Seeking a Daycare or Preschool in Berkeley

Parent Q&A

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  • Relocating to Berkeley, need daycare advice

    (3 replies)


    I am relocating with my family to Berkeley from Europe in March and we are not familiar with US kindegarten (childcare) system.

    Our 2,5y old daughter is currently attending kindergarten (8am to 5pm) and we would like her to visit kindergarten also in Berkeley, so that she does not lose her habits.

    What options do we have? 

    Do I understand it correctly, that public childcare is not available and our only option is a private childcare?

    Which areas of Berkeley are best for families with small kids taking into consideration vicinity of childcares?

    Thank you in advance. 

    Welcome to Berkeley! 

    You are correct, childcare works very different here than in most European countries. For example, Kindergarten is a specific term only for the year before kids start 1st grade and it is part of the school system. Your daughter being 2.5 means she falls in the age range for preschool.

    Where are you moving from? I am originally from Europe too and would be happy to help you navigate all the options. Feel free to message me and good luck with the move, Heike.

    There are some state-funded child care options, but they tend to be reserved for low-income (and especially homeless) families, or those who qualify due to a disability.  Mostly, you are on your own.

    If you will be in Berkeley, the child care referral agency for our area is Bananas. You can find a lot of information (but not "recommendations") there.

    Let’s sort out the vocabulary first. In the USA kindergarten is part of elementary school. It’s the grade before first grade. What you are looking for, is called preschool.

    If you are looking for a German-speaking preschool, there is Bay Area Kinderstube (BAKS) in Albany and the preschool of EBGIS in Emeryville.

    Reply now »
  • Hi all,
    I am a solo mom moving to South Berkeley from SF in the next few weeks with my 3 year old daughter. I would so appreciate hearing from anyone with experience at Aquatic Park School or UC Berkeley’s ECE Harold E Jones location. Both seem really wonderful and have spots for my daughter, but I’d love to get firsthand insight.

    Thanks so much - I am really looking forward to moving across the Bay to Berkeley!


    While not directly familiar with ECEP Harold E. Jones, I am familiar with ECEP Dwight location staff AND have committed to sending our daughter to the Harold E Jones site for this fall.  Actually, I just had our teacher parent intake meeting and the teachers I met seem lovely are very experienced.  Though the site is one of the older ECEP sites, apparently they have benefitted from several new upgrades including sunshades for patio play, and lots of water features, for explorative play.  Their philosophy is play based learning and if our experience at the Dwight location is any indication, we think our daughter will absolutely love it.

    We had concerns about our daughter not yet being fully potty trained, and the teachers assured us that they work on skills together with the kids, and expect most will be potty trained within the first couple of weeks.  We are looking forward to having our little one join the Harold E Jones program for fall.  Best wishes!

    My daughter who is about to enter 1st grade was in ECEP from infancy through age 5, including Dwight, the Clark Kerr toddler center, and 2 years at Harold Jones preschool. Addar, one of the assistant teachers at HJ, was especially lovely with kids. The facility is great - lots of outdoor space, including a covered area where kids can do arts and crafts and eat most meals. We were spoiled by the high quality nutrition program, and it was nice not to have the hassle of packing snacks and lunches.

    One thing to understand about the program is that it's managed by UCB and its bureaucracy. That comes with resources, like a minimum of 2 rather than 1 fully licensed teacher per class, teachers who are underpaid for what they do but who have full health benefits and a pension, a pool of filly licensed substitute teachers, the nutrition program, and student assistants. An active parent advisory committee and their connections to researchers at UCB who use ECEP to help train Ed and Psych researchers helps to secure continued UC support for the program. The downside is that there can be parental frustrations caused by centralized staff placement decisions. Overall, my daughter received loving care in an enriching environment, and I never worried about her safety or well-being in the program.

  • Preschool Recommendation - North Berkeley

    (7 replies)

    Hello, we have a three year old, and we will be living on Vine and Shattuck. Searching for any recommendations around the area. 

    Hi, we have been with the JCC for 5 years (2 lids) and love it. Its a few blocks from you. Its not religious at all, diverse community, play based but really cares about ECE. Kids thrive there and do great when they go on to K

    We've been happy with Little Elephant Too! which is on McGee and University. Montessori school with longtime teaching staff and smaller-sized mixed age single classroom. Maybe a little far to walk but definitely bikeable from Shattuck and Vine.

    Golestan School!!!   It's "Persian Emersion" for preschoolers (my son is in 1-2 grade) but who cares? (my child is Anglo/Chinese) Half the parents are Persian, the rest from everywhere.  Progressive and European style program.  

    My family has been very happy with New School, which is at Cedar and Bonita.  Play-based school with lots of field trips and happy kids.

    Our older kid just graduated from Children’s Community Center after three happy years there. She—and our whole family, actually—grew by leaps and bounds, and we’re very much looking forward to our younger kid attending in a couple of years. Can’t speak highly enough of the teachers and staff at CCC, most of whom are very longtime early childhood educators. One caveat and positive aspect of CCC, both, is that it’s a parent/teacher cooperative, which means that your family would have regular weekly participation days and a family job—not a doable time commitment for all families, though in our experience, the cooperative model meant we were very meaningfully involved at the preschool and have made many lasting relationships with fellow CCC families.

    I highly recommend Cedar Creek montessori, not far from the north Berkeley BART station. Definitely a highlight of my kids' education thus far (one now at Berkeley High, the other in college)

    We really love the New House Day School on Hopkins near Alameda. It’s got a great community of people, is an excellent size, and is play-based with a lot of time outdoors and great field trips. The teachers are exceptional and also bring in a music teacher and other special activities. Our kid has thrived there—making great friends, learning a lot, and generally just being very happy.

  • Preschool Experience

    (1 reply)


    We are new to the area and looking at preschool options for our 2.5 year old. We've enjoyed getting to know the folks at Room to Grow and Arbor, but haven't been able to find more comprehensive reviews. Can anyone share experiences with either?


    Our kiddo is at the 'old' Arbor location on Alvarado, up Claremont from the College Ave location that's opening now. Our location has been open since last fall. Our kiddo started a bit late in October when he was solidly 2.5yo.

    I can't say enough positive things about the school, the co-founders, and the environment they've created for our covid-cloistered kiddo to explore. We really liked the director of the Alvarado location immediately, and the whole vibe in general (casual & authentic, outdoor/play based). The teachers Becky & Kelly have brought in at our location have been phenomenal - they'll have the same standards for the College Ave location. The stuff the kids do is interesting and varied. Everything from gardening, sandbox play, painting, alphabet letter discussions, books, swings, tree climbing, caterpillar & worm raising etc.etc. 

    Feel free to reach out directly if you have specific questions about Arbor, and best of luck with your preschool search!

  • Trying to decide which preschool

    (4 replies)

    Hi - 

    We've toured many preschools and have been offered spots at Duck's Nest 41st and Rockridge Little School on College. We liked them both, but they are so different and I really can't decide. Location-wise, Little School is probably easier for us. I liked that Duck's Nest basically has smaller class sizes. I worry Little School would get loud/overwhelming all day in one big room, but my daughter is loud herself and probably wouldn't mind? All of the kids there seemed quite happy. Diversity is super important to us and it seemed comparable among the students at both schools, but better among the teachers at Little School. I also got concerned about some negative posts about Duck's Nest - even though they were from a few years ago, it seemed like lack of supervision/taking parent concerns seriously put some kids at risk in the past. We haven't applied to Step One or Aquatic School and who knows if they'd even have spots for the fall (our daughter will be 3), but wondering also how those compare. Thanks for any thoughts. I tend to be on the anxious/indecisive side even though my preschooler is much more easy going than I am, lol. 

    We loved our time at Duck's Nest on 41st--my older child came in just after the issues in the negative reviews (which occurred nearly 10 years ago, before the school moved to its current location) so we were a bit nervous as well, but we found that the leadership had done a great job addressing the concerns, including thoughtful design of the play yard in the new location. Our kids graduated ahead of the pandemic so I know less about about how they have handled COVID, but we know families whose younger kids are still there who continue to be happy with the program and with how things have gone over these crazy couple of years. I also really appreciated how intentional the school was about naming challenges around and attempting to address diversity, although I think like many private preschools, the cost continues to be a huge barrier to true socioeconomic diversity. (Duck's Nest does offer need-based financial aid and works with BANANAS on subsidies, but I don't know that it makes a huge dent in a systemic challenge.) The teaching staff was quite diverse while we were there, though I know there have been some transitions due to retirements and the pandemic, so not sure what it's like today. We also loved that there were a number of male teachers--a rarity at many preschools.

    My kids spent a total of five years at Step One and I can't say enough good things. Experienced, caring teachers; beautiful large outdoor space; music in the classrooms; and much more. I credit my kids social skills, deep friendships, and love of music to the foundation built at Step One.

    We also really loved our time at Duck's Nest on 41st.  The teachers were absolutely fantastic and we really loved the Reggio (emergent curriculum, where they really take note of what the kids are interested in and design activities and lessons around those, to encourage curiosity and a love of learning).  We had a good level of ethnic diversity in our teachers, less so in the kid population, but I think the class younger than ours was when they really stepped up in prioritizing diversity in the enrollment process.  We graduated the year the pandemic started, so I also can't comment on pandemic stuff.  Overall we were incredibly happy there and would highly recommend it!

    My child is in 3rd grade now and they still talk about their deep love of being at Rockridge Little School-College Ave. It's big, and open, but somehow they create a wonderful flow and plenty of space at the school. For us it was the Reggio approach, new things all the time and so creative. I have a sensitive/shy child and she thrived in the setting.

  • 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:

    My daughter really loves Child Education Center off of University/Browning. Good hygiene practices and a lot of fun! The prices went up quite a bit during the pandemic due to limited enrollment, but I would expect them to increase enrollment sometime in the winter assuming vaccines make it much safer for more kids to be together. In the 3 year old class they are learning to write their names (but in a fun way), learning numbers and counting, they go on neighborhood walks together. In nonpandemic times they go to the library for storytime and also can sign up for swim lessons next door. 

  • 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.

    Our two kids (ages 2 and 4 yo) have been attending Panoramic Learning Academy since the beginning of the year. We've been very happy with Renée and so have the children.

    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. 

    It’s not the city you’re aiming for, but if your plans change and you are closer to El Cerrito, I highly recommend Tiny Footprints Daycare. Our son started in January at 20 months. They are pretty booked right now, but you could look into it for the future. Cecy, the owner, meets all your criteria. Since we joined during covid, it’s been slower to meet all the families but we have WhatsApp group chat for group announcements with Cecy and she is very into making everyone feel welcome and connected. She also speaks English, Spanish, and Italian. She usually has at most 13 kids. We couldn’t be happier and neither could our son. 

    Good luck in your search! It’s a very good idea to look very early. 

    Our children attend Little Elephant Too! Montessori in Berkeley and it checks all of your boxes. My 3.5 and 5.5 year olds have both been there since July after the pandemic interrupted our other childcare plants. The school has consistently exceeded expectations. Communications from the director related to Covid and health have been EXCELLENT. My girls absolutely love it at school, the teachers are warm and caring, tons of outdoor time, and a child-led learning approach. If the Montessori learning approach resonates with you and the hours meet your needs, I highly recommend setting up an intro with the Director, Natanya. I know they're enrolling for the fall. Bonus (for you) - they have a Rockridge location if you end up there :)

    Garden Day on Parker (and Acton) is wonderful. Both our kids have gone through the program, can't speak highly enough about the school. Play-based, supportive and nurturing, excellent outside space, with a wonderful community. It's usually fully enrolled due to word of mouth, but might be worth reaching out to Jenny, the director. Could be a great fit. 

  • 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!

    Step One School in North Berkeley is phenomenal. The teachers are pros and they have a robust social justice curriculum. They have both Black and Latina teachers. Between my two children, we spent five years there and the teachers and staff feel like family. There’s a wonderful outdoor space in addition to great classrooms. My children’s teachers sang and played piano and guitar with the kids every day. I cannnot recommend the school highly enough. 

    I recommend that you add Monteverde Preschool to your list. It has a diverse teaching staff, serves diverse families, and employs an anti-bias curriculum. It is such a joyful, unique, special place, and they build community in such purposeful, equitable ways. My kids are now in grades 3 and 6, but I still think of (and miss) Monteverde and its fabulous teachers very often. They are geniuses at communicating with the little ones, facilitating their confidence and autonomy but also fostering friendships and a sense of togetherness and helping kids grow into empathetic, stellar human beings. I can't recommend it highly enough.

    Montessori Family School’s Berkeley campus has been great for us. The pods right now are teeny- about 5-6 kids in each pod. There is a lot of individualized attention, good autonomy for our son, and lots of folks from different backgrounds. I believe that one of the teachers identifies as a white woman, one as a black man, one as an Asian/Latina woman, and I am not sure about the fourth. Hope that helps! 

    We're at Hearts Leap (we have a 3-year-old), and we've been very pleased with our experience. There are not many (any?) black children, and there is one black teacher (she is wonderful!). Having said that, they have made a commitment to incorporating anti-bias and anti-racism into their curriculum. I hope this helps. 

    My son went to Aquatic Park School - he is also Black and Asian. His class had two preschool teachers, one of whom was African American and one was Chinese American. He also had a number of mixed race friends there, mostly half Black and half White, as well as some half Asian and half White. He really enjoyed his time at APS, as there was a diverse group of teachers, lots of outside space to play, and an emphasis on learning through play and socio-emotional development. I highly recommend it.

    Hello, I saw your post about  looking for a preschool that is inclusive and diverse.  I highly recommend you check out The Berkeley School. Our daughter is growing up in a trilingual family, my husband is German American, I am Turkish and our daughter is born in Berkeley. It was very important for us to send her to not only a school that understood and practiced diversity, but also for all of us to be a part of a diverse community that valued community service. From the moment we entered the early childhood education center's garden, 5 years ago, we realized this was a community that practiced its mission and values: "Ignite Curious Minds, Awaken Generous Hearts, Engage A Changing World" is the school's mission, and I wished that the rest of the education system was like this. I am a design educator, and founded a school my self. I highly recommend The Berkeley School's approach to education, to creativity and to social learning.  If you have more questions, happy to help more. 

    Hi Penny! My daughter (also biracial) is at Montessori Family School, in El Cerrito. She's in her third year now (1st grade) and was at the El Cerrito campus for her first two years of KT but the school also has a preschool campus in Berkeley, which is great! Because she is so energetic and outgoing, we were drawn to the learning-based model of Montessori with added structure - and that has worked out really well for her! Hope that's helpful!

    Just wanted to put a plug in for CEC (child education center), which is in central Berkeley. The kids love it and we have been with them for a couple years. The teachers and administration are a blend of asian, indian/pakistan, white, Mexican, south american. The kids that attend reflect that diversity as well, although I would say that asian, white, and indian/pakistani children are probably more predominant. Many different holidays are celebrated in the classrooms. It's a lot of fun and competitively priced. Check it out!

    I also want to put in a plug for Cedar Creek Montessori School right next to the North Berkeley BART.  It's a diverse, welcoming community.  We were torn between sending our daughters to Cedar  Creek, the New School, and the JCC on Walnut Street because we live nearby and wanted to be able to walk to drop-offs and pick-ups.  Each of three seemed wonderful for different reasons, and it seems like you can't go wrong with many of the options in our area--a fortunate "problem" to have! 

    Our toddler is at Mustard Seed Preschool on Hopkins.  There are all types of families from different ethnic backgrounds there, including international ones!

    They take COVID-precautions super seriously.  We love MSP!  It’s the perfect fit for us.  The teachers there are so loving and stay there long term (newest teachers are there for 5 years already) which was really important to us.  We didn’t want our son to have to deal with teachers cycling in and out - we wanted a stable presence in his time in preschool.   They take kids as young as 1.5 years old.  

    MSP is a Christian preschool but most of the families are secular.  They are play-based and focused on a child’s holistic development (not just academic redefines but emotional and social development is just as emphasized).  Happy to answer more questions!

  • 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.

    We love Colibri Preshcool in Oakland! It's Spanish Immersion. They have a 2s, 3s and 4s class. They just got approved for slightly larger cohorts and classes so they might have room. My oldest was there and now my middle one is. We'll definitely send our youngest (who's only 10 months now) there too. The owners are awesome. The teachers are engaged and creative. They have done a good job adjusting to Covid and communicating with us as parents what the policies are and each time there is a change.

    Also, as far as TK goes in Oakland Unified I'm not sure there's Spanish immersion option. My oldest is in kindergarten at Greenleaf, a Spanish immersion elementary and middle school that has TK. But the TK is in English. We didn't look into that too much since we have an April birthday.

  • 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.

    I work at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and my kids went to Cornerstone at First Presbyterian Church, near Telegraph. Located on the southside, but they were really wonderful. Not overly religious, if that’s a worry. 

    The UC Berkeley Early childhood education centers (my son went to the haste street one) are great.

    My son was there age 3-5, but I have friends/coworkers who have had infants in the program.

    Everyone seems happy with it. We loved it!

    Hearts Leap Preschool on College just north of Elmwood — lots of professors’ kids attend. There is an infant/toddler program too. 

  • 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 Ali,

    While not in Berkeley, both of our daughters attended Broadway Children's School of Oakland for 2+ years each and we cannot say more amazing things about our time there as a family. They have part time programs for ages 2+ and are incredibly nurturing and supportive. Most of the teachers there have been teaching at Broadway for decades, and many of them have ended up retiring from there. Sadly, there have been a few retiring teachers the past few years, but their replacements have been above and beyond what you'd expect for an average preschool teacher.

    Broadway teachers supported both my children and myself when BOTH of them went through separation anxiety, and they stress a "Family First" approach to their school. I would highly, highly recommend you look into touring the school and seeing if there are any available spots for your son while you can! :)


    The Model School in Berkeley should have an opening too. Good luck!

    We're at Griffin Nursery School for my 4 year old in the Pre-K program, but we are loving it there! It is a play-based curriculum with compassionate and warm teachers. We couldn't be happier and plan to send our next one when she's older. The minimum age is 18 months or 2 years, I believe so it's a true preschool, not just a daycare.

  • 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.

    We are also just moving to Berkeley this summer, and our older one will go to public K. Our younger one will be just 3 at the end of August, and the good news is that every place we looked at had an opening for a 3 yr old girl. 

    Step One (up in the hills, but if it’s convenient to where you live or grandma lives, it really felt magical).

    The Berkeley School Early Education Center (we went with this one bc of proximity to my son’s K and to Bart stations for our commute)

    Children’s Community Center (co-op, much more play based and seemed super creative)

    Heart’s Leap North (classrooms were nicely set up, but a more basic play yard than the others)

    They all really were very similar in terms of philosophy, long time teacher tenure, and even pricing for a full day program (830/9-3).

    I picked 4-5 based solely on how nearby they were, and how easily we could pick up and drop off both kids in the same 30 minute window. 

    Questions we asked in each tour:

    - teacher tenure (all the teachers were usually long term)

    - approach to conflict/discipline (again, all were no timeouts, help children learn appropriate words and how to resolve peacefully)

    - parent time requirements 

    - potty training requirements (yes, she needed to be potty trained but they were all ok with regressions and accidents)

    Berkeley preschools were much more expensive that we were used to, so I’d look at:

    1. Convenience of pick up and drop off for you/grandma

    2. Cost

    3. Availability of a part-time schedule (sometimes these were all full so only full-time was available)

    Some of the schools did have a much more diverse group of students than others, so that’s also something to consider if that’s important you. 

  • 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.

    I believe temple Sinai in Oakland has openings in the 3s for next year. Amazing school. You don’t have to be Jewish but there’s lots of cultural content.

    The Model School has openings for preschool as of beginning of May. Not sure if they filled all of the spots for the 2019-20 school year but it’s worth checking out. Our daughter has been there for a year, and just joined one of the pre-K classes. She loves it!

    Best way to get a response is by calling the main number. 

    My daughter goes to Broadway Children's School of Oakland, a play-based and wonderful school in Adam's Point. If you are looking for part-time and you have a young 3 year old, I believe they have space in their PACT program. Worth checking out anyway. We love it there! Good luck!

    Also Rockridge Little School is opening a new location on Broadway Avenue and is enrolling:

    The Model School has fall opening for preschoolers. Call Marina at (510) 549-2719. 

  • 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...

    DEFINITELY check into The Berkeley School Early Childhood Center on Francisco. Not only do they have a commitment to diversity, their program is founded in civic engagement.

    New School and St John’s both in Berkeley- we have experience with both. Prob others too. 

    They might be full or running a wait list, but if you are North Berkeley you should look at The Good Earth School in Kensington.  It is extremely diverse, not just in terms of the teachers, director, and students- but as a priority of the curriculum. For example- right now they are doing unit on Women's History, and my daughter comes home and tells me about Mae Jemison (the astronaut), Selena (the Tejano singer), Coretta Scott King, and Malala Yousafzai (among others). It's located on the grounds of the Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Church but is not affiliated with the church. It's outdoor (as much as possible), nature-based- so my kids are out on hikes everyday and learning about their world. Plus, they include a healthy vegetarian lunch everyday, eating stuff like dal, tacos, and pasta and veggies. Most of the families are from Kensington, North Berkeley and El Cerrito.

    It has been awhile, but Rockridge Montessori was a good fit for my bi-racial grandchildren.  They are now at St. Paul's Episcopal School in Oakland which is very diverse and has such a good school culture.

    My son went to Step One (he is now in Kindergarten) and for us it was such a wonderful experience. The staff is diverse and every single teacher prioritizes diversity, cultural competency, and the gender spectrum. There is solid emergent curriculum planning around many topics of diversity and inclusion. And my son, who is an extremely shy mixed Asian race boy, completely bonded with his teacher of color - she is to this day his favorite teacher. Each child is taught “love is love” as well as the meaning of equality, equity, and justice. If you’re moving back, I’d definitely look into Step One! 

    We absolutely love Step One School in Berkeley!! Our family is mixed race and we feel so happy about the diversity our kids get from both the students and staff. We love that our kids have had men, women and all different races and religions surrounding them. They even have a few Spanish speaking teachers and our kids have learned some basic  Spanish. Step One is structured, but a play based preschool. They have a curriculum, but the kids  often steer where that might go. We are finishing our 5 and final year there in Aug. I can’t imagine not having Step one in our lives. It trully is a magical place! We have recommended it to many friends and family.  Good luck and feel free to ask my any other questions you might have!

    Sounds like you are talking about Monteverde school in Berkeley. Its where my youngest goes in the Elmwood district. It’s a super diverse school and practices a non-bias curriculum. It’s also a lovely space with lots of art and creativity. Check it out :)

  • 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!

    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!

    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. 

    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.

    Our daughter goes to Duck’s Nest and I just can’t tell you enough how great the school is. From the teachers to the amenities and the projects the kids do - everything is top notch. They also implemented Anjiplay structures on their playground which is an internationally recognized philosophy and approach to early learning. Our daughter thrives there and loves going to school. 

    Our 3 kids have attended Step One school and it is so amazing. The teachers are phenomenal. Many are musicians and incorporate lots of music into the play. They have a great balance of make versus female teachers and are in general very diverse. I have volunteered for the school and observed so many day times full of smiling children. Also they recently renovated and built a huge multipurpose room that they are planning on expanding into with art and dance and more community fun. I could not have had a better preschool experience for my kids. Step One School contact number is (510) 527-9021. Good luck on your search!

    Annie (Kensington mommy) 

    My daughter, who is now in Kindergarten, spent two wonderful years at Step One. I don't have experience with the other schools, but I do think if you are looking for a warm school with strong social-emotional learning, Step One is a great fit. The teachers really engage with each child as an individual, respect them, and enjoy them. They also work on the whole classroom community, building up kids' sense of themselves as contributing to a whole, and teach children how to have a friend and be a friend. My daughter told me the other day "I'm kind, but I also fight for what's right." That ability to be considerate and loving while also standing up for herself and her peers definitely comes from Step One. She felt close not just with her classroom teachers, but with all the teachers and the staff: it felt like home to her. There's really a magic to what the teachers do in that it makes learning feel easy, playful, and fun, flowing naturally from the children's interests, but there's so much work that goes into creating that rich, loving environment. I've been feeling it particularly lately because with my kiddo in Kindergarten, I realize even more how special Step One is. She is thriving in public school, learning, and we like her school, but I think the reason she's doing so well is because of that strong social-emotional foundation Step One gave her. Her current school just doesn't have the time and resources to engage with the whole child the way Step One did, and I'm so grateful she had that experience at such a formative time. Hope this is helpful, and good luck with your school search!

    Hi there,

    My name is Annie Farman and I have two kids at Step One right now. This school goes above and beyond at every level. The teachers and faculty care so much about these kids.. they are constantly coming up with different creative environments, inspiring teaching games and exposing them to wonderful creative arts and music programs. They provide individual and focused care with children and really have helped and my husband to be better parents. They are always available and willing to talk out any issues I might want to discuss. My kids are thriving there. I would highly recommend this preschool.

    Our little guy is at Step One.  It was his first experience at preschool and away from me for more than a couple of hours. His first few weeks, he cried and clung to me, and his teachers would call me and give me updates on how we was doing throughout the day. Like most kids, he just needed some time to adjust to a new environment. His teachers were extremely conscious of the emotional transition he was going through and spent a lot of time bonding with him.  His room is mixed age and I was impressed at how in tune they were with each child, and the social relationships that are constantly developing and evolving with the kids.  They truly care about each of their kids and nurture them as individuals.  They've been there to support him through developmental transitions, encourage his budding independence and celebrate his achievements. There are a lot of snuggles, fun creative activities, and guiding the kids to be kind to themselves and each other.  The teachers have extensive experience and most have been there long term.  Currently, there is construction going on and it hasn't affected us too much.  It's on one side of the school and contained. They school has been proactive in keeping everyone informed on the construction progress and a lot of thought has been put into ensuring minimal disturbance.  There are a lot of good preschools and I've heard positive things about the others as well.  I don't think there is just one perfect school for each child, and I think you're doing a good job checking out these schools and gathering feedback. Good luck!  

    We have our daughter at Step One, and could not be happier with the quality of the teaching and the loving atmosphere cultivated there. It truly is a learning community, where everyone, big people and little people alike, learn and grow with joy. I’ve seen so much development in my daughter and that of other children. The faculty are deeply thoughtful and care enormously about the children. As such,  teachers and leadership are extremely respectful of the parents and each other. They begin an anti-bias curriculum immediately and compassion and justice are core values. I never want to leave when I am dropping off my child in the morning!

    Both of our kids (now third and first graders at Cragmont) went to Step One and we absolutely adored it (so much that my husband is still on the board and I occasionally do freelance work for them). It was the first and only preschool we toured--we applied right away and crossed our fingers. The site is incredible (think hillside gardens with bay views, a waterfall, fun play structures, a wooden house, a sand box, basketball hoop, swings, and a garden the kids help cultivate), the teachers are warm, nurturing, and very experienced (each classroom has at least one teacher who has been at the school for 15+ years).  They also have a relatively high number of male teachers (40%), which was important to us. The school and staff emphasizes diversity and inclusion, and holds regular speaker events on these topics (and has a tuition assistance program dedicated to these D&I values).  Many of the teachers are musicians, and musical performances on the playground are pretty much a daily routine.  (My husband plays in three different bands with teachers and staff members!) The school is currently constructing a brand new multipurpose room, a “learning kitchen” for kids, a gathering plaza, and other site improvements that will be completed in June.  

    I highly recommend checking out their website and taking a tour!  We’ve made a lot of life-long friends at Step One. The community is amazing--there are many community building events that sometimes include retired teachers, step one alum who are in college and come back to visit, etc. It truly is a special place.

    Hi Berkeley510Mama-

    My son goes to Step One and its awesome! Very caring and wonderful. It is a play and exploration-based type of learning, which is really perfect in establishing good social fundamentals.

    My son is 2 1/2 and in room 2, which is the youngest class. He loves going to school and has made deep connections with children in the class as well as the wonderful teachers. We’re blown away every day by the new things he learns and brings home. When he first started, the exponential growth was astounding. He blossomed with words and social skills overnight. He still is, but we’re used to the thought of him bringing home new things every day.

    I’m a stay at home dad, and when we started looking, I wasn’t sure. Why would I put him in school when I could have more time with him in his young life before he’s off to school in earnest? They grow up so fast! But, after having sent him to Step One and watching him grow the way he has I think it would be a great disservice to him if we had kept him at home. Granted, every child is different. Still I don’t second-guess the decision we made for our him.

    I can’t speak to any other schools except Duck’s Nest in terms of advantages and disadvantages. We were accepted into Duck’s Nest as well but ultimately went to Step One. We really liked Duck’s nest and in terms of location - it was far more convenient for our lives and commute. Duck’s nest is also play based and so I’m sure he would have had a wonderful time there as well - only positivity towards Duck’s Nest. But, when you walk into Step One on your tour, there’s something magical about the physical spaces and the gentle and respectful philosophy of the teaching. There’s this aura of safety and happiness - a place where the kids can grow and learn and feel protected to be exactly as they want to be. They paint and play music and play physically and make deep relationships that I believe are friends for life. Several of the teachers went to step one, and the retention rate for the teachers is astounding - all of the teachers in my sons class (3 for 16 students) have been there for 16 or more years, and they’re pretty young teachers - 30’s to earlier 40’s! It’s cohesive, respectful and deeply loving.

    Drawbacks to be honest - far if you don’t live in the neighborhood (flip-side - amazing view and safe neighborhood. The commute is easily worth it for us. I noticed you were wondering about Ecole Bilingue and if immersion is really important to you, Step One only offers a small amount of immersion. Immersion is important, but we’ll focus on that once he hits elementary. 

    We love Step One and will send our second child there once she’s old enough. We can’t speak highly enough about Step One and if your child goes there, you will meet them with a smile at the end of every day. Heck, I can barely even get a kiss on the cheek in the morning before he runs off to play.

    Sign up for the tours which are happening right around now. Happy to respond in great detail on any specifics you might have. Good luck in your decision making.

    -Papa M

    We absolutely love Step One. I can't really say enough wonderful things about it, the community, the teachers, the other students... it has been a perfect experience. Kids are encouraged to be kids, but yet somehow my two year old is also magically learning manners, how to honor and respect others, how to eat green things (aka vegetables), and so many other incredible lessons that warm my heart. My son talks about his Step One friends all the time, and he has a deep love for his teachers. He sings songs from school at the dinner table and as we drive in the car. He has practiced sharing, cutting with scissors, drawing and painting, playing outside in nature and stomping in rain puddles, and telling stories. I absolutely adore this school, and encourage you to take a tour if you are interested. I had to hide tears in my eyes with sunglasses during our tour last year. I knew it was "our school" from the first few minutes of our tour. Very best of luck! 

    Our daughter started at Step One this past fall. She is in the 2s program, so a little younger than your daughter, but we are thrilled with the school and the teachers at Room 3.  They are amazing at helping the kids learn to be independent and they manage the initial separation from parents extremely well. Our daughter keeps talking about her teachers at home and how much she loves them. On weekends she is asking me when will she go back to school, because she misses her teachers and her friends. They are also great at fostering friendships, allowing the kids to explore and learn through play. I highly recommend Step One! 


    We have a 5 year old attending Step One and I,  honestly, can't say enough good things about the school.  We had a bad experience at a different Berkeley preschool last year and after the tour of Step One, I wasn't overly enthusiastic but it's really close to our house so we went ahead and enrolled our daughter.  I am SO glad we did! The kindness and love they shower on the kids is nothing short of wonderful. My daughter immediately felt comfortable and welcome even though she started much later than most of the other students.  The parent community is also really warm.  Before we were sending our child to Step One the most common word used to describe it was "magical" and it really is. It is what every child should experience in a preschool; warmth, kindness, patience, room to explore, be themselves and be loved for it.  The school is also very thoughtful and courteous of parents.  Highly, highly recommend.

    while I don't have direct experience with the other preschools on your list, I can say how incredibly grateful I am to Step One for helping shape who are three girls have become over the last 7 years. We attended Step One from 2011-2018 and couldn't have been happier. The fact that most of the staff has been there over 10 years (with some well beyond that) speaks volumes to how special this place is. I love that there are so many male teachers (a rarity in early childhood education) as well. The outdoor space is amazing and the play-based curriculum not only provided a strong educational foundation for our girls but it really helped them navigate how to interact with their peers and their environment, all while gaining self confidence and respecting differences in those around them. Good luck! 

    This is our sixth year at Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley (EB). We have a son in third grade who started in pre-school and a daughter in Kindergarten, who also did two years in pre-school at EB. The school's approach to second language acquisition is fun, engaging and developmentally appropriate. The teachers immerse the students in songs, stories and play in French, making the environment very rich in language. My son reads, writes and communicates proficiently in French and English. I'm so thankful to all of the hardworking, caring and professional staff at EB. Everyone, from the classroom teachers, gardening teacher, PE and music teachers, create an environment where children thrive and feel cared for. 

    I can't say enough about how wonderful Step One is. Our daughter started there at 2.5 years, and we were similarly nervous about her transition to a school environment (she was previously in a nanny share at our house). The teachers are so in tune with every one of the kids -- they struck the right balance of providing loving support without coddling our daughter on the transition. Our daughter continues to thrive there, and her growth and happiness is a direct result of the teaching style and community they've built. Everything about it just phenomenal. It has been a perfect fit for us and I can't recommend it more highly. FWIW, my mom's training is in early childhood education, too, and she is consistently impressed with their approach.

    We LOVE Step One.  I too am a stay at home mom, who wanted a loving, creative, kind, inclusive and thoughtful home-away-from-home for my children;  And we definitely found that at Step One.  The teachers are amazing.  The staff is responsive.  The community of families is awesome. And the place is magic.  

    I have two boys.  Both attended Step One beginning at the age of 2 (one has since moved on to kindergarten and the other is still happily in room 4).  They have very different personalities  ... and they both LOVE and thrive at Step One.    

    The teachers and staff are loving, proactive, supportive, kind and helpful -- they are pros at transitions and anything else that life throws at you.  Beyond supporting the children, they support the whole family.  It is a truly unique and special place.

    Thank you so much for the wonderful insight, parents! We had a chance to visit all the schools and are happy to report that we have chosen... STEP ONE! The tour sealed the deal for us. The school is warm, down-to-earth, diverse, engaging, community-oriented and... magical. Out of the 8 preschools I visited, this school stood out for us hands-down.

    We feel so lucky to join the Step One family and look forward to the adventures ahead. Can my husband and I enroll, too? 

    Thank you again for the wonderful feedback!


  • 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. 

    I highly recommend Step One. Super warm environment for the kids and community for the parents. I can’t say enough good things about the teachers. Anthony is the older brother everyone wishes they had. 

    I highly recommend Monteverde School, a play-based school, located  in the Elmwood area. It’s a warm, nurturing school, with kind and talented teachers. It also multicultural and they incorporate an anti- bias curriculum. They also provide partial scholarships. My son thrive there as a student. 

    We love Monteverde! They are Reggio Emilio based, a fantastic philosophy that involves respecting and trusting children with their innate abilities. They support curiosity, exploration, conflict resolution while supporting and meeting every child in their own growth stage. We moved to east bay from San Francisco, and I was researching Reggio Emilia schools here in east bay. We loved the place as soon as we saw it. Kristen (the director) was so good at listening and really answering all my questions! We could not be happier with our choice. Our child who is in her second year there now, has developed so much positive emotional growth. We feel so lucky and blessed to have her there, be surrounded by intelligent and caring teachers. We have a second toddler who are hoping that will start next year as well at Monteverde! 

    As a parent of a spirited/wild child, I feel so grateful every time I speak with the teachers regarding to the challenges we might be facing at home. They always use such positive language around some of those commonly taken negative behaviors. Such as; Bossy child is a child that who shows great leadership skills..etc. It's amazing how important all these little things add up to shape our and their perspectives on themselves.  It's a place I believe everyone accepted and loved "just the way they are" while teaching them how to accept one another.

    I sometimes secretly wish I could have gone there as a child myself. Fun and loving place. They should be having an open house soon for applications Fall 2019! I would check their website to watch out for that:

    Good luck on your search! 

    We love Wawasi and want everyone in the Berkeley/Albany community to know how excellent it is. You will not find an atmosphere as personal, or a team as genuinely devoted to your child's happiness, as Wawasi provides. In the one year our son was at Wawasi full-time (age 1 to age 2), he thrived emotionally, cognitively and socially, and even absorbed a lot of Spanish even though he is still on the cusp of speaking in sentences. They are not a "child care provider"--they are a loving community. As a Wawasi parent, you will feel your child is a part of their family. From the quality of the food served every day to the idyllic backyard garden, from the comfortable play and rest spaces, to the activities and projects: a yoga instructor! a harpist! Songs and dances to celebrate the seasons and holidays. Wawasi is a Spanish-immersion program, but as a non-Spanish speaking family ourselves, we never felt alienated by the Spanish orientation. The team is fully bilingual. Art projects for even the youngest children were a constant part of the program. Every day had a clear program of activities, and were thematically linked to one another. Wawasi's unique spirit is a function of its talented, ever devoted, and creative leader Roxy, a Peruvian woman whose joy in life and children is infectious. We were blessed to have her 20-year old daughter on the team, whose energy and temperament were exemplary. She has also employed other members of her family, a younger daughter and niece. We've thought so highly of her team that we continue to call on her niece for babysitting, because our son's attachment to her is still so strong after more than six months apart. Yureny and Leide are also incredibly strong, capable, kind and joyous members of the team. The whole team is youthful, flexible and resilient. She is also completely professional, completely trustworthy in all matters financial. The facility is safe and the block is calm and easy to park on. We were broken up when we left, and only left because we moved too far away to make it practical. We love the parents we met and will always hold Wawasi close to our hearts. For that reason, I urge you to check them out. Though their services are totally reasonably priced, a bargain really, Wawasi's team are the highest quality people you could want caring for your children, modelling behavior for them, and teaching them how to manage their own emotions, they reemotionally big-hearted and even-keeled. Wawasi is a true gem. Look no further.

    My daughter has been in the UCB Early Childhood Education Program, which has 5 different centers, for over 2 years. She's 2 1/2 years old now. We were in the infant and toddler rooms at the Dwight Way center, and recently migrated to Clark Kerr for the older toddler program. We had a few rough patches in terms of staff turnover at Dwight, but I've always been happy with the quality of care and the modern facilities there. The Clark Kerr center is in an older building, but has fantastic access to outdoors space. There's a 1:4 teacher-student ratio, plus lots of extra support from student assistants who are terrific with little kids. But the program has a long waitlist, and we just started our school year.

    I also checked out St. John, which seems to be great at providing individualized care, including transitioning between rooms when the child is ready instead of on a fixed schedule. I almost moved my daughter there except that she was pretty settled into the UCB program by the time a slot opened up.

  • 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?

    Infant care  (24 months and under) is very expensive. I think it's very unlikely you will find full-time care for less than $1,000/month in the Bay Area.  We were paying about $1,400/month 3-4 years ago and felt that was one of best rates around.

    I wish I could help, but I just wanted to say that I believe what you are experiencing is typical. I don’t think you will have luck finding infant daycare at half that price... My son’s daycare at that age (nearby) was $1,200 per month, and that was one of the least expensive I could find.

    For full-time daycare? $650/month is $162/week is $4/hour at 40 hours/ week.
    Even with the legal limit of 1:3 adult to infant ratio, that's only $12/ hour... Which is less than the legal minimum wage of $13.25/hour in Berkeley.
    You may find someone willing to work for $4/hour, but that provider will not be an official daycare, licensed or legal.

  • 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.

    I agree with previous response - try EBI in Rockridge.  Our daughters started in preschool there and are now in 1st and 2nd grades.  We love the teachers and the curriculum!  Good luck with the move!  

  • 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.

    I enthusiastically recommend The Berkeley School Early Childhood Center ( -- it's located in North Berkeley near campus and it's an incredibly nurturing and stimulating environment for preschoolers. We've been there for four years, and both of our sons have loved the teachers, classmates, community, and the idyllic campus - imaginative classrooms and a big outdoor space complete with a little garden, playhouse, and room to run. And there are three teachers to every class!

    Good luck with your move and search.

    Welcome!  We also moved to Berkeley recently and our 3 year old has really been enjoying Step One School (

    The school nurtures children’s love of life and learning in a community rooted in respect for self and humanity.  Most of the teachers and staff have been with the school for a very long time and I've heard there are still a few preschool (3.5-3.11 years old in September) and transitional kindergarten openings (5 years old by January 31st).  The school is located at 499 Spruce Street near Tilden Park.  

    You can also contact Stacey Bell in admissions for more info stacey [at]

    Good Luck!

    Enthusiastic recommendation for EBI (Escuela Bilingue Internacional) @ Colby/Alcatraz. My daughter started there when she was 3 and is finishing her second year of PreK. We’ll be sending her there for Kindergarten in the fall. Some things I like about the program are the IB program, language immersion, staff, and parent community. So they start the International Baccalaureate (IB) in preschool with the primary years program. You would think it wouldn’t “matter” for preK but the way the IB program encourages a love for learning is amazing. My daughter is always asking probing questions about math, art, language, you name it. I really love the children at this school. The IB program at heart is rooted in caring for your community and being part of a greater whole. My daughter speaks often about caring for the community around us, being part of a family, and respecting differences. I am so proud of the person she is and am glad that she has so many others with similar values surrounding her. The parent community is fabulous as well! The school is a language immersion program. My daughter speaks Spanish with, what I’m told, is a native accent. This school teaches through Spanish, which is a fancy way of saying she is getting an amazing education and learning to speak Spanish while doing it. The ability to speak another language is invaluable and will allow her to broaden her life experience. One of the school’s graduates is doing a year abroad at a school in Oaxaca, Mexico before starting at Lick-Wilmerding in the fall. The IB program is challenging (in a good way J) and EBI has a dedicated staff and committed teachers. They really went above and beyond when we were dealing with speech language issues. Great student/teacher ratio. Head of School goes out of his way to make sure we know he is aware of our daughter and her progress. We appreciate that.

    Other things - grounds are ok. PreK-1st location seems “light” on facility amenities but it is just the right size for the littles. We’ve had trouble getting our daughter to leave the play structures often. Lunch program is a nice to have option. We mostly pack her lunch. The 2nd -8th campus is great. I’d encourage anyone looking at the K-8 program to tour both campuses. Plenty of volunteer options.

    Hi, I recommend visiting Escuela Bilingüe Internacional (EBI). It's a Spanish immersion school with programs for pre-k through 8th grade. Even if Spanish immersion is not on your mind, this is an amazing place for preschool. Loving environment with amazing teachers and activities. 

  • 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.

    Redwood Garden Preschool in the flats, run by Lauri Miller, is the most nurturing, most caring, most creative, sweetest, loveliest, school for a young child. Lauri is not just a profoundly well-educated, highly literary, deeply kind person, she is magical with the children! The Waldorf philosophy that guides her and her school is a deeply conscious, well-thought out approach to the education and social and emotional development of a child like no other. If nurturing creativity and imagination are important to you, send your child there! If teaching them about the beauty of and connection to the trees, the plants, animals, flowers, and one's friends is important to you, send your child there! I can't imagine having felt better leaving my son, who had a hard time with separation when he was little, in her hands (and often her arms) every day! Please feel free to contact me for more information.  

    Kikas House Family Day Care (or the website) is an idyllic place, in the flats, for ages 14 months through age 4. We sent both our kids there, it's better than a nanny share for little ones, and an environment where they thrive until they're ready for a bigger kid pre-school. It fits your description exactly - strong connection to nature, healthy food, strong community for parents and especially the kids - it's a family. I agree with everything in the reviews from the past 10 years! 

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: