After School Programs in Berkeley

Parent Q&A

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  • Oxford afterschool programs?

    Jun 13, 2024

    Hello, we just found out our 1st grader will be going to Oxford Elementary and we're very excited to join the community!  It seems like a great school and we're hoping he finds his people there :)  We entered BUSD's 2nd lottery and I think we might be too late to sign up for LEARNS afterschool program. If so, I was wondering if anyone knows whether Oxford offers any fun afterschool classes that are not a part of LEARNS (this is our first year in BUSD so forgive my ignorance)?  We've heard afterschool programs are a great way for kids to make friends and I don't want my son to miss out.  Thanks in advance for your help and any tips! :)  


    My son was just admitted under the same circumstances exactly and to first grade! I'd love to connect more. 

    Welcome to Oxford! No matter how late I've registered we've always gotten a spot in after care. They take everyone. No extra classes though. 

    Welcome to Oxford!  Is your son a rising first grader, or first grader now and rising second grader?  If the former he might be in my son's class this coming year!  (There are two 1st grade classes.)  Feel free to email me if you would like to connect before school starts.

    I don't know much about LEARNS because we are at the afterschool at the JCC, but I believe the first round registration for LEARNS for 24-25 is over, but the website does say it will reopen June 16.  Also there is a button for adding yourself to the waitlist.  I am not aware of any classes offered by Oxford after school outside of the LEARNS program sadly, but maybe someone else who knows can correct me if I am wrong.

    If you are not able to get into LEARNS, you might want to consider the JCC.  We also know some people who goes to New School for aftercare.  It's a preschool with a after school program for elementary school kids.  


    I don’t think it’s too late to register for LEARNS and my understanding as an Oxford parent with a kid in LEARNS is that it’s one of the few schools that can usually take all interested kids. And we’ve been happy with the program. I don’t think there are any others specifically at Oxford but some kids go to other kinds of aftercare at JCC etc. You probably won’t find out you get in until a few days before school starts. We lined up city aftercare as backup at Live Oak which buses from Oxford but were surprised to learn that getting a spot on the bus to the aftercare was not a sure thing. Send me a note if you want any more info. 

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  • Hi all -- Would anyone with experience with enrolling a kindergartener in Kids in Motion be willing to share their thoughts on the experience? Our child will be starting TK at John Muir in the fall and we're curious how Kids in Motion has been working for the youngest kids, who might need more support and supervision, as well as separate play space from the older kids. Also curious to hear about the personalities and skillfulness of the program staff, how much structure (if any) there is, what kinds of activities are on offer for the kids, and the extent to which the program utilizes screens. Thank you! 

    The specific things you're asking about, we didn't find them at Kids in Motion.  BUSD has a problem in that it can't provide aftercare for all the students who need/want it which is why/how we ended up at Kids in Motion.  Happy to discuss further.

  • LEARNS at Malcolm X

    Aug 7, 2023

    My son is entering TK at Malcolm X this year. Because of an unexpected family issue, I've suddenly become a single parent with a full-time job. I signed him up for LEARNS program last week, but am not sure whether he will get in. I am stressed out and do not know what to do. Are there other afterschool programs in Berkeley (or Rockridge)? What other options are there? Any advice is much appreciated. 

    Did you hear about anything else? It doesn’t seem like anybody has spots. MX PTA did put up a poster at the welcome event for TK/K for people to find carpool buddies (parents taking turns watching kids I guess). But I didn’t see anything about after school childcare resources. Unless I missed something but I don’t think so.

  • Our kiddo (4.5yo, TK) did not get into the after school program at Emerson. We are waitlisted, and have since gamely joined other waitlists (city of berkeley @Willard and @San Pablo Park, BUSD @Malcolm X and @John Muir, JCC, and soon to include John Muir's Kids in motion), which may or may not pan out.

    We can't bet on a place opening up, so I think we have to plan for alternative care.

    General setup: I'm thinking it's 3-4 kids in the same situation, looked after by 1-2 college students (maybe grad student(s), or someone pursuing a teaching credential), from 1:30p-4:30p on school days.

    Transportation: Our house could host, but we're not walkable from the school. We could outfit a car with 3 low profile booster seats and have the person watching them pick them up in that, but I would also be interested in the possibility of the kiddos bussing on existing busses that serve the after school programs from Emerson to a closer location (John Muir for us, or maybe Willard for another family). But maybe they wouldn't let kids not enrolled in the formal after school programs go on those busses?

    Location: the kiddos and their minder(s) could go regularly to smaller parks (e.g., bateman) or to parks where there is a formal program, but I assume they'd need a regular home base at one of the children's homes, particularly during the winter/rainy season. I suppose this would be a situation where we'd have to put some boundaries in place to give the kids enough room and space to do their thing while allowing any WFH parents to actually work from home.

    I assume if/when one of the families gets a place in a formal after school program they would drop from the 'aftershare'.

    Lots of the related guidance I can find here on BPN pertains to which programs to apply to, and where to waitlist, but I'm looking to learn from parents who have experienced this (ridiculous) situation before and coordinated an alternative.


    My daughter is an incoming kindergarten student at Emerson and we're in a similar boat.  If there is still space, I recommend checking out kids in motion which is at John Muir.  The kids get bussed from Emerson to John Muir.  I haven't been able to get numbers from the people running LEARNS but it seems like a lot of parents are in the same boat.  We just found out at the end of July that we didn't get in off the waitlist and I expressed my disappointment at finding out basically 2.5 weeks before school starts.

    With regards to the buses thing you mentioned, I highly doubt BUSD would go for that.  I imagine there is too much liability in play for them to keep track of kids not part of the program that were being picked up by a non parent. Keep in mind, registration for after school programs is done on a month to month basis so you may get a spot in a subsequent month. Feel free to message me here if I can be of help.


    We're in a different but similar situation - we just moved from Oakland (another land of terrible waitlists) to Berkeley in July and am shocked to hear how long the waitlists are (and that they roll over year after year after we're f**cked). We also need a back-up, I was thinking this same idea but I think location is key - we're in SW Berkeley, about 4 blocks South of San Pablo Park, but our kid is headed to Washington (5.5yrs, incoming Kindergarten). We both WFH, I go in 1-2x month and we have a pretty small house, but my hope is to set up it for kids - we're still moving tho.

    Anyway - please share any info you get! I'm also scrambling and will be looking for alternative ideas/aftercare.


    We are in the same boat and falsely assumed once you were in LEARNS you got rolled over year over year.  So here we are with no afterschool care.  Your idea would work if kid is already on the bus and on the same route. Then one person could pick them all up from the bus stop. Wish we lived in the same region (we are at Washington) and would join up in a heartbeat.  I am thinking to try ask parents at the bus stop to gauge interest on an afternoon nanny share. 

    Hi Valerie my son just started at Washington as well new to the district. I am a nurse and my husband works out of state right now. We are waitlisted for before/afterschool as well. It has been a hassel getting him to school and finding places for him after till i am off. I want him to be with kids after and not alone. But literally working off steam and a prayer at this point. Would love to tag team and brainstorm to see if we could come up with something. Taking all suggestions and recommendations. 

  • I saw an older post basically saying that LEARNS waitlists people uncomfortably close to the start of school and then starts admitting more kids. I’m wondering . . . How uncomfortably close are we talking?

    I signed up as soon as possible in the spring and just received a waitlist email on Saturday. Any insight about whether their waitlist actually has movement this close to the first day of school?

    We're in the same boat, currently pursuing other opportunities because with both parents working, we can't afford to be without childcare. So far I haven't gotten a notice of how far down the waitlist we are(I've asked).

    I've been in touch with my kids' school's LEARNS coordinator and the school board. They are having trouble hiring for LEARNS this year and spots are more limited than usual. I'm desperately looking for other options for my kindergartener. What school are you at? We're at Cragmont and my 3rd grader got into LEARNS but my kindergartener did not. I have a spot for her at the JCC but cannot get her there bc they don't bus Ks to that program, unfortunately, so I'm totally stuck as I work full time. If anyone is in the same boat and wants to brainstorm or support one another, please contact me.



    Last summer we found out 1 week before school started that we did not get a spot off of the waitlist. It was stressful. We had also added our kiddo to the waitlist for the City of Berkeley aftercare programs and got a spot a few days after school started. There tends to be a fair amount of movement on the various waitlists within the first couple of weeks of school, though I'm sorry to say that we never got off of the LEARNS waitlist for the entire school year. We're at Malcolm X. 

    I think I was in the same boat as you last year. It was our first time trying to get into Learns and we got accepted just about 1 week before school started -- In retrospect they had probably made offers to kids who had been previously enrolled in Learns just prior, a few of those kids didn't accept, and then we got an aftercare spot. We were waitlisted for morning care until about 2 weeks after school started. 

    This year, as a returning student, we got before and aftercare spots offered to us a few days ago. So I would think a few more spots will open up as some 'returning' students may have moved or found other options.

    Amanda-- speaking to your situation. I was looking at JCC for my Cragmont daughter as I was scrambling over the summer. It looks to be an amazing program, and there are a few kids each year that go to Cragmont from JCC. I don't have any names to offer for this year, but you might find a nice carpool situation with a parent that has a more flexible schedule and also uses JCC. It might be worth asking Sheyla Flores, the school administrator, if she has any leads to offer on that specific situation, or even repost here specifically looking for a rideshare from Cragmont.

    We’re also at Malcolm X. I got on various waitlists, including JCC and the city parks, and my fingers are crossed. I can see how there would be movement during the first few weeks. Hopefully that will be the case this year!

    This article about last year is not confidence-inspiring and it sounds like they need to pay people more, bottom line:…

  • Hi! We are still on the aftercare waitlist for BUSD LEARNS for our TK student and realize we need to start figuring out some backup options. Any recommendations for aftercare options that are close to or with transport from Rosa Parks?

    Hi.  My children are at Rosa Parks and they go the City of Berkeley program and James Kenny.  We are really happy with this option.  Kids take the bus one stop to get there.  Good Luck!

    Hi! We've got two kiddos at Rosa Parks and, thought we haven't done aftercare, it's my understanding most everyone should get into Learns. With that said, we know families who've signed up for JCC and James Kinney (through the city) and both provide busing!

    City of Berkeley has aftercare programs and some of them provide bussing from the elementary schools. I think I saw Rosa Parks on one of the lists. Enrollment usually starts in August. Our son has been in the Live Oak program which busses from Malcolm X (where he goes to school) and it's been great.

  • My family is new to BUSD, and we just found out my daughter (1st grade) will be at Washington in the fall.  We put her on the waitlist for LEARNS last week, but are wondering what the chances are of her getting a spot.  Does anyone have any experience with the LEARNS waitlist and how long it might take to get off it?  If she doesn't get in to LEARNS we need to find another option, but it's stressful because most options already appear to be full.  Any advice would be much appreciated!  Thank you.

    We never got off the waitlist for LEARNS at Malcolm X last year for our kindergarten kiddo and we know several people who have been in the same boat. We ended up getting a spot at the City of Berkeley aftercare program at Live Oak park and we're doing the program again this year since it's affordable (around the same price as LEARNS, if not cheaper), the staff members are great and our kid had a great time. There are also programs at San Pablo Park and Willard Park. These programs also tend to get full, but you may have better luck than with LEARNS. There were definitely kids from Washington at our Live Oak aftercare program last year and I believe they provide bussing from Washington as well (my kid took the bus from Malcolm X to Live Oak every day and loved it). Registration for the City of Berkeley programs typically opens in August, though I would email them to check. 

  • Hello all -

    We are moving to Berkeley on August 1.  We have a rental set up in Berkeley proper, and I'll register our 4.5 year old for TK the moment we arrive, but I'm really concerned about finding care for him and for our baby.  We need full time care for the first two weeks of August for him, before he starts TK, and then he needs after school care.  Will the after school programs likely be full at that point?  Any advice on how to handle this?

    Thanks all!


    If you can swing it I’d highly recommend private preschool or daycare until you can register for Kinder. There are many excellent preschools in Berkeley. 

    Hi Nora,

    The school programs are likely full by now. I would recommend looking at private options at this point. Also, TKs in the area have reportedly become filled up already, so it’s worth contacting the district to see how late registration will work. We were impacted and are attending a school 14 minutes from home as a result. 

    Good Luck!

    Hi, welcome to Berkeley.

    First question is, are you able to register the 4.5 year-old for TK using your new address yet (eg before the June 23 date)? It may be helpful to nail things down sooner as opposed to the ongoing enrollment window that goes til the end of the summer. But you will likely need multiple forms of proving your address, like bills / insurance, which you might not have yet. There are a few steps to TK registration, involving first submitting proof of residency, then you get a placement into a TK that has availability still, then you'll be required to send in a recent physician form and dentist form for the child, and finally a registration packet is required (easiest to pick up at the school rather than wait for an email which may never come).  email).

    For after care at the school (BEARS / LEARNS), it may be full but you could call and see if it is full now for next year: 

    JCC is a popular after school program located in north berkeley - they bus or walk from the berkeley elementary schools. they are filling up but you could apply now:

    I'm not sure what your care plan is for your baby, but one idea if you were going the nanny route would be to find a nanny who would take your 4.5 year-old for the first two weeks before school starts and then is just dedicated to your baby. A different option for after care is to find a nanny who not only watches your baby but picks up your big kid from school and does the after school component. 

    Good luck!

    The at-school aftercare programs (LEARNS and BEARS) get full quickly, and you can't sign up for them until you enroll at school, and you won't know which school you'll be enrolling at until basically the start of school. Are you sure you don't have enough proof of address to register now?

    The other thing to do is sign up to the City of Berkeley Recreation department site. The city also runs after school programs at a few of its parks, and they DO take TK-ers (says kindergarten - 5th on the registration site) and they can bus between certain schools and certain parks. But, again, if you don't know which school you'll be at, it'll be hard to know which to sign up for. If you already have a rental address, you at least know which zone your school will be in, so you can pick a park program in that zone- it's more likely they'll bus from those zone's schools. These are also busy, but maybe not quite as oversubscribed as the at-school programs.

    The city also runs summer day camps. You can try to sign up for one of those for the first week or so of August before school starts, but I don't know if they do full day camps for under 5's.

    Public school has to take your kid for TK no matter when you register so you don't need to look for private options! But you are likely to have trouble finding aftercare, unfortunately. My recommendation would be to get on waitlists now for all of the programs you can (I think you can get on the LEARNS--that's the on-site program--waitlists for more than one school) and hope that one works out. The city programs tend to be a little easier to get into - our kid has gone to one for two years and he loves it. If not, you can hire a babysitter/nanny until you find something. Since you also have a baby, you could find someone who watches your baby in the morning and then both kids in the afternoon - maybe even set up a nanny share with another baby in the morning, since a solo nanny is super expensive.

    For the first two weeks, there are some camps that take 4-year-olds: our kid liked Camp Doodles and EBI when he was younger, there's also Head over Heels, Steve & Kate's, Abundant Beginnings, and I'm sure a few more - do a search here or 510families for camps that take younger kids.

  • Hi everyone,

    We have boy/girl twins who are in 2nd grade at Berkeley Arts Magnet. One of them is not happy at their current afterschool program, so we searched for alternatives, but those we reached out to are at capacity. Does anyone know of a quality (enriching, ideally fun and educational) afterschool program that you'd recommend for our 8-year-old girl a few days/week? Ideally it would be located at least somewhat near BAM (North Berkeley) and/or provide transportation from BAM to the site, but we're happy to transport her for the right program. She's especially into performing arts and outdoor/nature stuff.


    Eve (and Ed)


    When are children were younger, they went to JCC East Bay off Shattuck for afterschool which they liked and it wasn't a issue that we were not Jewish.  At that time, there was a "walking" bus from BAM to JCC for kids attending the program.  

  • TK after school programs

    Jun 13, 2022

    Hi all,

    I'm reaching for some advice on after-school care for our soon-to-be TK-er. The Learns program at his school (Washington) is understaffed at the moment, and therefore may not be an option. I have explored the city programs near our home (like the one in San Pablo Park), and great as they seem, I do worry that at 4.5 my son may be a little young for the level of supervision they provide.  JCC doesn't provide after-school care for TK, and the New School is too far from our home. Are there any options I'm overlooking? Do people ever organize groups of kids with babysitters for afterschool care? 


    A working parent

    As it turns out JCC DOES have some openings available for TK after-school care, and they can provide transportation in many instances. I've been very impressed by their program so far...

    My kindergartener went to one of the city programs this year (Live Oak) and it was great. He rode the bus and he had plenty of support navigating that. I think the level of supervision is about the same as at LEARNS - they do adult-led activities like group games and some craft projects and also have lots of time to just run and play, but always pretty well supervised. The city programs are actually smaller than LEARNS so the kids could may even get more personal attention. The only thing I could think of as a potential concern would be if your kid has a tendency to run away because they are at public parks rather than a fenced-in school park. I haven't heard of this ever being a problem in our program though, they keep the kids pretty well engaged so I wouldn't worry about this unless your kid really has a history of being a runner. Last thing: don't underestimate the power of convenience! If you live near San Pablo Park and there's a bus there from Washington (there aren't buses from all schools to all locations, so you'll have to check), I would definitely recommend that. Live Oak was far for us so we are going to try to get a spot at San Pablo this year.

  • We're parents of an elementary student entering BUSD, and wondering if anyone can offer insight into the BUSD afterschool programs.  I know options and availability vary based on school site, and we are aware of BEARS and LEARNS.  Specifically, wondering what students do in LEARNS in the afternoon? Are there enrichment programs to sign up for? Is it pretty unstructured and how do younger students handle that? Overall, have you been happy with your afterschool program? We both work full time and are a little apprehensive of having our child in afterschool program for 3 or 4 hours each afternoon, so we're considering reducing our work hours or considering finding a nanny for afterschool (though both options of course come with tradeoffs).  Any insights into how other families have navigated this for young elementary school students would be great. 

    I can't speak to BUSD's afterschool program since my kiddo didn't go to it, but just want to mention there are alternative programs -- JCC, New School, etc.  (BUSD busses do drop offs at those locations so you would not need to pick up from the elementary school.)  They are more expensive but perhaps look into those as well if you find you don't like LEARNS/BEARS. 

    I can speak to this year’s experience at Oxford Elementary. We have a kindergartener who does LEARNS 4-5 times per week and they love it. It has allowed our child to bond deeply with classmates across the two kinder classes as well as with students in different grades, creating a really solid foundation and sense of belonging for them as they have navigated the transition from preschool to elementary school. LEARNS offers daily art projects, snacks, and lots of outside time. I am not sure if enrichment classes are offered in non-pandemic times, but we’ll be returning next year for sure. A huge shout out to the staff at Oxford LEARNS!

    Our sons did Learns at two different school - Sylvia Mendez and Malcolm X, both when they were in TK. We're very disappointed Learns doesn't operate at their current school, John Muir (and I truly don't understand why). Learns is affordable, they meet kids from same/adjacent grades, and flexible. Our kids do snack, worksheets, play games, get free time outside, and occasionally do crafts or watch movies (especially on rainy days). Pre-Covid, at Sylvia Mendez they offered Soccer Shots on campus once or twice a week for a couple months, as well as a few other programs that we were always too late to sign up for. That isn't happening at Malcolm X this year, so it seems to vary by school (and/or be impact by Covid). We're thrilled it's one location, teachers seem happy and energetic, and snack is provided. Kids come home tired but in a happy way, and again, get more time with their friends and in their school community. I like the relative flexibility/lack of structure combined with good safety and oversight (compared to programs at public parks). It's a huge benefit in comparison to having no after school care, where we're juggling after school activities, various family members picking up, etc.

    My first grader attends LEARNS at BAM and loves it. During the short period that school was in person last year (her kindergarten year), she attended LEARNS one day per week. The first two days felt "too long," but after that, she loved it and asked to be picked up "as late as possible." There is structured time for the kids to read (all grades are expected to read every day) and to do homework, and then the kids have unstructured play time. Sometimes there are organized games, but my kid likes just playing with her friends. Pre-pandemic, there were enrichment classes, and I expect they will start back up again in the 22-23 school year. Some kids really like the unstructured play time while others like the structure of the enrichment classes.

    Hi! Our school (Ruth Acty) put after school enrichment programs on hold during covid and focus seems to be getting RAZ (after school care) back up to pre covid staffing and enrollment. With Crowden right next door and Girls on the Run down the street at Ohlone Park, we have good options for extra curricular. For my kids, they just want to play at the end of the day! The after school team runs a homework club and then has games and art activities going on which is great. After a long day in school, I appreciate the unstructured time. Even when we had after school programming (cooking class, yoga), my kids sometimes asked to skip it so the could simply play and be with their friends. 

  • 2022-2023 BUSD TK aftercare?

    Feb 28, 2022

    Hello! I'm new to BUSD and I will have a child in TK in the fall. I'm hoping to find out when registration starts for Berkeley Learns, Bears, or the City of Berkeley aftercare programs? We were told to sign up as soon as we find out which school she's going to, but it's really hard to find out information on the websites about registration for aftercare. Any insight, and also if you have to register in person, it would be greatly appreciated!

    I can only speak about BEARS but you can only apply when you know which school your child got into. There is a BEARS phone number (Ashley Stepney) on the BUSD web site, under the heading of Afterschool. Call her as soon as you get your notification, and she can email you all the paperwork you need. Because it is a subsidized program, expect to provide income statements.

    Best of luck! 

     Last year aftercare was impacted by staffing shortages, and I think that has impacted the process. My kid is at Emerson, and they had to reduce the number of kids they could accept for aftercare because they were so short staffed. I'm not sure what's happening this year, but you could try reaching out directly to the principal of the school your child will be attending to ask if they have any updates on aftercare. Hopefully the principals have some insight. Good luck! 

    I am in the same boat awaiting school assignment. Working single mother 9-5 M-F I will have to come up with something in addition to TK short day schedule. Let me know what you find out! 

  • Hello,

    We are new Berkeley residents. We missed the first enrollment in BUSD and got placed at our last choice school. We are waitlisted for the 2 schools close to our new home and now we've been shut out of every school after care option! What is the deal? We are #40 on the waitlists for the programs through Berkeley Rec and #14 at his school. I'm truly regretting my decision to pull my son from our old district since they told us we could stay. What are other full time working parents doing with their grade school age kids? Can someone help me? I'm about to pull him from BUSD bc this some serious BS.

    Thanks for your help!

    You are not alone in not getting a school close to you home, because that's not how Berkeley does things. And pulling your child out of BUSD is not going to make your aftercare situation better. If you can't get on-campus aftercare, you need to look at off-campus options. I'm in Oakland, so I can't give you any specific recommendations, but my daughter did off-site aftercare (with van pickup from school) for all of elementary school. It is not an unusual situation.

  • I am hoping to find afterschool activities for my 5 year old who will be starting TK in Berkeley in August 2021. I've seen many great classes in the area that are held on weekends or start at 4pm or 5pm, but am having trouble finding offerings from around 2PM to 5PM. I'm interested in a wide range of activities like martial arts, dance, music, art, and outdoor play. I'm already on a few waitlists, including LEARNS and some preschools, and am looking for other ideas. Please let me know if you have any suggestions! 

    Thank you!


    How did you get your 5-year-old into TK? If your 5 by September, then you're automatically put into Kindergarten. I ask because I wanted to get my son into TK, but so no way arround this rule. 

    For afterschool things, check out John Muir Elementary. It has an afternoon program. 

    The city of Berkeley runs an after school program. You can sign up now.

  • Aftercare at Sylvia Mendez

    Jul 24, 2021

    Does anyone know what is happening with aftercare at Sylvia Mendez? I have a kindergartener starting there in three weeks. I'd applied for the LEARNS program, but received a notice a few weeks ago that they did not have staff to run the program, so wasn't enrolling anyone. I asked for an update recently and got nothing, so I applied for BEARS a couple of weeks ago, and haven't heard anything back about that either.

    Is the LEARNS staff shortage just at Sylvia Mendez, or more widespread at BUSD? It's getting a bit late to try to sort other aftercare, and I don't know whether LEARNS will come back on-line or what. I have tried calling the BUSD aftercare staff and just got voicemail.

    Yes there is a huge problem across BUSD to staff the before and after school programs. I have been trying to help recruit for Rosa Parks as well :(…

    Hi, I too have a kindergartner starting at Emerson. There is a shortage throughout BUSD and it looks like parents will have to fend for themselves unless you can mobilize with other parents to rotate childcare. Not ideal, but that's what I heard other parents doing at other schools. Best of luck. 

    This is a district-wide problem and everyone is in the same place as you. There are a few private options, and a recent email from the superintendent said that BUSD would offer busing to these private options, but as far as I know they are all full. The city usually runs an afterschool program but it hasn't been announced yet for this year. So you are not alone, all the working families in Berkeley are as stuck in uncertainty as you. My backup plan is to swap care with some other families at the same school and maybe hire a babysitter together, but I'm hoping that either LEARNS or the city program will come through.

    Hi. I'm a BUSD parent with a child in the BEARS elementary program. In previous years, when I attempted to contact BEARS during summer months, I have found that they are off generally until about two weeks before school starts. If you haven't already, I would recommend contacting every single person (via phone and email) listed on the BUSD elementary afterschool web page (including Aaron, the program head), and leave messages on every voice mail you reach.

    That's alarming that they aren't enrolling any LEARNS at all-- I guess if anyone is looking for a job, the school district apparently has lots of openings?

    Yes. I followed up and received an email response from LEARNS telling me they will be finalizing placements this week and informing families next week. 

    As an addendum, it seems that the City of Berkeley after school care registration is opening August 5, and it looks like busing from schools is provided.

    Finally received an e-mail late in the afternoon on Friday, offering us a place! I'm so glad they got things up and running. The e-mail didn't say whether they were full or putting others on waitlist or what, though. 

  • My child has been in the Berkeley public school BEARS aftercare program for a few years, and I’d like to touch base with other parents with kids currently in BEARS, at any of the schools. I’m interested in what activities and projects the kids generally do, primarily to figure out whether some issues are district-wide or site-specific. 

    Reply or messaging is fine. Thanks. Just current BEARS families, please.

    No responses received.

  • BUSD - AM Care

    Jan 21, 2020

    I am trying to identify the start times for morning extended care (BEARS, LEARNS, etc) at Sylvia Mendez and BAM. I'm unable to find it on their websites and neglected to ask when I toured. Thank you for any light you can shed on this!


    BEARS starts at 7:00 am.…

    LEARNS does not do AM care.

    You can contact the district coordinators:

    Aaron Jorgensen, Extended Learning Program Supervisor
    Tel: 510.644.7770 | Fax: 510.644.7726
    Email: aaronjorgensen [at] (aaronjorgensen[at]berkeley[dot]net)

    Angela Handy, After School Program Supervisor
    Tel: 510.644.8625 | Fax: 510.644.7726
    Email: angelahandy [at] (angelahandy[at]berkeley[dot]net)

    Hi! I have a correction about what I said regarding LEARNS before care. The district website says: “LEARNS also has morning programs before school at Berkeley Arts Magnet, Cragmont and Rosa Parks.”

  • We moved to Berkeley recently and enrolled our kindergartner at Cragmont. We were hoping to enroll him in the onsite aftercare program, but it’s full. :(

    Does anyone know of any afterschool programs that currently have openings and pick up from Cragmont? Thanks! 

    My kindergartner goes to Live Oak Park. I think it says it's waiting list on the website, but there are a few spots. It's a city handled after school. They pick up from all the BUSD schools (I think). I know they do for Washington and Malcolm X. My son loves going there and they can use the fabulous park. Step by and ask for Daniel, the director. Good luck!

    Welcome to Cragmont! It's a wonderful community.  I know that some Cragmont kids take the school bus to the JCC and to New School to attend the afterschool programs at those sites.  My child attends the JCC and loves it.  Kids at the JCC have lots of opportunity to run around as well as tons of enrichment classes.  I hear great things about New School as well but have no experience with it.

  • I'd like to hear some experiences with the Live Oak After School program. The city website ( is not very forthcoming. Our daughter will be attending K at MX in the fall, and the Live Oak Community center is so very convenient to our house.

    Thanks in advance!

    My son (kindergarten) attends the after-school there and he absolutely loves it! I have to go pick him up not before 5.30 because he does not want to leave. They use the outdoor space (playground, crick, parc) a lot, so if your daughter is the outdoor kind (my son is) she will love it. They do a lot of plays and the people working there are great but it's not very structured which is perfectly fine for my child, but if your daughter prefers very structured activities maybe it's not the perfect place. It's also a much smaller group compared to the public schools after-schools which is I prefer, especially for younger kids (easier to make friends and not get lost, not confronted with older kids who are in another group). My son also loves to take the bus from school (he is at Washington) to Live Oak, it makes him feel independent. You might want to ask if the program will work next year though. They are doing construction work there this summer (the outdoor is gorgeous but the building is really old). Not sure when they will finish...

    I am pretty sure that the City of Berkeley afterschool program is no longer located at Live Oak Community Center.  It was there for a year, but I believe that that was a temporary location while another community center was being remodeled.  If you are looking for an afterschool program near Live Oak, I highly recommend the JCC on Walnut.  The JCC has tons of enrichment classes but also allows kids to run around on the playground if that's what they need.  At least in the past, there was a school bus from MX that dropped kids off at the JCC.  


    Unfortunately, the Live Oak Community Center will be closed for renovations during the 2019-2020 school year.  The City of Berkeley offers a few other options, but currently only has bussing to the Willard and Frances Albrier Afterschool Programs.  Registration for those programs usually opens in August for new participants.

  • TK after-school care

    Jul 5, 2018

    Hi, we just moved to the area from out of state and our son is starting TK at King CDC in the fall. Does anyone know what people there do for after-school care - is there a city or private program that most kids attend? We're having trouble actually reaching anyone at the school (probably because it's summer) - not even sure when the official school day ends! Thanks so much.

    Hi! Welcome to Berkeley schools!

    The Berkeley school district runs two afterschool programs, which King TK kids get bused to at a nearby elementary school (probably Malcolm X but not sure): LEARNS and BEARS. LEARNS likely has a wait list at this point, but you could try:…

    BEARS is income-qualified, so you can contact them to see if you're in the right range:…

    The City of Berkeley after school programs and the JCC seem like they start at kindergarten, so it may come down to finding a private preschool that has "afterschool" spots. I think TK usually ends at 1:30, but King might be different. And yes, the district offices are closed until some time in August, so you'll have a hard time reaching anyone until then.

    Good luck!

    Our daughter went to TK at King CDC two years ago. The on-site after school program is income eligible. If you don't qualify they will bus your child with other TK kids to the Learns after school program at another school - when we were there it was at Washington. But your child can also be bused to any private after school program of your choice. JCC is very popular. So is New School. We even made arrangements with the transportation dept to take our daughter to her pre-school (Mustard Seed) to spend afternoons there. If King CDC is not responding I would contact the BUSD transportation dept. I found them very helpful. We had a great experience at King! 

  • Our daughter was assigned to Malcom X and we immediately registered her for the LEARNS after school program. We recently found out that we've been waitlisted. They said they are "really trying to get her in." However, they won't tell us where she is on the wait list until August, so it's hard to know how likely or unlikely it is that they'll find her a spot. After calling around to other after school care providers that offer transportation from Malcom X, we have been told by all providers that they are full and waitlist enrollment doesn't start for several weeks. Does anyone have any insights into the process at Malcom X or advice for finding an alternative after care program? I feel a bit like we're just hitting brick walls every place we look.  


    I'm sorry that you have been going through this frustration.  We are in the same situation -- my incoming Kindergartener is wait listed for LEARNS at Malcolm X even though we got our application in on the first day.  I had tried to talk to the MX coordinator but she is apparently out until Aug 14.  I have had better luck reaching out to Aaron Jorgensen who is the LEARNS supervisor for all the Berkeley schools.  He acknowledges the need to add another K group (an additional instructor so they can accommodate more kids and meet required ratios).  The Board needs to approve it but Aaron is pretty confident it will be approved.  This would mean that a bunch of spaces open up.  I am surprised you are not able to find out your spot on the wait list.  Aaron told us over the phone -- try calling him (his number is on the LEARNS website).  It seems to be poorly organized which is super frustrating, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it works out.  

    For aftercare, you should check out New School. Their website doesn't reflect it that well, but they have an amazing after-school program for school age kids. It's $500/month (compared with BUSD's LEARNS at $450/month) and much higher quality, from what I've seen. The BUSD school bus drops the kids off there, so you don't have to worry about transportation to another school site. Just in case it's not on your radar: the JCC in North Oakland has aftercare and picks up the kids from MX. 

  • I am trying to learn about affordable, full time afterschool programs for students at Malcom X and Washington.  I'd like to hear from parents whose kids attend LEARNS at either school or the PTA run programs that are full time OR parents whose kids are at any BUSD school and attend the City of Berkeley programs at Willard, James Kenney/Live Oak, or Frances Albrier.  Do your kids like it?  What are the pros/cons?  Is the program well organized, good at communicating, etc?


    We like Washington's Learns program a lot. It improved significantly this year with new leadership--the whole staff seems more organized and enthusiastic, the enrichment options are better, and there's been clearer communication about how the program is run. It doesn't have some of the bells and whistles that other places have, including the full array of PTA-sponsored, largely pay-as-you-go enrichment options that some other Learns programs offer. But the built-in enrichment provided within the Learns program is solid, including sports, art, games, engineering, and drama. There are also some on campus enrichment options you can add, such as Spanish and chess, which aren't part of Learns but can be coordinated so your kid does both. My kid also seems to get more physical activity on the yard with Learns (endless soccer, basketball, and kickball, among other things) than he did at most summer camps, plus there's a homework hour, which is reading time for the younger kids. No program is perfect, but our kid is often reluctant to leave at pickup.

    I have my kid in Trackers aftercare. They pick up from Washington on Mondays and Wednesdays. It is wonderful!

    I have him in a couple of days of LEARNS at Washington, too. Sadly, the LEARNS program at Washington is a real weak spot. He loves school, but the aftercare he has very mixed reports about. Sometimes he loves it, but by his own 8 year old description "nobody get's picked on in school because the teachers won't let you get picked on. But the teachers in aftercare will let kids pick on you." 

  • BAM afterschool options

    Jul 28, 2016

    My son is starting K in August at BAM (even though we live two blocks from Rosa Parks), and I'm already wildly frustrated with the afterschool/before school situation.  Are there any current parents who can comment on the BAM afterschool programs?  What do the children do and where do they spend their time?  Are the K kids with the rest of the kids?  Who are the adults?  What about before school care?

    Also, are there any other solo parents out there?  People keep asking me if I'm excited about K but really it's turning into a scheduling nightmare.  The only bus home is right after school at 2:35 so I will have to figure out how to pick my child up later, across town from where we live and I work.  Clearly the BUSD is not set up to support solo parents or people without cars.

    Yes, after preschool kindergarten (and the rest of elementary school) are a scheduling nightmare. Our kids are at BAM and we are  very happy there. After care is run by the district, the kindergarteners are kept separate and the care givers are lovely. So is the man who runs the program. All that being said, I really think you should push to have your child placed at Rosa Parks. I'm not experienced at this, so hopefully others can give tips, but what you are describing sounds completely unsustainable and very stressful. In general I support the BUSD lottery system - it has many benefits for the community - but in your situation (single parent, no car) I think you should absolutely be placed at a school within walking distance of your home. Crossing my fingers for you! 

    Hey one option could be NEW school of Berkeley. Its just down the street from BAM. They pick up the kids from BAM. My boy goes to the aftercare there. and absolutely love it!


The JCC is near BAM, and has a good after-school program with a lot of choices. There's some Jewish content, particularly on Fridays, but many of the children are from families with other faith traditions or no religion.) In the past they walked the children over, I'm not sure what is happening now in terms of transportation.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


After-school language program near Berkeley?

Aug 2015 

I am looking for an after-school foreign language program near Berkeley for my Kindergarten and 3rd grade kids. Spanish, French, Mandarin--anything that will get the language synapses firing! We are in a BUSD school without any real foreign language options. Thanks for any recommendations! East Bay Momma

Hi - You don't say what BUSD school you are at. Classroom Matters offers after school Spanish programs at Washington, Rosa Parks & Thousand Oaks. To register contact Tatiana at (510) 540-8646. If your not at one of these schools you can also discuss ways to get it there. My kids participated all year at Washington and I recommend it. Washington Parent.

Afterschool programs are full at John Muir

Sept 2014

Last week we found out our son got into John Muir for Kindergarten. Now we are scrambling to find after school program and am having problems:
1. Oakland JCC- turns out they won't pick up from John Muir- only Le Conte or Malcom X
2. The kids in motion program on campus is full.
3. I don't know much about the BEARS program.
Does anyone know of other after-school programs that I should consider? Or more information about BEARS (or LEARNS? I'm so confused and I haven't been able to get a hold of anyone at the office there)? Thanks in advance

I live in Rockridge and my son goes to Studio One after school care program. It's been only 3 days as of now. I think I am comfortable. I am not sure if they pick up from John Muir but you have the option of picking your child and dropping off at Studio One for $20/day. Mom

After-School Care: BUSD school programs v. JCC

Nov 2012

My child will be in kindergarten at a BUSD South zone school next year (of course don't know which one yet). I'm very confused about the after school options. There are almost too many! I can't seem to decipher why schools have more than one, the differences, and what makes one ''better'' than the other for a child. Also, how does the JCC program compare? We are Jewish, and have had the pleasure of our child attending a Jewish preschool, so like the idea of some continuation of jewish culture in the ''school'' setting (not a priority). Thanks in advanced! What About After School?

I'm a parent of a West Area BUSD first grader. My daughter participated in the afterschool program at her school last year - it was not a good fit for her (not enough time to run around outside, too much time parked in the cafeteria with board games that might or might not interest her on a given day, no real sense of enrichment activity, etc). That said, I understand that each school's afterschool program runs fairly independently, so your mileage may vary.

I can't speak to the JCC afterschool program, but the JCC summer camp (Camp Tzofim) is run by/hires a lot of the same folks, and it's really great. If I didn't love where my daughter currently is for afterschool care (see below), that's probably where she'd be.

Another Jewish afterschool care option (and this is where my daughter goes) is Edah (housed at Congregation Beth El on Oxford, with bus service from most BUSD schools, like the JCC afterschool program) and it is fantastic! Art and music in various forms happen daily, and there are ample opportunities for outdoor and self-directed play, as well. The staff does a wonderful job working with kids where they are, and I know my daughter's getting the support and encouragement she deserves after a tough day in first grade. Happy Edah Mama

I think the JCC in general, is a ''kinder, gentler'' option, and comes complete with Shabbat, challah, etc. The BUSD afterschool programs can be a bit wild and rough, with a much more diverse population. It depends on your kid. We've done both. Jewish BUSD mom of 3

Hi, I was massively confused about afterschool programs two years ago when we were applying to South Zone kindergartens. I am sure some of it was anxiety about the impending switch to elementary school but mostly it just wasn't clear what program was what (and they were different at different schools as you point out and add to that we weren't sure what school we would end up at). In the end we heard enough so-so reviews of all the BUSD afterschool programs (i.e. sort of glorified daycare) that we decided to sign up with the Oakland JCC so we would be assured of knowing where our daughter would be for afterschool even if we didn't know what school she would be at and that it would be a solid program. We chose the Oakland branch because it is a lot closer to our house. We've been very happy there, our daughter has made good friends, the diverse staff is sweet and are able to concentrate on activities as opposed to running around chasing after kids and they have some good options for classes (chugim). There is also a nice community feeling to the place which is enhanced by Parents Night Out evening programs (where kids can watch a movie on a Saturday night while the parents have a date!), community Shabbat events, etc. I love that there is recognition and celebration of Jewish holidays and traditions (but not so much so that non-Jewish kids would feel left out I don't think but not sure about that). I don't regret one bit that we chose the non-school program and am glad that my daughter will get to go there for years with some of the same kids. Also, the new director (Stan Berrin) is a sweetheart and I'm sure would be happy to give you a tour and discuss any details you are curious about. Oakland JCC Mom

We just started kindergarten in the south zone this fall so I can share what I've learned. Each school has its own after care program. At Emerson, it's called Kids World. I think theoretically you can go to a different after school program than the school you're enrolled at but in practice, they all seem to be oversubscribed so I'm not sure if that actually happens. You should definitely apply as soon as you find out what school you're assigned because they fill up fast.

We initially didn't need after care but now find ourselves desperately needing it and can't get into anything. It's been incredibly frustrating. We are on the wait list at Kids World with no idea if we'll ever get in. I tried the JCC but they don't pick up at Emerson or John Muir. In fact, if you're at Emerson or John Muir, it's like a black hole as a lot of places won't pick up there (I tried BUSD transportation, but they said it was too far for them). I don't know why the after care programs can't hire more people as it seems every year they're oversubscribed. frustrated with after care

Afterschool Program in North Berkeley for 3rd grader

Jan 2012

My 3rd grader is not liking the after school program at his school. I heard about a program in Live Oak Park called ''A World of Peace''. The site looks great and it appears BUSD will transport kids there. But I don't know anyone who goes there. Can anyone tell me about the program (its strengths and weaknesses)? Thanks. -Working Mom looking for good after school program

We didn't have great afterschool options and enrolled in a Trackers afterschool camp...they are awesome and focus on outdoor education and are very imaginative. Their website is anon

our daughter loves AWOP (a world of peace) and has been attending many years. The staffing ratio is 6 kids to one counselor which is the highest of any afterschool program we looked at. It's also in Live Oak which has more open space than any aftercare spot around. We're very happy with it. b.

My son has attended A World of Peace at Live Oak Park for four years now. It's a great program, different than any other program out there. It offers a safe, nurturing environment for kids as well as offering a lot of fun things to do like woodworking and cooking. For us it's the perfect balance of structured vs. free play time. The director Karen Cagen considers the group of kids a community, and they gather daily to talk about ''factoids,'' (cool facts that she shares with them) or to discuss how they as a group can help others (they collected money and goods to send to victims of the Haiti earthquake.) Feel free to contact me directly if you'd like more information. kw

I have two third graders in the World of Peace (AWOP) program. They are picked up at the Live Oak bus stop by AWOP staff. My children love it, and it is a great resource for our family. Low staff to children ratio, different activities each day such as cooking and wood working, field trips on school holidays, and the director really knows and understands each child in the program. World of Peace parent

My son is a 3rd grader and in his 3rd year at A World of Peace After School Program (AWOP). There are many positive things I can say about the program, but what jumps to mind is the 3rd grade playground culture at his school. The boys who like to compete in sports now aggressively argue, insult or mock each other at every juncture, and they do with adult profanity and hostile tones. Many kids are too intimidated to play sports in this milieu; but not my son, he's very athletic so he's in the thick of it.

In contrast, when I pick up my son at A World of Peace I'm likely to find him playing a game of spoons with kids ranging from K to 5th grade and they're all having a blast. Often there's a game of wall ball in progress with a line of kids waiting their turn. If conflicts arise between kids, AWOP's director Karen Cagan gets involved. Karen knows how to listen to kids, how to talk to kids, and how to get kids to talk to each other. AWOP goes far beyond after school care. The program teaches kids how to play cooperatively and resolve conflict, and I really value this. Berkeley parent

Looking for after-school care in N. Berkeley

Oct 2010

Hi all! I recently moved to North Berkeley and my 5 year old daughter will be joining me in 3 weeks to begin Kindergarten. Berkeley Unified can't tell me which school she'll be enrolled in until she's physically here, so I'm in limbo in regards to after care and there's the possibility her school's after care will be full. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!! Angela

Hi Angela, I recently heard that The New School of Berkeley ( has afterschool openings. It's been a month since we started our son in their full-time daycare program (now full), and so far we're very happy with the caring and energetic staff. It's also conveniently located (Cedar and Bonita) and reasonably priced. Good luck! Anna

A World of Peace after school program is at Live Oak Park. It's run by Karen Cagen, apeacecamp [at] 292-0263. It's a wonderful program that I can't say enough good things about, and every other parent I've talked to feels the same way. The kids love it. I consider Karen to be a wonderful resource and presence in my kids lives. There are several other recommendations in the BPN archives which attest to Karen's abilities, the quality of the program's activities, and its emphasis on teaching cooperative social skills. To what others have said I would add that Karen hires skilled young adult counselors who organize games, play with the kids, mediate arguments, etc., and most importantly give the kids attention. On most holidays and all the other days that BUSD schools are closed, Karen offers fun field trips. N Berkeley Parent

If your child is at Berkeley Arts Magnet (BAM), the after school program is excellent with lots of homework support and devoted staff. After a bit of shaking out at the beginning of the year it looks like there are openings.

Not so much at New School-there's no homework support and the afterschool supervision of the kids is pretty lax (tho that is not the case with the actual daycare). My kids grades soared after a transfer out of NS into the BAM program.

The JCC is right down the street and is excellent as well and the newer program at Live Oak park has a good rep too tho i dont know that much about it.

BAM & the JCC are more $ than NS but you get what you pay for! -anon