Our son will be starting kindergarten this fall at Marin Elementary (we hope) and I'm trying to sort out after-school options. The choices are Tupelo (the after-school program at Marin), JCC, and joining a nanny share. Tupelo would be very convenient and is the least expensive option. It would also provide an opportunity for him to get to know his classmates better and root us into the neighborhood/community more. But is it chaotic there in the afternoons? I believe my son might thrive more with some structure. JCC has a more structure and well-trained staff...but it's significantly more expensive, we lose the connection to the community, and my son will have to be bused. Thoughts? Do any of you have experience with one or more of these options and have insights into relative merits? -anon
My children have been in Tupelo for a few years, and it has been a good experience for them. From what I have seen, the Kindergartners are in their own classroom for most of the day, but they also play with the older kids at recess. They also learn Spanish, music and dance, and they do lots of crafts. They have enjoyed it very much. Happy Tupelo mom
I am interested in parents' experiences of Albany's after-school options. I know the elementary schools offer on-site (or nearby) after-school programs, including some specialized programs in Mandarin and Spanish. Are these difficult to get into--I've heard of long waitlists, but also from parents who have had no problem getting their kids in. Any experiences with the City of Albany's Friendship Club? Other suggestions? Thanks!
My 4th grader has been in the after-school Mandarin program since he entered Kindergarten. My family loves this program and it costs the same as the regular after-school program. There is a long waiting list. If you want this option, sign up now. Friends who have their kids in Friendship Club say it is a lot of fun for the children. It isn't structured, lots of games, movies, fun, etc. It is not difficult to get in I've never heard of anyone not getting in if they sign up at the beginning of the year. anon
One of the benefits of Albany elementary schools are the many after school options. I would first see which school your child attends and then see if you like the on site after school option. You should be able to get a list of aftercare programs from the school office. I believe the Y at Cornell has the only before school program. There is a Chinese program at Cornell, but it does seem to have a long wait list. Other programs are easy to get into to. My child was in the Y for some years, but then moved to Friendship Club because he liked the counselors better. Good luck
The School District has before and after-school care at Marin and Ocean View schools, run by the Albany Children's Center. Marin has a Spanish Immersion program, before and after school. Ocean View and Cornell have Mandarin Immersion programs, only after-school. You can find their information on the District's website, or directly at the Albany Children's Center.
I'm thinking of moving to Albany for the schools there, but would like to learn more about experiences parents have had with the schools. Is after school care available at the elementary schools, who runs it, and how much does it cost? warrick
We live in Albany and picked the JCC of the East Bay's afterschool program, Center Stage. Our kids have been going for several years, and we're very happy with the program and the staff. They provide van service from the Albany elementary schools to the North Berkeley location. Albany Parent
Contact Albany Children's Center, who runs the onsite after school programs at Ocean View and Marin. There is a variety of options as to # of days and hours available. ItC-s easier to get info if you go to their office in UC Village, 800 Red Oak Ave next door to the day care center. YMCA also has a program at their site on Solano next to Cornell, and the City of Albany has a program that is currently at Memorial Park but will be moving to Ocean View Park where the teen center is. Happy Ocean View Parent
We work FT, and Albany K is only 3 hrs, so we will need a lot of after care when my son starts K next year. He is shy, emotionally sensitive, and slow to transition. Academically he is very ready for K q can do the school work and can focus, sit still, follow directions. But emotionally he has lots of trouble with transitions and over-stimulating environments. We still have many teary mornings at preschool dropoff. I'm looking for ideas from parents of similar kids about the transition to K and especially after-care. Is it true that public school after-care tends to be unstructured, with high kid:teacher ratios and mixed ages? This would be my son's worst nightmare! What other options do I have?
We are at Marin in the afternoon Kindergarten. If the schedule works for you, I think that the morning Tupelo on site might work for your situation -- with the afternoon K program. With the exception of the first hour (when there are some older children --who leave by 9:30am), the morning Tupelo is only Kindergartner's and there is a very manageable child-teacher ratio. The activities are all in one room. They kids play outside also. The teachers are well-liked, caring and organized and have different crafts and toys available. The kids come at slighter different times throughout the morning so I find that there is always a teacher or activity to help engage my son. I've been very happy. Marin Tupelo/Afternoon K Parent yb
Hello! My kids are starting Albany K next year. Can anyone give insight into before or after school care? I've heard a lot about the YMCA program, but am wanting to consider other options if they are out there. I'm hoping that my kids will be going to Cornell, if that makes a difference. Thanks for taking the time to respond! Thinking ahead to next year
The YMCA is located right next door to Cornell. My son attended the YMCA before/after school since kindergarten even though he has been attending Marin Elementary school. For him, it was worth the walk; for your child, it could hardly be any more convenient! Based on my research, the YMCA provides the most nurturing and enriching before/after-school care in Albany. My son is now in his fourth year, and he couldn't be happier with the program! Every child's needs are different, of course, but my family and many other families I know have appreciated the responsible, warm, friendly atmosphere and the connection with the amazing staff who work there. sara
there are programs through the albany children's center which is in the village but they have sites at schools too, well at least i know they do at marin where my son went (called tupelo). i was very happy with it, staff is great and its pretty affordable, sliding scale available too. good luck! albany mom
My kids tried Tupalo at Marin and the Y on Solano's aftercare in K. Neither worked for us. My daughter found the Y overwhelming with too many kids there and no place for a younger child to retreat. She cried a lot. Tupalo was ok in the AM, but crowded into a small space in the afternoon. Tupalo wasn't structured in any way, which was a disappointment. Since Albany's K program is only 3 hours and change long, our kids in K were spending too much time in 'daycare'. We got a babysitter and reduced our work schedule. anon
I'm wondering what options I have for extended care for an Albany kindergardener. My son won't start until 2008, but I'm beginning to wonder what I'm going to do, as I just learned that a kindergardener's day is only 3.5 hours long... -working albany mom
I am a Kindergarten teacher at Ocean View Elementary in Albany (and the parent of a toddler). Our children have access to before and after school care called CEDARS. I have worked in several school systems, and I find the CEDARS care to go way beyond the typical childcare duties. The children have lots of time to play, but they also offer a quality early learning program. For example, this year they did an author study about Eric Carle, where the kids hear many books by this author, and are currently rehearsing for a play version of the ''The Grouchy Ladybug''. I am impressed with the head teacher who takes time to work individually with children on whatever interests them, whether it's reading or art or something else. I would encourage you to call the CEDARS office and schedule an informal visit. Many of my students have working parents, and while I wish they didn't have to have such a long day at school, I'm pleased with the quality of the program offered. Whenever I walk into their room, the kids look happy and engaged. I hope that helps. an Albany Teacher and a BPN parent
Albany kindergartners have several choices for after school care, all with their own pros and cons. Tupelo is the on-site care for Marin School (K-3rd grade), the YMCA on Solano has a walk to program and they come pick the kids up to walk over (from Cornell and Marin). Maples runs at the Villiage for Ocean View kids. The JCC will pick up the kids in a van if there are enough in the area to make it happen. Creative Play Center is a pre-school/after school program in el cerrito that a number of kids go to.
We used Tupelo and I have not been thrilled. The convenience and familiarity is nice for the kids, but the program itself is not great (though there might be a Spanish immersion program, for which the teacher and program are much better). It's large, chaotic, and in my experience the staff don't have great insights into children. People who have afternoon kindergarten, so their kids are alone with other kindergarteners in the morning like it better. I would go visit all the programs and see what you can see. It's amazing how revealing these visits are. I have friends who LOVE the JCC, having switched to that program from the Berkeley afterschool at Oxford.
But rest assured, there are options, and it's not like pre- school - you don't have to do it years in advance. You might want to get on a wait list for Tupelo fairly early, though, as that does fill up.
Starting next year, we are aiming to move to a babysitter as that will work better for our family. Once you have two kids in school it's probably cheaper or certainly not more expensive to have a babysitter pick them up if you can find one you like. anonymous, please
Another option for kids in afternoon kindergarten in Albany is to study Spanish with a small group of kids in the morning. Our son will be in afternoon kindergarten at Marin School, and if we get five other families to join us we will host a morning Spanish class / playgroup at our house. The teacher is a wonderful woman, Rosy Mendoza, who has been teaching Spanish to little kids for years. She is a credentialed teacher in Mexico. Families can drop off their kids at our house at around 9:00 am, and Rosy will walk everyone over to Marin School at 11:50. No prior knowledge of Spanish is required. If you are interested feel free to email me for more info. We'll get the class together in the late summer, once everyone has their school assignment. Kathryn
we are considering moving to either albany or piedmont for the schools. we can probably afford half a run-down shack in each but we are tired of paying the privat school fees and not knowing anyone in our community. As a working mom, i am as interested in the after school options for the young elementary school kids as I am in the academics. My kids are shy and dont do well with large, loud, full rooms (especiallly after their charming, small private school lives). The after school choice might actually drive our decision so any advice or suggestion or experience you can give me to help guide us, I would really appreciate. My kids are between 4-9. Also if you think I am nutz, that is good to hear too. we maybe overlooking something obvious here. thanks so much. albany or piedmont wannabe
My experience with the Albany afterschool program is from the past year and a half. My son is at Marin school which has an onsite program called Tupelo. As far as I can see it is basically just babysitting. Mostly the kids play outside on their own, and they may have some art project inside. They have started a Spanish program within Tupelo where each grade K-3 is with Spanish teacher for an hour. Great idea but poor implementation and next to no communication with parents. There are no other enrichment aspects of the program. I am glad there is a safe place that my child has to just play after school but it is pretty lame overall. let's push for a better program in Albany
We've got kids in Albany's Marin school, and I am not that happy with the afterschool care available in Albany. The Albany Y offers a good program, but it's hectic as there are a lot of kids enrolled. And, I don't know much about the on site after school at Marin, cuz it's full and very hard to get into unless one starts in Kindergarten. Albany's community center offers after school care too. Can't comment on it. Don't have experience there. BTW, check out Albany's elementary school hours. They may be shorter than Piedmont's, thus affecting the amount of time your child's in after school care. anon
ahhhh ... the hot topic of Piedmont and Albany schools ... I could not resist. Like many broke Albany renters, we too had started as UC Berk grads (in UC family housing), loved the school district, and decided to stay in the community. We are Ocean View Elem fans. We love the culture of the school and agree that it is worth renting a smaller home just to be here. Not a shack, but darn close. The faculty at Ocean View is wonderful, the families are culturally diverse and involved. I know families with children at each of the 3 Albany elem schools, and all of them love their school. That being said, I am not sure Ocean View is right for you if you are looking for on-sight afterschool care that is quiet. The program for K-1 is called Cedars and is a part of the Albany Children's Center (also part of AUSD I think). You mentioned that you did not want your children in ''large, loud, full rooms'' and at times that is how our experience was with Cedars. I actually cannot imagine an afterschool program being much different, they are in high-demand everywhere. Now are child is in 3rd so we no longer use it. For kids grade 2-3 they have their extention called Maples down the street. We were happy with Cedars and it was only a little chaotic when all of the children were together. I think they had a nice balance of making small groups for library, story-time, outside play, and indoor play. The staff was wonderful as well, which I think is more important than crowdedness. These programs really do evolve and change as the years go by. I encourage you to go over there and take a look. I would be suprised if anyone had an afterschool program that did not have its crazy moments. Good luck to you. anon
My son is in the afterschool program ''Friendship Club'' sponsored by the City of Albany and held in the Memorial Park building. He used to be in Tupelo, the afterschool program at Marin, and it was very unimpressive, if not downright unpleasant for him. The supervision seemed to be minimal, as a kid took some of his things, and the teachers tried to claim that he had made this up. All in all, a very bad experience, and we have friends who moved their kids from Tupelo for similar reasons. Also, during breaks the kids from Tupelo were moved to the Cedars in University Village, which was in my view pretty much a disaster. Low and unfriendly supervision, no structure at all, etc. On the other hand, we have been very satisfied with Friendship Club. Brad, who manages the program, is very organized and the kids love him. They can do homework there or play games, and in general the kids seem to be happy and well supervised. It is also reasonable in price. happy with Friendship Club
Editor Note: reviews also received for Piedmont Afterschool Programs
Our son will attend kindergarten in the Albany public schools this coming fall. We'd prefer Marin , simply because it's geographically closest to our house, but understand we may be assigned elsewhere. We do prefer afternoon K and I gather that our chances of getting our preference are pretty good since most parents prefer morning. My main questions are, assuming he attends afternoon K at Marin, how do we register him for the onsite before-school childcare program? Is this part of the school registration or a separate process/application? When do I need to do it? Second question, do we want to sign up for this? What's the program like? Any reviews or comments would be welcome, as well as suggested alternatives for care from about 9:00 or 9:30 a.m. until the K class begins. And finally, what if he is instead assigned to Cornell or Ocean View? What are the morning care options there? Thanks! Albany mom
It is my understanding that the before and after school care offered to Kindergarten students in the AUSD is offered only at the Albany Children's Center. See ASUD website at: http://www.albany.k12.ca.us/children There is no ''on-site'' school care at any of the elementary schools. You were misinformed. former albany parent
1) How to register for childcare at Marin. Yes, it is two separate processes. To learn more about Kindergarten & registration for that, attend the parents night, which is, I think, Feb. 15. Call the Albany school district offices for more info. Last year registration for childcare (it's called Tupelo at Marin), was during the summer. Talk to the Albany Children's Center (in U.C. Village) for more on that.
2) Should you attend: I have an afternoon kindergartener, and have been happy with the morning care at Tupelo. My daughter describes it as being like pre-school: a number of activities offered with the child choosing what to do. I think that loose structure for part of the day provides a nice balance to the greater structure of kindergarten. The only kids there in the morning will be kindergarteners: those from your child's class and the other afternoon class. It has given my child a chance to get to know some of the kids in the other class and also time to play with her own classmates in a less structured setting than the classroom. I see it as a good opportunity for my child to solidy some of her school friendships. We are signed up for just two days/week. The arrival time is very flexible. Kids eat lunch at the end of the morning and can either get a school lunch or bring their own. Mary
There was a wrong post on this issue -- Albany Children's Center is NOT the only before-care option for Albany kindergarteners. Marin has an onsite program called Tupelo for before and aftercare. Many children at Cornell attend Kids' Club, at the Y next door to the school (other Albany kids attend Kids' Club as well). There is also a program attached to Ocean View. Marin Parent
My child is starting Kindergarten in Albany in the Fall. For those of you who have Kindergarteners in Albany, what are you doing for afterschool care, and are you happy with it? From the archives it looks like there have been somewhat mixed reviews of the on-site care offered through the school district. Also - am I already too late to be trying to figure this out?? Confused
The Kindergarten aftercare program is very important, esp in Albany sin ce the Kindergarten day is so short. My child goes to Ocean View and is in the on-site aftercare program there (Cedars), and I think it is excellent...in fact, one of the reasons I chose OV is because I liked the on-site aftercare there the best. The teachers are excellent and really know my child. The kids are kept busy and have a lot of activities from which to choose. They have a really nice area right next to the K classrooms. If you haven't decided which Albany school to choose, I highly suggest visiting the afterschool programs as well as the classrooms to get a feel for for them. Albany parent
My daughter attends Kindergarten at OceanView School in Albany. Her older sister went to the onsite aftercare called Cedars and all of the other aftercare programs offered through the Albany Childrens' Center in UC Village and had a great time. Cedars uses the large pla yground at the school and holds reading and journaling activities, computer time, art and games. The teachers are all very experienced. However, our second daughter found it a bit too busy and crowded for her. She had a problem being chased and pushed down by some of the boys and the teachers did not seem to be able to stop it. They use good conflict solving skills to have the children work out issues, but our child did not seem to get it to work with some of the kids. After a few incidents and after she continued to complain about the program, we decided to switch her to Creative Play Center, CPC. Other children love Cedars, but it was just not a good fit for us this time. CPC is run in the basement of a house on Portland. They have pre-school in the morning, and then a van goes around to different schools to pick up K-5 children. It is a smaller place and has a big backyard for playtime. Jeanne
It's not too late, but there's no time like the present! If your child attends Cornell - a fabulous school in many ways, and the Kindergartens really couldn't be better - the Kids Club on Solano, run by the Albany YMCA, is really quite fine. I read a post saying that it's more expensive than other after school centers (surprising - make sure you compare carefully as centers charge in such differently convoluted ways), but there is a scholarship program that you do not need to be impoverished to apply for. No place is perfect - especially when you're sending your kindergartener to school for the first time! But this one has a great sense of fun, camraderie, joy, family, etc. etc. The kids like belonging to it, they love the counselors, & vice versa. The staff comes to pick up your child after school at the door of th eir classroom (1st grade on they meet at the tables on the playground) and walks them only a few steps to the Solano Center. On nice days they spend a lot of time at the school playground. So it's really like an on-site center. Also, they take groups that want to pay the extra fees (minimal) to gymnastics classes & so forth at the Y a couple blocks away, and I think they've added a few classes at the site - maybe dance & art? Of course they pick kids up from other schools as well - they're very into walking! BTW, they only go from K to 3rd grade on Solano, for 4th & 5th they walk Cornell kids up to Marin. We've had a child at Kids Club for almost all of the past 6 years. Our daughter's in 1st now & she's very attached to it. Feel free to email me for more info. Leah
Does anyone know of alternative before and afterschool programs offered to Albany USD? The YMCA provides a program but it's extremely expensive and I would like to see if there are other options.
There are several options for Albany USD parents. The Y is the most expensive. We opted the first few years for the on-site care at Marin, but we found that it was disorganized in some respects and that our child simply wasn't happy there. He complained that kids were bullying, etc., without adequate adult intervention. We also found that the people in the administrative office were not good about effective billing, communication, etc. Though now there is a new office manager, so things may improve. And I didn't meet any kids or parents who liked the staff supervision at the Cedars site (University Village, used during school breaks when the individual school sites were not operating). So we took him out and placed him in the Friendship Club at Memorial Park. So far we have be! en very pleased with the organization and supervision there, and he has not had complaints. Friendship Club and the onsite care programs are comparable in cost, less than the Y. But Friendship club does not offer before-school care. The onsite programs do.
If I were you I would talk to other parents in your child's class and find out what they do and how they feel about it. You can also find out which of your child's friends may be enrolled in a program, so as to place him/her with a buddy or two. Good luck! friendship club parent
I am in the process of trying to put together public Kindergarten and after-care (or before-care) for my daughter who will start K in the fall, and am struggling (I think at least one or two of my other friends in the same position are also at their wits end. Kindergarten in Albany is only THREE hours, and all of the after-care situations seem huge and not very impressive. It feels like they are basically kid warehouses. Any suggestions? Any possibilities of smaller settings? Kris
Re aftercare: As the parent of a future kindergartener this fall I have not been happy with the aftercare choices I have seen. A list of choices is available from the district. They all seem to have in common large numbers of kids and a feel like "summer camp" (lining up, taking roll, counselors yelling to get kids attention, kids coming and going at different times). For older kids staying 3 hours this could be ok, for young kindergartners who I think need small numbers, a routine environment and less chaos/more attention...well I'm not happy at all with the choices. Visit them and share your impressions. The worst part of all is that you don't find out til June or July where your child will attend, and then (I've been told) not definitely until 1-2 weeks before school, meaning you may need to scramble for arrange care at the last minute (although the aftercare people say they expect this and work with you to accomodate it). Personally, although private school is expensive, I am of the opinion that it may be worth it for one more year just to avoid this aftercare mess. (My daughter is in a private pre-K program so could continue into private kindergarten there if we choose).
My own feeling is that unfortunately Kindergarten is the hardest year for deciding what to do because of the aftercare issue. With only 3 hours of school you may find your choice has to be what session of kindergarten (am or pm) you need, and that will dictate what school and what teacher you wind up with. When you register you can state a preference, but the district tells you up front that you may not get your choice of session or school, even if your choice is your closest school. This is because the new 20kids per class has wrecked havoc with the space available at different schools. Keep in mind that when picking an elementary school you are choosing not just for Kindergarten but K-5. If you want your child to walk to school with you and have playmates that are close to where you live, you may prefer to request your local school...but since Albany is really small it may not be such a big deal to go to any of the 4 elementary schools. Some people like the small feel of Vista and McGregor since they only go to grade 2 (funneled to Cornell and Marin in higher grades). You just have to visit and get a feel yourself. Also I would urge you to meet the principal and administration in your school. If you are unhappy with any aspect of your child's classroom or teacher these are the people you will need to deal with. Do you feel like they are responsive? In my limited observing I have seen good teaching at Albany schools. The differences between public and private can sometimes be in the teaching styles and sizes of classrooms and the physical facilities and amenities (extra options like music, science). Also, the kids in the public schools have perhaps more diversity in race, income and special needs.
Here is info about an after school program being offered by Creative Play Center: $4.50/hr Program includes: cooking, art, science projects, community outings, computer skills Grades 1-3 After school M-F, open till 6pm After school transportation provided (to Albany residents) - open to kids in other surrounding cities, just no transportation from non-Albany schools Contact: Creative Play Center (CPC) Homework Club at 524-9399