Hug a Bug Preschool

El Cerrito, 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 #: 
Nancy Kelleher
(510) 559-9479
El Cerrito
near Arlington Park on Don Carol Dr.
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri

Parent Reviews

Parents, Sign in to post a review on this page.

Hi - This might be too far for you, but Hug a Bug is a very sweet, play-based preschool in El Cerrito with tons of outdoor time.  They have a great outdoor play space - and even better, their backyard has a gate that opens onto a big wooded property owned by the Boy Scouts that they're able to use and go for hikes and have playtime back there.  They also take trips to Arlington Park and do little field trips to nearby spots.  They have enrichment classes like yoga, music, and storytelling/puppet shows, and you can sign up kids for once weekly gymnastics where they take them to a gym.  Good luck with your search!

Check out Hug a Bug preschool in Kensington! Definite yes on animals and lots of outdoor time (including walks in the woods just behind the preschool). It's an amazingly loving place. My daughter spent two wonderful years there. 

"Hug-a Bug" preschool in the El Cerrito Hills. Nancy Kelleher is a brilliant magician with young children with 40 years experience, The curriculum is nature/play based. My daughter is now an Honors student at St Mary's Highschool and still considers Hug-a-Bug as one of the parts of her life. Highly recommended.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Feb 2015

Hi, I'm looking for a preschool for my daughter who will be two in the fall. I'm trying to decide between Hug a Bug, Growing Light Montessori, Keystone Montessori and Step One. How do I choose?! They all get great reviews and they all look like wonderful schools in different ways. I love the idea of her learning patience and nurturing and manners at the mixed age classes in the Montessoris, the rambunctious play at Hug a Bug, the entire curriculum at Step One. Only Growing Light offers childcare during the 5 weeks of vacations they're closed, which is a huge plus. I don't get 5 weeks of vacation with my job so I don't know what I would do for childcare when the other schools close during that time. All the schools are about the same distance from my house so the commute doesn't matter. If anyone could give me input on any of these schools, the pros & cons, I'd greatly appreciate it!! Thanks in advance for your help.

Overwhelmed first time mom

I am a former hug a bug parent so can weigh in on this a little. Hug a bug is awesome and nancy is a wonderful warm person. What the kids do there is amazing! That being said hug a bug is closed 8 weeks/year! What parent has 8 weeks vacation? We made it work b/c I work part time and would have my family fly in and help but 8 weeks closed (3 weeks at Xmas, 1 week in feb, 1 week in April, 3 weeks at end of August) just does not make sense for working parents. The summer program is run by the co teachers so they can choose as well if they want to close a random week in July. Had I known or paid attention to the fact they are closed so much I probably would have started my child at a different school.

Good luck! Former HAB parent

May 2010

Re: Basic, Inexpensive (ha!) Preschool for Fall?
Try Hug A Bug Preschool in El Cerrito. We have had the most stupendous experience there! Small, exciting, flexible to individual needs, and all the teachers are great. The head teacher/owner is Nancy Kelleher and she is so focused on the children...she just really enjoys her job:) Mom to 2 Hug a Buggers

August 2006

If you are looking for a small preschool program for your child our family would like to recommend Hug-A-Bug with a resounding ''YAWP''! Nancy Kelleher, the school's owner and head teacher is amazing! Each child is greeted and treated with genuine affection and honor every day. Nancy and her teaching assistants plan cool and creative activities for all of the children: art, music, yoga, gymnastics, cooking, field trips and fun, messy play. And Silly Day, a yearly event, is a sight to behold. We've watched our son grow at Hug-A-Bug and can't wait to see what happens in his third and final year there. There's no question that our daughter will some day be a Hug-A-Bugger as well. The parent group has been great. Everyone involved emulates the commmunity spirit that Teacher Nancy has helped to instill in our kids. Two major thumbs up!

January 2005

We are planning to send our child to Hug-a-Bug in El Cerrito next fall. ALthough this has probably been our first choice spot all along, we are still waiting to hear back from a few other schools, so I am just curious to know how familes currently there are feeling about the program (especially with a new teacher recently brought on.)

My son just started this last September at Hug-A-Bug (he's 2 1/2). The recommendations that I recd from a friend and the adjectives that other Hug-A-Bug parents used to describe the very cool head teacher and owner of the school were incredible! Going to our friend's son's graduation from the school sealed the deal. Please feel free to email me if you'd like to exchange phone numbers to talk. My family is very happy with our choice and our son is a very happy ''Hug-A-Bugger''! Heidi

my first daughter went to Hug-Bug from age 2 through 5 and now our younger daughter is there. My sole regret about not having a third child will be when my daughter graduates and we can't go to Hug-a-Bug anymore. Our family has felt very blessed to be part of such a wonderful place and the teachers are exceptional. I'm not clear exactly what the question was regarding ''new teachers,'' but you can e-mail me if you'd like. (the teacher who left last year left only because she moved out of the bay area and in fact just visited the school when she was in the area; the 2 main teachers are not new and Nancy this year hired 2 new wonderful teachers in order to have better ratios than is required, and to make it easier when teachers get sick) chris

February 2003

Re: Intimate, warm preschool with fewer than 20 kids
Hi there - I enrolled my 2 year old daughter this year into Hug A Bug in the El Cerrito Hills. I actually heard about it via this newsletter. Nancy who runs it has about 12 children. A few of them are graduating to Kindergarten this year so she will have some spaces I think. I have been to quite a few of the local preschools (montessori and play based) looking around and this was the only school I saw where I really felt there was a lot of love. All the kids were hugging on Nancy who clearly loves her job. Although my daughter is the youngest she LOVES it there and never wants to leave at the end of the day. It is a play based program which we prefer and they like to spend a lot of time outdoors. They go on field trips (Little Farm, Oakland Zoo) and also do cooking projects apart from the usual painting, playing, crafts, play dough etc etc. We have been very impressed with it. Nancy's number is 510-559-9314. Good Luck. Julie

Re: Preschool for a spirited child (Jan. 2003)
I have reccomended Hug A Bug Preschool 559-9479 before but I cannot say enough wonderful things about this fantastic program! Nancy Kellher has been running this preschool program, (with a daycare component for those who need it), for many years. I have never seen someone as gifted with young children and understanding of what each needs and her ability to help each child grow in the areas in which they need to while learning to care for each other.. amazing!!!! After three kids in various programs this is the only totally happy preschool experience we have had. I think it would be great for a spirited child or frankly any child!She has limited spaces so check with her early for next fal mark

November 2001

regarding the search for a preschool in El Cerrito. We are absolutely thrilled with our daughters preschool in the El Cerrito hills. It is called Hug a Bug run by Nancy Kelleher who has many years of experience. She is so loving and nurturing and developmentally aware of children's needs. I can't say enough about it. There are several children graduating from this small program which is both a preschool program and an extended daycare program. I don't know if there will be openings when you are interested but I have tried many other situations with my older two children and this is my only really unqualified happy experience.. Hug a Bug is on Don Carroll drive just off the Arlington near Moeser and the Arlington Park. The phone number is either 559-9479 days during school or you can reach Nancy after hours at the house at 559-9314 Good luck in your search Jennifer