work out conflicts, but children are never punished with time-outs or any kind of thing. Consequently the children feel very safe and loved there. I think it is a good place for building confidence. Kim
Albany preschool seemed highly competitive to enter (we were #28 in the waitlist), but the morning program is much more in demand than the afternoon program, and in the year that my kid went there, everybody had their spot at the beginning of the year. So, I'd say, it's definitely worth to put in an application.
And yes, since Albany residents are preferred at this school, almost all kids move on to one of Albany's elementary schools. It's a fun, low-key program with lots of outside play. Nancy
Re: Afternoon Preschool Programs
Albany Co-op Preschool has an afternon-only program. And if you are enrolled in the afternoon program you do not have to do parent participation. anon
Re: Is the number of adults a problem at a co-op?
I really relate to your question. My son has now been at a co- op preschool for two years and, particularly before beginning PS, was very slow to warm up to new situations and was extremely shy with new people. In fact, I had officially enrolled him in a small, home based PS for this reason. The closer it came to Fall though, the more I had the instinct that he was ready for something a little bigger with more options and I loved the idea of being involved in his school in the way a co-op allows. So, with some hesitation about the rotating adult situation, we enrolled him in a co-op PS that we had really liked, Albany Preschool.
Despite my worries, it has been an extremely positive experience for him. He has become much more confident and comfortable with new adults as well as with new kids and situations and I attribute at least some of this growth to getting to know new adults in a safe situation and being able to think of them as a friend's parent. The comfort, though, has definitely extended to his life outside of PS. All that said, it did take him a while to get used to this situation and, despite absolutely loving PS, he stuck quite close to the head teacher for the first year. (Thankfully, she really understood his approach to new situations and was extremely patient and loving towards him.)
He still will often choose to do an activity that is led by a parent he knows well, rather than one that seems quite up his alley, but is led by a parent he doesn't know as well. But, having the chance to get to know new parents at his own pace has been a very important experience for him and now (at age 5) he really likes to tell people about how he ''used to be really shy with people he didn't know.'' Good luck with your own decision. APS parent
Can some current families enrolled in Albany Preschool provide some comments about the enrollment process? How long was the line on enrollment day last January? How early did you get in line? Do you wish that you had gotten in line earlier? If you didn't get in, is there anything you would do differently in order to get in? Or is this just not a big deal? Albany Mom
I got in line around 6:30 a.m. I was probably 15th in line. I would not have gotten in line earlier. I think the first people in line were there at 4:30 or earlier. We were initially on the waiting list but were offered a 5-day/week slot in late May or early June. We were subsequently offered a spot at another preschool that better fit our needs, so our slot opened up for somebody. So, even if you are on the waiting list until August there is still a chance you'll get in because of situations like ours.
My husband got there last year around 6:15 and was 14th in line. We were initally at the top of the waitlist, but then we got in. We wanted the morning program which is harder to get into, but we're Albany residents, so we had that advantage. I think it probably varies a bit from year to year though! Good luck! Kat
Hi! Registration Day for Albany Preschool's 2007-2008 Morning and Afternoon Programs is Saturday, January 27th at Albany Preschool, 850 Masonic Avenue. Doors open at 8:00 a.m. For more information please visit www.albanypreschool.org or call the Membership Chairperson at 525-2286. Albany Preschool
We have heard a lot of generally positive things about Albany Preschool/Coop recently but I haven't heard much yet about the teachers there or about the way that they coordinate with the parents volunteering in the classrooms. I was wondering if the parents serve in more of a support (more hands to help) role, with the teachers still clearly in the lead or if it is more of an equally shared responsibility. I think in general, I'm wondering about pros and cons of coop situations, particularly the degree to which the kids' experience is driven by the head teachers vs. the parents who happen to be there on a particular day. Interested Parent
My son is fininshing his second year at Albany Preschool. We love it, and I have enjoyed my participation. I intend to send my second son there when he is ready too. Here is a brief summary of how it works:
- Each family has a job in addition to in-class participation. These vary widely from laundry to being part of the fundraising committee.
- For morning program students, there is a classroom participation component. If your student attends 5 days/wk you are in the classroom one morning each week (always the same day of the week.) If your child attends 3 days/wk it works out to every second morning.
- The wonderful director, Terry, is in charge of curriculum. It is very well-planned and targeted to the n! eeds of the students. Suzy the head teacher is there in the morning as well along with 4 or 5 parents. On your day you must arrive 20 minutes before the start of the day to set up and meet with Terry. She directs you about your specific job and also about what bigger concepts are being worked on in the school and what to keep in mind or watch for.
- You are given a monthly calendar that tells you when you participate in class and what your station will be that day. The stations are well-defined down to the cleaning tasks for the end of your shift. The stations are South Yard, North Yard (yes, we have 2 yards!), Cooking Table (the cook brings the food and helps the kids make their own snacks!), and when there are 5 parents, Games Room.
It is always easy to get support from a teacher if you encounter a situation that you don't know how to handle. I think participating at the school makes me a better parent. I know what my son is doing and I really see how he is at school. I also see other kids his age exhibiting the behavior characteristic of his age -- which makes me understand that he's just being 4 sometimes! I also get to do things with kids that my son would never do -- like girlie dress-up and art! The other advantage of the co-op is the price, of course. In my experience the other parent's styles and variety is an advantage. Some of us are mellow and some more boisterous (just like the kids). I suspect it took my son longer to come out of his shell because of the variety of teachers, but he has always loved it. Sometimes I wonder if a non-coop school would model problem solving and conflict resolution more, but my son seems to have learned in those areas on par with his friends at other schools. I hope I have addressed your questions. If you want to talk some parents at the school you can call and talk to the membership chair (a family job -- right now I think it is Louise). She can answer questions or hook you up with another parent if you wish and you can visit too. Good luck with your preschool search. Sharon
I would like to know what opinion parents have regard the afternoon program at Albany Preschool. I've seen some posts at the website, but all of them are related to parents participation (which has to do with the morning program). I would like to know what your opinion is specifically about the afternoon program where you don't have parents participating, only teachers. When I went to the tour (in the morning) I loved the school, and left decided to enroll my daughter. However, as I return to look closer the afternoon program, I didn't see the same nurturing environment that I saw at the morning program. I'm interested to know others opinion even if your child is no longer at the school. Thank you. Ina
Our daughter is attending the pm program at Albany PreSchool this year and she\x92ll be back next year. We\x92re very happy with the warmth and skill of the teachers, the open, inviting facilities and the free play philosophy. And you really can\x92t beat their rates. It is a large program, however (22 ? kids) and about to undergo some changes as the director of 20-some years is about to retire. I trust theteachers and the very involved parents on the board (my partner is on the board) to arrange for a good transition. Our favorite aspect has been getting to know the community of parents in the school. It\x92s really wonderful.
My experience is now 6 years out of date, but my kids went in the morning and stayed for the APS afternoon program with the same teachers who (as far as I know) are still there. Susie, Diane, and Cindy are still happy to have my kids come visit and remember them well (my 10 year old even volunteered there last summer). These teachers work together well and are very warm, but the afternoon program is smaller (fewer kids) and extremely low key. There is enrichment, but not the super-enriched environment of the morning, with all the parents helping at art/cooking/play stations. By the way, if you can't do the morning parent participation, there is a list of substitutes you can pay. peg
My son is currently enrolled in both the morning and afternoon programs at Albany Preschool. He goes every morning and stays through the afternoon a couple days a week. We love both programs and find each to be nurturing, creative and safe. The afternoon teachers (who have worked there years and years) have incredible patience and truly love working with the children. My son doesn't want to come home some afternoons! Anita
Re: Part-time affordable non-coop?
My 3 1/2 y.o daughter goes to Albany Preschool and was (and still is I guess!) a relatively shy child. She has been there half a year and has made some great friends. It is a co-op preschool that you can 'buy out of'' if you don't have time to participate in the class room. It also requires a ''family job'' that you perform at your own discretion and schedule and work parties twice a year to help maintain the school. With the exception of one other school in the area (El Cerrito, I think but don't know the name) it the cheapest tuition in the area. (BTW, I choose the school not because of it's cost--which was a perk, but because my child felt so immediately comfortable there and was so excited about going there....we looked at a LOT of schools.) I don't know what the fees are to buy out, and if you live out of the city (are a non-Albany resident) than it's an extra $20/month. But I think in the end, for a three-morning a week program you would pay under $250 a month. They just gave out the new fee schedule for next year and they are having an open house for new families on Saturday the 29th. If you would like more info, feel free to email me at: anne marie
We were very happy with Albany Preschool 2001- 2003 and plan to send our youngest child there next year. We found it to be a very well run coop, and the ''play is the work of the young child'' philosophy matched our own. The best part was meeting and getting to know other Albany- Berkeley families who place a priority on their child's education, and really feeling a part of the community.
Re: What's it like in the Coop world?
We had our son in a co-op (Albany preschool) for one-and-a-half years, and we felt that it was a very positive experience. The children do not seem at all bothered by the presence of many adults; in fact, it was a bonus to have so many willing hands to help, and I think even the small kids developed a sense of real community. We did not find the requirements for participation to be a big drain on our time -- but I switched off with my husband on the participation day. The extras (family job, weekend work days) were not at all time-consuming. Generally you can make many decisions, great and small, about how much you want to do. You can choose a family job that fits your schedule and doesn't make unreasonable demands, or you can throw yourself wholeheartedly into the process and volunteer to be fundraiser or some such. I would highly recommend the co-op situation for getting to know people in your community, for establishing ties that will last as your child starts school, for having close-up experience with your child's education and socialization, etc. In short, we found it to be a good thing. Good luck with your decision, a satisfied co-op parent
Re: Preschools with good playgrounds
Albany Preschool, 527-6403, 850 Masonic Avenue in Albany, has all the things you list, and it's a lovely school. It is a cooperative, however, which means you will have to invest a significant amount of time helping to run the school. It is significantly cheaper than non-cooperatives. Louise
Re: Preschools with good playgrounds
The Albany Preschool (Cooperative) has a super play area; two yards, both with gardens. The south yard, which is the biggest and has the best sun, has a great working garden where the kids help to plant flowers, peas, berries, etc. There are also fig trees there. The north yard is a little cooler, but it also has a wealth of flowers and greenery. Both yards have play structures and lots of toys (riding toys, sand toys, trucks, etc. etc.) to use; the north yard has a popular little play house as well. Both yards are safely fenced,though the north yard's fence is chain link (with some privacy features like greenery and a cut-out train). Outdoor play is encouraged (including water play), and if your child is energetic, he could well spend almost all of his day outdoors -- it's his choice. My son only goes inside for the required circle times, ''story and rest,'' and lunch/snacks.
Two provisos it's hard to get in (your child is a little young for this year), so you would have to apply early (Albany residents have preference, though kids from other communities do get in). And the elevated BART tracks are right across the street, though this doesn't seem to bother any of the kids in the slightest. Good luck! Linda
More accolades for Albany Preschool! (850 Masonic, 527-6403) I just wanted to point out that they also have an afternoon program, which does not require parental participation in the classroom, and is excellent. The teachers are all very dedicated and caring, and most have been teaching there for many years. My son has been in the afternoon program for over a year, and he loves it. Suzanne
I highly recommend Albany Preschool. My children went there, and still (they are teenagers) speak fondly of their years there. Also, I am a preschool teacher, and I think Albany Preschool is one of the best schools I have ever seen or worked at.
My daughter's wonderful preschool, the Albany Preschool, still has openings in both the morning and afternoon programs for Sept. 98. The morning is a co-op (9-12), the afternoon program(12-3 or 12-5) is run as a regular (non-co-op) program. Located at 850 Masonic Avenue near Solano, there are two play yards as well as a cooking & art projects everyday, guinea pigs and even a gecko. The school is remodeling the bathroom to meet ADA guidelines starting next week, so we will be wheel-chair accessible when school opens on September 14th! For information, please call: 527-6403. Roxane