Berkeley Urban Garden School

Community Subscriber

Berkeley, CA

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

Home-Based Daycare/Preschool
DSS Facility License #: 
Molly Skuse, Dana Hinchliffe, and Claire Chase
(510) 548-1799
info [at]
Ocean View in W. Berkeley
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
36 months - 72 months
Monthly Cost: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
8:00am - 6:00pm
Additional Services & Features: 
Part-time available, Pre-K program, Year-round, Breakfast provided, Lunch provided, Snacks provided, Organic options, Cloth diapers accepted, Potty training support, Special needs support
About Our Program: 

Grow together with BUGS! Children, parents and staff create an atmosphere of mutual respect and meaningful relationships to provide a solid foundation for authentic learning. We provide full-day, year-round child care and early learning designed to nurture each child’s inherent strengths and inspire healthy growth and development. Your child will thrive in a safe and stimulating environment with attention, guidance and care from expert early childhood professionals. Daily opportunities include stories, art activities, sensory experiences, music and movement, cooking and gardening. With teacher-led activities based on the children's interests and ample time for child-directed play, we seek to empower each child and engender a spirit of freedom and sense of possibility.


Parent Reviews

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Hello! I highly recommend the Berkeley Urban Garden School!  It offers a very warm, caring, and stimulating environment with lots of music and fun. My son went there for a short period.  We unfortunately had to take him out because we lived too far away.

We highly recommend the Berkeley Urban Garden School!  The dedicated teachers provided a fantastic environment for our son to thrive in.  We speak other languages at home and our son’s English language skills were delayed as a result.  He became a chatterbox in the English language after starting at BUGS.  Our son had ample opportunity to explore his personal interests with the help of his highly qualified teachers.  He also enjoyed painting, drawing, and ceramics as well as music.  Our son also had fun gardening, learning about various plants and bugs, and going on nature walks.  We thank all the teachers for the wonderful experience that we and our son had at BUGS!

Our experience at Berkeley Urban Garden School (BUGS) exceeded all of our expectations!  I didn't expect to find both a loving and enriching experience for my son along with finding a community of parents and teachers that we'd feel so connected to. Molly creates a community around the school that has been invaluable for my family and one that we are still connected to, even though my son started kindergarten last year.  I highly recommend this school--if you're looking for a project based learning pre-school, you won't be disappointed.  The kids influence the curriculum, developing new projects regularly, which keeps them engaged and helps them to learn collaboration and find their own voices.  I can't say enough positive things about the day-to-day, but I also want to emphasize that BUGS really served as a second home for my son.  The teachers' warmth and love for the students is without question, making it so much easier for me to drop off my kid each day knowing that he was surrounded by people who truly cared about him. Please contact me if you have any questions about the school--it is a very special place that we feel so lucky to have found!  --Tamar 

Hi everyone! I am writing to recommend BUGS wholeheartedly! If you are looking for a rich, loving, and wonderful place for your kid to learn through music, storytelling, arts, kind and respectful social interactions, & projects that teach academic skills: This is the preschool/childcare that you have been looking for!

Our son, Max, entered Berkeley Urban Garden School (BUGS) when he was two years old and he enjoyed every single day of it until he started kindergarten this year. In fact, we loved what they are able to offer and the community that was created there so much that we enrolled Max on  BUG's Wednesday's afterschool art and music classes! But let me tell you a bit more about why we love BUGS so much: 

  1. Finding the right place for Max was hard for me: I have 20 years of experience on the field of education and child development and a PhD in Education. To say that I was picky on what I thought a child care should be, is the understatement of the year :)  But it was just walking in at BUGS and both my husband (whose career is in something else) and I felt we were in the right place. BUGS is the place where children are able to grow, to develop, and to learn in a rich and balanced way. Pre-literacy, pre-math, science, music, art, community and social relations, poetry, story telling: all happens in a natural way, through projects and investigations generated by the kids. 
  2. When Max started he was really little and Molly and all the teachers kept a journal to help us understand what happened during the day and to talk with Max about it. Communication has been always great at BUGS for us! 
  3. The teachers at BUGS are both caring and highly experienced and they know how to create spaces and activities for children to learn independently but also from one another. Molly, Claire, Dana, Melissa, and Sarai were all wonderful teachers for our son, and each one brought her own personalities to bear and to enrich Max's experience (and ours!). I loved when Max came home saying he was a poet because they created oral poetry with Melissa; or when Molly would intentionally prepare an environment that would lead to exploration  and then she would --so skillfully-- support Max in his investigations, letting him think independently and  scaffolding when necessary. Or when Claire and Dana would play instruments while teaching Max a rich variety of songs that he still remembers. Max felt respected and trusts them and values them a lot. When I asked him now why BUGS was a good school he said "Well, the teachers are great! and there is music, stories, and all sorts of art!"
  4. Molly, the force behind BUGS, creates community not only with the kids, treating them always with respect (and asking for kindness in return) but also with the families: Once a semester she will cook for all the families, and bring life music with some of her musician colleagues (Molly, Claire and Dana are also musicians and artists!). Parents and grandparents we would just get there, and chat, and listen to music and have fun, and learn about each other. That created a wonderful space and model for our kids about community. Max is really close to all his cohort and knows all the parents as well, it is like an extended family! We have become close friends with many of the families and the teachers and continue to be part of each others lives even after starting kindergarten!
  5. Max has started kinder being a rounded kid. He feels confident about his learning, he enjoys exploring and experimenting, he loves stories and has started writing and reading by himself, and he is as kind to others and as reflective as a 5 year old can be! Having no other family members around, we know that a great part of who Max is now is thanks to BUGS. And we could't be thankful enough!

If you are in doubt, go check it out! :)


Archived Q&A and Reviews

Feb 2014

I'm writing to highly recommend the Berkeley Urban Garden School preschool. With much sadness, because of moves we're needing to leave the BUGS community early. BUGS is an incredible place for children to spend time. My son was in the first class of this new West Berkeley preschool (created by teachers who'd run a school in SF for over a decade) and it's become a small, homey, group with four experienced, attentive, nurturing, knowledgable, and creative teachers and a wonderful group of kids and parents. BUGS uses emergent curriculum but does have a particular strength in introducing the kids to gardening and incorporating music, song and instruments into their daily activities. The space is lovely to be in and stimulating for learning while the kids have lots of fun. The teaches provide nutritious home-cooked meals and snacks and my child quickly developed numerous attachments to teachers, other kids, and looks forward to attending. Whomever takes my son's spot is lucky to be joining such a wonderful school community. Pleased parent

Jan 2013

The reviews of the Berkeley Urban Garden School are only based upon experience of the teachers at their last site. I'd love to hear about what parents of kids at BUGS have to say about it's strengths and weaknesses. I also can't find on the website what ages they work with. Thanks!

Our daughter has been going here for 4 months and we (and she) absolutely love BUGS (Berkeley Urban Garden School). We feel so fortunate to have gotten in before they were full! The teachers Molly, Dana and Claire are incredibly nurturing, fun, and patient teachers. They foster an environment of learning, sharing, and play while honoring each child's individuality. They are very like-minded to what we teach our daughter at home so we feel so lucky to have found them. What I love the most is that my daughter learns by doing/living life. At BUGS they cook, make art, invent games, garden, play outside a lot, and clean-up together - and have so much fun doing all of it! I believe they start at about 18 months and go up to pre-school. Hope this helps! I cannot say enough good things. Monica B.

Aug 2012

I am very familiar with the three women who run BUGS (Berkeley Urban Garden School). My son attended the child development center in SF run by Molly from the age of 3 months to 5 years. My daughter also started at 3 months and went up to 2 years (unfortunately the center closed and I had to find a different day care). I feel very fortunate to have found such an amazing school for my very young kids. Molly provided amazing leadership, vision, strong sense of community, and compassion. Claire is a gifted arts teacher and Dana is an incredible educator. They all are extremely talented in dealing with kids. To this day both kids and parents have fond memories of the old daycare/ preschool. I am so glad that more kids will benefit from Molly, Claire and Dana's expertise and talents.

Aug 2012

Molly, Claire and Dana create a magical place where learning is fun and children feel safe and confident - less a school and more and extended family. They helped raise our children with love, care and warmth. I highly recommend them to any family with young children. Tim

July 2012

Congratulations to all you lucky families that have the opportunity to enroll your kids at Berkeley Urban Garden School! I can not speak highly enough of Molly, Dana, and Claire who cared for my sons at Children's Village in San Francisco. They helped me through the toddler and preschool years by providing excellent early education and family support. These women are some of the most caring, creative and supportive women I know. My children had the best experience with them. I was very involved in the school and know first hand the level of commitment and compassion and intelligence they bring to any environment they are involved in. If you are looking for a great, nuturing and creative daycare/school for your child this is no doubt it. A very happy momma