Full-Day Preschools

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi, I'm looking to enroll my 3 year old in preschool for the 2023 - 2024 school year. I'm afraid we're applying a bit late (we had some personal changes and just found out he needed care next year recently). I've checked the listing on BPN, but I wanted to see if anyone knew of any preschools accepting 3 years olds for 2023 - 2024, that they recommend? We live in North Oakland and are looking for a full time M - F program. Thanks in advance for the help! 

    Guidepost Montessori in Emeryville is pretty close to North Oakland and accepts on a rolling basis. My 3 yr old is currently enrolled full time.

    For all day childcare, try Temple Sinai Preschool on 28th and Webster.  Excellent preschool. My kids did well there.

    Hello! We love our preschool, Rockridge Little School, on College Ave. Our director, Cindy, confirmed that they are still accepting applications and have openings for the Fall. The application is on the school's website, and Cindy is very helpful if you were to contact her directly. I'm also happy to share more about our experience (our son will be graduating from RLS this summer, and our daughter is enrolled for the Fall) - feel free to reach out and good luck!

    EBI on Alcatraz is definitely still enrolling. We are currently there and applied in late February 2022.

    OUSD has a pre school program

    Little Beans Preschool in Berkeley is great.  They don't tend to fill up as fast as some of the bigger names so its definitely worth calling or emailing to see if they have a spot (the website says they're currently enrolling: https://www.littlebeanspreschool.com/index.html).  Hours are M-F, 8-5:30

    We absolutely LOVE Little Beans Preschool.  It's in Berkeley on Acton & Addison.  We joined in August and my daughter has thrived.  Feel free to reach out if you'd like to chat more.


  • My husband and I are looking for a preschool that can take our 2 year old as early as 7:30am, picking up at 5:30am. We live in Piedmont .  

    We plan to tour the Chatam preschool, does anyone have comments about this school, or have recommendations for other schools with long hours?

    Our child goes to The Renaissance International School (TRIS) which might fit your needs. It’s Montessori and the hours are 7:30a-6pm, with a community full of working families.

    Colibri Preschool,  which is near Piedmont, is open 7-6. We don't use the long hours but many families do. It's a great place and definitely worth considering. 

    I can recommend my daughters preschool, Vivan Los Ninos, but the latest pick up is 5pm. Drop off is as early as 7:30. A few weeks ago they had a few openings. Hilda is the director and we love her.

  • Hello

    Does anyone have any suggestions / advice on before & aftercare programs for preschools in the Berkeley area.

    Most preschools I see are open only in the morning.... we need help from 8-5pm 3 days a week. 

    Any ideas / suggestions / thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for your time 

    We really enjoy UC Berkeley ECEP. Cons: expensive, long waitlist, harder to get in if you are not UC affiliated, but not impossible. This year, slightly truncated hours due to covid/omicron/staffing challenges (8:15-4:45) but they are working towards extending it. 

    Pros: very high quality, has clear protocols, UCB has a very thorough vaccination policy for covid + other things (all faculty/staff AND guardians have to turn in complete vaccine records, including flu. Student assistants (UCB undergrads) are lovely. Teachers with lots of experience and advanced degrees in many cases. Parents are diverse, mix of UC Berkeley faculty, staff, postdocs, PhD students as well as some members of the community. My favorite part is they provide 2 snacks plus a great lunch. They use the same nutritionist as the university to prepare meals. My kid always eats so much and I love not having to plan this.

    Check out Kensington Nursery School. My child went there 7 years ago. It is a well organized program with lots of indoor and outdoor space and terrific hours for working parents. I felt like the adults were all very professional, fun, loving and took great care of the kids. 

    Hearts Leap preschools have both part-time and full-time options. Our son has been on the 8:30a-5:00p schedule there for several years. 

    Step One School in Berkeley offers excellent full-day care. The afternoon program is so great the many kids (including mine) asked to stay for the afternoon program and never wanted to leave at pick-up. The teachers are very experienced professionals, the outdoor space is phenomenal, and every child is understood and seen. We were there for a total of five years and I can't say enough good things.

    Hi!  Our 3yo goes to Cedar Creek Montessori School in Berkeley.  He started at the preschool this past November and we've been quite impressed with the teachers and their care.  The preschool offers full days from 8am-5pm, five days a week, and are accepting new students right now!  



    There may be a waiting list, but Cornerstone Children's Center (CCC) of First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, on Dana & Channing Way is a great preschool/care and has part-time and full-time care. My 2 grandchildren were part of this loving community since infancy. 8:30 am - 3 pm or 8:30 am - 5:30 pm.  Good luck! http://cornerstonechildren.com/

  • Hi BPN folks! I am starting to research the world of preschools and quickly discovering that many of them (esp. the co-ops) are part-time hours! I naively thought that pre-school would end up being cheaper than full-time in-home daycare, but this is obviously not necessarily the case. If you are in a co-op, or a more affordable preschool and also working full-time, I gather you are still supplementing with other modes of childcare. How are you making it work? Are extended hours of care at a preschool basically babysitting, or do they make it a little more structured (in your experience)? Also, our in-home daycare doesn't do partial hours, so while I could reduce the # of full days, I couldn't do half-day afternoon at the daycare, after pre-school ends. Have you found that pre-school+supplement childcare works out to be cheaper/same/more expensive than full-time daycare? This matters to me, as I weigh whether or not to put my children in preschool when they turn 3 or 4, or not at all... thanks in advance!

    I didn't do the cost comparison you are looking for because frankly it never occurred to me to look at part-time preschools when I needed full-time care. I doubt you will find that part-time preschools will work for you, because they aren't designed to work for you.

    I don't know what your expectations are for structure, but an all-day preschool spends a minority of its time on structured class time. My daughter's (play-based) preschool had play time (outdoor, weather permitting), circle time, class time, lunch time, more play, nap, more play, story time, indoor play. That's structure, but maybe not the kind you meant.

  • Hi There!

    Any recommendations on a daycare located in El Cerrito area that are accepting toddlers? I need full-time care for my son who is 13 months old.

    Many thanks,

    Shalisa  :)

    Karen’s Kiddos.  I don’t know if they have room,  but this is a great place.  I’ve known Christina for years.  Very caring place.

    I've had my son at Auntie Shell's Childcare and Pre-K for a little over a year now (He just turned 2). She will have openings for toddlers in September. Her number: 510-684-2257.

    Highly recommend Nini’s Place in Richmond (Annex, close to Trader Joe’s Plaza area in El Cerrito). Our two children went there from ages 7 months to 3 years and we still drop by for visits, they are so fond of her!

    We’re really happy with Pride and Joy on Liberty St., although you’ll need to check with the director Moilan to see if there is space. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Preschool with early drop off in El Cerrito/Albany

March 2015

My 3 year old son has been in a wonderful home based day care most of his life. We've decided it's time to send him to a more structured environment to help him get ready for kindergarten. Many of the schools open at 8 am. I am a teacher and must drop him off around 7:30-7:45 to be at work on time. I addition we need him there until 4 pm. Any recommendations? Melynda

Hello, I am an EC mom and my son goes to Claremont Nursery in Colusa Circle. Their hours are 7am-6pm and serve lunch and snacks. They are more responsive to phone calls then emails so try calling them. http://www.claremontkids.com/html/aboutus_kensington.html Claremont Mom

You're going to want to tour Claremont Day Nursery in Kensington (right on the EC/Albany border at Kensington Circle). It is totally geared to working parents - opens at 7, closes at 6. I had other issues with it, but my child went for 2 years and loved it.

Claremont Day Nursery in the Kensington circle. -Teacher mom too

Nomura Preschool has an option for early drop-off (7:30am) and they are open until 6pm. It's not in El Cerrito/Albany, but is on Carlson Blvd in Richmond Annex, so very close. We love Nomura! http://www.nomurapreschool.com/ Nomura parent

Claremont Day in Kensington has an early drop off that should meet your needs. Anonymous

Full day preschool that closes in the summer?

Sept 2011

I'm a teacher and want to put my twins in a preschool next school year that offers full days but that closes in the summer, or offers a separate summer program, so that I don't have to keep them in care when I'm not teaching. Does anyone out there have a recommendation? Thanks! Leann

You didn't mention where you live, but my twins went to Pickles Preschool in Albany, and loved it. It is a full day 8:00-5:30 program. The summer is a separate session. It's a very sweet place. LK

Cedar Creek Montessori 's (http://cedarcreekmontessorischool.com/) summer program is week by week. You can participate (and pay for) as much or as little of the programing that works for your family. They also have early start time, which is great for a teaching schedule.

My daughter attends the Montessori Family School in Berkeley. They follow the ''academic'' year, from September to June, and then have summer session separately. What's great about how they run the summer program, aside from the wonderful topics they cover and how much fun they have (of course), is that you can register for each of the weeks individually, as opposed to having to register for the entire month or summer.

As a teacher, I'm sure you will love the way the school is child-centered. Children dictate much of what they do and when, and they can interact with students in the different classes. Also, the classes are mixed ages 3-6, so that siblings can be in the same classes together (those that aren't twins of course

I really can't say enough great things about the place. I believe they are having an open house coming up, maybe in November? The website is montessorifamily.com

I've toured many preschools in Berkeley, and this was unlike any other program I had ever seen! MFS mama

Full Time Orinda Preschools?

August 2010

We are moving to Orinda this fall, and have 2 sons, aged 4 and 2, currently in a FT preschool in Oakland. Our oldest will start kindergarten in 2011 at Sleepy Hollow and the youngest will start preschool next month 3 or 4 days per week from 8:30- 5:30. Can any working parents recommend Lamorinda preschools that allow for full days? heather

Our son went to Fountainhead Montessori , and we all loved it. As far as I know, it's the only f/t preschool in Orinda, but I may be wrong about that. The teachers are kind and patient, and seem to instill a real love of learning in the kids. We were only there for a year and a half (before our son went to K), but saw no turnover in administration or staff - I think may of them have been there for years. It's not cheap, though! - my only complaint. orinda mom

Our daughter went to the Old Firehouse School in Lafayette, which we loved. She had a wonderful experience there. She is 10 now, but at the time, that was one of the few full time preschools we were able to find in the Lamorinda area. Happy Old Firehouse Mom

Need great preschool three days a week 7:30-5:00

May 2010

Hello! I am starting to do research on preschools for my 19 month old. Unfortunately, I have some strict time constraints: I need three days a week 7:30 drop-off and 5 ish pick-up. It seems like the schools that I am interested in have later drop-offs (Sheffield, Monteverde, Heart's Leap, etc.)I am looking for a smallish mostly play-based school that also has some structure and planned activities (art/music/langauge), a lot of outside time and has a strong emphasis on socio-emotional development in S. Berkeley or N. Oakland. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking for fall of 2011. anon

You must call Lydia's daycare and preschool at 510-697- 9523. She is fabulous! My 20 mos old is thriving and she does full days. Located near Piedmont Ave./Oakland Kaiser/Harrison St. near right off of 580. Maya

I would encourage you to check out A Child's Garden , Christian Montessori school. They take children as young as 18 months, have a fun curriculum for toddlers through first grade. Both of my children attend, my youngest started when she was two. My eldest has completed kindergarten and is now almost done with first grade. Dorena has been very flexible with scheduling and works hard to meet the needs of working parents. Your scheduling needs seem to be be well within the realm of what she accommodates. A Child's Garden, in Albany (510) 524-8285 Tracy B.

Check out Cornerstone Children's Center on Channing in Berkeley. AI

My son currently goes to Shu Ren International School 's Preschool program. It is a play-based, theme-oriented program all taught in Mandarin. Even the kids without any Chinese re-inforcement at home are now speaking Mandarin. My son has loved going to school since he started there over a year ago and he will be in their kindergarten class next year. My second son will be in the pre-K program next year too. They are currently located in Berkeley on University, but this fall will be moving to South Berkeley/ North Oakland area. Their schedule runs from 8:30am to 3pm, but they have free care from 7:30-8:30am and they have extended care to 6pm. If you are interested, just give them a call to schedule a tour so you can see for yourself what a great school this is. Their website is www.shureninternationalschool.com. And their number is (510) 981-0320. Good luck in your search. I remember how hard it is. Christine, Shu Ren Mom

Full-day preschool, with less than 6-month wait?

Oct 2009

I am looking for a preschool or preschool-like childcare for my son who will turn 3 in February. It looks like I need to start applying now in hope of finding something for fall 2010, though I would love to start him in January if at all possible. I had no idea it would be such a challenge! I am looking for:

  * Full day:  Must accommodate typical 8-9 hour work day. * Less than $1,300/month * Location within Berkeley or Albany (live near Ashby BART, work near Gilman Ave/Target/UC Village) * Less than 6 month waitlist, if possible

Does such a thing exist? I've and applied to waitlists for two schools (well, one was just verbal, so I don't know If I'm really on the list). If you can recommend a school, or if you know about full-day options that have upcoming open houses, I'd love to hear from you! Linda

Try the Child Education Center in Berkeley. http://www.childeducationcenter.org/index.shtm My son went there for three-and-a half years. (It's also a daycare that starts taking children at age 3 months.) He just started kindergarten and is doing fabulously thanks to the great preschool experience he had at CEC. Other CEC moms tell me their kids are also doing in great in kindergarten. It's a play-based school with lots of fun extra classes and activities (capoiera, music, dance, etc.). They are serious about supporting kids' emotional growth while preparing them for kindergarten in a really fun way. Give them a call. I think there is no waiting list at the moment (although this may have changed). Andi

I recommend Child Education Center in Berkeley, on Browning Street, which is very close to University, and San Pablo. It's a very sweet school with classes for all ages from infant to preK. I have two girls who both went there for a year. The teachers are wonderful, and it's a very warm and loving environment for kids. The teachers each have their way with the kids, many of them are funny and help to humor the kids out of sad feelings about mom and dad dropping them off. They go on field trips, gymnastics classes, and capoeira, swim classes in the summer. Darlene is the director, and can be somewhat hard to get a hold of for a tour. That is just because she's very busy. Leave her a message, but if you don't get a reply, stop by the school and you may get a tour on the spot. Their website is here: http://www.childeducationcenter.org/ Best of luck to you! laura

I didn't see your original post, but there are a couple of openings at my daughter's preschool -- JCC of the east bay: http://prod.jcceastbay.org/childhood/preschool.html The school is open to both Jewish and non-Jewish families (we aren't Jewish and have been very happy there). Feel free to ask any questions about the school. Thanks, Kim

Seeking full time preschool for my 2 year old

May 2009

We are seeking a pre-school starting July/August as a preference for our 2 year old but will consider a daycare that has several 2 year olds. Looking for the Berkeley area but would consider kensington, albany, and parts of oakland. It's been difficult to find one during this time period because most are already full. We just decided that our full time work schedules were getting too difficult for the small home based daycare our son is at. kcj The JCC of the East Bay in Berkeley has a really great preschool which accepts 2-year-olds. Our daughter is just finishing up there (she's 5), and has a wonderful experience. Details at: http://prod.jcceastbay.org/childhood/preschool.html - Happy JCC East Bay familiy

My daughter's home based Montessori pre-school in the Grand Lake neighborhood of Oakland has one opening this summer and at least one for the fall. The openings are for kids aged 2-5. Creative Learning Children's House has 12 children and 3 teachers. We are very happy with the loving, nurturing care that our daughter gets there. Call the director, Agnes at (510)834-8196. Martha

I didn't see the original post, but our son is at Claremont Day Nursery and we LOVE it. they have several branches, but our son is at the Kensington one. Can't speak highly enough about it as a full-time option. most parents work full time, enriched program goes all day (rather than just 'childcare' in the afternoon. they also provide lunch which is a huge benefit for working parents. it's great. they may be booked for next year, though - it would be worth it to look into it... Amy

Preschools with FT schedules/childcare?

March 2009

Our son is 16 months and we are starting to think about preschools in a year or so... We live in North Berkeley and would love to have him somewhere nearby. I went to a Montessori preschool and kindergarten and loved it, and am thinking I'd like similar for him, but we need a program that can provide full time care (seems like most run from 9-2 or so). Does anyone have any recommendations for a preschool that fits this bill? Thanks so much for your input. sarah

Sunshine Playschool has full time. My son will begin in Sept and I was very pleased with the program. I had looked at 5 other preschools/home daycare. They offer full and part day programs between the hours of 7:30A.M.-5:30 P.M. Monday-Friday, year round. Please call Brianna at 307-4365 or email her at brianna [at] sunshineplayschool.org for more information. anon

Berkeley Montessori School (Francisco, almost at Shattuck) offers care from 8am to 6pm. The regular ''school'' day is roughly 8:45 to 3pm, but the aftercare is fantastic. Check out the website: http://www.bmsonline.org and don't miss the video of BMS teachers in their students words on the home page. I'ts a pretty magical place. Happy BMS parent

Full-Time Preschools in Oakland

May 2008

My family is relocating to Oakland from Boston this July. I am coming to look at homes and preschools in mid-late May and am anxious to find a preschool for my daughter. Since both my husband and I work,I am looking for a full-time preschool (5 days/9-5 p.m), preferably year-round, but if they have summer programs that could work as well. I have already contacted some preschools, but many of them don't offer full-time hours. I would be grateful for any feedback- I need to schedule tours/visits in the next week or two for our trip out West. Emily

My daughter goes to Lakeshore Children's Center (3534 Lakeshore Avenue, 510.893.4048). It's a large preschool, 48 students divided into two houses. Regular hours are 7:30 to 5:30, and can be extended 1/2 hour on either end for an exta fee. The teachers are all great and most have been with LCC a long time (one for 30 years). The school is play based.

I also looked at Beacon , which is a pre-K through 8 private school. Hours are 7:30 am - 6 pm. Class size is 12 students. I took the tour and while it seems like a great school, it didn't seem to be a good fit for my high-energy daughter at that stage. I am looking at their program for K on up, though.

I also looked at Beatie Street Preschool , which is very small at 15 students. I have friends whose kids have gone or are going and they speak highly of it. I would have sent my daughter there but they did not have any openings at the time--the downside of being small.

Cottage-in-the-Woods is a similar small neighborhood preschool, hours 8:30-5:30.

East Bay Academy and Starlite are sister schools, both quite inexpensive, that offer full day care.

I know there are more; hopefully you will get some more responses. LCC Parent

Beacon Day School located on the Oakland waterfront has openings in our Early Childhood program (ages 3-5+). At Beacon, children are encouraged to be children, to experience the joy of learning through discovery and sharing. We nurture children's intellectual, social and emotional growth while providing a solid foundation for kindergarten and beyond. Please call Admissions at (510) 437-2311 to schedule a tour and receive further information. abaroni [at] beaconday.org

Welcome to Oakland (soon)! You may want to look into Claremont Day . We have been VERY happy with this preschool. Our son has been there a couple of years and loves it. The teachers are very loving and wonderful, it is very reasonably priced, includes lunch, and is full-time if needed. There are three campuses, two of which are in Oakland. Good luck! Happy Claremont Day Parent!

My son completed his Preschool and Kindegarten at Little Elephant Montessori near Rockridge Bart Station in Oakland. Both my husband and I work full time and our child was there from 8:30AM to 6PM, M-F. Because of the long hours, we were very careful in picking a school which offers an ''extended home'' environment. Little Elephant was a great match for our needs. Their kind and loving environment natured our happy and confident little boy. My child will be entering 2nd grade next year. When I count my blessings, I still count Little Elephant. You should go to their website: http://www.littleelephant.net or call their Director, Natanya Moore: 510.597.1963 Kay

Our preschool, Rockridge Little School (RLS), has one last- minute opening for a three year old, on a full or part-time schedule. Before choosing RLS, we looked at several schools in the area, and, after 3+ years at the school, I still believe the quality of care at RLS is outstanding. The classroom environment is very warm and relaxed, but also well organized. I donmt have to worry that my childrenms needs (physical, emotional or social) will ever go unattended or slip lunder the radar.n The schoolms educational approach is play-based, with a great focus on interacting with others, and I am thrilled to find that my initially shy child has grown increasingly confident in her social and emotional self. Imve also observed that the RLS classrooms work well for many different kinds of kids because the teachers pay special attention to the temperament and personality of each individual kid, so the experience can be successful for that particular child. Wemve seen a great variety of enrichment opportunitiessmusic, dance, drama, language, and great parent participation (which is welcome, but not required). Feedback from the teachers is also excellentsany behavioral or developmental issues (or potential issues) were always brought to my attention in a timely, positive and supportive manner. In our experience, all the teachers have worked very well as a classroom team, each with something special to offer the kids, but note that Jackie, head teacher in the 4 year-old room, is truly exceptional-- a gem if ever there was one! As we prepare to move on to kindergarten, we are deeply appreciative of the time our child spent at RLS, and the individual attention she received there. (While it wasnmt our familyms focus, we are also completely confident that she has honed the lacademicn skills necessary to join a kindergarten class.) One final, noteworthy thing about RLS is that neither the parents or the children are asked to fundraise for the school. The focus stays on the kids, and the RLS community enjoys social events without pocketbook pressure. I highly recommend this school, and I am planning to send my youngest child there next year. www.rockridgelittleschool.com, 510.420.1200 RLS mom of two

Seeking preschool with working mom's hours!

Nov 2007

Hi, We are working parents so need a preschool that has daycare like hours (pick up time of 5:30 or 6). Our daughter is 2 1/2 and we are on the Via Nova wait list but I've realized maybe I shouldn't be putting all of our eggs in one basket. We love our daycare and she gets plenty of stimulation there but she can't stay there forever. I've procrastinated long enough but my main problem is that I can't seem to find a preschool that stays open past 3pm. Worried Mom

Our daughter has been going to CEC (Child Education Center) in Berkeley for nearly 1 year, she has just turned 3.The hours are 7.45-5.45. She loves it and asks to go to pre-school at the weekends. She loves all her teachers as well. They all have to get a hug and a kiss before she leaves. They have great art projects and lots of play room. It is a very mixed racial environment which we really like. The teachers are all very nice, and loving. They go on a lot of outings. She learns an incredible amount of general knowledge there- we are continually being astounded by new topics she introduces. I really like that children of all ages from 3months - 6 years meet on a large playground in a well controlled environment. We would would not take her out of this school now. Plus every few months they have a kids nite out on a friday- where they see a movie and do art projects until 9.00 The only downside is that the billing and administration sometimes gets mixed up- however they have just announced that they are in the process of hiring a permanent bookkeeper. Emma

Take a look at Claremont Day Nursery - there is one on College Ave and one on Woolsey in Berkeley. They stay open until 6pm and also serve a hot lunch. Most of the parents there are working parents and a lot of the kids do get picked up right at closing. My son has been there for almost 2 years and we love it. happy claremont mom

Claremont Day Nursery is great for working parents, including (among other things) the all-day hours and warm lunch provided. Maria

Claremont Day Nursery , AKA Claremont Kids. We've been there for a year and a half and love it. Big bonus -- meals and snacks provided. Open from 7:30 to 6. http://claremontkids.com/ Happy Pappy

We have a similar situation and my son has thrived at The Model School in Berkeley. It is located at Prince and Telegraph. The director is amazing, the staff are friendly and loving and creative, the parents group is a fun community, and it is just all around a great preschool. Their tuition is reasonable and is structured for working parents: you make your own schedule for anything between 15-50 hours per week! They are open from (I think) 7:30am-6pm. There may be a wait list, but it is well worth it. Hope you find the right place. The Model School is worth checking out. Laura

Claremont Day Nursery is our salvation! They are open 7-6, and most of the kids go full time. We go to the Kensington branch, off Colusa circle, which we love. It is a very stimulating environment, and he is learning a lot. I'm sure the Claremont and College branches also have those hours, but you might want to check (you didn't say where you were). Eli S.'s mom

Growing Light Preschool in Kensington has working parent hours. They also provide childcare (at an additional cost) during the school breaks. You noted that you are on the wait list for Via Nova. Just thought I would mention that VN closes for about 5 weeks out of the year (Christmas, Summer and Spring vacations) and DOES NOT provide any additional childcare. -working single mom

Grand Lake Montessori has extended hours--I think it's from 7 am to 6 or 7 pm. The basic school day is from 8:30 to 3:00 but many children stay later and it is an ''all day Montessori'' program, not just ''after care''. anon

Hi, You might want to consider getting on the wait list at Aquatic Park Nursery School in addition to Via Nova, which both have great reputations! Our son goes to Kensington Nursery School , which is a wonderful play-based co-op program with full-time option for working parents. If you're near Via Nova, however, KNS may be a haul for you as it is for us. I love the KNS location in terms of trees and wonderful play areas - - lots of room for the children! KNS parent