Seeking a Daycare or Preschool in Berkeley

Parent Q&A

South Berkeley Daycare Recommendations for Baby in Spring Dec 11, 2021 (1 responses below)
Daycare for Albany/Berkeley area Nov 20, 2021 (2 responses below)
Toddler / Preschool Recommendations Jun 24, 2021 (4 responses below)
Pre-school near N Berkeley BART/Virginia McGee Totland? Apr 19, 2021 (2 responses below)
Preschool in Albany/Berkeley with current opening Apr 10, 2021 (3 responses below)
Toddler Daycare Recommendations - Berkeley Mar 3, 2021 (8 responses below)
Walnut Grove or Kidsland in Berkeley? Dec 15, 2020 (1 responses below)
Preschool in the Berkeley flats for biracial (Black/Asian) child Nov 7, 2020 (14 responses below)
Advice re: Preschool/Day Cares for Family moving to the East Bay Oct 28, 2020 (4 responses below)
Moving from out of state, need advice on Berkeley preschool Oct 13, 2020 (1 responses below)
Preschool Openings in Berkeley Given Covid May 22, 2020 (1 responses below)
Best daycare centers near UC Berkeley campus for 7 month old Dec 13, 2019 (6 responses below)
Part-time openings in Berkeley for two year old Nov 5, 2019 (6 responses below)
First Time Parent Seeking a Preschool in Berkeley Jul 15, 2019 (4 responses below)
Fabulous preschool with openings? Jun 3, 2019 (8 responses below)
Possibly moving from SF to Berkeley, preschool considerations Mar 28, 2019 (2 responses below)
Looking for a preschool in Berkeley prioritizing diversity Mar 21, 2019 (10 responses below)
Preschools near N. Berkeley with music offerings? Mar 19, 2019 (1 responses below)
Berkeley daycare w/ 8a-6p hours Mar 16, 2019 (3 responses below)
Which Preschool? Feb 11, 2019 (19 responses below)
Best preschool in Berkeley for 19 month old Sep 4, 2018 (8 responses below)
Affordable Berkeley daycare for a 9 month old Jul 6, 2018 (6 responses below)
ISO: daycare/pre-k for our 3 yo Apr 18, 2018 (4 responses below)
Preschool for almost 3 year old - Berkeley Apr 5, 2018 (7 responses below)
Preschools/daycares with openings for 3 year old Dec 22, 2017 (2 responses below)
Looking for preschool with opening in South Berkeley Dec 20, 2017 (2 responses below)
Preschool recommendations South West Berkeley May 12, 2017 (2 responses below)
Home based day cares in Berkeley? Jan 25, 2017 (1 responses below)
Seeking homecare/daycare in Berkeley Jan 4, 2017 (2 responses below)
Preschools accepting students to start in January/February Aug 22, 2016 (2 responses below)
Looking for a great pre-school in the Berkeley flats. Aug 17, 2016 (5 responses below)
  • I’m relatively new to the area and am looking for a loving and secure daycare in South Berkeley for a 4 month old in April. Please share any daycare recommendations in South Berkeley area and if you know of any openings. Thanks!

    I strongly recommend Mi Casita. Both of my kids have gone there and we have zero complaints and only love for it.

  • Daycare for Albany/Berkeley area

    (2 replies)

    My family is moving to the area next February and my kids are 2yo and 6mo. I feel like I need to find a place ASAP. Had no idea there were year-long waitlists? And there's preschools with different schedules? It feels so crazy coming from living in a place where I call the best looking place and they just ask when did you want to start.

    Please help with recommendations and advice! Thanks!

    Moderator Note: Search daycares and read reviews here: Find Daycares & Preschools   ... View Announcements from Daycares & Preschools that have openings right now: Daycares & Preschools with Openings

    Hello! I would highly recommend Greenhouse Childcare, it is in Berkeley blocks away from Albany. My son attends and is super happy. 
    This would be for your eldest, I think most people with young babies have nannies, we arrived when my son was older so I did not search for a daycare for a baby. 
    good luck!

    Hi, my kids and many of my neighborhood kids went to/go to Little Bears, in Albany at Marin/ Evelyn.  The caregivers are wonderful, warm professionals who care for babies to toddlers, and we will always be grateful to them.  :) 

  • Toddler / Preschool Recommendations

    (4 replies)


    I am looking and thought I would also ask for any recommendations about care options in Berkeley for my daughter. She is 2 1/2 yrs & will be 3 yrs old in Dec.

    So if there is somewhere great you know about and you don't mind taking a minute; please let us know as there are a lot of options out there and any info would help. 

    Much appreciated! 


    Hi!  Our 2.75 y/o LOVES Mustard Seed Preschool.  Three snacks and lunch ate included in the full day tuition which is great for parents because that means you’re not packing lunch and snacks. They have a special chef there to make yummy food for the kids.  

    The teachers are super loving and caring and the student to teacher ratio is amazing.  For our toddler’s first year school year there, the student to teacher ratio was 3:1.  Play-based learning.  I think there is typically a wait list so if interested, best to put your child on the list earlier than later.  

    Our beloved preschool, the New School of Berkeley, has spots open for the Fall.

    Hi Sasha, my son is starting at the New School in Berkeley in mid-August, and they still have a few spots in their class for 2 year olds. It's a great preschool that has been around for a long time and has a play-based approach. Check them out and email the school if you're interested:

  • Hello, We are moving close to N Berkeley Bart/Virginia McGee totland, our son is 1.5 yrs old. Are there preschools nearby that parents and kids love? Thank you! 

    We have been really happy with Little Elephant Too, which is at McGee & University. I think the youngest kids can attend is 2.5 (when our daughter started). It's a small school with a great parent community and really caring, experienced teachers (who have been consistent the 1.5 years we've been there). Montessori approach, with an emphasis on cultivating independence, lots of outdoor play since COVID and great hours for working parents (8-5:30).

    Berkeley Little School is opening this fall. They are located near the North Berkeley Bart. I'd say a 15min walk.

  • Hi all, 

    My 3 year old son has stayed home since last March and thus has become too attached to me. I really need to enroll him in a fun, play-based preschool now. Can you recommend any schools with current opening?



    Hi, I just did a lot of research about preschools, and it's hard to find places with openings. I think Cornerstone Children's Center in Berkeley has openings. I have a couple friends who send their kids there and really like it. Also I think Claremont Day Nurseries has openings too, but I don't know anyone who has sent their kid their. Good luck. Hopefully your kid will have a great time getting to hang out with other kids and go to big kid school. 

    I’m in the exact same situation!!! Most of the places that we’re looking at are opening in the fall. I think most preschools are by semester. I think there’s some day cares with younger babies and toddlers that have openings all the time though. A lot of the places that we’ve looked at have waiting lists. So we’ve gotten on a ton of waiting list!! Until fall, we’re trying to get creative and looking for other families that would be interested in sharing some backyard play time/care giving. Let me know if you’re interested!! 

    Check the list on BPN of Preschools & Daycares with Openings.  These are facilities that subscribe to BPN and post openings as they come up.  Most preschools that target 3 and 4 year olds operate on a school-year schedule and will not have openings until the fall, but home-based daycares often have immediate openings and many of them offer a program that's very similar to a preschool.

  • Toddler Daycare Recommendations - Berkeley

    (8 replies)

    Hello -

    We are moving to the East Bay (targeting Berkeley/Rockridge) this summer, and will need childcare for our almost 3 year old. We are currently living in the DC area, and I am assuming that childcare is as competitive (if not more so) in the East Bay, so I'd like to get on some waiting lists now as we will need care starting in the late summer/early fall. 

    It's easy to do online searches to find daycares, but it's so difficult to distinguish the great from the good from the probably not for us options solely online. Where we currently live, we were lucky to have a strong parents network that we could tap into for recommendations and advice, so I'm hoping to find that here. 

    What we're looking for:

    • Smaller class sizes
    • Very fun and engaging atmosphere
    • Lots of outside time and activities-based play
    • Loving, caring providers 
    • Not super concerned with a lot of book-based curriculum- we want our kid to be active and happy
    • Centers are fine
    • An exceptional in-home would be a possibility
    • Outstanding safety precautions, especially COVID-related
    • Connected parent community (it would be great to make some friends with other parents, since we'll be new to the area)

    Thank you very much in advance for your suggestions and advice! 

    I can't recommend Blue Skies for Children highly enough. Fantastic, dedicated and knowledgeable staff, thoughtful curriculum, lots of outdoor time. We've been there through COVID and there have been no cases among students or staff, and they've communicated very well through the entire experience.

    Blue Skies for Children, in Oakland, is great.  Both my kids went there and it meets all your checklist items.  Lots of great play-centered activities for the kids.  It's not in Berkeley, but not too far away.

    We have been happy with Rockridge Montessori. Our almost 3 year old has been there since August.  We like the socio-emotional learning bit.  He can tell us he is frustrated or angry and understands that they are different. The teachers have pointed out behaviors to us to look for at home and suggested how they are addressing them at school.  We live in Berkeley but my husband and I both work in Oakland.

  • Walnut Grove or Kidsland in Berkeley?

    (1 reply)

    anyone know anything about walnut grove berkeley, or kidsland addison?

    We went to the Walnut Grove and LOVED IT. A lot of these comments are pre-COVID as I'm not sure what they are doing right now. 

    It has such an amazing indoor space plus the backyard and access to a park. Olivia has an amazingly curated set of toys. They are always doing really awesome open ended art projects. They serve really high quality food and incorporate the kids into growing it, harvesting it and making it. When my daughter was 2 I got out a rolling pin to make cookies and she asked if we were making pasta because they make pasta from scratch all the time. All of the staff was great. We were really heart broken when we left for preschool, however there are many kids that stay until kindergarten. I've seen many daycares in Berkeley over the years and this one is really amazing. Bonus is that it is also a good price point.

    The only downside I would say is that you have to be comfortable with your kid playing at mini-park nearby (about 2 doors down). We thought that it was amazing but I could see how some people might be turned off by that. 

  • Hello BPN! We're looking for a preschool for Sept 2021 for our daughter. We would love to stay in South, Central, North, or West Berkeley. Our daughter is very outgoing and curious, so we think she'll adapt to most schools well. She's biracial (Black/Asian), and we'd love to find an inclusive and diverse preschool. We'd especially love for our daughter to have Black peers and teachers. Does anyone have recommendations?

    We've spoken to a few schools (the Berkeley School, Hearts Leap South, Little Elephant too) and have a few others on our radar (Aquatic Park, New School), and we'd love to hear from current parents (or parents of recent alums) about their experience. 


    My two girls (3 and 5) are at Little Elephant too. Happy to chat if you have questions, but generally we are really loving the program and staff, and our girls are thriving. Our family is white, fwiw.

    One school that you might want to add to your list is American International Montessori, if you're interested in either Chinese or Japanese language immersion (and Montessori, obviously). As you might expect, its student & teacher population is majority Asian. However there are no Black teachers and few (if any) Black students, which I can completely understand you seeking out. We do have a gender-diverse child at the preschool and have really appreciated the support we've seen from the teachers & school (and larger school community) on this type of diversity - so I'd give them general high marks for an inclusive atmosphere.

    My son attends the Nia House on 9th street. It’s a truly wonderful school with excellent teachers and staff. It’s a Montessori program, and my son has really flourished there. Of all the preschools I toured for my son, it was the most diverse. Good luck with your search!

  • Hi All,

    My family is moving up to the East Bay and looking for suggestions re: good preschools, daycares, and transitional kindergartens.   We are likely coming up in January by which time our kids will be 4 and 1.5 years old.  We are looking at areas between Piedmont Avenue and North Berkeley.  

    Any advice re: great TKs in Oakland/Berkeley (w Spanish Immersion a plus) would be much appreciated.  We'd also appreciate any advice on preschools. We've been checking out A Room to Grow and Duck's Nest and are open to suggestions.  Also, if there's a great program that takes kids from 1 to 5 years old, we'd be interested in hearing about it.

    Once we figure out schools, we'll be able to figure out housing!

    Thanks very much,

    M, N, W, C

    Hi Margaux. My son just started at Colibri Preschool on Piedmont Ave, and he's loving it. It's Spanish-immersion for kids 2-5 (has a 2s, 3s and 4s class). Long hours (from 7am-6pm), they're being very covid conscious and abiding by Alameda County guidelines, and the teachers/admin have been so great.

    I don't think they have immediate openings, but with guidelines changing all the time, I think these things are in flux more than before. And it's always worth looking into if you want to get on a wait list for next year. Both your kiddos could go then, I'd imagine.

    Feel free to reach out if you have more questions.

    I'm following this thread because we're in the same boat: We have a 4-year-old and a 2-year old and we're moving to Berkeley in December from out of state.

    We sent out son to Mi Mundo Preschool (S Berkeley, though they've since opened in El Cerrito) for 3 years and cannot recommend it enough. It's Spanish-immersion and art-based, and though art isn't exactly James' wheelhouse he loved it and thrived. It is really well run and all the staff are great, and such great families too - a real community. The kids do need to be potty-trained to attend. Don't hesitate to reach out directly with further questions, and if you contact Lina (La Directora), feel free mention our names.

  • After many months of waiting, we are finally moving to Berkeley in mid-December and we're at a loss as to where to begin to find a school for our son and daughter.

    Our son turned 4-years old last July and our daughter celebrated 2-years the same month. Right now they attend the same school, where our son is in a Pre-K and his sister is in a preschool program. My wife and I are supporters of public education, though right now they're in a privately-run school because the kids are very close. We'd love to keep them together if at all possible but obviously we're ok with sending them to separate schools because of their ages.

    Where do we begin? 

    And, how soon do we need to register our son for kindergarten? 

    Are Berkeley schools assigned or a lottery?

    Lots of questions! We're excited about the move but anxious to do right by our kids. Thank you!

    Hi there! Not sure where in Berkeley you are but if you're in the hills, check out Step One School. Our 2yo daughter goes there and they take kids from ages 2-5. And they still have openings right now so you might be able to reserve a spot for December. I have heard great things about Ducks Nest preschool and Berkeley Hills Nursery school but I'm not as familiar with what age ranges they accept. 

  • Hello,

    Our family of three is planning to relocate to Berkeley(space, the beautiful flowers, the list goes on) from San Francisco. Our 3.5 year old son goes to Katherine Michiels School in San Francisco. Will preschool admissions in Berkeley occur at their regular rate or will they slow down because of the need to maintain space in the school area? Does anyone know if this has happened already? My concern is that it would make finding a vacancy that much harder(or impossible) for maybe the entire next year.

    Kind Regards


    I think you might have to reach out to your preschools of choice and inquire. Our preschool (open for essential workers) is enrolling because there are kids leaving for TK and K, and they'll need to fill the spots. Good luck! 

  • I am looking to go on waiting lists for good day care centers near the UC Berkeley main campus (workplace near west entrance University ave.). Please let me know of any recommendations. Thank you.

    Cornerstone Children's Center just south of campus is great and also economical. A variety of schedule options too. Staff is very tenured. They have both a daycare and preschool so you don't have to change after 2 years.

    We're happy with Cornerstone Children's Center. It's right behind Unit 3 on the south side.

    The UC Berkeley Early Childhood Education Program will be going through their placement process in January for next fall, so the time is now to get on the list. The Haste Street and Dwight Street centers are closest to you. But given your child's age, the toddler center at the peaceful Clark Kerr campus at Dwight and Warring might also be worth looking into.

  • Hello! We are currently looking for a part time play group, preschool  ( in home or not ) for our just two year old son. He is very active, social and adventurous. We are looking to start him ASAP or at the least January. We are having a hard time finding the right fit for him or an opening at all. If anyone has any recommendations in the Berkeley area it would be greatly appreciated.


    I just saw an announcement for an opening at Garden Day Montessori in central Berkeley. They only do part-time and I think they have good reviews (no personal experience because we are a full-time preschool family!)

    There may be an opening in wawasi (just over the border in Albany) because we are leaving end of November. We LOVE the school and teachers, but got a spot at a place just a couple blocks from our house, which makes our commutes much easier. Happy to talk if you have questions!

    I have been looking for less-than-full-time care for my 7 month old, and so I'm very familiar with all the preschools in my area! As you said, for the most part they're full and have waiting lists. However, I happen to know that Dwight Way Wonderschool, 1218 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94702, has openings right now and that they are interested in less than full time. They were open to to three or four days a week. I took a tour and thought it seemed just fine, but it's too far from my home so we're still looking. Good luck!

  • Hi! I will be moving back to Berkeley, this time with a toddler in tow. She has a September birthday and will turn 3 this year. I am doing research for preschools and am finding it super overwhelming and much of the posts here on BPN are outdated. 

    For those who enrolled their toddler in Berkeley Public Schools pre-school, how successful will I be or will I be on the waiting list forever? Will I need to qualify and is there a income restriction? i.e, if you make above a certain amount then you do not qualify?

    Are there any recommendations in the Berkeley area? I work in San Ramon so it is important to me that it is accessible for my mom (grandma) to pick up my daughter after school. Since she is only turning 3, I am thinking part time would be ok. 

    What other factors do I need to consider? Feeling lost and overwhelmed so guidance is appreciated!!!


    First, you need to decide what type of preschool. Do you want play based or academic based, in that more concentration is put on learning letters, numbers, etc?

    My kids went to the New School in Berkeley. Absolutely a wonderful experience. They could play all day, go from inside to outside any time they wanted. My son spent all most all his time outside while my daughter spent more inside-drawing in particular. They boTh were read to each day, went on field trips every week, (the YMCA, King pool, Cal Campus, etc. Very flexible as to how long they stay each day, how many days, etc. Absolutely loved iT. Good luck.

    Hi! Welcome back to Berkeley.

    My son, who is now 7 and in BUSD elementary, attended one of the Berkeley Public Preschools (King CDC) for the two years prior to kindergarten. We had a good experience, and I often feel like I'm the BUSD preschool ambassador now. Here's some quick info, although calling the office at King CDC will give you a fuller picture.

    Your child does have to be at least 3 yo and potty-trained. The program runs M-F 8:30-3:00, and there is before and after care available if needed. When my son first started there was a half-day program, but they may have eliminated it since then (worth checking). I am not sure that you can go fewer than 5 days a week. A bonus is that the program runs year-round, so if your work doesn't have two weeks off for winter break, no problem!

    When I applied it was in the summer, and they had one spot open right then, but I delayed it until the start of the school year. We did qualify for full subsidy. My understanding is that some people of higher income qualified for partial-subsidy, and that you'd pay full price if you didn't income qualify at all. (It's worth calling to double-check that.) They start accepting applications in the summer for school-year start (when the ones going off to kindergarten leave), so I'd recommend calling now if you're interested. Your child does have to be 3, so they may have you submit your application once she has her birthday. You fill out an application and income form, and they let you know what kind of subsidy you qualify for. (They have a chart.)

    The program is mixed-age, which I liked because my son got a chance to be a younger classmate and then an older kid, and he had continuity of classroom and teachers.

    The BUSD preschool is definitely a public school and differs from small, private preschools. The advice I give to high-income people who can easily afford private preschool is to just go that route, because I find those parents have a certain aesthetic and expectations. One of the biggest strengths of my kid's preschool experience was the diversity of the student body as well as staff. He was friends with kids of many different backgrounds and had the opportunity to hear several different languages spoken by families. His teacher also taught ASL to all the kids.

    Because the preschool is in the district, it was a pretty seamless transition to public elementary. During his second year at King CDC, they even had district admissions come to the school and help us work through the kindergarten application in person. When my son started kindergarten, getting him into aftercare was easy because he was considered a continuing student. Another bonus to being in the public system is that if a learning disability is discovered, there is in-class support, and the child can begin kindergarten with an IEP (or 504 etc) in place. I don't have direct experience with this, but I talked to parents who did.

    Let me know if any other questions pop up!

    Don't feel overwhelmed! Narrow down your options based on your most important factors, which seem to be 1. Location, and 2. Operating hours. In my experience, you don't need "the best" or any certain philosophy, you just need a good fit where your daughter feels safe and has fun. Just start calling a few preschools that are in the geographic area that you need and you will get an idea of other factors that may be important to you to narrow down the places you may end up visiting and applying.

  • Fabulous preschool with openings?

    (8 replies)

    We are late to the game looking for a preschool for our 3-year-old. Does anyone know of a great school, preferably in North Oakland, South Berkeley or Piedmont that still has openings for the fall? We prefer play-based but are open to other types of schools as well. Thanks so much!

    EBGIS has openings and is play-based. If you are ok with bilingual German/English. We are starting there this fall, so I cannot share experiences, but all our visits so far were great. There are existing reviews on BPN.

    Yes! you should check out EBI.  We have been there two years now and absolutely love it.

    Your best bet this time of year is to make a list of several schools you like and call every couple of weeks. Things always shuffle over the summer, and if you happen to call as a spot is opening up, you may get lucky.

  • Hello,

    So nice to discover this group. Our family of three are thinking of moving to a  home in Berkely and wanted to take advantage of the very good school system there. A kink in the plan is that our 2 year old got admission to Katherine Michiels School in San Francisco. It took us a long time get admission and experience tells me getting into anything takes time in the bay area.

    Does anyone have advice on a preschool comparable to KMS and how feasible it would be gain admission mid this year? I really dont want to make the commute from Berkeley to KMS every day twice a day ...

    One of my biggest regrets is moving to the east bay while my son was is a fantastic preschool in San Francisco.   Why not wait till your child goes to kindergarten to move?  

    The UC Berkeley Early Childhood Education program has three different preschools. I'm happy we got placed in Harold Jones in particular for this fall. The Clark Kerr preschool, designed for 4 year olds, has great outdoors opportunities. There's also Haste but it's not as spacious as the other two. As usual there are long wait lists, but because the program serves a lot of mobile academic families there are sometimes last minute openings late in the placement cycle.  It's worth joining the wait-list online and emailing the program to see if there might be openings.

  • Hello!

    My family and I are moving back to Berkeley and I'm a little overwhelmed with preschool options. I'm looking at schools that prioritize diversity with students and support it with a culturally competent curriculum. (that has good structure, not just free play) Also, I really want  a preschool that has diversity amongst its teachers. Any recommendations? 

    Thank you!

    Step One School in Berkeley has a diverse community.  They stress inclusion and compassion, no matter what type of household you come from.  I've found the staff, teacher and parents to be open minded and supportive, and their own staff reflect a diversity of gender, ethnicity and age.  Fortunately, I think you'll be able to find many preschools in Berkeley that value and promote diversity.  Time to begin touring school!  :D

    New House Day School on Hopkins is great in this respect, and in pretty much every respect. Mabel Perez, the director, can answer any questions you have about how they manifest and teach diversity. You can tour the school with your child and see how it feels to you both. We love it and miss it (2cd and K now).

    Both of my children went to preschools of Berkeley USD. There are 3 of them (King, Franklin, Hopkins). They are both affordable, diverse, sensitive and attentive. Because they are part of the USD, they know and carry responsibility to prepare children for the Berkeley USD schools. Actually they are called CDC-childhood development center- for some legal reason...

  • My nearly two year old child's strongest interest is music, both "playing" musical instruments and listening to others play. I am hoping to find a preschool in Berkeley (preferably North Berkeley) where he can continue to explore that interest. I would be grateful for any recommendations as to preschools that offer access to instruments and musical experiences for the children (sing-a-longs with guitar accompaniment, moving to music, etc.). Thanks in advance!   

    Pine Crest School has a music teacher that comes 1-2x/week that my daughter absolutely adores. In general they are very supportive of children's interest and give access to lots of different experiences. There are some instruments in the room and they also sing a lot as well. My 3 year old often comes home singing entire songs that she learns there. It's a great school!

  • Berkeley daycare w/ 8a-6p hours

    (3 replies)

    Hi! Can anyone recommend any daycares in Berkeley that are open 8a-6p? It would be for my daughter who is turning 2. I’ve been looking through the daycare list on BPN, but the info re:hours isn’t consistently available. Thanks so much for your help. We’re moving back to Berkeley after almost 9 years away! Very excited, but also daunting in many ways! 

    We started at CEC on Browning st. last year and we really love it. Their hours are 7:30am-6pm; however they are strict about the 6pm closing, so you'll want to pick up by about 5:50pm to be out of the building by 6.

    They are very loving and play-based, and we are happy there!

    Our son goes to the Claremont Day Nursery in Kensington, which is open from 7am-6pm (great hours for working parents!). I believe they have a branch in Berkeley, so perhaps you can check out that location? Their website is

    The New School of Berkeley is open from 7:15-6pm.

  • Which Preschool?

    (19 replies)

    We are deciding which preschool to choose for our daughter who will be 3 this September. I'm a stay at home mom and this will be my little one's first experience being away from mom. We visited two other schools and the teacher must have forgotten I was in the room because she shushed my daughter curtly when my toddler expressed excitement (followed by a gentler guidance from the director to use" indoor voices") and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I want to enroll her in a preschool that is warm with gentle teachers, where bullying isn't tolerated and is generally a place where she will be happy spending her days socializing and being engaged.

    I'd love to hear recent experiences from any parents who enrolled their kids into any of these preschools. Any clear picks or red flags? Thank you!

    RE: Which Preschool? ()

    Honestly, these are four pretty different schools. The three that I know better are all great, but have different strengths. What are the things you liked or disliked about each? Which of those things are most important to your family? We have experience with Duck's Nest and friends at EB and Step One; all are happy. I don't know much about BHNS except that it's smaller, which can be a pro or a con. Do you live in the hills or the flats? Consider your daily back-and-forth--one reason we didn't apply to Step One was the location, but for those who live closer, that's a benefit. Also consider things like hours, schedules, and class size and mix of kids. If your daughter will be three in September, do you plan to send her to TK after two years of preschool, or would you want the option of doing a third year of preschool before kindergarten? If the latter, you will want a school with a class she could move into at that point. (Duck's Nest and Step One definitely have this, but not sure about EB and BHNS.) Good luck with the decision!

    RE: Which Preschool? ()

    I couldn' t be happier with Duck's Nest Berkeley. i was a bit nervous as my child was one of the youngest ones in the Duckling class this year. But within a few weeks she was loving it. She absolutely loves her teachers. The transition from being home with mom will challenging where ever you end up, but the teachers at Duck's Nest did an amazing job making the transition as smooth as possible for us. 

    RE: Which Preschool? ()

    Our child enrolled in preschool at Ecole Bilingue a few years ago and we remain very pleased with her education and experience.  EB continues to check all the boxes on your concerns (warm teachers, gentle, no bullying, etc.) as her education progresses. The first days, weeks, and months of preschool and the associated separation can be hard on all parents and children (including those kids who attended a day care or had working parents). It is completely normal for tears on both sides. The teachers at EB did a wonderful job helping manage the transition. There was no shortage of hugs and calm words for the kiddos who were upset.   

    The administration has an excellent open door policy for parents with any concerns, and is proactive about resolving issues if/when the arise. The curriculum is a little more structured than some of the purely "play based" options out there, but the days do not lack in opportunities for play by any means. There is a good balance and an abundance of art, stories, and singing. Also lots of opportunities to volunteer if you're interested.

    Obviously EB is an immersion program which adds an additional consideration - one that I view as an enormous benefit.   While we don't speak French at home (my husband did study it in school) and our child had no prior French exposure, it has been a non-issue. Another benefit is the overwhelming diversity and global representation within the school. It is truly a melting pot of cultures, religions, and family structures.  If these things appeal to you, then I think you would be very happy enrolling your child at EB.

  • I am new to this and would love to hear your recommendations for best daycares in Berkeley. I am already looking at Step One and Bright Horizons. My daughter is 19 months now. Thanks 

    Hard to say without knowing what you think "best" means. You should check out the Aquatic Park School. 

    We sent both of our kids to Hearts Leap, which is part of the International Child Resource Institute. There are two schools and they have several sister schools. It's one of the higher priced preschools, but the environment is nurturing and loving and the teachers are excellent. 

  • Can anybody recommend a good, AFFORDABLE daycare located in Berkeley? It’s for a 9 month old. The daycares all seem to be for 2+ Year olds. Many are around $1,300 per month, when we can really only afford 1/2 that. We are looking for larger group settings and possibly foreign language immersion. 

    Try Little Stars on Stuart Street in Berkeley. Manar is great, and I think she will have space in August/October. 

    Not to be an unhelpful poster, but $1,300 for full-time care is already a very good rate. Most full-time day care in the Bay area is around $1,600-2K, and that's for mixed ages and group setting outside the house. For lower cost you might look for in-home day care, have you checked-out They are a company that does child care referral. 

    In Berkeley I think you would be hard pressed to find full time care for an infant for less than $900 a month. You would be able to find something cheaper if you are willing to look in Richmond or El Cerrito. Have you worked with Bananas or looked at the home day care lists on Berkeley Parents Network?

  • ISO: daycare/pre-k for our 3 yo

    (4 replies)

    Hello BPN parents,

    My husband, myself and our 3 yo daughter are relocating from Brooklyn to Berkeley in August and are in search of a daycare/pre K for our 3 yo daughter Ella. We toured Duck’s Nest and fell in love with it, unfortunately we were put on a waitlist. If any of you know of a school that is comparable to Duck’s Nest, please let me know. Any info much appreciated!


    Hi Ania,

    My daughter attends Rockridge Little School on College Ave. They Have two locations. Our family couldn't be more thrilled with the staff and school as a whole. My daughter is thriving and when asked what she likes to do at school, her answer is always, "everything!" Which I know is true because she tells me everything that goes on their daily blog. You should contact Cindy (director) cindy [at] I know she is in charge of enrollment at both locations. I hear the other location is wonderful too!

    If you are in North Berkeley, check out The Good Earth School in the Kensington Hills.  It's on a 9-acre property so the kids take daily hikes and spend most of the time outside playing. My kids (2 and 4) love it there and it's comparable to Duck's Nest. Plus, a healthy vegetarian lunch is included. As of late last week there were a couple spots left. 

    EBI in Rockridge. A Spanish immersion preschool is play based and full of warm and loving teachers. My kids love it and it is Pre-k through 8th grade so once you are admitted you can stay through middle school. They have a few open spots for fall.

  • Preschool for almost 3 year old - Berkeley

    (7 replies)


    We will be moving to Berkeley in the summer and are looking for preschool options for our son, who will be 3 in September. We are looking for a place with good child:teacher ratios and preferably smaller class size. Preferred locations around North Berkeley, Thousand Oaks or close to UC Berkeley. Recommendations and any additional advice is welcome! Thank you!

    Hello! I highly recommend the Berkeley Urban Garden School!  It offers a very warm, caring, and stimulating environment with lots of music and fun. My son went there for a short period.  We unfortunately had to take him out because we lived too far away.

    Hello. I’d highly recommend Hearts Leap North Preschool in Berkeley, located at Cedar & Oxford. 

    Excellent teachers and parent community. The school fills up quickly so do give a call to see if they have availability.

    My daughter was at the school for 3yrs.

    Check out Montessori Family School at Hearst and Scenic in Berkeley. It’s across the street from UC Berkeley, has a small teacher:student ratio, and kids can start a few months before they turn 3. It’s a loving, wonderful environment.

  • im hoping to find a preschool or daycare with openings for my 3 year old in January in the Rockridge or Berkeley area! It'd be even better if they have an opening for a 3 month old as well! I'd love to keep my boys together if possible! Thanks! 

    The Model School definitely has openings for a potty-trained three-year-old, and there's an infant program, too. It's on Telegraph right at the Berkeley/Oakland border, and we love the teachers.

    If your 3 year old is potty trained, I believe the Model School in south Berkeley (Telegraph and Prince) has openings in their Pre-K room. There is also a baby room that accepts babies starting at 3 months. I'm not sure if there is an opening now or a waitlist for the baby, but at least you could have the two at the same place once a spot for your baby opens up. We've been at the Model School for 4 years now with my two boys and absolutely love it there. It's a completely kid-centric approach and the teachers truly love the children and get to know them as people and don't stick to a rigid philosophy, but what works best for each child. The parent community is amazing as well. We live in Rockridge and it's really convenient, and has great hours for working families.

  • Hello families! We are looking to relocate from San Francisco to South Berkeley (near San Pablo park) and are looking for a new preschool for our daughter who is two and a half.  By chance does anyone know of a good preschool in that area that might have a full-time opening? Thank you! 

    We are thrilled with The Model School in south Berkeley. It's not in the immediately neighborhood of San Pablo Park, but a relatively quick drive down Ashby - located near Ashby and Telegraph. We've been at the school for 4 years with our two sons and couldn't be happier with the loving teachers, thoughtful kid-centric approach, and parents community. If your daughter is potty trained she may be able to go to the Pre-K room where I believe there are openings. Otherwise, I'm not sure if the two year old room has openings or not, but you should definitely call to find out and get on the waitlist if not. It is extremely flexible for scheduling and there are great full time hours (and limited vacation days) for working families.

    Hi Alma,

    The bilingual school Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley has a preschool and is accepting children as young as your daughter. I recommend contacting them to see if they have space: their admissions director is called Manon Johsnon. The school is located steps from San Pablo park, by the Berkeley Bowl West.

  • Seeking updated experiences/ recommendations  for preschools with longer hours in Berkeley. We are having some struggles with our current school and are particularly interested in hearing from those with their children currently at or recently at Cornerstone, Claremont Day or Golden Gate. 

    If you have a strong recommendation for or against any other place in town, we'd be happy to hear those too, but we need full day (7:30-5:30 or 8-6p at a minimum) 

    thanks in advance!

    My kid is a Claremont Day (Woolsey branch) and we've been very happy. Teachers are great, large outdoor space for the kids to play, hot lunch provided and included in the tuition, great hours, rarely closed during the year (one week in December). It works really well for our family. You're not going to find any fancy or trendy preschool pedagogy there, but if that's not a priority (wasn't for us) then it could be a good fit. Good luck!


    Our 3.5 year old is at Claremont Day in Kensington, and we have been very very happy there. The hours are perfect for our workday, and they provide a hot lunch! The teachers are all wonderful and are truly invested in the children.  I recommend Claremont Day most highly - it's been a wonderful experience for the whole family. 

    Good luck!

  • Hello! 

    We just bought a home near San Pablo Park. Talk to me about preschool options nearby? My son is 3.5.

    Thank you for any info or experiences!

    Look into Aquatic Park School on Heinz near Berkeley Bowl West.  Our two boys (5 and 2.5) are there now and we love the school, the teachers, the community.  The kids spend much of the day outside in a wonderful outdoor area with lots of open-ended play structures, garden, sand box.  The teachers are creative, thoughtful, nurturing and well-supported by the administration and the parent community.  The day is structured but activities are open ended and child-driven.  If you have further questions I'd be happy to answer them offline.

    We live near San Pablo Park as well. My son who is 4 goes to Mi Mundo Preschool, which he loves! and about a mile from the park My younger one (11month) is scheduled to attend Aquatic Park Preschool coming fall and that is less than 10 minutes walk from the park.

  • Home based day cares in Berkeley?

    (1 reply)

    Does anyone have any recommendations on home based day cares in Albany or Berkeley? I am looking for one for August for my then 1 year old. 

    Thanks so much! 

    [Moderator Note] On the BPN website there are 81 home-based daycares that have reviews in Berkeley and Albany.  Use the search at

    My 21-month old is with Rosario (Chayo) Mariscal at First Steps Daycare ( near San Pablo Park.  We all love Chayo's!  My son is happy and well-fed every day, and he is learning Spanish as an extra bonus. He loves his friends there, and they spend much of the day outdoors in the park when weather permits.  It is relatively inexpensive compared to other nearby options.

  • Seeking homecare/daycare in Berkeley

    (2 replies)

    Hi parents and caregivers,

    We are currently looking for a homecare/daycare in the Berkeley area, ideally with a full-time opening for our 2.5 yr old daughter. She is currently in a homecare full time with 8 other children, run by a teacher who is Montessori trained from 8 am to 5:30 pm. We'll be moving from Oakland to South Berkeley soon, so we looking for a new homecare/daycare that will be local to us.  We'd love to find a new daycare that offers play-based learning, a range of activities and has meals provided. Our daughter sees her current homecare as an extension of her family, so we'd love to find her a place as equally warm and welcoming.

    I would love to hear any recommendations! Thanks

    Hi! My two year old attends Lucecitas Family Daycare, also known as "Maria's" and run by Maria Gonzalez. She and the three other women there are warm, loving, kind, and such amazing caregivers and teachers. They speak Spanish with the kids but also speak perfect English to communicate with parents who don't speak Spanish. They feed the kids breakfast and lunch, and two snacks. They cook homemade food,  fresh hot food for breakfast and lots of soups for lunch. My daughter has been there since she was six months old, and my older daughter also went there until she went to preschool.

    You said you're moving to South Berkeley--the daycare is near San Pablo Park, -!; they walk there to play every morning  

    I think they might have space for your daughter's age--they did a few months ago. The number is (510) 356-4474 and you'll probably reach Veronica. 

    My two children (3, 6)  just started at Berkeley Rose School this year. It is a Waldorf inspired school we are very happy with! They offer aftercare until 5.30pm daily and I think they have spaces still available. It has nurturing, warm, trained teachers, home cooking, nutritious food and feels very much like a home environment, financial aid available.

  • My husband and I are thinking about moving to the Berkeley/Oakland area early next year.  Our son will be 2 in November, so I was wondering if anyone knows about any preschools that accept students in the middle of the school year (January/February 2017).  Any advice and/or specific school recommendations would be much appreciated!

    I highly recommend The Model School Comprehensive at 2330 Prince Street in Berkeley, (510) 549 2719. They accept kids, 3 months to 6 years, year-round. My kids have attended Model School at every age level, and we love the school, the teachers, and the community.

    Try Kika's House Family Day Care (BPN reviews here, daycare website here). It's the ideal place for a 2 year old - epitomizes all the wonderful things about living in Berkeley/Oakland - strong connection to nature and outdoor life, diversity, community, healthy food, and fun-love. The kids become a family, they learn to be kind, compassionate, and self-confident. 

  • Can anyone recommend a small, loving and nurturing play-based home preschool in Berkeley? Looking for a strong connection to nature, organic food for snacks and a feeling of community among the parents. In the flats would be a huge bonus.

    I sent my little-one (now entering first grade) to Redwood Garden Preschool. It was the best choice! My child and our whole family love Redwood Garden. It is a small and nurturing  group. Amazingly supportive of the child and of their imagination. Lauri is a loving, caring and knowledgable teacher, I would not be the parent I am without her insight. My child still asks to visit, and the highlight of her year is attending Lauri's summer sessions. I only wish that we could have stayed at Redwood garden through college!

    Redwood Garden Preschool in Berkeley!!!  On Talbot btwn Dartmouth and Gillman.  My daughter just finished preschool there (she is starting kindergarten next week) and it was such a beautiful experience.  Exactly what you describe, small (6 kids max a day), Lauri is so loving and nurturing, Waldorf inspired so play-based/imaginative play.  The kids make their own bread, stone soup, lots of nature, singing, happiness, etc.  My daughter was so shy in any prior preschool and just totally came out of her shell at Redwood Garden.  The kids there form such close relationships and you really get to know all of the parents.  All around a tight knit group.  I feel so lucky to have be able to be part of the whole experience.  Would love to share any further details: contact me via my BPN user name.  

    I can say with utmost certainty that Redwood Garden Preschool encompasses all that you seek. I believe that there is a very rare opening for this fall. My daughter attended Redwood Garden for three years and we are still dear friends with several of the families we connected with during our time there. Lauri Miller is a wonderful, loving, kind, nurturing caregiver and teacher, she is family to us even now. Her home is warm and cozy and her garden magical. She leads a gentle, consistent rhythm through the day, flowing between circle, imaginative free play inside and outside, snack, lunch and daily activity - baking, gardening, painting, soup making, etc. That rhythm flows consistently through the week, giving the children a strong sense of place, of self, and of being part of a group moving together as one. Redwood Garden is in the Westbrae neighborhood of Berkeley. Feel free to contact me for further information via my user name, below.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Mid-year opening for 4 year old near North Berkeley?

March 2015

Do you love your child's preschool? Looking for a mid-year opening (immediate or summer) for a 4 1/2 year old boy with fall birthday. preferably in north Berkeley or northward (Albany, Kensington, El Cerrito). Play-based with a lot of freedom, movement, music a plus. Thank you

We love the Child Study Center, part of Cal's childcare. We started in February, 2014, when our daughter was three and we had just moved to the East Bay. We were shocked that they had an opening, and I think they do now for 4 year olds. Amazing teachers, no turnover, spacious yards and plenty of choice in activities or free play for most of the day. Perfect, except the price and the upcoming Spring Break. Amy

My 5-year-old goes to Child Education Center in North Berkeley, and we LOVE it. He's been there since he was 4 months old, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's play based (reggio), the teachers are incredibly creative, and there are weekly music and dance classes and lots of field trips. Some of the programs are wait listed, but there might be openings in the preschool. Good luck! Heather

Preschools near Totland in Berkeley

Sept 2004

I live close to Tot Land in North Berkeley and would like to send my son to a preschool that is in walking distance. Can anyone recommend a prescool that is close by? I am interested in a school that takes two and a half year olds and offers half day programs. Mixed age, flexible environments appeal to me, but mostly I'm interested in excellent teachers. ann


Best Daycare Centers for Infants Berk/Oak?

Aug 2003

I am looking for recommendations on the best daycare centers (and the ones to avoid), that accept infants. My baby will be 4 months old when I go back to work, part-time. I have read numerous posts about various centers but they are a bit outdated. Positive and negative feedback would be greatly appreciated! I stayed home with my first child and am nervous about placing baby in a formal daycare, but finances may require it. Thanks in advance for your help. working mom

Recommendations received: