Seeking a Spanish-Speaking Preschool/Daycare
Archived Q&A and Reviews
We were so sad to hear that KISS is out of space for the fall. Now we are looking for other Spanish Immersion pre-school options in Berkeley, Emeryville, or North Oakland. Any suggestions? Rachel
Our kids recently complete preschool at EBI (Escuela Bilingüe Internacional) in Oakland. Our kids thrived in this supportive, immersive and LOVING environment so we decided to stay for Kinder and beyond. I'd encourage you to consider reaching out to them to see if they have Fall openings. http://www.ebinternacional.org/admissions. Hope that helps! mama de dos
We have a child at Kidsland Addison and we love it! They are a daycare that has been caring for kids 3 months thru kindergarten that is just starting a separate program for the preschoolers (children 2+ years of age). The separate program just means the littles and the bigs are going to be separated into to two different rooms instead of all together, and then the preschool portion of the big kids program can be more structured. Our son thrived there as a little & has learned SO MUCH already I can't wait to see what more will come as the program gets even better!
The school is full spanish immersion, and tuition includes healthy meals and snacks. The care is very loving/nurturing.
Our son is 2.5 and has attended since he was 6 months old. So far he is fluent in spanish, knows how to say his ABC's and 123's, can count his numbers on his hands, can identify most any animal/car/truck/etc, and can draw circles and triangles. He's learned all sorts of life skills like saying please, thank you, and excuse me, waiting your turn, sitting quietly, asking for permission, getting himself dressed, picking up his toys, etc. Kidsland even helped potty train him!
Oh yes, and the older kids go on fun field trips 1-2 days a week to places like the library or the Tilden trains.
The program is run by Ana 510-861-7972. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Good luck in your search! kacey.tsb
We are seeking a spanish immersion preschool in Berkeley or the surrounding area. I know of EBI, Centro Vida, and KISS. Can anyone provide current reviews on these as most on BPN are older. Also, are there any others out there? Reviews on them (if any) would be great too!! kacey
Try any of the various Kidsland home-based daycare/preschool centers. They are all Spanish immersion, each run by members of a highly educated extended family. These are folks who attend lots of early childhood development courses, and really go the distance to help kids develop in all areas. They provide mostly organic food. Some of their listings are posted on this site, others you can find by calling Bananas. Former Kidsland Parent
My son goes to Mi Mundo Preschool on Alcatraz near Adeline on the Berkeley/Oakland border and we've been really happy there. Our son frequently asks to stay till 5 (when I could pick him up earlier!). Lots of super creative art projects, play-based with some structure (daily story time and songs, plus dance class weekly). Full immersion in Spanish- my son is speaking more Spanish than ever after being there. The teachers make a point to help the kids speak in Spanish to respond to them as well, which is what has made the difference for my son's speaking abilities I think. Sometimes he has to ask me what the English word is for something he learned at school! The director is highly organized and a great administrator. She has hired wonderful teachers for the two small classrooms. My son's teacher is especially warm and loving and friendly and we couldn't be happier with her. The outdoor area is not huge, but well-used space with a play area and a garden and a covered area with tables. They are outdoors a LOT. They eat outside and are outside to play for several hours each day.
These are minor things but illustrate how the staff cares: they put sunscreen on when they go outdoors for long periods, and always inform me of any tiny injury or little thing that happened to my son during the day. It's these little things that assure me the teachers care for my son well and make me happy to send him to school there. You can check out the website at mimundopreschool.com and get in touch with Lina, the director, to do a tour or come to an open house. Best wishes in your search! Happy Mi Mundo Family
My daughter goes to EBI since kindergarten now she is on 1st grade. She went to a different Spanish immersion in Berkeley And I can see big differences as far as well structured, school program, teachers coordination and the language applying with the whole personal. The multicultural mind and the diversity in the school still surprises me and I enjoy been part of my daughter school community. Good luck finding the right school for you! AF adyju
Yes, there are lots of Spanish Immersion preKs. I just went through the process of visiting schools for my 3 yr old and can share the info. I'm in the Oakland border so I didn't stick to just Berkeley. I researched:
- AMA (Academia de Mi Abuela): In Montclair, play based, lots of outdoors time in a beautiful location and it's a mix of daycare with preK, so they're very flexible with age. The groups are smaller than in a school setting (10-12 kids at the most). More than just Spanish, they have a cultural immersion program with access to many international cultures: they play soccer, dance capoeira, celebrate St Patricks day and they were the ones with the most cultural mix of students (not just white kids wanting to learn Spanish, but Indian, middle Eastern and Latinos from many countries). They also help with potty training children.
- Alameda Bilingual: Maybe too far from you, it was a home daycare/preK with medium structure, play based, nice meals, small groups and good outdoor area. I was very impressed with the level of ''work'' the children were doing, they kept a nice folder with all the art projects and they all spoke Spanish. My only con is they were all girls at hte time and the groups were very small (4-6 kids), which might be a pro for some.
- Mi Mundo: Very conveniently located in Temescal, right by the Berkeley border. Groups are small, the outdoors space is very nice and so is the inside. They might be flexible regarding age minimum, but the child has to be potty trained. Also, in the tour, I had a chance to see the interaction with the teachers and they were all very nice. Not too much diversity in their students, most of them are non Spanish speakers and they were all speaking English.
- TRIS (a Montessori immersion program with Spanish, French and English). Even though I didn't tour the school because of schedule challenges, I spoke with the recruiter at a school fair and the program looked solid, they take kids from a very young age (before three) but they are not cheap and might be too far from you (Dimond District). And personally, I'm not a big fan of Montessori.
- EBI: You know about it, so the only thing I can tell you is the groups are larger and the environment is more of a school than a preK. They're strict on their age restriction and the play time is the shortest from all the other options. However, it has the advantage of consistency once the child continues her education.
- Centro Vida: Among my favorite, their outdoors space was wonderful, the teachers were wonderful, excellent program, amazingly diverse body of teachers, organized but still play based. The bad thing is their waiting list. I'm still in it, but I don't think my child will get to the top before she goes to elementary school and I might not want to change schools if that were the case.
- I didn't check on KISS (Kids into speaking Spanish) or LePort/Spanish in Emeryville, so you may want to. We didn't check on these because we made up our mind: we ended up going to Academia de Mi Abuela because they offered the diverse program we wanted for our child and the flexibility our family needed. Even though they were among the farthest, it's merely a 10 minute drive there, so it's working for us and she's very, very happy. Good luck. Spanish was a must
I highly recommend Mi Mundo Preschool on Alcatraz. It is mostly in Spanish, art centered, play based preschool with wonderful teachers. We switched our daughter from a so-so preschool and she is so happy there. Also, she is pretty fluent in Spanish! Mi Mundo Parent
I would like to very strongly recommend the Kidslands in Berkeley. We are very happy parents of a child at Kidslands Addison who has been there for almost 2 years. He is now 3 and loves going to school and interacting with the care providers. The quality of the care is unparalleled--nurturing, supportive, and very positive. They have recently started a new preschool program where the children older than 2 have structured activities and themes. There is a wonderful mixture of art, stories, dance, and time outside. Both the indoor and outdoor spaces are nice and we especially enjoy the lovely backyard where there is a tree house. One thing that we really appreciate about Kidsland is that there are regular outings to the library for Spanish-speaking story time and trips to local parks and natural areas (e.g. Aquatic Park, Crown Beach, Steam Trains at Tilden). Each day, the children eating nutritious yummy food (breakfast, lunch and 2 snacks). I'm not sure how Ana does it, but my son eats all of his veggies there, when it is struggle at home!
My son's Spanish is very strong and while we speak other languages at home, he says that Spanish is his favorite. We thank Ana for instilling in him an interest and appreciation for the Spanish-speaking culture.
When comparing the Kidsland program to other Spanish-immersion preschool programs, it is superior for so many reasons: generous hours (7:30 to 5:30), food (included), price (cheaper than all programs we looked at), vacation schedule (less time than all other programs we looked at but still reasonable for staff), activities (a good mixture of structured activities, play, and time outside).
For all of these reasons and the ''little things'' (my son has learned good manners like saying please, thank you, and reminding us to not talk and eat; the community of parents that is so wonderful; the parking is definitely manageable), we know that we have been extremely fortunate to have found Kidsland Addison.
There is currently at least one opening and there are likely openings for the late summer/Fall for children older than 2, and for especially those 3 or older. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Happy Kidsland Mama
We are raising my three year old daughter in a bilingual household but her Spanish
is really falling behind her English fluency. She is in a non bilingual preschool a
few mornings a week but I would like to start searching for a quality bilingual
(Spanish) preschool program that is not too far from San Leandro (Oakland, Hayward,
Castro Valley). Any suggestions?
-striving for a bilingual child
If you are willing and able to do a co-op, check out Las Semillitas in
Alameda. We loved what we saw but were on the wait list for a long time and
ultimately had to make other arrangements, putting our son in a preschool
we love but that has very limited Spanish. (We are a bilingual family too.
Our son, who previously always chose to speak Spanish, now always opts for
San Leandro mom
Our daughters attend The Renaissance International School in the Diamond
District of Oakland, 8 miles from our home in north San Leandro. They have
an amazing bilingual preschool - in either French and English or Spanish
and English - and then a trilingual elementary and junior high programs -
French, Spanish and English. It's truly an international program with
exposure to many cultures through music, art and other study. We have been
delighted to be a part of the community and my daughters' educational
experiences could not be better. I hope you check it out! Feel free to
contact me with any questions.
3520 Laguna Avenue, Oakland, CA 94602
Non-spanish speaking friends had their kids there and they learned to speak
Spanish - not just words - and continued with Spanish at Montclair
Elementary. Fluent in Spanish now.
Escuela Bilingue Internacional has a fabulous preschool in the Rockridge
area of Oakland. It's got it all - loving teachers from Latin America, a
beautiful old school building, fun, Spanish immersion, art, rich language
arts, and is part of an International Baccalaureate school that goes all
the way to eighth grade. Many families love it so much that they stay even
when kids get to kindergarten.
I am also from San Leandro trying to raise my daughter to speak Spanish. I
am also looking into schools and contemplating whether to have her go to a
local school or a bilingual one. Two preschools to consider are La
Semillitas in Alameda and La Plazita in Oakland. Bahia in Berkeley is a
well know program however it may be too far for you.
If you are looking for other opportunities for her to speak Spanish, the
San Leandro Main Library has an Early literacy storytime/Cuentos para la
alfabetizacion the second Saturday of the month at 10:30. There are also
two story times in Spanish on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (South Branch &
Main) in the event she does not have preschool on these days.
I take my daughter to a Spanish/English Play & Learn class in San Leandro
through the city. It meets twice a week in the late afternoon for an hour
and half. You have to accompany your child. It can be challenging for sure
to raise a bilingual child. Playing with other children that speak Spanish
definitely helps. I like going to Halycon Park because there are at times a
lot of children who speak Spanish there.
Si Se Puede!
My daughter will turn three in Feb 2012. I would like to find a preschool program for her that is part-time, maybe three mornings a week - 9:00 - 12:00 PM. I would love to it to be Spanish Immersion. Oakland or Berkeley would work. Any suggestions? Thank you! Anon
Check out La Plazita in Oakland. I'm not sure they do 9-12; I think it's more like 9-3, but they might be flexible. http://www.laplazitapreschool.com Anon
Our 3 yr old has just finished the first week at the newly opened Berkeley location of Kids Into Speaking Spanish, and so far it is fantastic. The teachers are competent and caring and the school environment feels friendly and warm. The school seems to be off to a great start and I am excited for future plans like getting a community garden (kids, teachers, parents) started in the large backyard play area.
They are still enrolling and I see they've posted a notice below for an upcoming open house. Give it a look--we really feel like we've found the right place! New and happy Berkeley K.I.S.S. parent
Our family is looking for a good Western East Bay preschool environment to help our 3yo daughter get a good start on her Spanish. We're a bilingual household, but Daddy's Spanish is borderline nonexistent so the dominant language is still Ingles. Thanks! Language Lagging Papa
EBI! (Escuela Bilingue Internacional) It is a WONDERFUL school. Our 2 boys have been there from the age of three (they're in Kindergarten and 2 grade now). They are both fluent and can read & write in Spanish and English. I love everything about the school - the warm and huggy teachers, the thoughful education my boys are receiving, the fabulous head of the school, and the amazing parents & kids who make up the community. It is the best. We could not be happier. Una mama de dos muCJune 2008ecos
Our situation is almost identical to yours. My wife is fluent in Spanish, but I speak almost none. However, we both wanted a bilingual education for our 3 year old daughter. We ended up enrolling her at Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI), which is located on the Oakland/Berkeley border. We were very impressed by their teaching method, especially the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. While we did consider some other language schools, it seemed to us that EBI understood that while becoming bilingual is very important, it is still just one component of a complete education. Also, we found that a number of other children who attend come from households where Spanish is not the primary language spoken.
Although our daughter has only been there a short while, she is already starting to say some words in Spanish and sing some Spanish songs. We're very happy with our choice, and I would highly recommend EBI to others. Feel free to email me if you want any more information. Peter
Escuela Bilingue Internacional starts in preschool, and can stay just a preschool for your child, but also will go up to 8th grade. I'm looking forward to having fully biliterate kids who also will speak some conversational Mandarin, which is added four hours a week after third grade. - parent
Our 3 and 5 year old sons just started at Escuela Bilingue Internacional this year in Oakland, and we couldn't be happier to be there. The school and its staff are incredibly thoughtful and dedicated, providing a warm, welcoming, creative environment that our kids love! It's only been two months and already my boys, who previously had no Spanish, are absorbing the language. They are learning a tremendous amount and more importantly to us, having a lot of fun doing it. It's amazing to see their language skills blossom alongside their confidence. I highly recommend the school. Feel free to email me directly via moderator if you have more questions. We love EBI
After reading several posts about parents being on pre-school waiting lists for up to 3 years, I'm getting worried. I have an infant son and wonder when I should start looking for pre- schools. I'm interested in Spanish immersion-type programs, in particular, but am open to other good play-based schools in Oakland or nearby. I would like to get other perspectives, experiences, and suggestions. Do you love your pre-school? Tell me about that too. Thanks! new mommy
Centro Vida is a wonderful Spanish immersion preschool. However, I would get on their waiting list NOW. I put my son on the list as soon as he was born, and he didn't get in until part way through the first year! But he loved it, and spoke Spanish fluently while he was there. hablamos espanol
Hi-I highly recommend Viva El Espanol, Spanish Immersion school, based in Lafayette,but there are also campuses in Alameda,Pleasanton,just to name a few,also incorporated in the Public schools in parts of the Bay Area.Best of all,they always have openings, for infants to adults and are flexible. My children, who are 3 1/2 and 5 yrs old have been attending the Lafayette campus for 2 years and they love it!The staff is Great!The phone(925)962-9177 or check them out at www.LamorindaSpanish.com Denise
Does anyone have a recommendation for a Spanish/ bilingual preschool or daycare for a 2 year old in September? I am looking in El Cerrito, Berkeley, Albany, Pinole and Oakland. I do like La Casita in Pinole, but she can't start until she is 2.5.
I'm having a tough time locating one myself, so your recommendations are greatly appreciated! Shana
The best in Oakland/Berkeley area, on Alcatraz Ave. is EBI Escuela Bilingue Internacional, but........ I don't think they will accept a 2 year old. Is a good reference for next year 2009. Good Luck Susana
Of course for the best bilingual preschool, Centro Vida in Berkeley is the best but is hard to get into. You can try anyway though. My son went there. Another school that is in Berkeley is Mi Escuelita in Berkeley off Marin. My daughter went there and I know they accept young toddlers. Good Luck. Kristine
Have you heard of Viva el Espanol? We offer full-immersion Spanish classes for kids of all ages, and have multiple proficiency levels. We are a supplement to whatever pre-school or elementary school your child attends. We have locations in Alameda, Lafayette and Pleasanton. We also have some terrific summer programs. Please call 925-962-9177 for more information or visit our website at www.vivaelespanol.org. Margaret Grover-Roos
We are looking for a Spanish immersion child care or kindergarten situation for our soon-to-be-five-year-old . We tried for Washington Elementary and have been wait-listed with not much hope of getting in next school year. Does anyone know of anything in Richmond, El Sobrante, Albany, El Cerrito (you get the picture); public or private; pre-school or Kindergarten that we could check out? thanks so much
Hi, You might want to check out www.contracostapreschools.com. They have tons of preschools listed on their site and I've seen some Spanish immersion programs as well. JJ
I am looking for Spanish Immersion Pre Schools in the Bay Area. I already know about EBI and KISS. I would love to hear people's experiences with both of these schools. I would also LOVE to know about any other schools. Are there more I don't know about?? In the East Bay, SF, or even the Peninsula?? Really, anywhere...i'd like to research all of them and hear reviews. Thanks in advance. Isabella
My kids (ages 4.5 and 2 years) go to ''My Spanish Village'', a home-based total spanish immersion program in Walnut Creek. We LOVE the school, the teachers, the director/owner, the community. I think that they are working off a wait list right now, but I know that she is looking to grow the school. Call Ita Perez, cell 925-286-4382. She is amazing! I am happy to talk more about our experience. Mama feliz
Check out Monte Tavor off of MacArthur & Fruitvale in Oakland. Also Renaissance Montessori, I think in the Glenview area of Oakland. These two, EBI & KISS all have a very different feel to them in setting & style. Also, EBI & Renaissance go on to grade school, which is an important consideration if you want to continue with the Spanish immersion long-term and are willing to go the private school route. also looking
I would recommend you look into El Nuevo Mundo Children's Center in Richmond. They are the sister school of Centro Vida in Berkeley. Although the school is technically bi-lingual, almost everything happens in Spanish. My daugher went there for a year before starting kindergarten and was the only student from a non- Spanish speaking home. Almost all of the students and teachers are native Spanish speakers. She learned a ton of Spanish and had several non-English speaking friends with whom she managed to comminicate quite well. She also had a perfect accent as a result of being with so many native speakers.
In addition to the great language-learning aspect of the school, it is just a really great place on top of that. I would have liked so send her there even if I hadn't been intent on a Spanish speaking pre-school for her. The teachers are warm, friendly and well trained. The program has a good balance between structure and freedom of choice which prepares kids for kindergarten in an age appropriate and fun way.
They do fantastic productions for holidays and even feed your child! Not having to worry about breakfast or lunch was really a bonus for me. Their wonderful cook Maria Elena makes all sorts of yummy things everday and all of the kids eat together in a little cafeteria. They have a nice playground space outside. They also plan field trips from time to time that included a picnic at a park and a trip to the movies, if you can believe it.
The other good thing about this school is that it is relatively unknown outside of the immediate neighborhood so there is no crazy situation of needing to be on the waiting list before you child is even born.
Their phone number is (510)233-2329. Heather
We have lost all hope of moving up the waiting list at Centro Vida and are desperately seeking a bilingual Spanish/English pre- school for our daughter (starting in January 2004). Does anyone know of anything that at least comes close? We're in Oakland but would even consider San Francisco. She is currently in bilingual child care and speaks both languages at home. Feels like we're going to have to make a choice between Spanish language development and early childhood education; hate to have think about it that way! Any advice and creative solutions welcome. julie
Hi, Right next door to Centro Vida is a small family daycare owned by Lupe. My daughter goes there and she took to it like a fish to water. All three teachers speak spanish and so do many of the children. My daughter, who is two, peppers her speech with Spanish and she is primarily an English speaker. Give them a call and ask them anything you want to know. Her number is 524- 5012. Good luck. Cherene
Have you tried calling Bananas for bilingual child care providers? (Their referral line is 510-658-0381)Many of their providers offer quality comparable to preschools. The advantages might be finding native speakers of the languages you use at home and smaller group sizes. The smaller group size is especially beneficial for children under 3 years old. Pat
Pre-school Recommendations received: