Skytown Preschool

Community Subscriber

Richmond, CA

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

Childcare Center, Preschool
DSS Facility License #: 
non-profit parent cooperative
skytown.admin [at]
Richmond/El Cerrito/San Pablo/El Sobrante/Kensington hills
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
18 months - 60 months
8:00am - 3:00pm
Additional Services & Features: 
Part-time available, Sibling discount, Potty training support
About Our Program: 

Skytown Parent Cooperative Preschool is located in East Richmond Heights.  We are currently open from 9:00 - 1:00 Monday - Friday and are operating under the COVID-19 state guidelines.

Skytown is a parent run cooperative school with a preschool program (3 years to kindergarten) and a toddler program (18 months to 3 years). We have a large outdoor space that children have the freedom to explore, in rain or shine, all day long.  Parents and teachers work with children to create a play-based, emergent curriculum.  Our goal is to support the development of self-confident, self-aware, compassionate and empathetic human beings.

If this sounds like the type of community you would like to join, please visit our website for more information. 

Parent Reviews

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I would look into Skytown. It is a co-op. Affordable. Tons of outdoor time and play based. In Richmond. In our experience, it has a lot of heart and community. 

Check out Skytown Preschool in Richmond. Due to limited covid precaution numbers it’s currently full but they are opening up a second pod in the fall   It check all your boxes, it’s a coop so chocked full of community, currently all outdoors due to covid and entirely play based. I think they are Reggio inspired. Our 3.5 year old has been thriving there. 

I've had my kid at Skytown for the past 3 years and we absolutely love it. It is driven by a profound respect for each individual child and is great at supporting kids develop social skills, emotional intelligence, independence, and problem solving. Here are some examples of how they do that:

1) When kids get into conflict, Skytown encourages the kids to find respectful ways to resolve the conflict. There is a never a forced apology or shaming of any kid, but rather an attempt to help kids explore what the other is feeling and then make earnest attempts to resolve the issue. My kid is so much more empathetic and has vastly improved his social skills due to Skytown's restorative conflict resolution approach (among other things).

2) When kids need help, the teacher and parents (it's a coop so parents are involved) encourage the kids to solve their own problems. For instance, one of my kid's classmates was trying to get across the monkey bars but couldn't reach the first bar. She asked for help but we encouraged her to try to figure out how she could do it without the help of adults. She looked around and found a soft cushion to stand on. But it didn't give her enough of a boost. Then my kid got involved and put another cushion on top but that turned out to be unstable. Then they found a more stable thing and put the cushions on top of that and she finally reached the bar. She had a look of profound accomplishment on her face and it was all because we didn't intervene to help. It may sound trivial, but by purposefully encouraging kids to figure things out on their own, the kids learn problem solving skills, work together in teams, build confidence, and gain independence. My kid exhibits all of those skills often, at school and at home, and I know it's largely because of Skytown's approach.

3) Kids are allowed to make a mess and explore their own interests. For example, the kids can paint on paper, on the play structures, and on themselves (which happens often). Again, that may seem trivial, but kids get to explore what they like and don't like rather than having an adult constantly telling them no/don't do that. As long as it's safe, the kids are allowed to freely explore their interests and creatively express however they want. This is based on the Reggio Emilia approach which give kids endless ways to express themselves and gives them some control over the direction of their learning.  

Skytown is not just a school, it's a caring, supportive community of people who work together to help our kids thrive. After closing during the pandemic, we safely reopened in Sept 2020 with a limited cohort of kids (no more than 10 kids per day) and it has been such a bright spot in an otherwise dismal time. Of course we have a number of COVID protocols in place but what gives me comfort more than anything, is the caring group of parents and teachers who are committed to keeping each other safe while giving our kids the best experience we can despite difficult circumstances. If you are able, I can't recommend Skytown enough. Check it out at There's also info on the site about their new scholarship program for families of color who would otherwise have trouble affording Skytown's tuition.

This might be a bit of a trek from Oakland, but Skytown Cooperative Preschool is re-opening in the Richmond Heights area (just off the Solano Ave. exit in Richmond), and they still have some openings for that age, I believe. Both of my kids went to this school, and I can't recommend it enough. It was such an amazing, supportive, and eye-opening experience for both our children and for us as parents. You won't find better teachers (two have received awards), and the director is passionate about early childhood education. The kids learn to be empathetic, self-aware, and confident. The community here is tight-knit and so welcoming!

Skytown Preschool has been amazing for my 2 kids (the youngest is just about to graduate) and for our family. I don't how else to describe it except to say that is a magical place for both the children and the parents. The children are treated and spoken to with respect for their individual abilities and personalities. There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities to practice empathy, kindness, creativity, and their unique strengths. The children graduate from this preschool with a strong sense of self, understanding conflict resolution and how to advocate for themselves and others. They also have the time of their lives! Almost 5 years later, my eldest child still talks about Skytown with wistful fondness. For the parents, you get a warm parent community, education on early childhood development, and access to supportive and knowledgeable teachers. The director, Martha, has been such an important resource for my thousands of kid-related questions. She speaks at conferences, is a published author on early childhood education, and is currently pursuing her Education Doctorate Degree. And she is completely down-to-earth and approachable. Teacher Roland is just as wonderful, and I've often been in awe of his unwavering patience and calming presence no matter the situation. He was also a "Bay Area Preschool Teacher of the Year" in 2017, an award given by Habitot Children's Museum. Both of my children also attended the toddler program at Skytown. The toddler teachers are gifted at guiding the youngest learners to speak their needs and learn how to help themselves and each other. As cheesy as this sounds, the sky is truly the limit at Skytown. The teachers and parents work together to create a safe space for our kids to discover their physical abilities, confidence, and the amazing things they are capable of understanding and creating both on their own and with their friends. I can't recommend this preschool more.


Skytown Preschool is getting ready to re-open in Richmond in the Fall. I’m not sure if that’s too far for you but it’s a very special place for toddlers and preschoolers. My two boys went there and thrived. They loved the freedom to play outside as much as they like, dance class, yoga, and plenty of opportunities to get messy. The teachers see each child for who they are and support them through each developmental phase. It’s a parent cooperative, which allows parents to be a part of their child’s school life and learn more about early childhood behaviors and how to support them. After my boys graduated from Skytown, I’ve become the Admin and we’re offering tours this summer. Good luck with your search!

My three sons have all attended and LOVED their time at Skytown.  There are many reasons Skytown has been a wonderful place for our family. 

What my KIDS love about Skytown: It is a play-based environment where children are free to choose their activities or explorations with the complete support of the teachers; digging, building, hammering, gardening, swinging, monkey bars, hide-and-seek, play dough, puzzles, books, glue, treasures, painting, circle time, yoga, dance, dress up, cooking, magnets, and pets!  The list goes on and the opportunities are limitless.

Why I love Skytown:  Children are supported in resolving conflicts, negotiating with their friends, and developing social-emotional skills at a very early age.  My two older boys have gone onto Kindergarten with mature social skills that have helped them navigate a new peer group.  Skytown feels like my second family - we have met our closest friends at Skytown and still "play" with them after leaving Skytown.  The teachers really enjoy being around our children.  And I enjoy being around these teachers.  As a parent participant in this cooperative, I have learned a great deal about Early Childhood development and have adapted my parenting to match the "way of Skytown."   We feel fortunate to  have found this school and would highly recommend Skytown.

Our daughter has been at Skytown for almost 2 years and we couldn't be happier. She started on the pre-school side when she was almost 3 and we're starting our son on the on toddler side when he's 2. I truly feel that there's no better place for my children to be during the day. The children are allowed to move between the inside and outside whenever they like. There's a beautiful (edible!) garden for them to explore. There are classroom pets that they have named and are able to interact with and learn about (a snake, tortoise and fish). There is structure for the children, such as always having an art activity available and having circle time each day, which they can choose to join (or not). Yoga and dance teachers come to the school on a weekly basis. Yet, there's also a great deal of flexibility for the children to move freely between the activities as they wish. They're able to learn and grow in a manner that fits their needs. Teachers and parents will take the students on hikes on the beautiful grounds around the school to explore in nature. I've learned so much from the teachers' parent education component. Each week, there's a prompt that they provide the participating parents to consider as we work with the children. They also provide parent education at the monthly meetings. So, I'm learning about child development and parenting on a regular basis. I feel so lucky to have found this school! What a warm, welcoming, supportive community!

Skytown has been amazing for my family. Our son has attended since he was 18 months old (2012); he is currently five (2016) We are actually sad to be leaving to go to kindergarten.

When looking for a play-based Reggio inspired preschool, I was overjoyed to find this cooperative. They REALLY focus on the individual needs of each child. They encourage active children as well quiet ones, giving them access to both indoor and outdoor play--all day long. They develop projects based on kid's emerging interests, encouraging children to expand their view and experiment with many ideas and materials. Skytown works with children as well as participating parents to solve conflicts while making sure that each child has a voice. They do not suspend children. They are fair and balanced and pay attention to the long arc of information between children not just the immediate exchange. As the mother of a very active, very vocal African American boy, I have to say that this school has been a godsend. I know that my child is loved and that all the folx attending to him, know him as a person.

As a participating parent, I have developed a community that I will have for many years. I have made great friends. The community is supportive and collaborative.

I highly recommend Skytown for any family looking for a co-op to support both children and parents, that focuses on play, really privileges social emotional development while also preparing your child for complex intellectual pursuits.

I highly recommend Skytown Co-op Preschool for families wanting more involvement in their toddler or preschooler's education. My daughter started in the toddler room when she was 18 months during their summer session (2015) and we both have had a wonderful experience. I came feeling isolated and overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of being a new mom and I found a place of support and growth for us both.

Their play-based model also emphasizes healthy emotional development in children, which is very important to me. When conflict over toys, feeling are hurt, or the kids are just having a hard day, their is time to pause, meet those feelings and discuss age appropriate ways for taking care of one-self in relation to others. This lays the foundation for a lifetime of emotional health and self-esteem. Wow...if only all of us had this when we were kids what would the world look like today? The teachers know that it starts at a very young age and are committed to modeling these behaviors throughout the school in teacher-teacher relationships and teacher-parent relationships.

On the work commitment side you can choose how much you want to be involved with buy-out options. There is flexibility too throughout the year on some of the commitments, like how often you participate in the classroom. I do believe though that what works best at Skytown is at least one parent not working or working part-time. To get the most out of the program, participation is important and if you're stretched with work commitments it becomes too much. My husband works full-time and I work part-time from home on our family business and it's a nice balance.

If curious, check them out. I'm so glad that I did.

East Bay Mama Melanie

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2015

RE: Seeking a small, warm, play-based preschool

I have nothing but a glowing recommendation for Skytown Cooperative Preschool. It is located in Kensington (just next to the Berkeley Hills), and has a play-based, child led, emergent curriculum. There is a large indoor and outdoor space, which the children are free to explore. The outdoor space has a play structure, tons of sand, a tire swing, many many plants that attract all manner of birds, bugs, and butterflies, and fosters lots of creativity. The school is on a secluded hillside with a beautiful view, and the children often go on walks around the property, climb trees, and pick flowers when they are in bloom. There is yoga and dance once a week for interested kids. The teachers are fantastic and truly honor and respect the spirit and development of each child. Also, I love the level of parent education that is provided on early childhood education and the lovely support within the community. It's a co-op, so there is a lot of participation expected, but that's what keeps the fees low. You can ''buy out'' of whatever you feel you is too much of a time commitment. It's a special preschool, and I whole-heartedly suggest checking it out! preschool co-op mom 

Jan 2015

Re: Looking for a Play-based Preschool

Skytown Cooperative Preschool!  It follows the Regio Emilia philosophy, which means kids are allowed to direct their own play.  Wonderful teachers and inspiring physical space. There's a lot of things they can do, or not do, whatever they prefer, during the day.  It's a co-op, but if you don't want to participate in the classroom you can pay extra to buy out of the requirement. Mama Sue

July 2012

Re: Parent-child co-op for 2yr-old near Berkeley?
Hi, I'd like to suggest Skytown Preschool. It's a small parent cooperative nestled in the hills, not far from North Berkeley. We follow an emergent curriculum, most in line with the Reggio Emilia philosophy, in that, children are individuals and playing is how children learn. There is a generous and sunny outdoor space with lots of opportunity for running, climbing, social interaction, art & sensory experiences. (Garden, water, sand, trees). We are very lucky that we can go for nature walks around the hilltop property.

Logistics: The school is separated into two programs: Toddlers 18mo -3yr olds, Preschoolers 3yr-5+. We have low adult to child ratios, 1:3, and 1:4 respectively, and diapers are ok. You can take a peek at our

For more program details, I suggest taking a tour of the school, where you will get a chance to talk to the director & our administrator, and ask any questions you might have. Our last tour for a Fall start in the Toddler Room, is Monday August 6th, at 9:30am. After that, the next start date available will be Jan 1, 2013. Please contact Mira, our administrator, at 510-526-8481 or skytown.admin [at] to sign up.

-parent of 2, starting our 5th (!) year Jennifer

Nov 2011

Hi Parents Any recent experiences and opinions of Skytown Preschool in Kensington would be greatly appreciated! Many Thanks Phoebe

Skytown is a warm and connected community with a play-based philosophy. The parent participation component is hefty and children really choose how to spend their time. This school is best-suited for kids who can tolerate lots of unstructured time and families who want to invest a lot of time in their school. anon

June 2011

Re: Preschool Option for 18-month Old
Our daughter was ready for more social interaction at 18 months as well. We started at Skytown,, May 2010. Skytown is a play based preschool co-op in Kensington that has a toddler program. They teach the Reggio Emilia approach. We have also taken advantage of their extended day program, until 3 pm, when naps got later & later.

We are about to transition to the preschool room and are looking forward to a relatively smooth move because our daughter knows the room, students, parents and teachers so well. I believe they do monthly tours for prospective families. Lots of options for buyout if co-op hours are not best for your family. Ruth

Sept 2010

Re: Seeking a preschool with Reggio-Emilia philosophy
If you are looking for a co-op, the only co-op for kids 18 months old in CA is Skytown in Kensington. I started my daughter there at 20 months and loved it (we are still there for her final year before kindergarten. We lived in Oakland when she started, but it was worth the drive! It incorporates elements from Reggio and Montesourri and other play-based methods. We are filling up spaces quickly, though, so if you are interested, check it out!

Sept 2010

Re: Preschools for a 2 1/2 year old on special diet
Hey! Our daughter started at 20 months at skytown. (

While they do serve the children a snack, they are tremendously accommodating. The snack is usually a grain, a fruit, and a dairy... but many gluten kids have brought their own cheerios or crackers and the dairy allergies just don't get that... if it's a strawberry issue, we give the kids watermelon or oranges or whatever...the kids get a snack and they ''get it'' when they see theirs is different because their parents have already explained it.

That being said, there is only a snack on the toddler side, at 3yo your child would transition to the toddler side and then all the food is BYO (keep special ''treats'' for your child there, though, for birthday days if they can't eat cupcakes or whatever) It's a co-op and it is reasonably priced in my opinion... maureen

July 2010

Re: Preschool for 2 1/2 year old, parent participating
Hi Stacey, I currently have both of my girls at Skytown Preschool Co-Op in Kensington. We love it! My 3 year old is in the preschool class and my 19 month old started in the Toddler class this summer. Skytown is located up on top of a hill where it is quiet with no traffic and surrounded by a lot of trees and nature. Both classes go on walks and picnics and are given a chance to explore everything around them. The staff is wonderful and the ratios are the lowest around (3:1-Toddler, 4:1 - Preschool). Participating in the classroom is really fun. It is nice to get to know all of the kids in school as well as their parents. One of my biggest surprises about becoming involved in a co-op is how much I really enjoy the other families. We do have participating grandparents as well. Check out the website, then call to go on a tour, Good luck in your search for a great preschool! Happy Skytown Mom!

April 2010

Re: Cozy, fun preschool for 2-year-old
Please consider Skytown, a parent cooperative preschool in Kensington. Cozy and fun certainly describe this play-based cooperative preschool! I have been very pleased with the warm and supportive atmosphere and it was a wonderful transition for my son who had been home full time up to the time we started. Check out the website and call to schedule a tour if interested. There are still summer and fall openings. Amy

April 2010

Re: Recently Relocated--Too Late to Get Into Preschool
If you're interested in a play-based parent cooperative preschool, Skytown in Kensington still has openings for the fall (and summer, too, I believe). I have been very happy with it and it made our recent transition to the Bay Area easier. I was trying to find a school that emphasized social development, independence and creative play rather than pre-academics for similar reasons-- and Skytown really fits the bill. The current staff, including a new toddler teacher and relatively new director are doing a wonderful job this year (I understand it had been a little chaotic in the past). It is a very warm and caring atmosphere that my son is getting a lot out of and I've really become a part of the community too. Check out the website and call to schedule a tour if interested. Amy

Dec 2009

Re: Preschool recommendations needed for 2 yr old
Hi, it looks like Skytown would be a good match for your son and for you. My kids are both shy and they are doing very well at Skytown. my little one (2 y old) is in the toddler room and she is blossoming. So are the other kids there. the school is also located in a beatiful area on top of the hills, but easily reachable by Arlingon ave. The costs are low, because it's a coop. if you're willing to participate in the classroom once a week, it's great for you also, because it helps to keep connected with everyone there, and for me it's been a great parenting school. I have learned so much. otherwise there is the option of buying out from the participation, and it's still very affordable. let me know if you have anymore question. If you want to visit you can email or call for a tour. (510) 526-8481 or info [at] the website is Happy Skytown parent of shy girls.

Oct 2009

Re: Co-op preschool for toddler age 2.9?
Have you looked into Skytown Preschool? It's a co-op in Kensington but kids attend from Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito, Albany, etc. It's a great school and we loved it there! Mom of Skytown Alumni

Hi Julie, come take a look at Skytown in the Kensington hills (bordering Berkeley and el cerrito). My 2.8 year old daughter started here 2 mos ago for the same reason-- all other co-cops can't take her and I had to have a co-op, so Skytown it was. Turns out we really like the place. Besides her sweet teacher, I really like the other parents, which is important. My daughter has become much more comfortable talking to adults and even lets a couple of the parents comfort her when necessary. Unheard of a month ago. The other thing I Ike is that I DO have a sense of ownership here, something I doubt I would have to this extent at a traditional school. There are so many other pluses--namely safety--and a few minuses (that are inherent to all co-ops) so please feel free to contact me if you have further questions. Or call the school 510-526-8481. I'm pretty sure they're conducting tours every week right now. Brook

Julie, Skytown Coop Preschool ( has a toddler and preschool program. They might have your child enter the toddler program until he was 3 and then switch, but there would be no delay in starting, at least if they have space. Best, Skytown Graduate Mom

I have my daughter at Skytown Preschool Co-Op. This is her second year and she has loved every minute of it. We started her in the Toddler program when she was 18 months old. She will be 3 in January and will soon be moving to the Younger Preschool room. Skytown has three classes, each with a head teacher and parent participants. It is a play based school where the kids enjoy many activities including art, music, cooking and circle time. The biggest surprise for me was how much I really like the other families at Skytown. I have made some very good friends and thoroughly enjoy being part of the membership! Check out the website at Happy to be a Skytown Mom! Stephanie

Hello. My Son is in his first year of Preschool at Skytown and it's a Co-op and YES they can start when they are 2.9! So far we are really really happy with this school. They have two rooms for the preschool area. (Skytown also has the only toddler co-op in the east bay)One room for the 2.9-4 year old and one year with the 4 and 5 year olds. So it's a two year Preschool program. They are separated by age in the morning and then they open the wall and the children co mingle in the afternoon. The core program is 9-1 and you choose 3, 4, or 5days a week. And they have Extended program based on demand from 1-3. Parent participation is based on the number of days you choose. Go to the website. There is a calculator that helps you figure out what your base tuition will be and it's really reasonable. And the co-op setting is so wonderful because besides getting to see the teachers in action with your child, you get to build relationships with all these other really great kids! Teacher Roland and Teacher Martha are wonderful! They offer tours ever month. Come check it out! You can e-mail me if you have any questions. . shelly

Sept 2009

Re: Play based pre-school for 2.9 year old
Skytown Preschool is a parent-run play-based cooperative preschool located in the quiet, woodsy area of Kensington at the top of Moeser Ave off Arlington. The classrooms and play yard are spacious and full of opportunities for learning through play. The staff is very nurturing and dedicated and a 1:4 adult-to-child ratio. There are a variety of parent participation options. There is also an afternoon extended care program(1-3pm)& offers pre-Kindergarten activities. Please visit our website at for more information or sign up for a tour by contacting our administrator at (510) 526-8481 or info [at] John - A Happy Skytown Parent

August 2009

Re: Culturally diverse Part-time preschool in El Cerrito/Albany?
You should check out Skytown Preschool. It's in the region of the El Cerrito hills. They have a toddler (2's) room and it is a fantastic son went there and loved it! It is a coop, but you can buy out of whatever you don't want to do... Happy Skytown Mama

March 2009

Re: Co-op preschool for 4-5 year olds
My child attends Skytown Preschool Co Op which is located in Kensington. It is a fantastic school that is separated into three age groups, Toddler (18 months - 3 years), Younger Preschool (3-4) and Older Preschool (4-5). Each class has a high ratio, 1:3 for toddlers and 1:4 for preschoolers. A child moves to the next class based on assessment and recommendation from the Director. Each class has a head teacher and parents that participate in the classroom. The base program is from 9am-1pm with extended programs available. Skytown is a play based school that is a wonderful learning environment for all of the children that attend. I have also really enjoyed being a part of this cooperative! There is a tuition calculator on the website where you can see exactly what your expenses will be. You are welcome to attend the Open House on March 28th to visit the classrooms and meet the teachers and families. A Happy Skytown Mom

March 2009

Re: A Preschool $650 or less -Ber-Oak-El Cerrito
My daughter attends Skytown Preschool in Kensington. We love it there. She is actually in the Toddler program which is 18 months - 3 years old and then there is the Preschool program which is 3 - 5 or whenever your child will start Kindergarten. Skytown is a Co Op, but you do have the option of buying out of participation. The regular programs are from 9am - 1pm, but you can do early drop-off and an afternoon program. Potentially the day could be as long as 8am-3pm. It is a play based school with low ratios (1:3 for toddlers and 1:4 for preschoolers). My daughter loves the teachers and the friends that she has made there. You can go to the website to determine exactly what your tuition would be Good luck! Anon

March 2009

There are openings available in the Skytown Preschool's Toddler Program. We have had such a great experience, I wanted to let people know about it. I enrolled my 18 month old daughter in Skytown Preschool's Toddler Program last August. She absolutely loves it there! I was looking for a place for her to go a few mornings a week that was a play based program, but more of a classroom atmosphere than an in-home situation. Skytown was perfect. The teachers are wonderful. There is a 3:1 adult to child ratio in the toddler program. My daughter has learned so much from the wide variety of activities: art, indoor & outdoor play, cooking, singing and circle time, to mention a few. She is so happy and comfortable in the toddler program, transitioning to the preschool program will be a breeze! We plan on staying at Skytown until she goes to Kindergarten. If you are looking for a nurturing and educational place for your toddler, give Skytown a call and go on a tour or just check out the website. It really is a wonderful community of families. Stephanie, a happy Skytown Mom. Contact: Skytown Preschool, 510-526-8481

Dec 2008

Re: Looking for a preschool that has openings in Jan09
the preschool were my daughter is going has openings. It's called Skytown coop, in Kensington, near el cerrito and berkeley. I like it because it has three teachers (one for the toddlers 18m-2.9y, one for the young preschoolers, and one teacher for the older preschoolers who also works as director), in addition to the parents participating, with a teacher- student ratio of 4:1 for the preschool side. Therefore, there is a great attention to the needs and developments of the children. It's a play based school, with a well sized, sunny outside space that the children love. Being a coop keeps the price reasonable, and has many other advantages (it helped me teaching the children to share and take turns for ex). for more info, check it out at or call 510-526-8481 to schedule a tour, or you can write me. linda

Oct 2008

I have just started Skytown preschool in August and am LOVING it!! My son instantly felt comfortable there and I was impressed by the teachers. They are all welcoming and talented. I am a full participant at the school which is a co-op and have found the expirence so far has been great. Being involved and knowing what my son is doing everyday at school is such a comfort. It has also been great getting to know all the other families. What is also nice is that if you don't have time to participate or don't want to there is a buy out option. This is truly a great school. zicatlin

Oct 2008

Re: looking for affordable part time pre-school
We are a part of Skytown Preschool, a parent cooperative and are very happy there. It has a part-time program, is affordable, and allows you to be involved in the community. You get to know the other children and the parents who spend time (along with teachers), taking care of your kids. Is is a play-based program, which means it is the children's interests that lead the way, as they develop their emotional and social skills. Skytown is located just off the Arlington, which makes the non-urban setting of the school feel safe and unhurried. Check it out! BTW - we're having a Fall Festival/Open House Saturday 10/25, 10am-1pm - you might be able to get a good feel for it then. Jennifer

Sept 2008

Re: Any openings at your kid's great preschool?
Try Skytown Preschool! We love it! I believe they still have some openings this year. We live in South Berkeley and the drive to the preschool is about 15-20 minutes. Not bad at all. Skytown is a play-based preschool with warm teachers and a fantastic outdoor space for play.
A Happy Skytown Mama

Skytown preschool in Kensington is a wonderful play based co-op preschool that my daughter attends. We have been very happy with the teachers and cirrculum of the school. The teachers are very kid-oriented in the sense that they choose themes every month that coincides with the children's interest. The teacher to student ratio is 3:1 for toddlers (18mo-2.9yrs) and 4:1 for preschoolers (up to age 5). The preschool has a nice well sized sunny outdoor space with a beautiful garden that the kids participate in as well as all the standard play structure, tricycles, etc. I know that they have openings right now. You can contact them at info [at] and/or arrange a tour of the preschool.
happy skytown parent

August 2008

Re: Pre-School/Toddler Program 2-3 mornings per week?
Skytown Preschool (in Kensington) has a toddler program and a preschool program. Mom of Preschooler

Skytown preschool in Kensington is a wonderful play based co-op preschool that my daughter attends. We have been very happy with the teachers and cirrculum of the school. The teachers are very kid-oriented in the sense that they choose themes every month that really coincides with the children's interest. The teacher to student ratio is 3:1 for toddlers (18mo-2.9yrs) and 4:1 for preschoolers (up to age 5). The preschool has a nice well sized sunny outdoor space with a beautiful garden that the kids participate in as well as all the standard play structure, tricycles, etc. The tuition is really quite reasonable and it is one of the reasons why we joined the school. We currently pay less than $300 a month for our daughter to attend three days a week. The community at skytown has been such a great experience so far. As new skytown members last year, the community was very welcoming towards us. The teachers interact in a very genuine and caring manner with both the children and the parents. I know that they have openings right now. You can contact them at info [at] and/or arrange a tour of the preschool. Feel free to contact me with any questions! happy skytown parent

May 2008

I am looking for current feedback on Skytown Preschool. My 2 year old daughter has gotten a space for the fall, but we are unable to visit or tour the school as we live out of the country, and are moving back to Berkeley this summer. I have never seen the school myself, nor known anyone personally who sent their child there. I have read the comments from 2007 on BPN, and wonder how the transition with the new director has gone. Francine

Our son has attended Skytown since he was 21 months old. He absolutely loves it there. The toddler program has offered him structured learning within a play-based environment. He has certainly thrived there.

On a personal level, the parents who send their kids to Skytown seem to be a great group of people and I have made some lovely friends. The benefit of a co-op is that you can be as involved in your child's education as you want to be.

Skytown is currently looking for a new head toddler teacher as our beloved Teacher Nancy is moving away, but I'm sure that the school is committed to finding another fantastic teacher. There will be continuity in the classroom as I believe that the assistant toddler teacher will be staying on next year. A Happy Skytown Mama

June 2007

Can anyone offer any advice about the Skytown Co-Op in Kensington? I have heard great things about the place and am thinking of sending my son there. Has anyone had any recent experiences they can pass on? Thanks caz

Skytown is currently going through some stuff. The director left abruptly in April. A large number of students are leaving for different schools in the fall (including half of the board members' children). Hopefully, the new director can turn things around. She's been a teacher there for a few years, and everyone loves her. moving on

I had to respond after I read the last post about Skytown because there's information missing. I am a Skytown parent and I think the recent changes will actually be good for the school. The director who quit wasn't very warm and didn't really seem to like her job. The other staff member who was fired was not really nice to some of the kids - kinda old school in her approach. I think if the staff was treated badly then the two teachers that are still there would have also left. I'm friendly with some of the board members who's children are going to other schools. It's 6 kids and 2 of them qualify (and need) for Pre-K, 1 is going to kindergarten and the other is going to spanish immersion school. The other 2 are siblings of the older children and are being moved to accomodate their brother's new schedule.

I have always found Skytown to be an amazing place, even in times of difficulty. They have not really had a strong leader since we started 2 years ago. Yet, the community is very strong and incredibly committed. They work hard for the school and the teachers. The remaining teachers provide excellent care for our children. I wouldn't hesitate to have any parent at Skytown take care of my child. I also did not hesitate to sign up for one more year. The director they have now has been a teacher there for a long time and she is wonderful. She has lots of energy, enthusiasm and knowledge.

If you thought Skytown was the place you wanted to send your kid, trust you own instincts. I did and couldn't be happier. Staying Right Where We Are

My daughter has been at Skytown Preschool for one year. I was attracted to the co- op model because my daughter had always been a very clingy child and hated to be separated from me; I thought if I participated in her school she would be more comfortable staying when I wasn't there. The preschool teachers really reached out to her, holding her or reading to her for the amazingly few weeks that it took for her to get adjusted. I was suprised at how much I enjoyed getting to know the other kids on my participation days, and then their parents as we participated together in the classroom or worked on various school-related projects. It is nice to be part of a community of people with similar values, working together to care for and educate our children. My daughter's social development over the year has progressed far beyond my expectations (I had nightmares of having to accompany her to college). Thanks to the year at Skytown, she talks easily with other adults and children, she expresses herself with confidence, she even approaches other children at the playground to ask to play together. Skytown is a play-based program, and so social development is its emphasis. I think this is why many of the 4.5 year olds are leaving for pre-K programs next year. I personally feel that I am capable of teaching my children to read, write, and count at home; what I can not provide is an opportunity to develop social skills and I think Skytown does that very well.

Near the end of the year, the school lost its two preschool teachers. As a fairly new family, we had two conflicting impulses: run away, or embrace the co-op experience and get more involved. I considered my daughter's feelings--the toys and activities were the same, the kids were the same, the parents were the same, and she was as happy as ever. I had met so many great moms and dads, and almost all were staying; I was reluctant to start all over somehwere new. What did we decide? Well, my son is starting the Skytown toddler program in the summer and I have joined the Board of Directors. It is a good fit for our family. If you want more information to figure out if it will be a good fit for yours, please feel free to contact me. Mira

I would like to reply to a previous response about the Skytown Co-op. It gave the impression that parents, board members, and staff were all fleeing the school for greener pastures. This is not the case. The writer replied, 'A large number of students are leaving for different schools in the fall (including half of the board members' children). The board members' children that are leaving are for the following reasons: two board members have children with fall birthdays so they are delaying kindergarten and putting their children in a pre-K bridge program, one board member is going back to work full-time and needs a pre-school that will accomodate her schedule (Skytown is only open until 3pm), and finally, one board member is entering her child in a language immersion program that is from pre-school up to the 8th grade. None of the board members are leaving because of anything negative to do with Skytown.

Secondly, the writer said 'The director left abruptly in April.' The director did leave abruptly in April which was due to her own lack of professionalism, but it doesn't happen often. The previous director was there for years. The new director has worked there for a few years on the toddler side and is now with the pre-school children. The new toddler lead teacher has also been there for a few years. When the previous director did leave abruptly, the parents and the current teachers really pulled together so the children would not be effected. It really made me proud to be a part of Skytown and to have my child attend a school that has so many like-minded parents that care about their children. This is what a co-op is all about.

I toured many preschools before choosing Skytown. I have no regrets and my daughter loves it. Her day consists of dressing up as a princess, making her own art projects, playing with play dough, building towers with blocks or legos, circle times, playing house in the outside kitchen area (her favorite thing is to make sand cupcakes) or digging in the construction area. If you are thinking about Sktyown, be sure to tour it and see for yourself. Happy Parent

Re: Part-time affordable non-coop? (Jan 2005)
I feel the same way as you about the whole Preschool scene. I sometimes wonder if the people who run preschools actually have children themselves. We even got invited to a preschool open house on a Saturday that was a "no kids" event. Hello?!

I know you said you were looking for something other than a coop but from what I found in my research, for what you want to pay, coops are the way to go. I can't speak for all coops but I do know that my daughter's school, Skytown Preschool, allows parents to bring their babies (in backpack carriers) on class participation days (and to buy out of participating). To send your child two to three days a week, that would cost between $123 to $179 (if you did the class participation). In the preschool program, parents participate one day for every four their child attends. For three days a week, that's roughly 3 participation days a month. If you decided to buy out of your class participation, three days a week would still be around $340. In addition to participation requirements, there are committee jobs. Some of these jobs are done during school hours but many are done after hours (none of the jobs that I do require me to be at the school to complete them). You can also do jobs at Skytown and have your baby with you - we see that a lot. Skytown also offers a toddler program (for kids from 18 months) so when your wee one gets bigger, that would be a nice transition. Lots of Skytown Preschoolers started in the toddler room. And at least one Preschool participating mom brings her son in the backpack and in a few months, he'll be ready for the Toddler room. Skytown has rolling admission so your child can start at anytime.

Skytown is a wonderful community. We've only been there since September but I feel like it is home. There's no "attitude," people are warm and friendly. The staff is fantastic and creative. They try to use a Reggio Emilia (children collaborate in building their curriculum) approach to learning whenever possible. For example, the Toddlers were fascinated with trains so the teachers constructed a whole unit on trains that ended with a class field trip on the Amtrak train. The Preschoolers were learning about insects and showed an interest in bees and honey so their teachers developed some activities that involved honey (yummy and sticky!). Because it is a coop, there is a camaraderie and mutual respect. And it's fun because the kids are having such a good time and thriving! I recommend it without hesitation to anyone looking for a warm, nurturing, creative and flexible environment for their child. If you want to see for yourself what makes Skytown so great, come to our open house on Feb. 5 at 11:00. For more info. check out or call Justine at 510-526-8481. One Happy Skytown Mama

Oct 2004

I just wanted to highly recommend Skytown Preschool (Kensington) to parents looking for a warm, fun, nurturing and stimulating school for their toddlers or preschoolers. My son has been at Skytown for over a year now and his experience there has been better and more than what we hoped for him. Please put Skytown at the top of your list when looking for that ''perfect'' school for your child! I just want every parent to feel as comfortable and secure as I have ... It will be a wonderful experience for your child as well as yourself! Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about the school... Marie

March 2004

I'm looking for people's experiences with Skytown Co-op's Toddler program. There are some postings on the net, but the detailed ones are all fairly dated. I've visited and liked what I saw, but I'd love to have some more personal information. Let me know the good/bad/ugly/indifferent. Thanks! Potential Co-op Mama in Kensington

I am considering sending my son to Skytown Preschool in September but would like more input. He would be on the preschool side. I love the large yard and great play space, but am concerned that it is too chaotic. Do the children ever get together to focus on a project? I don't want an academic preschool where they are drilling on the alphabet, but I do want a little organization. Also, I am not sure how the number of children in the same room with different ages works. Please share any pros and cons to this program. Also, any input on parental participation is welcome. Thanks! Anon

My daughter has been in the toddler room at Skytown since September and she LOVES it, as do we. It has been the perfect ''first school'' experience as the class size is very small (maximum 12 kids), very well staffed (at least 4 adults - 2 teachers and 2 parents), and very flexible in the sense that most of the morning is dedicated to free play, during which children are allowed to play indoors or out. The other hour is comprised of circle, storytime, snack, and lunch so she gets just a bit of structure, which we like. There is also always an intersting art project available each day as well as fun special activities like bubbles or water play outside. We have really enjoyed the Skytown community and I have been very glad to participate in the classroom, especially since this is my daughter's first experience being cared for by anyone besides her parents. The only problem is that the current head teacher, who is wonderful, is leaving in June and of course things will be somewhat different with a new teacher. But given the priorities of Skytown parents, I expect we'll look for a similar teacher who is very warm and loving. My daughter is quite attached to her. If you have other questions, feel free to email me. liz

May 2003

Re: 3 days a week play-based preschool

Skytown Preschool in Kensington. 526-8481 or elisa

April 2003

Re: preschools for allergic child
Skytown Preschool is a nut free school. This includes all tree nuts and peanuts. You can visit them at elisa


Re: 2-day-a-week play day for 2-year-old

Skytown Preschool has a toddler program which runs from 9:15am - 12:00pm. You can choose the number of days that meet your schedule. Skytown is located a 1 Lawson Rd in Kensington. Their phone number is 526-8485. 

Jan. 2002

hello: can anyone speak of skytown parent cooperative pre-school in kensington? we're curious about your child's experience, family participation, quality of program. thank you, phyllis

My son (2.5 yrs) goes to Skytown toddler program now and my daughter (5.5) went there too. My experience, in a nutshell, is: It is a play-based program, fun and relaxed for the kids, emphasizes activities (art projects, games, etc) with no drilling on letters / numbers / etc. It was great for my daughter's creativity, social skills, pretending, and so on, and we taught her letters and numbers at home anyway. Our view is that kids have a lifetime of work and toil ahead of them, so why not let them play and have fun and make friends when they are little, hence we were happy with the program. Nice spacious facility, with large indoors and outdoors areas. The location is somewhat out-of-the-way, which I also liked. The parent involvement aspect has pros and cons. The pros are that the children get to know all the parents, and vice-versa, and the parents get to know each other (my wife and I have made some very good friends through Skytown), as a parent you know pretty much everything that is going on at the school which is comforting, and people are really quite nice to each other. The main con is the time committment (there is an option of no classroom participation, but it is more expensive, and monthly evening meetings are mandatory regardless). You can email us if you want more info - john

April 2000

I would like to recommend Skytown Preschool in Kensington off of Arlington Ave. My son started last year in the toddler program and recently graduated to the preschool class. We've been extremely happy with our experience in both the toddler and preschool classes. Skytown is a co-op and there are varying levels of participation and tuition changes accordingly. Because it is a co-op, the adult child ration is quite low- 1:3 in the toddler program, 1:4 in the preschool program. I currently participate in the classroom while wearing my baby in a backpack. He loves watching the big kids and my older son is thrilled to have me come to school with him now and then.

Skytown is a wonderful site with bright classrooms and a very large outside play area. The toddler program is for children ages 18 months to 3 years. The teacher, Liz Masterson, is wonderful. She is warm and nurturing and makes every effort to ease the transition into school. She is also silly and fun and the kids adore her. My son was a little anxious about moving to the preschool class only because he was so attached to Liz, but he immediately fell in love with the preschool program as well. Diane Algrhen, the preschool teacher, introduces the children to new topics and activities in such a way that the children are excited to learn more. It is a play based program, so children are provided with many different activities and have the freedom to choose what they'd like to pursue. My son is thriving in the program and is always eager to go to school.

I believe that there are still a few openings for the summer program, but you'd have to call and check. Skytown Co-op Nursery School 1 Lawson Road Kensington 526-8485. Thanks! Gayle

Feb 1999

I would like to recommend Skytown Preschool located at 1 Lawson Road, Kensington. My three-year-old son started attending the preschool in October and the experience has been wonderful. Skytown is a parent cooperative school where pricing is dependent upon the level of participation. I began looking for a preschool when we moved into the area from Wisconsin. I wanted a preschool where I could be involved and one that provided a safe and nurturing environment for learning through play. I had an additional concern - my son has multiple food allergies. In the preschool program all the children bring in their own snack and lunch. I do not have to worry that my son will feel different from the other children since he cannot eat the same foods or that he will accidentally be fed an allergic food. The director and teacher of the preschool program, Diane Algren has made subtle changes to the program, which allows my son to participate fully. For instance, she replaced the wheat flour in the play dough recipe with rice flour so my son could play with the play dough.

Diane does a wonderful job introducing the children to new learning opportunities but always at the individual child's pace. The preschool is spacious both indoors and outdoors, and the children decide where they want to play. This is my son's first preschool experience and he loves going and never wants to leave.

Skytown offers a toddler program for children 18 months to three years and a preschool program for children 3 years to pre-kindergarten. Parent participation in these programs is optional and flexible. The school is located at 1 Lawson Road in Kensington off Arlington Ave, at the border with El Cerrito. It is approximately 4.5 miles from the Berkeley campus. ,p> For additional information please call (510) 526-8485. Elisa

March 1998

I am writing to recommend Skytown Preschool, a parent co-operative located off Arlington Ave in Kensington, at the border with El Cerrito. It is approximately 4.5 miles from the Berkeley campus. Skytown has two programs: one for toddlers (18 mos to 3 years), with a maximum of 12 kids, and one for preschoolers (3 to 5+ years or pre-K), with a maximum of 24 kids. The hours are 9-12 with an 8-9 morning option. The toddlers have a new, extended 12-3 program while preschoolers can stay through 5:30. Participation in the co-op is flexible, and is set to maintain a 3-4 to 1, child to adult ratio in the morning. Parents participate in the classroom, do committee work, or both, or they opt for minimal participation with attendance required only for monthly membership meetings and once-a-semester work parties. Participation status depends on a family's interest, job demands and budget (full participation rates are excellent while minimal participation is moderately expensive). Call 526-8485 for current rates.

I have had most experience with the toddler program, from which my oldest son just "graduated" and my youngest son recently joined. It is truly a WONDERFUL program. Children are exposed to a variety of fun activities and art projects during the morning program, and are given the opportunity to choose WHAT they want to do and HOW they want to do it, within safe limits. Through unstructured play, they experience self-directed learning (as opposed to teacher directed), develop an internal locus of control (as opposed to relying on someone else's ideas, goals and values), and are allowed to be totally creative. There are group activities too (a walk around a church parking lot in a very safe and beautiful setting, snack time around a candle-lit table, music time) which also help teach toddlers some basic "rules" (like staying on the sidewalk; redlight; don't ram other kids with your bike; how to bus your own dishes). The overall philosophy fosters strong respect for the individuality of the child. I've seen very shy, solo types, and very social or spirited children thrive in this type of program. The teacher, Cathy McQueeny, is beloved by parent and child alike. She helps each parent appreciate how special and unique their child is, and she provides the safe, warm and stimulating environment necessary for each and every child to thrive. As a participating parent, I have learned LOTS from the program and from watching a pro like Cathy: how to redirect behavior that is not exactly wonderful, how to set limits in a respectful way, how to guide and stimulate without interfering with independence.

The preschool side is an extension of the toddler program with much more space, both indoors and outdoors (and with total freedom to be either in or out), more toys 'n play structures, more projects including an environmentally-conscious circle time. In warm weather, the kids have fun with water, building rivers and lakes (then swimming in it- clothes at this point are optional). The director, Diane Algren, is interested in nature and gardening and is adding her expertise in these areas into the curriculum, which remains play-based.

Our year-plus at Skytown has been stimulating and rewarding. I wanted to pass info on this unique co-op to UC parents who are looking into toddler and preschool programs.