Starlite School & East Bay Academy

Oakland, CA

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

DSS Facility License #: 
Margarida Wong
(510) 267-0788
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Chinese, English
Ages Served: 
24 months - 72 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri

Parent Q&A

  • Starlite School Recent reviews?

    (1 reply)

    I'm thinking about sending my almost-2 year old to Starlite and was wondering if anyone could share their experience?  Most of the reviews I've read are old.


    We have been out of Starlite for a year now (our daughter attended from age 2.5-5.5 as she was late born - so she went from pre-school through t-k).

    Things we liked:
    -Price (by far the cheapest we found in the area) except for the slightly annoying - but we got used to it - cash co-pay
    -The hours of operation were great for a working household
    -Lack of holidays/vacation closures
    -We had a good working relationship with the principal, Teacher Jennifer, and that made a world of difference. My husband used to say that she doesn't have an accent but the things she says are decidedly Chinese and very straight-forward (sometimes a bit painfully so but she means well)
    -The t-k/kindergarten teacher was one of the best teachers my child has ever had. Period-stop gap.
    -The pre-school teachers successfully transitioned our child from diapers to potty training very well with limited accidents
    -The diversity is great for an Oakland Chinatown preschool (i.e., not just Cantonese kids)
    -My child and the other children in their elementary school class that went through Starlite were very prepared for kindergarten at Oakland elementary school. Knew their letters, numbers, could sit and do circle time, etc. all without problems

    Things that got taking used to:
    -My husband speaks Cantonese (which I don't) so he had a better relationship with some of the teachers than I did and was able to get more information about how our child was doing. This was a change for me from our small daycare where I had a very strong relationship with our daycare lady.
    -Sometimes your child's teacher works mornings and sometimes they work evenings (due to the long hours that are offered) so it was hit or miss to see them and communicate specific needs. I ended up leaving notes or calling Teacher Jennifer during the day, if something was very important.
    -Unlike daycare, there wasn't a lot of information presented daily (e.g., your child pooped, ate all of their lunch, etc.). Information tended to only be communicated if there was a problem (e.g., your child was waking up the other kids during nap [I may or may not be taken from experience...])
    -Staff turnover - We got the feeling that the teachers aren't the highest paid so there tended to be some transiency among the teacher-helpers and pre-school teachers
    -This is not a preschool for play dates, etc. It's 99% working parents who just drop-off and then pick-up. In fact, we met more Starlite families *after* my child went to elementary school than we ever did while they were enrolled
    -My child learned some Cantonese phrases and while they traced Chinese characters (e.g., numbers) there was not much in the way of formal Chinese schooling. (This may not be your expectation; just putting it out there in case you heard that this was a 'bilingual' preschool)

    *If you are looking for a small, familial pre-school environment, Starlite is not it (which I'm sure you gathered from your visit). However, Starlite served our needs very well for the three years our child was there and our child was very prepared for elementary school. It's very much a make-of-it-what-you-will school. I don't know that I would have put our child in any earlier than 2.5 just because it is quite big and there are a lot of kids but understand that you may miss your opportunity to get off of the waitlist if you don't take the spot when it's offered!

Parent Reviews

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My son has been in Starlite's afterschool and summerschool programs from K -3. Neither of us are Asian, nor do we speak Chinese, and our son attends Lincoln Elementary, in Oakland's Chinatown neighborhood. With the hour of Chinese at Starlite, he can understand quite a bit of Mandarin and some Cantonese spoken at Lincoln. It's not enough for fluency, but should help him if he decides to learn Chinese in high school. We really like them.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

July 2014

Hi, Are there any families with children at East Bay Academy in Oakland? We're considering sending our almost 3 year old son there for preschool. We've visited the facility and talked with staff, but I'm looking for a more personal perspective from parents who have sent or currently send their children there. Can anyone also clarify on the bilingual aspect of it? We were told they learn Chinese once a week. Thanks!

I've posted about East Bay Academy a few times here. Short version: We loved it. We were living on Ivy Hill at the time, and a friend recommended the preschool. My son went there for about a year and a half, starting when he was 3. It was pretty structured and we were fine with that. He did learn a bit of Mandarin but not enough to really make a difference. However, he DID come out of the experience with a real grasp of numbers and letters, and a real taste for learning. It wasn't what you'd call touchy-feely or play-based. But it was very pleasant and CLEAN and all the kids seemed fine. They put on the CUTEST XMAS PAGEANT EVER. And it is just about the most affordable preschool in the area.

The food looked wholesome and he always looked forward to going there every morning! Yes it is largely Chinese ... our son is half Asian ... not that it's relevant. My only gripe was that it is in a depressing industrial, run down neighborhood, and the morning traffic around the school had me using some not-very-family-friendly language sometimes. But other than that, I wholeheartedly recommend EBA. Feel free to contact me offline if you'd like. Now we're in El Cerrito

Jan 2014

Re: Reviews of affordable preschools for active boy?
My very active 2.5yo boy is at Starlite and he loves it. I had some reservations initially because it is quite structured and our lives are much more free-flow. I'm also a fan of play-based learning and you won't exactly find that philosophy here. But since he's happy there, I figure it's a great way for him to learn new things and he can climb trees, get muddy, and be wild with me, what fun! He hasn't lost any of his inquisitiveness or proclivity for adventure at all. I'm a single mom who speaks no Chinese and he's an only kid.

* His teachers are wonderfully patient and warm and really take time to let me know what he's up to and things to practice at home. He talks about them often and gives them big hugs when he arrives in the morning.
* They've done a great job setting loving boundaries. His behavior and ability to focus have improved dramatically with the daily practice.
* He is learning so much, including basics like washing his hands, blowing his nose, how to slow down and notice things, and not to mention Chinese language and culture!
* He's not potty trained, but they said that they'd support him whenever he's ready to learn. He seems closer after seeing some of his friends make the switch.
* You just can't beat the price (including breakfast, lunch, and snacks!) or the hours.

* There is a lot of structured and sitting-down time. He seems to have adjusted fine, but I try to get some of his ya-yas out after school at a park, just letting him run, climb, and follow his own adventures.
* There isn't much community that I've seen, though parents have been nice enough. We are all rushing in and out at pickup and drop-off times.
* He doesn't like the early morning activity where they work on things at a table from 7:30-8:30, before his regular teachers get there. I try to drop him off after 8:30 if possible, but sometimes he's stuck with lego-things or books or puzzles. I think that's hardest first thing in the morning when he has a lot of energy.

Good luck! Starstruck

Nov 2013

Re: Just moved to Cleveland Heights- recs near Lake Merritt for almost-2yo
When we lived in the Cleveland Heights neighborhood (Ivy Drive, to be exact), we took our little boy to the East Bay Academy, a bilingual Chinese preschool right down 8th Ave. in the Eastlake neighborhood. The neighborhood the school is located in is kind of awful to be honest, but the school itself is very safe and clean. They even feed the kids a hot lunch! They are very educational and not just play-based. My little boy learned a lot. And the price was CHEAP ... Don't judge this place by the ugly neighborhood, visit and see the inside for yourself. We were very pleased. They have a sister location in Oakland Chinatown as well. Lisa-no-longer-in-Oaktown

Feb 2013

Re: Three years of preschool for fall birthday baby?
I don't know what type of school you are looking for (Montessori, play-based, co-op, etc...), but if you are interested in a more ''academically'' focused preschool/preK I would HIGHLY recommend Starlite Child Development Center/East Bay Academy. My daughter has been there for about 18 months now, she will be starting K in the fall (they actually offer K classes at Starlite as well), but I know other kids who have been there 3 years before K. It is located on 14th Street in Oakland on the periphery of Oakland's Chinatown. Most of the students and faculty are of Chinese descent (as is my husband), but they are very welcoming and there are other kids of different races/ethnicity as well. I like that the school is more academically focused (my daughter is already starting to read and is learning chinese as well), but has a very welcoming and ''family like'' atmosphere. Don't get me's still a preschool so there is plenty of play time, art, music, etc...but they do really focus the preK kids on being prepared for kindergarten. In fact, when the people at my daughter's new school (K this fall) saw Starlite on her school application they commented on how kids from that school are usually ahead of their counterparts.

There is usually a waiting list because the program is so in demand (and affordable - $620 for full-time school / M-F 730-6), so if it at all interests you I suggest you take a tour ASAP. I am definitely going to have my son (now just 7 months old) attend as soon as he is eligible too. A VERY satisfied Starlite parent

July 2012

Re: Affordable pre-K program in Oakland
Our son thrived at the East Bay Academy, a bilingual Chinese preschool that is off the radar maybe because of its location, in an unpretty section of Eastlake. We paid under $600 a month for full time care including meals. It was an academic rather than play centered preschool but our bright boy really enjoyed it and learned a lot. Lisa from Oakland

Feb 2012

Re: Affordable pre-school that's not a co-op?
Our son loved going to East Bay Academy when we lived in Oakland. It's in a not-so-great area of East Lake but it's very clean and well organized, plus they serve the kids lunch. We paid under $600 for fulltime preschool (9am-4pm). El Cerrito Mama

June 2009

Re: Full-time preschools for less than $1000/month?
We are very happy at the bilingual (English-Chinese) East Bay Academy in Oakland. A few caveats -- it's in a not-beautiful section of the Eastlake area, and the teachers speak in heavily accented English. But the good far outweighs the bad. Our son (almost 4) is very bright and verbal, and he's been absolutely thriving there. Meals are provided, which means you don't have to spend time fussing over his lunch every morning; and the teachers are very warm and supportive. About 75% of the families who go there are Chinese (we're not Chinese, by the way). Since he's over age 3, we pay $560 per month. Younger kids are slightly more expensive. This is fulltime, 5 days a week. Feel free to email me if you want more info. Lisa

Sept 2007

Has anyone had experience with the Chinese/English Starlite School near downtown Oakland and its affiliated East Bay Academy? We are considering sending our 2-year-old there. Lisa in Oakland

My daughter attended East Bay Academy and Starlite for about 14 mos. before she went to kindergarten. I would say her time there was generally positive. Here are the pros and cons about our experience there.

  +  Safe, clean and bright facilities Large enclosed play areas Warm & caring teacher Jenny at East Bay Entertaining Christmas and Graduation performances Attention to academic preparation Reasonable, affordable tuition Chinese language instruction Library days 2X/mo Field trips in summer at Starlite Breakfast, lunch and snack provided Open more days than other preschools  -  Lack of communication between parents & teachers and parents & parents, no formal conferences/feedback sessions Rarely any parent involvement Lack of playdate opportunities outside of school hours Art supplies, manipulatives, toys, learning centers are greatly lacking If you're not Chinese/Chinese speaking, you may feel isolated Pickup/dropoff can be tricky with amount of cars and limited parking esp. @Starlite Lunches do not vary-same 5 dishes from M-F/nutritious choices??? Would have liked to see more music, movement & art (beyond cutting & pasting) 

Good luck in your decision making! - Judy

March 2007

Does anyone have any experience with Starlite Child Development Center in downtown Oakland or its sister preschool, East Bay Academy? There was nothing in the archives except and unanswered question about Starlite. Carrie

Our daughter has attended East Bay Academy since June.We've been very pleased with the what our child has learned academically since attending East Bay Academy. She has not only learned to speak some Chinese, but also she has learned a lot of Chinese characters. Her teacher is very loving and attentive to her class. Our daughter has really gained so much in terms of confidence and social skills. The tuition is extremely reasonable and their schedule is very accomodating to working parents. The facility is relatively new, brigh, and clean. With that said, the areas which need improvement are parent-teacher communcation (most must be initiated by the parent with very focused questions), parent community (really none), lack of playdate opportunities (not for the lack of trying,which I think may be a cultural aspect), and lack of variety and nutrition in daily snacks and lunches. For example, if it's Monday, you know the kids will be having hot dogs. Also, if diversity is your priority, it will not be fulfilled at this preschool with the majority of the students being Chinese (including our child). Anon