Which After School Program?

Parent Q&A

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  • In Person Enrichment Classes for 3rd grader

    (0 replies)

    Hello! I’m looking for in-person enrichment classes for my 3rd grader. We live in Oakland so Eastbay preferred, but will consider further travel. Looking for classes for Math, Writing/Reading Comprehension, or Science where masks are optional or not required.

    No responses received.

  • Hi, 

    Both my kids are attending a private school and will hopefully attend in-person classes in the Fall. However, their school will not offer enrichment classes and we would need to pick the kids up around 2:30. Does anyone have any leads on an afterschool program/enrichment classes in El Cerrito/Kensington/Berkeley area  that also offer transportation? Thanks! 

    El Cerrito Martial Arts has a transported after school program that my neighbors love: https://www.elcerritomartialarts.com/

  • Hi there, 

    I noticed that a lot of elementary and middle schools have parent volunteers who are enrichment coordinators. I am thinking about taking on this role for my son's school. For those who have done this, how do you typically identify the vendors you want to use at your school?  Are there any organized after school enrichment program fairs that schools or other organizations put on?

    Thanks so much!

    Here's how it works in El Cerrito, http://el-cerrito.org/146/Enrichment-Classes. Way back over 10 years ago when it was getting started, parents with skills in crafts or sports were the first instructors. My daughter loved these classes.

    I have been a vendor at a lot of East Bay schools -- be forewarned, it's a lot of work. A lot of schools are using a service, Homeroom, to do registration now but there's still a lot of coordinating. I think if you look around at the vendors in other similar sized schools you'll see who are the regulars. Also, everyone has to be insured and finger printed and all.

    Good luck! It's a lot of fund when it works!

    I have noticed that sometimes people on staff at the school are interested in teaching an after-school class. 

  • A group of parents at my children's public elementary school in Oakland would like to advocate to replace our school's after-school childcare provider. But we are at the very beginning and are not sure what our options for other large-group care providers are and not sure how best to navigate the situation. I have vague memories of reading about another OUSD school that went through a similar process in recent years (was it Joaquin Miller?) If you have been through this process and might have any wisdom or advice to share about it, can you share or get in touch with me offline? Thanks in advance!

    Work with your principal and reach out to the OUSD team that coordinates aftercare programs. They can give you more information about how to proceed. Joaquin Miller did move to a JCC-run on-site program relatively recently, as did Cleveland, so you could also reach out to parents at those schools to see if there's any institutional memory of the process. Also know that it will be somewhat different if your current program is funded or subsidized by federal afterschool funds vs. fully paid by parents. There are only a few providers in the area that are equipped to take on a schoolwide program, so your alternatives may be somewhat limited. You might also see if there is potential to work with the current provider to adapt the program if there are specific things parents don't like about it or would like to have offered.

  • I am looking to get some regulary scheduled help with my kiddo.  I am a single working mom and I have a nine year old.  He has issues with sensory processing, adhd, and epilepsy.  While he's quite capable of doing things other nine year olds do, he can be a handful.  Between my work hours and his challenges at school lately I am I'm just not able to keep up.  I'd like to hire someone for regular hours to watch him and help me out two or three nights a week.  They would to pick him up from school at 6pm in Oakland, cook dinner, help with homework, maybe help with clean up or laundry.  Truth be told, I'm so overwhelmed, I"m not sure where I even need the help.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to find an incrediblely tolerant, trustworthy person capable of handing a tough kid with a take charge kind of attitude that can help us get on top of things?  

    In my opinion, you want someone who will pick your son up long before 6:00. By that time the child is exhausted and it's really too late to be starting homework. I used to have my son in the after-school program until 6 and then fight with him about his homework while trying to fix dinner. It was awful. Pay some more money and get him out of the after-school program for as many days as you can. Let him come home and have a snack and relax for a little bit before starting his homework. Then you can come home to a happy kid who is already done with his homework.

    Finding this person is a challenge, we've had a lot of difficulty with it. But it's so worth it. Spend the money and have a happier, less stressed out, more calm child. Remember that he's dealing with social interactions from 8 in the morning until 6 at night. It's exhausting for anyone, even more so for a child with the issues that you list.

    Your poor child, and poor you. That is soooooo much to handle. My own son has none of these challenges, and if I were to leave him in daycare until 6 PM he would absolutely fall apart! That is an incredibly brutal day for any child. It is way way too long. Then to be cooking dinner - starting at what, 6:30? While he just starts his homework then? There is no way on earth that most kids can handle that well - my DS is 12 and that would be a huge challenge for him. I think you're so overwhelmed - and I don't blame you - that you're unable to think this through clearly. Hire the sitter to pick him up no later than 4:00. Allow him the great gift of peaceful downtime in his home. Have the sitter start dinner at 5:00 and have him eating by 5:30. Really - I had a more seasoned parent make that recommendation to me a few years ago and it made an instant difference. Start homework before dinner, before he's exhausted. When you get home, you have dinner waiting for you, a fed and peaceful child, and he can have dessert or warm milk or whatever while you eat. Whatever time he's headed to bed, make it 30 mins earlier (in increments) and I am willing to be anything that you will have a dramatically better home life in a week. Your poor boy isn't "tough" - he utterly exhausted and being forced into an adult's schedule at 9 years old. Never underestimate the power of rest, peace, quiet, eating and sleeping early. Your life will change!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Q about K-12 After School  

What do you do about shortened days?

Sept 2014

My child is entering the second grade on Monday and I am absolutely floored by what we will be doing every Wednesday. Their school announced that dismissal on Wednesday will now be at 12:30pm. I am lucky and privileged to be a stay at home parent but that is just a LONG DAY for us to fill. We can't afford aftercare on a regular basis, nor any other expensive classes. I also have a toddler so I need to do something age appropriate for both of them. Does anyone have suggestions? Yes we can go to playgrounds or the library but I'm hoping to find something more structured that is a set function on my calendar. We are in Oakland but would be willing to travel within a reasonable distance. As an aside it blows my mind that it's just an accepted thing that kids aren't in school full time 5 days a week. Thanks in advance for the suggestions. Frustrated

Yes, kids all the way through Middle School have minimum days.There are so many fun ways to spend an afternoon with 2 young kids in the Bay Area. Think of it as bonus time to spend with your kid while he's young. Suggestion #1 : PLAYDATES, talk to other moms and set up a weekly playdate swap. I'm sure other mom's are wondering what to do on minimum days too. 2nd graders can usually play together fairly independently and keep each other entertained. If you can afford it you could enroll him in an afterschool class or sports program. Is there an afterschool program at his school you could sign up for? If not, Oakland Parks and Rec offers many afterschool programs 1-6pm at various neighborhood parks and it's cheap! They also have sports programs and classes. Check out their website for details. If your son likes sports sign him up with a team that has practice on Wednesday. Or put him in Martial Arts or swimming classes. Lawrence Hall of Science has great afterschool classes and your toddler could play in the museum while you wait. And enjoy the time you have with your kids. They grow up QUCIK

Yeah, and at BHS it's Monday, so now I have Wednesday & Monday to remember! That was my problem; remembering the different times. So what I did in elementary school was to arrange my work so that I could host a steady playdate every Wednesday. That was the only way that I could remember it. A variation of that idea would be to schedule something special, maybe a class that day. Lots of parents use the after school program for just that hour once a week. Everyone I know forgot once or twice!

Two after school programs - too much?

Jan 2014

Our daughter will be starting kindergarten in Albany, most likely Cornell or Marin, next year. My husband and I both work, so she'll need to be in an afterschool program until 5:30pm. We really like the JCC - we think our daughter would benefit from the structure the program provides and would enjoy the different classes. But, I'm concerned that socially this would be suboptimal because she'll have less exposure to her classmates than she would in a program like Tupelo or the YMCA. So, I'm thinking of signing her up for the JCC three days and week, and for Tupelo or YMCA for the other two, but I'm wondering if that may be too much. (She's been a preschool until 5:30- 6pm for three years, so she's used to a full day schedule). Has anyone done this, or has any insights? Also would appreciate feedback on Tupelo vs YMCA, as we haven't decided on our first choice of school yet and are pretty much on the fence on the merits of Marin vs. Cornell. Thanks! anon

I did the same thing for the same reasons and it was fine.We ultimately changed to just one as my daughter liked it better and it was cheaper. Ellen

My kids are at Cornell. They are not in after care, so I have no direct experience of hese programs, but I can say this: I see Cornell kids getting on a JCC bus after school every day. So your kids would certainly not be the only ones at the JCC. If you like the program, I would make the decision based on that. Anon

Our family has experience with all the afterschool programs you mention. Yes, I would say that two afterschool programs are too much. We know a child who tried it with the Berk JCC and Tupelo and it was too disruptive.

My oldest did the Berk JCC in third grade from Marin/AUSD for afterschool (Tupelo was full), then went to the Albany YMCA afterschool program for 4th and 5th. My take: the JCC offers great enrichment programs (many with extra fee) and a great facility, but you pay for bus service and your child spends a chunk of time on a bus everyday. It was almost an hour by the time the bus went to all 3 AUSD elementaries and Kensington Hilltop and back to the JCC. (Worth checking if they still do this route). It is a very big program and was a bit overwhelming for my child.

My youngest enjoyed Tupelo. It offers a fun Spanish immersion program and is onsite, which makes it easy to build friendships with schoolmates. It only serves grades K-3 though, then you have to figure out A/S care for 4th and 5th grades offsite.

The YMCA afterschool is well run, but rather basic. For the upper elementary grade program (the only part we experienced) I liked that they really focused on getting homework done, which helps preserve family time. They offer several A/S sports options which is nice. They consolidated all 3 AUSD elementaries on one campus so kids were met at their AUSD elem school by a YMCA counselor and walked to the hosting campus.

Good luck in your decision! Afterschool Parent

Although I can't comment on the merits of he specific programs you are considering, I will reply to your request for insights, which is that I'd choose only one, and here's why:

- your choice of after school programs from year to year is easy to flex and change - it's not at all like changing schools. You can simply sign up for one of the programs this year, different one(s) for summer and consider whether your child would enjoy the variety of 2 programs next year.

- even though your child is accustomed to being in the care of others until 5:30-6pm, the transition to, and intellectual demands of kindergarten can be quite a leap for some kids. Think about the last time you made a big transition, such as changing jobs. In your first month or so, did you feel like your brain was full by the end of the day? The change from preschool to kindergarten was intense for my little guy. He met a new group of kids & teachers at school, and different new group of kids & teachers at his after school program. He had to learn all kinds of new rules, teaching styles, names, personalities, playground etiquette and politics. Plus he lost a much-needed nap/rest period and learned how to take the school bus, all while trying to absorb new academic skills - math, reading, writing, language, following instructions, etc. I had to move his bedtime up to 7:15 due to tired-kid meltdowns. I can't imagine adding one more social challenge to the mix.

Do Berkeley and Oakland offer free afterschool care?

Aug 2013

I'm trying to come up with a long term budget and plan for the next few years, to the extent possible. I will be returning to work full time ither this year of the following one. Right now my son is in a great SF public school with free after care. We are considering moving to the east bay if we need to, to reduce costs. Do the Berkeley or Oakland public schools offer free after care? If so, is there an income qualification? Or are there only some schools that offer this?

I've been poking around on-line, and can't seem to find an answer - sorry if I'm asking something that I could easily look up myself, but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now by all the details and would be so grateful for any assistance this community is willing to give. Is your child in a great after school program? If so, which one, and what is the cost, if anything? Thanks! puzzled

Childcare options vary by school. At my daughter's school (Cleveland Elementary in Oakland) there is a program called OASIS that is geared toward low income kids (sorry, I don't know the particulars on cost or eligibility). Also on campus is Bear Cubs, and there is an off-campus option with van pick-up. Some of the kids also do a City of Oakland program at a nearby community center (staff come and walk the kids to the center), which I've heard is very reasonably priced.

I've never heard of free aftercare that didn't have an income qualification. Programs like Bear Cubs (or the similar Adventure Time at other nearby schools) run about $5 per hour (maybe a bit more; it's been a while since I priced them). Depending on when you pick up, you could be looking at 50-70 hours of care per month. Carrie

We are in BUSD (Emerson) and love the after care provided at the school through BUSD (berkeley learns - I think you can find a whole price schedule for learns on the busd site). The cost is based on income and number of family members, and tops out at around $415/month (half that for 2nd child). After care at our school is from when School lets out (1:30 for k, 2:30 for older grades) until 6pm. Good luck! Liz

How much do you pay for after care?

Aug 2010

Hi there, We are trying to figure out what we can afford to pay for a new house when the kids go to elementary school. My husband and I both work so I figure we will be paying for after care, and summer camp. Can anyone give me a general idea of how much these things cost? Or, where to go to find out? We will probably be living in Oakland or Berkeley when the time comes (but could be Alameda, Albany or Kensington too). Thank you!

My son has gone to after school care for several years, we pay (about) $5.00 per hour (a a bit more if it's ''extra'' such as when I happen to come late to pick him up, or when it's for a week of short days such as P/T conference time). So, for about 10 hours per week (3:00 - 5:00 most days) it's around $200 - $240 per month. Sometimes we intersperse after school enrichment programs (martial arts, chess, Spanish...) instead of just aftercare; each has their own price.

Summer camp cost varies wildly. Adventure Time or some such unstructured, play-based camp is quite inexpensive at, say $200 per week for full-time care (9:00 - 5:00 every day), and charges by the hour (fewer scheduled hours = lower cost). Something like Sarah's Science can be almost double that, depending on when you register, and if you need to stay after 3:00 pm. A really all-out camp that offers everything from swimming and boating to horseback riding, like Roughing It (even picks your kid up in a bus), can cost almost $1000 per week for full day ($3600 per 4-week session). There are so many options here it makes your head spin; every year it's something of a challenge to get all my son's favorites scheduled. Karen

We pay $400-$600/mo for after care during the school year, and basically preschool level prices during the summer, like $800-$900 for summer-long care and more if we do some of the week-by-week camps. We are in Albany. Rumor has it that prices are going up for the fall... hope that helps

How much to charge for bringing another child home?

Sept 2009

I'm wondering what is fair compensation for picking up an extra child after elementary school one day a week and bringing them to my house (or the park or...) until the child's parent(s) are able to pick them up when they get home from work, around 5:30 or so. I'm talking one day a week every week for several months. I did this for a while last year and it was never really reciprocated. While it was not terribly inconvenient, I felt a bit taken for granted.

This year, the other family offered to exchange so they would take both kids one day, and I would take them both another day. However, my child has tutoring on the day they offered childcare, so that plan didn't work for us. When asked about taking their child on the other day (basically continuing what I did last year), I took a few days to respond, because I felt uneasy about the one-sidedness of the arrangement. When I did give an anwer, I said yes and that I would like to be paid something. The response I got was surprise and then a withdrawal of the request (since I didn't seem to want to do it).

I would like to know if anyone out there is doing this sort of thing for free and/or what people think would be fair payment. To clarify, I did take the kids to Tilden once in a while, but more typically they just came over to our house, had a snack, did their home work, and then played. reality checking

Ah, the slippery slope of being ''nice.'' I have definitely been there, so one thing I can say is: don't start off doing the favor unless it really is no problem at all for you and not likely to lead to resentment. I can understand why the other parents were taken aback by your request for money -- you were always so ''nice'' before. Asking for money for something you have done for free does not seem ''nice.'' But at least now you know that this kind of arrangement will ultimately feel wrong to you, so you can avoid it in the future. When my son was playing little league ball, a very busy (and rather affluent) parent who worked in the City asked me to pick his son up at his private school when I was on the way to practice with my son. It was more or less ''on my way'' (but not really -- and I had to track the child down and sign him out of his school), and despite the dad's assurances that we would trade off on this arrangement, it was somehow never convenient for him to reciprocate. The next ball season I was ''unavailable'' to do this. I suggest you make yourself unavailable unless there is a very clearly worked out plan on how services will be reciprocated. But I don't think you can start charging for something you used to do for free and expect the other parents to accept it. It would be better to say something like, ''Well, if it won't work this time for us to work out a shared arrangement, we'll try it another time.'' no more ms. nice mom

My feeling about the situation is that it seems your friend asked for your help, as her friend. In my mind, you are already picking up your own child and this is simply a couple of hours once a week. The whole idea of ''it takes a village to raise a child'' means vastly different things to different people, but I also believe in karma -- is this REALLY that much of a hardship? If you wanted payment for this arrangement, you should have spoken up long ago. Instead, why don't you come up with a specific way that you might ask your friend to help you in return? is the kid a brat? If so, speak up and get that issue resolved. In the ''old'' days, this is simply what friends did for each other; most of us are not fortunate enough to have family nearby to help, nor do we have the luxury of staying home all day. I did for a while, and every time I began to feel resentful of the gaggle of kids I seemed to be hauling around, I reminded myself how lucky our family was that I could do that, and I really got to know my kids friends. Enjoy this time as it goes much too quickly! What Goes Around Comes Around

I work three days a week until 5 pm. I pay another mom $100/month to pick up my child from school on the three days I work and drive her 10 mins to her babysitter's house. I pay the babysitter $200/month for watching my child from 2:45-5 pm three days a week.

I think it's fair for you to ask for payment for taking care of someone else's child on a regular basis if there is no reciprocal arrangement. As a working mom, I do ask SAHMs for small favors now and then, but I would never expect free babysitting on a regular basis. Working Mom

Yikes! It sounds like you are acting out because you think/believe that they have taken advantage of you. You sound angry at them, but they are not to blame. You get to decide what works for you. But what I have found is that just when you start feeling that you are doing more and giving more, life will set YOU up with a situation in which YOU will be the one in need of help. And even if it is not that particular family who is able to step up, you will be blessed with the generous, gracious help of another family. What you are doing is building community, and unless you truly need the money, I wouldn't put a price on that.

I am a working mom and learned in the past few years (much later than I should have) to reciprocate back and forth to coordinate rides to and from sports and stuff. What I have discovered is how WONDERFUL this arrangement is and how much good karma/community/friendship is produced! Last year I had to rely on someone with no hope of reciprocating, but then....this year our situation changed and I will be the sole driver week after week for them. I occasionally wonder why I'm doing the lion's share, and then lo and behold, I am chagrined to find myself on the receiving end. Life is not tit for tat... it is much better! Anon

I would like to know how you got into this situation. It seems like the other kid's friends thought it was a standing playdate and not a daycare arrangement. People certainly do it both ways. If I were friends with the other family, and the kids were good friends, I would do it for free, especially if the playdates were reciprocated. But otherwise, I guess $5-10 dollars an hour would be fair. anon

I would not ask for payment if it were me. That is what friends do to help each other out. Perhaps if you have a dr appt or some other situation where you need help she will then help you. If the kids did not enjoy their time together and it feels like a chore to you both, that is another story. anon

Hi, I read the replies you got and didn't think all of them were fair to you or your situation. I understand how you are feeling. When my child started school last year, there was a mom that was hinting around about me taking her kid on a regular basis after school. There was just no way I was willing to lock myself into any kind of regular arrangement.

I'm happy to have kids over for playdates but generally with the expectation that there is occasional reciprocation. I am always willing to help someone, friend or acquaintance, in occasional need (running late, doctor's appt, emergency etc). But, to expect someone to take your child every week without any form of reciprocation really strikes me as taking advantage. There are exceptions, of course, when the kids and/or moms are very close but it certainly doesn't sound like is/was your situation.

Yes, maybe it does ''take a village'' but it shouldn't always be the same villagers who are doing the lion's share! Yes, maybe what comes around, goes around. Yes, paying it forward is a nice thing to do. I'm in favor of all of that, but it would be great if others also had the same willingness to help out when needed. SAHM who is not a doormat