The Arlington Preschool

Kensington, CA

No longer in business

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

DSS Facility License #: 
Joan Castell
(510) 524-8689
on The Arlington
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Editors' Notes: 
  • (July 2014) CCLD lists this preschool as "Closed"

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Oct 2010

Our daughter who is now 4 has been attending Arlington Preschool (APS) since she's 3 and we could not have asked for a better school. Our son will be attending the school next year. When we first started with APS, we loved that they offer open enrollment and that WE were able to chose when she would start (instead of the dreaded waiting list), as well as a flexible schedule that works around ours. When we started at APS, Cheryl and Claudia had been working as teachers there for many many years. However due to personal reasons they both went in different directions over the Summer, and the school hired two new teachers Sheri and Kathleen. We could not be more happier with the transition.

Although we miss Cheryl and Claudia, Sheri and Kathleen have stepped in beautifully and our daughter is thriving at the school, always talking about all the fun she's had at school. Every day is filled with great craft and art activities, all done in a playful, positive environment - they have cooking with Melinda and music with Ginger once a week, and lots of great toys to play with. And what touches me most is that the kids really respect and enjoy each others company. APS does an amazing job of making sure every child is happy. Sheri and Kathleen are both wonderful with the kids.

The school has openings right now since they had a big Pre-K class last year that went onto Kindergarten. You can call Sheri at 524-8689. Laurence

Jan 2010

Any parents out there have current comments and experience with Peter Pan Preschool in El Cerrito, the Creative Play Center in Albany and Arlington Preschool in Kensington?? still preschool searching

Our daughter has been at Arlington Preschool for the past 3 years and I cannot say enough about it. From the materials, letter of the week, themes and activities, holiday celebration and creativeness in teaching and even the cleanliness. They have a woman that comes to sing with them weekly, cooking with another staff person and lots of opportunities to explore by visiting Blake Gardens down the street.

There are 3 teachers who have very different teaching approaches, yet work so well to balance one another and provide supportive and caring energy to all the children.

It was our first experience in having our daughter leave us for several hours a day and then we gradually increased her time as family needs changed. The scheduling is flexible with part time days during the week as well as hours and we appreciated not having to pay one rate with less hours utilized.

The teachers are all so wonderful and Pre-K teacher has a great energy and really draws on the strengths and learning styles of the different children. There is good communcation with the parents and teachers and they are avaialble as needed, pre-k kiddos have meetings with the pre-k teacher each year, but any time there needs to be a meeting they are available.

Our daughter is graduating this summer and I am truly already missing Arlington! They have made this time for our family the best it could be. happy at Arlington

Both our children (now 6, 8) went to Arlington Preschool and had a wonderful experience there. We were there five years and there was NO turnover in staff-- moreover, we left two years ago and it's still Joan, Cheryl, and Claudia. They are all wonderful with kids -- they really are. My kids had a flawless experience there. Lots of play, good supervision, some mild academics in the Pre-K classroom - just a bit to make them feel ''grown up'' and be familiar with letters, using pencils. No heavy duty academics -- that is not what kids need at this age. The mixed age classrooms are a great boon -- very good for children's social development in all kinds of ways. They are very knowledgeable. I will say that the director is better with the kids than with the adults. She is a dear woman, so don't be put off by her gruff exterior -- she is never gruff with kids. Talk to Cheryl and visit with your child -- you will not regret. An added plus, the schedule is very flexible (days, hours) and she was very accommodating of our changing needs (pt, ft, 3 days, 5 days). And more affordable than the ''fancy'' preschools we always hear about -- like half the cost of step one. former arlington parent

I, too, want to add my recommendation for Arlington Preschool. After disappointed with the co-op preschool for our daughter, we decided to send our younger son to more structured school. One of my friends recommended Arlington Preschool and we are still extremely happy with our choice. Our son is now 9 and it sounds too long time ago. He has been doing very well at school. Thanks to their non-forcing, yet stimulating pre-K program, he was really ready for kindergarten. We still regret not to send our daughter because we see the difference clearly. I have to add that we were not particularly interested in developmental preschools. Our preference at that time was more to play-based. Arlington Preschool has very good balance of both. Most importantly, the kids there, as far as I know, are all very well-behaved. rie

May 2005

I am considering sending my son, who is going to be three by September, to Arlington Preschool. I would like to have some feed back from parents who either has their child there now or have graduated from them recently. I checked an archive but parents who responded sent their children quite a while ago. I would like to know about more current information. THank you! Mika

Arlington Preschool is a great preschool! I have a son who has been there two years and a daughter who will start in Sept. Joan, the Director has been ! at this for decades and really knows her stuff. I trust her completely in all areas regarding information about the kids and find her advice and insights comforting in times of trouble. The school is incredibly well run. She really knows how to encourage the kids to take that next step and support them in doing it. All three teachers there (Cheryl and Claudia as well) are fantastic and have been there for ages. The enrichment programs (singing, dance, cooking) are wonderful too. It's a very special place - and more amazing, its affordable too. Good luck in your decision! sabrina

My daughter absolutely loved APS where she stayed for 2 years. I like the small size of the school but chose it because it had a GREAT outdoor play area- kids need to run and bike and swing. I love the two class level where children of all ages get time tog! ether and older children get kindergarten readiness. The class is always pleasant to visit, children are happy and polite. Cheryl is a fabulous teacher- truly talented and loving. Joan may come off as stuffy, but look at the activities, the environment, and the children- she's clearly running a great program. APS never advertises and has been open for many years purely on word of mouth- I highly recommend them! My daughter still asks to go back and visit every month even though she's been out in kindergarten for the past year. can't wait to send my next kid!

April 2004

We are considering the Arlington Preschool for our daughter, 3 yrs old and would like any comments both pros & cons of the preschool. anon

Both of my boys went to Arlington Preschool, though it's been a few years now. (They are now 13 and 9). We loved it there. Joan, the director was fabulous. Very loving and caring. Her diciplin methods were always fair and gentle, yet firm. The teachers that work(ed) for her...I think some are still there were great. If I ever had any concerns about either kid, Joan would always take the time to talk. I always felt completely comfortable about my kids well being while there, and we were there for all of both of their pre- school years. It's small enough but not too small, some structure without being too strict in structure. Good mix of ages at appropriate times. Good luck. I think it's a great place. June

My son has been at Arlington Preschool since Sept. and I have to say that I think it is a wonderful preschool. Joan is really amazing -- her advice is always on target. She's been doing this for decades and has seen it all. The school is mixed age, which I wasn't sure about but now love, and the kids are caring and sweet and mix well. It's more diverse than many of the ''fancy'' expensive preschools we all hear about and a good mix of organized time and unstructured play. My son has developed such confidence, such good social skills (sharing, taking turns, being ''gentle'')and comes home singing songs, dancing, and talking about the ''cooking'' they did. All basic stuff but done very well. I look forward to more years ahead at the school. A note: Joan doesn't advertise by design -- relies on word of mouth instead. That means you don't hear as much about it as some of the others, but it's a gem. sabrina

Sept. 2002

Re: "Traditional" school 2-3 mornings a week
Arlington Preschool at 52 Arlington Blvd in Kensington (across from the Kensington library) will do part time and part days. The school has been around for many years. Kids can start there at 2yrs. Both my boys went oldest is now 11 1/2. Joan Castell is the director and she is wonderful with kids. The little kids are separated from the older and pre-K kids for part of the day, and together for part of the day. They do ''academic activities'', have free time, circle time, project time, etc. It's somewhat structured, but not highly structured. There is a good adult/child ratio. It's clean, great toys, good outside areas (they sometimes share the outside play area with KensingtonNursery Co-op and Kensington Montessori(which I think is not called Kens. Mont. anymore... but there are 3 pre-schools in the back of the Kensington Community Church). ARlington Pre-School is NOT a co-op and not affiliated with the church. Our familiy was very happy there for all those years. The number there is 524-8689. Good luck. June


Both my boys went (and go) to Arlington pre-school. My oldest is 10 and started there when he was 2. He went there till he started kindergarten. My youngest, now almost 6 started at 2 and though he's in kindergarten he goes there for after school care. Needless to say we love Arlington Pre-School. Joan Castell, the director has been running that school for a long time. She used to run it with her daughter who now runs another school. Joan is caring and loving with all the children. Her experience, wisdom and knowledge of child development have helped me so many times over the years to figure out how to help my boys. I've always been happy with her teachers. My boys have loved it there and have made lots of friends. June

I am the mother of a five year old and a three year old, both of whom currently attend Arlington Preschool. My older son was enrolled at a preschool coop. in Orinda last year, and my husband and I searched for a better situation for our boys when we moved to Berkeley last April. We definitely found it at Arlington. The director/teacher Joan Castell is well-educated in early childhood education and is very enthusiastic about her role there. She expects the children to behave well towards one another and she sets a wonderful example for them. The setting is organized without being too uptight, the class size is small and there are special program days for movement & music classes, arts & crafts and outdoor activities. My older son has learned a great deal about the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, the seasons and the weather. My younger son is always singing songs he learns at preschool and his counting skills and attention span have improved. Both of them look forward to going "almost" every day, and that is the best thing I can say about Arlington overall. I would highly recommend this preschool for your child. Claire