Kensington Nursery School

Community Subscriber

Kensington, 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
KNSchool [at]
on The Arlington in Kensington
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
English, Spanish
Ages Served: 
33 months - 72 months
Monthly Cost: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
7:30am - 6:00pm
Additional Services & Features: 
Afternoon option, Drop-in available, Part-time available, Pre-K program, Year-round, Organic options, Potty training support
About Our Program: 

Located in Kensington, KNS is a high-quality parent cooperative preschool that has nurtured children for 75 years. Our ratios are low, our teachers are well-trained and engaging (and dedicated - we have very low turnover), and our environment and instruction are always play-based and stimulating, focusing on all areas of child development. Parent-teachers join our trained teachers in the morning program, while the afternoon program is run by teachers only. Parent teaching is not required. We admit children from two years, nine months through Kindergarten. Children do not have to be potty trained. Our hours are flexible, with part-time, full-time and after school kindergarten care available. To schedule a tour, please call 510-524-7963 or email KNSchool [at]

Parent Reviews

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RE:  2 day preschools ()

Check Kensington Nursery School, it's right in that area on the Arlington. Great play based program. Wonderful staff. Creative activities.

I highly recommend checking out Kensington Nursery School (KNS). Both of my sons have attended (younger son is still enrolled) and we couldn't be happier with the school. The teachers are truly excellent, and my kids have really thrived there thanks to lots of fun, play-based learning and a wonderful community of friends. We switched to KNS from a home-based preschool where my then-three-year-old son was struggling a bit to fit in, and I'm forever glad we did because it made his life so much happier (and my life a lot easier.) 

I know they have space in their morning program. Here's their website if you're interested in setting up a tour.  

Hi! First, if you are talking about Kensington Nursery School, it is not part of Kensington Hilltop (which is a WCCUSD public school) but is actually a separate parent co-op preschool. That said, they do offer an aftercare program for Hilltop kindergarteners, and many KNS preschoolers go on to public school at Hilltop, so there is a close relationship between the two. 

My 4-year-old daughter has been at KNS since last summer and she loves it! We moved her there from a Montessori preschool that was a bit too structured for her taste. It is a nice balance of lots of imaginative play and unstructured outdoor time, without being kids gone wild. My daughter loves the caring teachers and having free choice of so many activities. She never wanted to go to her old school but now she comes home happy and eager to share her artwork or tell me about what game the kids made up to play that day.  It is a co-op, but the co-op obligations are pretty manageable. Each family has a job and there are occasional work parties, and some parents work as parent-teachers in the classroom. Each family also has to provide a snack to all the kids once a month. 

I would encourage you to check out KNS. Especially if your preschooler will also go to Hilltop for K, as she would then make the transition together with many of her preschool friends. If you want something more structured, there is also a Montessori school adjacent to KNS called Growing Light Montessori which has a great reputation. Both KNS and Growing Light share space with the Arlington Community Church and so are equidistant from Hilltop.

RE: Seeking Co-Op for 3yr old ()

Take a look at Kensington Nursery school.  It is a co-op preschool located in Kensington near El Cerrito, Albany and Berkeley.  KNS is still accepting applications especially for families that want to participate once a week at the school.  Go onto the website and schedule a tour.

We love Kensington Nursery School.My daughter went there and now my grand daughter is there.They have two large play yards and it is great!

My kids (now 19!) went to Kensington Nursery School, which had a very reasonable sized group, excellent teachers, and is play-based. Staff has probably changed, but I'd suggest that you check it out.

Our daughter currently attends Kensington Nursery School (KNS) and our son attended for 2yrs. We love it!! It's a great play based preschool with lots of science and art projects, reading, and play time in the two awesome play yards. Our kids love the teachers and my son (now in K) often writes notes to them. The pre-K program prepared my son for kindergarten and it was fun. It has been around for 75 years! It's a co-op so every family has a small job but is very manageable for working parents. And the hours are great: 7:30a-6p. Parent teaching is voluntary. If you decide to parent teach you receive a tuition credit. It is one of the less demanding co-ops but still has a great co-op community.
The teacher/parent to child ratios are low--usually about 1:5 or less. Lots of fun events to get to know the other families: hands on science fair, potlucks, pancake breakfast, campout/BBQ, etc.

I can't say enough wonderful things about KNS. My son has flourished there in the 4 months he has been there. The teachers and director are caring, engaged and wonderful. The curriculum is fun AND they learn at the same time (without the pressure!). If you're on the fence about this school, don't be. You and your child will both love this school!

We moved to Kensington two years ago and are very lucky to have found KNS.

I have two boys who happily attend the preschool. My sons have different temperaments, one is high high energy and the other is a laid back kind of kid. The preschool program is responsive to both their needs. They often beg me to let them stay longer than there scheduled day.

The KNS community is welcoming with really great families. The school is a feeder to the schools in the area and your child will most likely attend kindergarten with children they are friends with at KNS. My oldest will attend Kensington Hilltop with 10 of his classmates.

Students have a lot of daily learning options- art, cooking, movement, science, building with blocks and the list goes on and on. On top of in class options the students have two play yards to run and play and just be kids. This is especially important for my high-energy boy.

The co-op responsibility helps keep costs down and is manageable. Parent teaching is optional and you don't have to pay to opt out.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

June 2014

Re: Need Advice on Kensington preschools
We have had wonderful experiences at Kensington Nursery School, a co-op and Neighborhood School.

KNS is located off of The Arlington and the teachers are so fantastic! They are warm, gentle and truly care about the kids. Both of our sons attended for two years and they have terrific memories of their experiences there. We have also met some wonderful friends through the school and the co-op experience lends itself to getting to know one another. Each family has a co-op job which takes about 4 hours/month in addition to two work parties (4 hour requirement in the fall and spring). The school holds an annual Science Fair where parents commit to working 3 1/2 hours as another co-op responsibility. There are also 6 monthly meetings where you get to meet other parents and discuss the current goings-on at the school. The school runs year round which is nice though the minimum schedule is 4 hours, three days per week. Our kids loved attending KNS and we highly recommend it.

Neighborhood School is located in portable buildings on the Kensington Hilltop Elementary School campus. Jill, the owner, and Ginger, the Director, are wonderful. Our older son attends the after school program and our younger son attended the pre-K program for a few months. Jill holds a parent-teacher conference in the spring and though our son had not attended for that long, the conference was informative. Jill works hard to teach the kids manners, reading, writing and math and she does it in a fun way. She prepares the kids for Kindergarten well. They have a program that runs from 9:00-noon which may be a good fit for your schedule.

You can tour both schools and meet the teachers so you can get an idea of both campuses. Good luck! Happy with Kensington Pre-Schools

Nov 2011

As a parent that has sent two children and one to come to Kensington Nursery School (KNS) I think its time I give the school and wonderful teachers a recommendation on BPN.

KNS is a play based co-op school that accepts children from the ages of 2 years 9 months to up to 6 years old. The program runs year round. The teachers and parent teachers provide the school with low child adult ratios that give the children a great learning environment as well as a sense of well being.

KNS in the 5 years that I have been involved as a parent and parent teacher has proven to have a great staff of women and men who are always in tune with what each child needs to feel secure and happy on a daily basis. They do this with an enthusiasm that seems bottomless. There is very low teacher turn over at KNS which indicates happy teachers.

I feel that KNS is a great school for most children and that it provides a wonderful community for the children as well as the parents. My girls, husband and I have met some our best friends at KNS and I hope to pass this on to other families looking for a preschool. Serene

Nov 2007

Re: Seeking preschool with working mom's hours!
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

June 2007

Re: Looking for Healthy, Loving Preschool for Son
I would highly recommend Kensington Nursery School. The school offers an amazing, play-based (yet structured) curriculum, including music and movement specialists, and the staff is very warm and loving. The school is VERY health conscious, does not offer juice, avoids sugary snacks (though birthday treats like cupcakes, muffins, or Popsicles are allowed), and is very up on all types of dietary accommodations, including vegetarian, wheat/gluten free, dairy free, etc. The facilities are clean, bright, and cheerful. The kids spend a fair amount of time outdoors, and they get a good bit of exercise. I would look now, though, as they are a popular school and are full for 2007. Good luck! A happy KNS parent

February 2006

We're considering Kensington Nursery School for our son this Fall, when he'll be 2 years nine months. We live in North Berkeley and are excited about the idea of participating in a play-based co-op (our son is a four days too young to be admitted to CCC unfortunately), but also need full-time care some days. Noticed that there weren't any recent posts on BPN on Kensington Nursery School and would be interested in any recent experiences others may have had, positive or negative, particularly with regard to the teachers, if the unstructured environment may get a bit chaotic, etc. Greatly appreciate any thoughts. Thanks! Anonymous

Can anyone who is currently or has recently attended let me know what they seems like a great place and we are very excited, but two things I was wondering your kids seem to like the teachers and director, and day structure: it seems like they move a lot from one thing to the next, with a lot of time out doors. I like the outsdoor time, but they have such great toys and resources inside , I wonder if they aren't getting to take advantage of them as much as they could. Also, are the kids allowed to get messy, or make a mess with the toys? Allison

My two children, a daughter aged 4 and a son who just turned 3 last month, both attend KNS. My wife and I couldn't be happier - they both love going to school and we literally have to drag them out at the end of the day.

Lynne Hollingsworth is a remarkable Director with tremendous energy that makes the school special. To her credit there is very little staff turnover. The staff is committed and thoughtful - they plan different and interesting projects to capture the kids' imaginations. Both of our kids are very comfortable standing in front of their peers at circle-time for show-and-tell and sharing. They come home regularly with interesting art projects. And I have noticed that all children are acknowledged and respected.

The school has a fair bit of structure - all activities for the day are planned which includes free-play for a portion of the day. It was quite apparent during our search for a kindergarten school that our daughter was more than sufficiently prepared. Nap time is based on on a kid's individual needs and parents' desires. Our kids, for example, have never been nappers. I would highly recommend KNS.

Dad of Two KNS kids

Re: Part-time affordable non-coop? (Jan 2005)
You could try Kensington Nursery School, it is a coop but you can opt out of being a parent teacher. My son goes 3 days a week for around $340 a month. jackie

April 2004

Were considering the Kensington Nursery School and would like any feedback pros & cons about the school. We looked at the reviews and they are a couple of years old.

[no replies were received] April 2003

Re: After school at Kensington Hilltop
Actually both Kensington Nursery School (KNS) and the Neighborhood School do in fact have ''walk down'' programs for Kindergarteners and are open until 6pm. My son is walked down the hill from Hilltop 3 times a week by a teacher at KNS and has been very happy with his after-care program. KNS is a co-op and as such has great parent participation and has super teachers. Our only beef is that there is no after-care beyond kindergarten at KNS. Feel free to contact us further if you want more information. Rob December 2001

I live in Kensington and am thinking about sending my daughter, who is now 14 months and very social, to the Kensington Nursery School. I am curious what arrangements people made for there children during the year before sending them the KNS since they don't take children until they are two years, nine months. Also, any feedback about the school would be appreciated. Deborah

Our 3 yr old daughter is scheduled to begin KNS in January. During the last month we have visited KNS (with our daughter) on 4 occasions to prepare for the transition. We would be happy to discuss our impressions with you. Call Ernest at (510)

March 1998

To the parent looking for a parent coop in North Berkeley, I highly recommend Kensington Nursery School (ok, its in Kensington, not No. Berkeley, but close enough!)

My 4 year old daughter has been a "student" since she was 2.9 (the youngest age the school takes) and loves the program. The school is located in the Arlington Communicty Church. It is "play" based and the physical environment is wonderful with separate rooms for art, music and movement, imagination (there's even a sand city!). The outdoor area is comprised of two play yards with climbing structures, swings, sandbox, slides, water table, etc. Jim Beatty comes once a week, as does a music teacher. There are several field trips during the year.

The school has a morning only program, full time option, and a kindergarten walk-down option (from Hilltop in Kensington). It is a year round school. Parents have a coop job, bring snack on average once a month, and participate in "work parties" twice a year. Parents have the opportunity to serve on the board of directors and to take an active part in the formulation of school policy.

The staff is loving and creative. Many have been around for quite a while, and parents are encouraged (and relied upon) to help out with the morning program.

If you are looking for a wonderful environment for your child to enjoy being a kid, and for a caring community for your own adult needs - I recommend KNS! Cathy