Albany Preschool Coop

Community Subscriber

Albany, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

DSS Facility License #: 
non-profit parent cooperative
(510) 600-3416
info [at]
Masonic near Solano
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
33 months - 60 months
Monthly Cost: 
8:00am - 6:00pm
Additional Services & Features: 
Afternoon option, Part-time available, Year-round
About Our Program: 

Albany Preschool is a year-round, play-based cooperative preschool for kids ages 3 - 5. Established in 1937, Albany Preschool parents and teachers work together to create a nurturing community of lifelong learners and friends. We offer morning (with classroom participation), afternoon and full day schedule options. Our programs offer a variety of activities; see our website for more information: Openings are available for the 2022-23 school year. 

Parent Q&A

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  • Wondering about Albany Coop Preschool

    (7 replies)

    We are looking at cooperative preschools in Berkeley and Albany for the fall. We have applied to CCC, Dandelion and Albany preschool.  I am curious to hear from families that go to Albany preschool for just the morning or afternoon. I am worried that because many kids are there all day, those children will bond more. My son has been with us his entire life and I worry about him connecting with other kids. The other 2 schools seem like most kids will be there just in the morning. But I could be wrong about how many kids stay for the extended hours.

    Albany has the best commute for us and that is also weighing heavily in my decision. But then I worry that we will be the only Berkeley family at Albany preschool.  Should that matter? I was hoping that maybe my son could know know someone when starting kindergarten but that might be unkikely anyways. 

    We have been waitlisted at CCC and haven't heard from Albany yet... so the decision might not even be ours. 

    Would love to hear experiences at any of those schools or others I have overlooked.  

    Thank you!


    Wishing you good luck with your preschool search! I understand your concern about forming bonds but if your child is going to the program at the same time every day, they will form bonds appropriate for their age. When the kids are older, kids seem to become more "loyal" to friendships  but at this age, a child who is only there half day will make friends with the kids that are there that half day. My child was there until 1pm 3 or 4 days a week (I can't remember) and formed good bonds with many kids. 

    My child went to Kensington Nursery School 7 years and I cannot recommend it enough from how it was then. It is also a co-op but without a big commitment. It has 2 big play areas, wonderful adult to child ratio with guided activities part of the time and a whole lot of opportunities for free play indoors and out. I appreciated the daily little bits of foreign language exposure, mostly Spanish here, learning songs, counting, colors- wonderful fun and great brain development. The teachers there were all  so good with the kids, maintaining limits with positive attitudes. Painting, snacks, a year-end science fair that is a blast for the entire family, a "trike-a-thon" fund raiser! The kids always seemed happy, with a lot of laughter at pick-up.And they are really, really serious about ensuring quiet for those who require a nap- there is a space for those who nap and those who don't during scheduled nap time. 

    I just checked out their website and don't see any staff list but hope many from our time are still there- they were all great!

    I would definitely recommend scheduling a tour to see if this could be another option for you. 

    We live in Berkeley and went to the Albany Co-op for the morning program. A lot of families didn't live close by. It helped that the kids played for a bit after pickup across the street under the Bart-- where the exercise equipment is. 

    We liked that the school started with a morning circle. It helped ours start the day. Being able to volunteer and get to know other kids is great for parents. I also liked that they provided snack--at other co-ops parents have to take turns bringing snack for all. They also had more structure than other co-ops in music time and a couple of simple plays.

    No co-ops have a lot of structure and there were cliques of kids--that clique thing would change every year, of course. Parents were always kind to the kids who visited their station. The teachers didn't try to draw out the kids or connect them, but our other preschool didn't either. It's just luck in general if your kid connects with other kids--true throughout school.

    Getting involved in board and volunteering can help your kid bond with others--since parents will be more open to it. Don't be shy to say your kid would love a playdate with someone--if you see a possible connection. Just hang out and chat.

     We liked the co-op--but both preschools we tried weren't amazing for us. I don't think it's really the preschool's fault--it's a rare preschool that would have met my hopes. Bottom line, preschools are tricky to run/teach.

    Hi! I have a child currently at Albany Preschool. We are part of the all day program, but the whole school community is quite close. My experience is a little unique because we started during 2020 when childcare centers were required to have pods. When we had pods, I think the kids within the pods got really close. Now that there are no mandated pods, the kids seem to have all bonded quite well across the different programs. I know this is a perspective from an all day family, which is not exactly what you asked for, but I wanted to chime in to say that the school has been a wonderful experience for my kid, and I've seen kids bond across the AM, PM, and all day programs.

    For what it's worth, the all day kids only make up about 1/3 of the families at APS. I don't know exact numbers, but anecdotally, it seems like 1/3 of the families live in Albany, 1/3 live in Berkeley, and a 1/3 live in Contra Costa County (mix of Richmond and El Cerrito).

    I'm happy to answer any specific questions you may have. I love APS! It's been wonderful for us.

    Hi, I’m the enrollment coordinator for Albany Preschool so I can give you the inside scoop.  We have a fixed number of full day spots and just over a quarter of the kids are full day. The rest have a morning or afternoon schedule. The kids bond around shared interests, not their schedules –  for example, there are the kids that build and dig together in the sandbox, the tricycle riders, the ones that love magna tiles, or the group that dives into pretend play. One great thing about a co-op are the preschool community events that parents organize, from play dates to a yearly camping trip, so there will be opportunities for kids and parents to connect outside of school as well. My twins graduated from Albany Preschool 10 years ago and we are still friends with families we met there who went on to different elementary schools. 

    I can also tell you that Albany Preschool is not predominately Albany families. It varies slightly year to year, but this year about 29% of the kids are from Albany, 20% from Berkeley and the rest are from West Contra Costa County.  

    For many of our kids Albany Preschool is their first childcare experience, so our teachers are very experienced with helping children (and parents) with the transition. There’s no one rule fits all; the teachers work with each child’s temperament and personality and they want your child to have a successful and happy experience in school. Contact me if you'd like to get the information we send out over the summer about preparing for preschool and the transition, with tips, pictures book suggestions, etc.

    I will be emailing acceptance notices out by mid-February if not sooner. Feel free to email me if you have more questions: info at

    We were an Albany Preschool family for four years. We did both the morning only and all day program. When we were there, most kids are actually just there in the morning. There were only two kids (out of 24) who did the all day program when we were there two years ago. I would not worry about your kid not bonding for being a morning only kid. My kid who did all day had his special friends in the morning and his special friends in the afternoon program.

    I would also not worry about being the only Berkeley family at Albany Preschool. You will likely not be the only family who does not live in Albany. In all the years we were there, a good number of families were from Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond and Kensington, in addition to Albany. I will also say that despite being an Albany family and later going into an Albany elementary school, neither of my kids got any of their Albany Preschool classmates in their kindergarten class. There were a few kids at the same school, but not in the same classroom. 

    Overall, we really enjoyed our time at Albany Preschool. I personally enjoyed my hours in the classroom, meeting other parents and being able to see my kid in the preschool setting. I recommend it without hesitation. 

    Hello - both my children went through Albany Preschool so I was there 4 years straight.  We are not Albany residents but the kids both made great friends and relationships that lasted.  In my first 2 years, I had a baby at home so my daughter was in the PM program that didn't require participation.  In my last 2 years with my youngest, we did the AM program where I participated weekly.  They were both great experiences and the kids connected well.  It's been years now so I have no idea what's changed but from our experience, I do recommend it as a great preschool.

    My child went to APS for morning only and did a couple afternoons/week. There seemed to be no problem with friends, bonding or transition. Be sure you understand what you are looking for in a co-op and be sure to meet and talk with the teachers/staff. I didn't go with my gut feeling about the head of school and ended up enrolling because of convenience, but it turned out not to be a good fit. I have experience with other preschool co-ops, but APS is not a 100% parent-run school .. the head of school is really the person in charge so you have to vibe with her. I'm glad we were only there a short time. Fortunately in the short time, we made good friends, so it was worthwhile.

  • Thank you for any updated feedback about Albany Co-Op preschool -- the sense of community, the kids. Thanks!

    Our daughter, now in kindergarten, loved being at Albany Preschool. She still talks about her time there, and has the odd morning where she wishes she was going there still. The play areas have so many options; the program is inclusive, fosters independent learning, and meets children where they are. The diverse community of parent volunteers and teaching staff meant the children were exposed to other cultures through songs, holidays, foods, etc. The teachers guided the kids through losing a class pet (RIP Fluffy!), classmates moving away, and new siblings joining families. Being a part of a co-op, we were also more invested as parents, which was great for us. (After our experience at APS, we chose to enroll at Crestmont School, a K-8 co-op, with two other APS alumni families.) I recommend taking a tour, attending any open houses that will occur this spring, and definitely checking out the spring fair!

    This is our third year (and second kid) at Albany Preschool and we love it. We love the teachers and the co-op community is great. My kid goes three days a week so I participate once every other week. I’m lucky my work schedule gives me the opportunity to participate, but there is always the option of swapping days with another family or hiring a substitute if I cannot make my scheduled participation day.

    When I first started participating I was super nervous with the kids, but now I really enjoy then opportunity to be in the classroom. First, you get to see firsthand what your kid does, who they play with, etc.. Second, you get to see how great the teachers are with the kids i.e., how they diffuse an argument or help put a nervous child at ease. Even if you don’t realize it, the teachers quickly pick up on the habits of each kid (i.e. who likes art, who likes to dig in the sand, who plays well with whom). Third, you get to learn the personalities of all the kids in the classroom. You learn who’s rambunctious, who’s shy, who’s easy-going, who’s a slow eater, etc. Some of the kids can be quite a hoot! It is quite interesting to see how the kids grow and change over the course of a year. Fourth, you get to know and meet more parents of similar-aged kids. A lot of us are in similar boats, so it is always nice to be able to swap stories and experiences.

    The school has a play-based philosophy. There is some schedule/routine to each day but for the bulk of the day the child gets to select what they want to do. Kids can play outdoors rain or shine (as long as they are dressed appropriately). There are also many activities to do inside as well. There are things to appeal to pretty much any kid. My oldest thrived there. My younger child is still trying to get his footing. Every kid is different and the teachers have been a great help in getting him settled.

    Going back to the co-op community aspect, one aspect I liked was getting to know the kids and them getting to know me. Other parents also get to know your kid and your child knows them. This is absolutely fabulous if you are in a park and your child wants to run off to play with some school friends but you are say stuck on a bench feeding child #2. Fellow co-op parent will holler “Don’t worry! I’ve got them!” and follow said group of kids. You really don’t worry because your child knows them and this parent likely knows what to expect from your kid from seeing them at school. Also, Albany Preschool has been around for over 80 years. If you live in Albany, odds are you will find someone who went there. I’ve met people with kids now in their 20s and 30s who went there. My husband met a woman in her 70s at the Albany Senior Center who went to Albany Preschool. It’s a great conversation starter.

Parent Reviews

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My daughter attends Albany Preschool. She is (and we are) so happy here. Play-based, outdoors, excellent teachers, and a co-op setup where some parents are in the classroom in the mornings, and all families take on various duties, from being on the board, to maintenance and gardening and events and more. Solid communication, thought-out policies, and a friendly community that we hope to be a part of even after our daughter moves on next year. 

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

RE: Summer camp for 4-year-olds ()

My child did do Edmo in 2017 (as an 8 year old) and I found it disorganized and not good value for money. As a parent of two tweens, I have learned that the typical summer day camps around here tend to be too much change and chaos for little kids. 4 definitely seems too young to get accustomed to a new set of rules, new kids, new counselors, etc. each week. I would suggest trying to find a babysitter instead, less upheaval for your twins. if you do end up doing a "camp" type experience, my strong recommendation would be to do it through an organization that specializes in little kids, such as Habitot or a local preschool. My kids also did camps at Habitot when they were young and it was a good experience. Albany Preschool also (in normal times, anyway) does summer camp by the week, and we loooooove Albany Preschool.

Albany cooperative preschool usually has a stand alone summer program. You don't have to do work hrs. Covid makes everything crazy, but it's a nice school. Try emailing.

So, we're finishing up our first year at APS and in this case, I feel like I can say "we" because yes, it's a co-op.

My 3 year old has really, really enjoyed himself. His parents have as well, as much as we were nervous about the co-op commitment, we're incredibly happy that we did so.

Before I go on-the price listed above, doesn't seem accurate and prices are listed directly on the APS website.  The morning program runs $639 for 5 days.

In many ways, the morning and afternoon programs feel like 2 different places because only the mornings require parent participation while the afternoon does not.  Each day there's a handful of kids that stay the entire day, interestingly, that seems something of a badge of honor.

A bit of background on our preschool choice: With my oldest, we had eliminated APS bc we didn't think we'd be able to swing the participation, as well as, the required 40 hours of service to the school.  While Neighborhood up in Kensington was good, we weren't sure while we already had an elementary school kid, if we'd be able to create a village for our youngest.  So we decided to try APS with an eye on creating that village for him.

Without a doubt, the co-op environment does help you create that village of support. One of the great positives to me, has been getting to know many of the other parents, their kids and seeing my kids (yes including the older one who never attended APS) be comfortable with another group of supportive families (yes families, there's a certain bond across ages seemingly for those kids that went to APS).  There's also been a ton of crossover between our Albany elementary and APS.

It's probably worth a note, APS does follow the AUSD school calendar exactly, with one small exception.  The first week of school begins a week after AUSD begins.  But, staff development days, Thanksgiving break, Holiday break, ski week, spring break etc all track exactly.  This has made our lives exponentially easier.

In terms of the day to day: the kids really do have a run of the place.  It's worth a tour if you care at all about outside space for your kids.

The north yard houses a full play structure for the 2-5 age set.  There are also scoot bikes in that yard.  The kids race around the play structure by the end of the year at what seem like insane speeds,

The south yard houses a really, really large sandbox, a couple of swings, a 2 story playhouse with a slide into the sandbox and more. One of the joys of participating has been digging 15-20 foot rivers through the sandbox with 15-20 kids.

Snacks have come up here before and yes, there are days where they eat cheese and crackers.  But, there's just as many days that they're eating freshly prepared waffles from scratch, fried rice, potstickers or the current favorite, freshly popped popcorn.  I'm sure my little man is going to be rather disappointed when he goes to TK and realizes snack now amounts to some cheese, fruit and a starch in a small container.

Lastly, if you're wondering about the academics of the place.  It's interesting right bc much of what the research says these days is that, playing helps kids in this age learn more quickly than more academic pursuits.  But, one thing that I've noticed is that the co-op environment is an interesting one in this regard.  The participator in the north yard, reads books of their choosing each day.  So my son is constantly exposed to books that we wouldn't choose on our own.  Between those stories and an afternoon circle, there's at least a half hour of reading baked into the regular school day, which isn't how we pictured a co-op at first,

All in all, we were unsure, maybe even worried about doing a co-op but APS has been a great fit for us and we'd, without a doubt, do so again.

I think Albany Preschool for the child who is not outgoing.  my daughter is/was reserved ouside the house, and it was a wonderful fit for her.

Just wanted to add I think 3 is a little young to be "diagnosed" with social anxiety. It can be a self fulfilling prophecy. Keep in mind kids can change in lots of ways and that's a pretty sticky label for such a youngster. While respecting his temperament,  don't assume that label is destiny.

Albany Preschool offers a non-coop half-day (9-1) option by the week over the summer! My daughter loved it there.

I second Albany Preschool! It is a play-based preschool. I know they raised silk worms and praying mantises last year. There is a little garden area in one of the yards and water pumps the kids can play with. There's pretty much as much outdoor play as your child would like - rain or shine!

Albany Preschool is a co-op so that is something to keep in mind. Family involvement differs between the morning and afternoon programs so families can pick what works best for them. 

Albany Preschool!!! Love that place. Two great play yards, and class pets when possible.

We love this school and most of all, we love the teachers! We are really happy with the variety of activities available. There is so much to do here. There is art, crafts, games, singing, dancing, learning new languages. They have two yards; the north yard with a standard play structure and the south yard with a huge sand box, swings, fountains, and play house. The kids have snacks every morning (no sweets, of course) and the kids help out with gathering everyone when it's time.

We were a little apprehensive of the co-op system at first and the level of involvement. Honestly, it became more of an investment into our community. We have more opportunities to interact with the other parents, families of whom we will probably join into elementary school, middle school, and high school. I volunteered in the maintenance program where we do clean-up and fix things around the classroom and yard. For a few hours each month, I had a valid excuse to leave my kids and lovely wife at home while I ate doughnuts and drank coffee with the other adults. Not a bad deal!

We really appreciate the high level of respect and mutual understanding between teacher and student, and between students themselves. My son has gained so much confidence through learning how to communicate. Despite the free-form nature of play, there is a set schedule so the students learn the system very quickly. Seeing the transformation and growth in my son has been very rewarding.

My son has been attending Albany Preschool since the fall. He goes three days a week and he loves it! He started sobbing once when I told him he would be going to the library for storytime with his grandparents on one of his off days instead going to school. We’ll be enrolling him five days a week next year. Heck, even my one year old looks forward to taking his big brother to school since he gets to poke around a bit and listen to some songs during the drop-off/pick-up circle times.

The kids get to pick what they want to do for the day. It’s fun to see what the minds of 3 and 4 year olds will do with all they are provided at the school. They can do art, play games, dress up, read stories, dig in the sand, or play in one of the yards all day. There are certain activities that the teachers will specify but otherwise the kids will lead their own activities.

At first I wasn’t sure about the co-op program when we were thinking about enrolling, but now I think it’s great system. There are full day and half day options (plus extended care) that you can choose to enroll your child in. The tuition rates are lower than a regular preschool because it is a co-op system. Being able to participate in every other week in the morning lets me see first-hand what my child does in school. No more wondering if he is making friends, causing trouble, eating, etc.. I was pleasantly surprised to find out he recognized the flags for El Salvador, Nicaragua and many other countries, let alone pronounce them! Also you can see first-hand how your child interacts with the teachers and how great the teachers are with the kids. I’m lucky that my work schedule allows me to participate in the morning. If you can’t participate, the PM session does not require parent participation. A few families can also hire an approved substitute for their morning participation.

My husband also looks forward to the maintenance days (our selected family job). Yes, he has to put in a few hours of (not difficult) work a month but he gets a morning out of the house, away from the kids and is fed coffee and donuts.

RE: Seeking Co-Op for 3yr old ()

If it's a convenient location for you, check out Albany Preschool. My children did not go there, but many of my neighbors' & friends' children went. I love their community, and when I comment on how nice it seems, my friends confirm that it was a great experience for them and their children. And they remain friends into middle school so far. . .

Albany Preschool! Two outdoor yards and TONS of activities for the kids.  My daughter comes home with dirty clothes everyday from being outside all day!  The children get to choose where and what they want to do!  It's a play- based affordable pre-school coop! I highly recommend it! Teachers are wonderful, interactive and caring too.  

RE: Seeking Co-Op for 3yr old ()

I love Albany Preschool! My son currently goes there 3 days a week. The kids get to pick what task they want to do whether it is art, dress up, digging in the sandbox, playing on the monkey bars, etc.. My son loves it there so much that next year, he's going 5 days a week! I also like being able to be part of the preschool experience. My son seems to love it when I sit with him during the morning circle time but once it is time to play, he is off to a different part of the school. All I will see of him on my class participation day is him running past me waving "Hi Mommy!" as he is off to the next task. I personally love that he feels comfortable to wander around the school on his own and not cling to me. It gives me a chance to hang out with the other kids and see their little personalities. I talk about the fun I have on my participation days so much that my husband plans on taking some time off so he can participate as well.

The other aspect of the co-op program is the family job. My husband actually looks forward to his maintenance days (our selected family job). Yes, he has to put in a few hours of (not difficult) work a month but he gets a morning out of the house with other adults, away from the kids and is fed coffee and donuts.

It sounds like Albany Preschool might be a good option for you! My son goes there currently and I heard they still have openings for next year. There are two outside yards for the kids to play in rain or shine. One yard has a playground with bikes and trikes. The other yard has a giant sandbox with swings, shovels, balls, water tables and planter boxes. Albany Preschool is a co-op preschool and I participate in the mornings typically in one of the yards. The kids decide what they want to do. Us adults just make sure no one gets hurt and help the kids get out the items they want to play with. Last week I went on a worm hunt (We found four.), was served "lunch" of sandy soup and helped dig trenches around the lake in the sandbox and set "bridges" for the kids to cross the trenches. I recommend you take a tour and check out the Albany Preschool Facebook page. The Facebook page has pictures of some of the kids' activities during the day.

RE: Seeking Co-Op for 3yr old ()

Albany Preschool cannot be beat for excellence of care & education. It is "co-op lite", meaning the afternoon families don't *have* to volunteer (but you can) although do have the family job, etc. that goes with co-op life. Morning families do have a weekly shift. You can also try it out over the summer with no commitment.


I recommend you check out Albany Preschool. It's a play-based preschool with a Reggio-Emilia approach. Besides the great teachers and program, one of things I really liked about it is that the outdoor space is open most of the time, compared to some schools I toured where there were set recess times where all the kids went out at the same set time. At the schools with set recess times I found the indoor play areas a little too chaotic as there were kids running around that obviously need to be outside blowing off some steam.  My two daughters attended Albany Preschool at the same time - one was active and loved being outdoors in the sandbox, swing, riding trikes, whereas her quiet sibling preferred quieter play inside so the indoor/outdoor set up was perfect. Check out their Facebook page (link is on their website, and you will get a good sense of what the school is about, and how children are allowed to explore and grow through play. It's a wonderful school!

Sounds like you need Albany Preschool!  They are play-based, lots of outdoor time and all questions & exploring allowed!  Teachers are warm, attentive and really encourage questions, exploration and tons of play.  My daughter comes home dirty and with tons of art projects!  I know they are aware of toxins in toys so are particularly choosy about what's allowed at the school.  You can request a tour of the school from the website  and check it out yourself!  


My daughter loves Albany Preschool! Because of its great reputation, I thought we'd be at the end of a long waiting list for next year. We ran into some other parents at the park who mentioned that there were immediate openings in the afternoon program, so we happily snatched one up in the middle of the year. It was absolutely the right decision. We've tried a lot of childcare/preschool situations over the last year (nanny, playgroups, Teeter Tots, daycares/babysitters, etc.) and I've actually never seen my daughter so excited to go back to a place before. It's just such a happy school, and the teachers are wonderful. Heck, sometimes I want to stay for the afternoon too.

These are some of the standout things I've noticed about the school:

  • There is a lovely, comforting structure to the program. I love the circle times at the beginning and end, where the kids sing in many languages and teachers share the art/activity/snack plan or news for the day. Teachers are so warm, nurturing and gentle, and seem to keep effortless order; the kids are truly interested in what's going on!
  • It's a play-based program, and do these kids play! It's great that my kid uses the change of clothes in her cubby every couple of days because she's been making mud pies or working hard at the water table.
  • The art projects are actually neat. My daughter chatters a lot about the things she's made in school and loves bringing her beautiful works home. 
  • Snacks are simple and healthy, and kids serve themselves. My daughter doesn't ask for juice anymore: "At school we only drink milk and water." Yes!

A note on the cost, because that was an important factor for us: it's very reasonable compared to other programs; this is in large part due to the co-op structure. (In fact, I paid only a little less for our city-run preschool, per hour). The afternoon program is slightly more expensive than mornings, but does not require in-class parent participation. 

Our 4yr old has been at Albany Preschool for 3 months now, and we're very happy there. She's attended a number of daycares and preschools, as we've moved around the past few years, and this feels like a really nice place to land. We've attended preschools that range in size from 6 kids to over 50 - APS is in the middle, and feels right. There are about 15 kids there at any given time. She attends three days/week, and so do a number of other kids - but not all on the same days, so she actually gets to know a greater number of kids but is in a relatively small group at any given day. 

I love the sense of community around the school. You get to know other parents and kids, and then we often run into them around Albany, Berkeley, and El Cerrito. We're new to the area, so this was appealing to us. Parents participate 2-4 times/month if your child is in the AM program. I really like the opportunity to spend some time at the school, but you can also arrange for or pay for a sub if you can't make a given day.

I'd highly recommend the school. One drawback, for some families, may be the hours (9-4:30). But on the flip side, the price is very affordable.

When I was looking for a local preschool, I hoped to connect with community of caring parents, and I found that right away at Albany Preschool. What pleasantly surprised me -- in a BIG way -- were the incredible teachers! They are so perceptive, loving, and attentive. Teacher Susy, for example, recently celebrated 25 years (!!) at APS. We were so proud to see her win Habitot’s “Teacher’s Make a Difference” award this year.

I love seeing my daughter run back and forth between the play yards, where she can swing, play with water, ride bikes, and make up games. Inside, she especially enjoys wholesome snacks (brown rice bowls!), the art table, and dress up. I'm grateful to see the how the school recycles materials for art projects, and also composts everything.

My daughter has gone to both the morning and afternoon programs for the past two years, and it's so great to see her singing, playing, and making friends. Children are really encouraged to get messy and have fun! Come and have a tour, and you'll see for yourself what a special place this is.

The minute I walked into Albany Preschool I knew I wanted my child to attend the school.  I was initially turned on to the school when we went to the Spring Fair in 2015. I was so amazed that this little preschool threw the entire event and it was all parent driven!  The musical performances were fun (turns out they perform weekly at the school), the games were great for the kids and I just loved the play-based environment.  I soon toured the pre-school that summer and decided to enroll my then 3 year old.  There are two options available, a morning and an afternoon enrollment.  The morning is co-op oriented where the parents participate and the afternoon is drop-off and no parent participation required.  My daughter is currently in her second year and she has developed and learned so much I can hardly keep up.  She started the school not speaking any English as we are a Spanish-speaking household.  Not only is she now fluent in English but she is also able to sing songs in several different languages as well.  The school is fully play-based so the kids are allowed and encouraged to play, explore, paint, dance and express themselves.  The school incorporates science, math and reading throughout the day while playing and exploring.  Teachers and families are from all over the world so I love the international flair the school has as well.  I highly recommend APS and encourage parents to take a tour and come to one of the many events the school puts on for the public!

This is an unsolicited review for APS because I truly feel like it is the best local preschool, if your family can swing the part-time schedule and co-op commitment. The school's teachers are energetic and caring, the play yards have everything a small child could want and then some, the programming is engaging and delightful. My daughter attended for a school year, and has done two years of the weekly summer sessions - which don't have a co-op requirement, so it's a great way to test the waters. I love APS; more importantly so does my daughter even on weeks when she doesn't have a buddy there, there's enough stimulation that she's happy and active. APS was the 4th and final preschool my family attended, and over the past 7 years I toured over 20 others between Richmond and Berkeley. I have seen gender bias, violent gun play, and sugary snacks at a variety of preschools, I might even go so far as to say they are common in preschools in my experience - but not at APS.  I do not exaggerate when I say the APS program is the best I've seen for kids in my 7 years of preschool searching and attending.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2015

RE: Seeking a small, warm, play-based preschool

Albany Preschool meets your listed wishes: In my 4th and final year there with 2nd child. It's a great school. happy aps parent

May 2015

RE: Preschool with room left for 3 year old girl?
Albany Preschool in Albany still has openings for the Fall in their Afternoon Program, as well as openings for their Summer Camps June - August. It's a play based co-op with great large outdoor spaces. One thing I loved about the school is that there wasn't a set recess time for outdoor time like some of the schools I visited. During the unstructured play time both indoor and outdoor spaces are open to the kids and they can spend as much time as they want in either. One of the yards has a covered sandbox, so that even if it's drizzling or not raining too hard the kids that want/need to be outside can be. You can check it out at Albany Preschool almuni family

March 2015

RE: Looking for a play-based, diverse preschool for my daughter

You should check out Albany Preschool. I know for a fact they still have openings in the Afternoon Program (1pm - 4:30). It is a co-op, but the afternoon doesn't require parent participation in the classroom. You just have to have a family job (averages 4 hours a month), help w/ the fundraiser (time, not money), work one maintenance day (on a Saturday and you can choose your day out of a couple) and attend the monthly parent meeting in the evening that's only an hour. Let them know you will have an infant and they will try to give you an ''easier'' family job like laundry. It's play based with opening and closing circle, and there are a couple of great music and movement teachers that come. One thing I love about the school is that the outdoor area is always open during free play time, there's no ''recess'' time like some schools I visited. It's even usually open when it's raining unless it's raining really hard because they have a covered area. The teachers are fantastic and it's a great community of parents. You can check it out at anon

May 2014

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

August 2013

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 A Happy APS Parent

June 2012

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

March 2012


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 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

Jan 2012

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

Dec 2010

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! happy Albany Preschool family

Nov 2010

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 for more details. Joy, Happy APS Parent

May 2010

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. 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

April 2010

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 anon

Feb 2010

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 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] and for enrollment questions you can contact Ebba De La Rosa at ebbadlr [at] 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

Oct 2008

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

Feb 2007

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

Jan 2007

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 or call the Membership Chairperson at 525-2286. Albany Preschool

May 2005

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

March 2005

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

Jan 2005

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

Dec 2003

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. 
Albany Parent

Oct. 2002

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

June 2002

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

June 2002

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

March 2000

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

Nov 1999

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.

Aug 1998

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