Preschools with Academic Year Schedule

Parent Q&A

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  • I am having a hard time finding a *reasonably priced* preschool in or around El Cerrito that runs on an academic year rather than year-round schedule. My husband and I teach, and so we spend the summer road-tripping, camping and caring for elderly parents back east. We have found a few promising places, but so far they are all year-round. The thought of paying thousands of dollars for the 10+ weeks that we are gone for the summer seems somehow absurd.

    I realize that many parents work year-round and appreciate the ability to have a stable placement for their children throughout, but I imagine that there are others in a similar position to us that have found accommodations.

    Thanks for any leads.

    We LOVE Casa Cerrito, the city-run preschool.  They give an option to change your schedule over the summer, and tell them you plan to have your child back full-time in the fall.  Last year we reduced preschool to half-time for a few weeks and then went back up in the fall.  They do say there's no guarantee you'll get your full-time spot back if another kiddo comes full-time in the summer and wants to stay, but I think they try to make it work, and they're more affordable than most other preschools around.  The down side is that their hours are 9am-5pm, no extended care available, so if you can't make those dropoff/pickup times work with your work schedule it can be pretty challenging.

    Good luck!

    My son went to a preschool in Berkeley, run by BUSD 2015-2016. I paid less than $800 M-F 9-3. I know that they have groups run on academic year and also groups for a longer day (these are very hard to get into). I was happy with the public preschool. I visited or spoke to ALL preschools in Berkeley-Albany-Kensigtin area. This was my top choice. My other son will start at the same school (they are called childhood development center, not preschool) in August. The downsides are that children must be fully potty-trained and if you are late 3 times to pick up your child-you are out! The had a weekly library, garden, PE, and theatre performances. Lunches are included in the price. Also they had two field-trips on a school bus. Firefighters visited them on a fire truck and dental hygienists did to teach them how to brush their teeth. I felt that my son, who is now in second grade, was  perfectly prepared for school. There are 3 sites: Franklin, Hopkins (we went there), and another one. Information is on BUSD website.


    I don’t have a specific place recommendation in El Cerrito but my husband and I are both teachers too. When our son was in preschool, we had a year round preschool. However the preschool worked with us so our son could go part time instead of full during the summer. It saved us some money and it was actually nice to be able to take him sometimes and get a break, although we were out of town a lot.

    I’m not sure if our school was just particularly flexible, but it is worth asking wherever you go. That school has since changed owners and is entirely different now.

    We moved out to Pinole and our last preschool WAS on an academic schedule and was fantastic: La Casita Bilingue in old town Pinole. If you happen to work this direction I highly recommend.

    My daughter is at the Berkeley Rose Waldorf School preschool, and we love it. They are on an academic schedule and have spaces available for next year. I'm sure someone could arrange a tour if you call.

    Gay Austin school in Berkeley. Both my kids went there and loved it. Not year-round, not cheap but cheaper than many other schools we looked at, and was only a 7-minute drive from our house in El Cerrito.

    Check out Sunshine Playschool in El Sobrante.  They are year round, but many teachers' children attend and they seem flexible with taking summers off without losing your spot.  Good luck!

    It’s not nearby but I beleive the Mills Children’s School in Oakland uses an academic year schedule (they have a summer program but you have to pay and enroll separately). They accept kids as young as 6mo. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Seeking preschool compatible with BUSD schedule

Sept 2012

I'm in the preliminary stages of researching preschools for my daughter as her older brother is headed off to kindergarten in fall 2013. I'd love to send her to the same preschool as her brother is currently attending, however this school seems to have frequent staff training and religious holiday breaks built into the schedule, plus lengthy vacation breaks in the winter, spring and summer, and I've heard from other parents here that the breaks don't coincide well with the BUSD schedule. We are a family with two working parents and it would be nice to find a preschool where we don't have to blow all our vacation time filling in gaps in our kids' school schedules. (Is this even realistic?) Does anyone have recommendations for preschools with breaks that coincide well with BUSD breaks, or a schedule that is generally more adapted to the needs of families with two working parents? Anywhere in Berkeley or Emeryville would be great. - running low on PTO

Check out The New School of Berkeley (

Its schedule is based on BUSD's, with the added bonus that it's open during BUSD one-day holidays (Malcolm X Day...) and BUSD spring break. The only days it's closed when BUSD schools are open are the Friday before Memorial Day (for the annual New School family camping trip to Mendocino, which is awesome) and a few days around the time BUSD schools start in late August.

Plus, New School is around the corner from Berkeley Arts Magnet BUSD elementary school, and it offers before- and after-school care for elementary-age kids. Both my kids, who go/went to BAM, went to New School from preschool (ages 2/3) through elementary-school after-school care (ages 6-10). Robin

Once again, please see my response above to ''Looking for a mellow preschool near Glenview''. First Years Enrichment is year-round and on the BUSD calendar. Their number is 510.658.8109. A very pleased Mom