The Mulberry School

Berkeley, 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 #
Vicki Carlton
(510) 540-0732
themulberryschool [at]
207 Alvarado Road
Maximum Capacity:
Language(s) Spoken:
Additional Services & Features:
Part-time available
Editors' Notes:
  • This preschool closed in 2020 and a new school opened on the site in 2021: Arbor Preschool

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

June 2016

RE: Preschool for shy child - No. Oakland/So. Berkeley

The Mulberry School is a wonderful, small, nurturing school. Our shy child spent a year watching from the sidelines in a larger preschool before finding a much better fit at Mulberry. The class size, teachers, and community environment make it feel safe and inclusive for shy kids and others alike. Shy kid's mom

Jan 2012

Hi: The reviews for the Mulberry School in Berkeley are all old. Does anyone have any recent feedback or experiences? Thanks anon

Our child started with the Mulberry School in September and loves it! We love the ''coziness'' of the school, the teachers, the teacher child ratio, the huge gorgeous back yard and the fact that you can choose anywhere from 2 to 5 days a week.

In addition, they offer Dance, French, Spanish and Music classes to the children.

One thing I have noticed is that we don't feel as connected to other families that attend-but that could just be because of our circumstances. Another thing you should be aware of is the hours are from 9 am-2 pm (no before or after care is provided).

We love the school and so does our child! anon

Dec 2010

Re: Preschool with lots of part-time students?

Try the Mulberry School. Both my kids went there, though it's been a few years since they graduated. A wonderful place, with lots of part time students, and back then at least the school day was only 9-2, probably still is.

June 2009

If you are looking for a warm and wonderful play-based pre- school for your child, I would like to highly recommend The Mulberry School, on Alvarado Road in Berkeley. My son is just finishing his first year there and will have one more year before going to kindergarten. It is a sunny and bright one room schoolhouse tucked into a residential neighborhood with a generous shady play yard. The kids have a variety of art activities, science and gardening projects, exposure to Spanish and French, free access throughout the day to outside play and a mixed age group to learn and grow with. I can't speak highly enough of the caring and loving teachers. The atmosphere is calm and inviting and most importantly, the kids are happy and engaged in play of all sorts. All I can say is when I finally went to visit the Mulberry School, my heart finally felt at peace with sending my son to preschool and I couldn't have made a better decision. If interested their number is 510-540-5778.

Sept 2005

I've checked the archives and wanted more current opinions about The Mulberry School and the Little Elephant Montessori School. I'm considering these 2 schools for next Fall and wanted to get people's opinions/experiences with either of these schools before I hand them my non-refundable deposit. How caring are the teachers in these schools and how much emphasis is on academics and preparing young children for elementary school? Thanks for any insight you can provide. Parent who's looking for a good school in the Oakland Hills area.

My children have attended Mulberry School for four years (one has since graduated). We have had a great experience there. I think one of my old postings is archived so I will just address your immediate questions. The staff is extremely caring, warm and loving, with the kids. It is a developmental rather than an academic preschool. The emphasis is on play, as the work of early childhood. They do prepare the kids for kindergarden, though not by teaching them the things that they will learn in kindergarden, but rather skills they will need for kindergarden. The pre-Ks have their own longer circle time where they do things that entail following directions, speaking to the group, working on developing their confidence, and their ability to be patient, be part of a group. There is lots of reading, one day a week each there is French, Spanish, Music, and Dance class. The director and teachers could tell you more about the K prep part of the program. My eldest daughter was very well prepared for kindergarden. Many of the kids go on to private school, and seem to get in to schools of their choice. Lori

April 2004

We would greatly appreciate your impressions of the Mulberry School, especially ones from the current school year. Thank you in advance.

The Mulberry School is top notch. Our son started this year and is thriving. The director and teachers and their facility are outstanding. I was hesitant to start my son in pre-school last fall at 2.9, fearing he was just too young. The director and teachers have been wonderful with him, they are gifted with young children, very experienced and loving. I cannot imagine a better way for my son to spend three days a week. The only downside are the hours and scheduling. School closes at 2 p.m. And you must have set days, you cannot add or take away a day at your own convenience. Some preschools offer this and some families need that flexibility. Kim

My partner has been teaching dance in pre-schools all over the Bay Area for over 15 years and can say that in all of her experience, Mulberry would be the only pre-school she would send her child to. The only problem with it would be that it tends to lack diversity. mc

Our daughter has gone to the Mulberry School for 2.5 years and we have loved it, our youngest will start this fall. The director, Vicki, is incredibly attuned to how children experience school. The staff is warm and loving. The new head teacher has been doing some really creative projects with the kids. There is a small teacher to student ratio, and they have extra staff so staff absenses are never a problem. The setting (a converted small house with a large yard) is homey and idyllic. I am often stuck at how well the kids play together. The teachers will tell you that it is because of the emphasis on social and emotional development. This is definitely a developmental preschool, not an academic one. They also have weekly music, dance, French, and Spanish classes.

The downsides are it is expensive and they take lots of vacations (5-6 weeks in late summer, 2 weeks in Dec, 1 week in Feb & April, plus several 3+ day weekends). Given that and the short day, (9-2), it doesn't work for families that with parents working full-time. This leads to the only other downside, which is a lack of diversity in the student body. For us, the pluses have far far outweighed the minuses. s

We had a good experience with Mulberry school from 1998-2001 with my first child. I always thought my second child would go there too, and visited periodically, keeping my relationship with the director alive. I had nothing but good things to say, except that there is very little economic, cultural, or racial diversity.

However, in the process of enrolling my second child (for this coming year) there was a series of errors on their part (sending the application to the wrong address, not returning a phone call following up on where my application was, because she ''thought ithe message was old'' ) and then my application was nearly too late because of these errors. She did get us two days a week, and we were waiting for confirmation on the other two, but once she informed us there were two more days, there was a misunderstanding on our part, as to exactly when we needed to tell her which of the five days my son would have OFF during the week. Apparently, because two weeks went by while i was trying to figure out next year's schedule, she thought that we were not interested anymore. (our check for $500 was already paid 3 months prior, and the paperwork done!) Without warning the director gave away our spot, without so much as a phone call.

In terms of the actual care, it seemed that for a girl it might be more nurturing than for an active boy, however i was always happy with the physical and emotional environment. As far as I know, they do not do any outreach in order to diversify, so it is somewhat sheltered socially. They have a strict policy of timely pickup ($2/minute if you're late) and there is no care before 9am or after 2pm.

While I was very disappointed at the turn of events, I'm looking forward to dealing with a more efficient and reliable infrastructure in the preschool my second child will attend. anonymous

I agree with some of the comments on the earlier posting about Mulberry. My child is also in his third year there. I especially agree with the comment that Vicki, the director, is extremely attuned to the children. Vicki also has opinions and is willing to share them, which I very much appreciate. My sense, however, is that Vicki is trying to make her involvement with the school more purely administrative and less hands-on, so I wouldn't base my decision to attend on her presence. At the beginning of the year, she announced that she wouldn't be teaching anymore (which changed partway through the year when another teacher had to leave). She went on ''sabbatical'' at the beginning of April through June this year (which was announced with, I believe, one week's notice). Other things at the school change too; for example, when I signed up 3 years ago I was given information that the school had before and after-care; after I paid my deposit, I was told that had been discontinued and the materials I'd been given were out of date. (I didn't pursue another school at that point because I had my heart set on Mulberry by then and I also didn't have the energy -- my husband was having treatment for cancer; I feel sure if I had wanted to I would have been released from my contract because they had a waiting list.) I also agree with the other poster that the school is not geared towards working parents (and I sense a bias in the teachers towards the SAH moms) but, you can make it work if you want to. Overall, I have to say to the extent my child is happy, nice to be around, and can play well with other kids, it is due more to Mulberry than anything, so the rest of it is probably just petty on my part. To the extent I'm happy and easy to be around, well, that's another story! Fran


I have requested information about The Mulberry School in the past but got no response. Nonetheless, I checked with Community Care Licensing for any complaints about the school, and the records are clean. I also visited several school in the area. I found The Mulberry School to be the best school for my son -- the teachers are loving, knowledgable, and active and the facility is great. My overall impresion is that it is a place were children can be children! baran