The Neighborhood School

Kensington, CA

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

DSS Facility License #: 
Jill Houghton
(510) 526-5871
Highland Blvd off The Arlington
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Additional Services & Features: 
K-5 afterschool available

Parent Q&A

  • Neighborhood Preschool in Kensington?

    (2 replies)

    How do parents like the preschool located at Kensington Hilltop School? Would love to hear impressions. We are considering sending our daughter there in the fall, when our son starts kindergarten at the elementary school. Love the idea of one drop off/pick up, but want to make sure it’s a great preschool.

    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.

    My two children are at the Neighborhood School Preschool 5 days a week from 8:30-1:30 and we absolutely adore the school. I really can't say enough good things about it, The teachers are all so warm and loving and all the children who attend the school seem exceptionally happy and well-behaved whenever we do pick up and drop off. Although its play based there is actually a lot of structure built in to the day and the transition to Kensington Hilltop School for elementary seems like it will be really easy given that the Kindergarten classrooms are just across the yard.  I looked at lots of other schools in the area and the Neighborhood School was by far the most reasonable in price and although they take the same days off as the elementary school and about a month of in summer (which requires me to get back up care) its pretty great for working parents in that there is no parent participation time required and they are flexible re drop ins and later hours,etc.

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Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

June 2012

I am looking for any recent reviews of the Kindergarden afterschool program at Neighborhood school in Kensington. It is very reasonably priced and convenient but I'd like to know more about the quality of care and teaching. I've heard some mixed reviews. Please let me know of your child thrives there, is learning, is kept safe. Thanks!! Mindful parent

Hi, both my kids started going to Neighborhood when they started kindergarten. My oldest stopped going in 5th grade and my youngest will stop now that he is going into 5th grade too and they are responsible enough to walk home from school. Neighborhood was great -- my kids report that they were kept entertained with games of kickball, ping pong, all kinds of board games, and plenty of socializing with their friends. They both have a soft spot for Jacob who has been a counselor there for a long time. There has never been a safety issue. It is more for keeping the kids busy than a ''teaching environment'' but as long as that is what you're looking for, you'll be pleased. Luisa

Oct 2010

I'm thinking of sending my son to Neighborhood School on the Kensington Elementary School campus for preschool. The advice in the archives is a year old or more. Does anyone have current advice on their experience with the school? I've made two visits and the program that includes music/tennis/academic preparation seems strong and the children engaged. Any specific advice? Thank you. interested in neighborhood

My son, who is now a third grader, attended Neighborhood School from age 2.5 to 5 because it was easy to get into, relatively inexpensive, and conveniently close to home. In hindsight, I wish I had looked around at other preschools more, and by the time I became really unhappy with the environment there, my son had already made friends in school, and I couldn't bear to tear him away from them, though I did try to transfer him, unsuccessfully because it was too late in the game. The director is very traditional, and, though polite and friendly with parents, she likes to do things her own way. This is not to say that the school is not a cheerful, fun, and engaging place. The teachers are generally good with the children, but we were really kept in the dark as to what was happening during the day. When the school moved from its location above the Tot Lot because heavy rains flooded the building and made it inhabitable, they erected portables, which now sit behind Kensington Hilltop School. They are quite nice for portables, and at the time I was relieved because the previous play structures at the old site were old, the swings rusty, etc. But the problem was that the preschool often merges the Kindergarten before-school care and the after-school care with the preschool class, and we were never given any warning ahead of time that this was happening. I just brought my son to school one day, and there were a lot of older kids sitting in the class with him. I asked the director why there were more kids, and she said that they take care of the Kensington kids as well. Surprise! To be fair, I know many parents who loved the preschool and thought it was a quaint little place to send their child. But we would have preferred a director who genuinely listened to our concerns and kept us better informed of what was happening in the school. -wiser mom

Nov 2009

Looking for a fun, safe and nurturing preschool for your little one? We love Neighborhood School in Kensington! Our family's experience with Neighborhood School began in the fall of 2006 when I fell in love with the wonderful staff and the nurturing environment for my eldest son. Neighborhood School provides a caring and stimulating environment for children where they grow, learn, and feel good about themselves and their surroundings. Although my eldest has now ''graduated'' to kindergarten, our youngest son now attends Neighborhood School. He is also thriving under the caring and supportive supervision of Jill, Ginger, Lan, Anita and the rest of the staff. Both of my boys love the Neighborhood School teachers (who have all been there for years) and we feel so fortunate to have them in our lives! kk

Dec 2005

Hi, I wonder if any parents could comment on the Neighborhood Preschool in Kensington. I didn't see any recent emails about this school in the archives. Thanks! New Kensington Parent

We have two children, 6yr old boy and 3yr old girl. We've been Neighborhood parents since our son was 2 yrs. old. We love it there. Our children are very different in temperment and spirit and the teachers have been wonderful, encouraging and loving. Jill has been doing this a long time and I worked with her when I was in the recreation profession for many years prior to having children. I've always hoped my children could go to Neighborhood because of Jill's tender ways. Jill, Ginger and Stacey are very consistant and wonderful. Some other teachers have come and gone but the core teachers remain. A huge plus in the sense of community since they also provide after school care for the elementary school too. The transition to Kindergarten was easy because he got to see his preschool teacher every day (she is also at the elementary school after preschool is over)So my son is still involved with Neighborhood as many other graduates are and get to have the same specialized teachersand warm fuzzies. The preschool has tennis, yoga, music and drama- all fabulous instructors that come in an teach these specialities. I can't say enough good things about Neighborhood. My son aslo has a nut allergy and it's the only preschool I felt comfortable leaving him with. The staff understood and took our sitiuation (it's life threatening) seriously. Five years ago this wasn't the case with all preschools. If you need newsletters and written monthly summeries you won't get it here. You will get lots of one on one communication if you seek it, any time, any day. The staff is always available to talk, your child is always a priority. We love it. renee

Not sure if you were asking about the Neighborhood School (which is the after-care program for Kensington Hilltop elementary) or an actual Preschool, which if so, I know nothing about. If you're after info on the Neighborhood School, I have my kindergartener enrolled and have been very happy with the activities (tennis, art, etc..) the school sets up for the kids and the free play they have. All the students seem engaged with the teacher/caretakers, and I think their set-up which keeps the K and 1st grade students separate from the older grades is very reassuring. anon

All of my children have gone to the Neighborhood school. I like it very much, it is safe, warm and very sweet. I love that it is a tradtional pre-school- no extended hours. If you are looking to be involved, however this place is not for you. This is a drop off and go. I like that, but other people I know like the community of a co-op better. anon