After School & School Holiday Programs in Berkeley

BUSD Afterschool Programs

City of Berkeley Afterschool Programs

More After-School Programs with Reviews

Questions & Responses:
BAM afterschool options(2 responses)
Archived Responses: 

Questions about Berkeley After-school


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

City of Berkeley After-School Programs?

April 2012

Planning ahead for the fall...does anyone have recent experience with any of the City of Berkeley After-School Programs, preferably the one at Willard? Looking for updated info from what has been archived here on BPN. Thanks. Working Parent

The after school programs in berkeley are, i think, run by contractors of the berkeley unified school district, and are not official city of berkeley programs. So you may have better luck searching on line on the BUSD web site. At King Middle school my kid likes the afterschool program and it costs $100 a month. A good deal for us. Anonymous

Hello, I beleive the city of Berkeley after-school programs, which are offered off -site are run by the city emnployees. There is transportation provided from the elementary schools to the programs. Here is a link to the after-school program listing in the City of Berkeley Program guide, As for the on-site programs, here is a link to Berkeley LEARNS; You may also want to check out the school's website. I hope this was helpful. Thousand Oaks and James Kenney After School Parent

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

City of Berkeley Afterschool Program


Afterschool programs in Berkeley. There are in fact more options than the YMCA Kids club and the Extended Day Care (EDC) offered through the BUSD. By the way, EDC is not free, rather one pays for it on a sliding scale. It can range from $50 a month to $300 or more. Another program to check into is the city parks.

I actually hesitate to write about this because it is such a fantastic deal that I'm sure they would be swamped if more people knew about it. The cost is, get this, $20 a month. Basically several of the City of Berkeley Parks, Live Oak, Frances Albrier, Willard, (others?) have community buildings and a big park to work with. They have teachers, many of them part time college students, of good quality, with a good ratio of kids/teachers. Usually your kid can ride a bus from their school to this program. How, you may ask, can one get one's kid into such a good, inexpensive program? The way it works at Willard is that sign up is on a designated Saturday or Monday. Sign ups on Saturday, say, start at 10 am, but people get there earlier and start a list, which we then follow when they actually open for registration. How early? Last August the first person got there at 3:20 am. I got there at 5:45 am, and made it first on the waiting list. Thus the program preselects people who have their act together enough to get there in the middle of the night and wait it out, a high level of commitment. It works pretty well, but we were all joking in August about pitching tents and staying in the park overnight (which is in fact against the law). But enough about this fabulous program. The Jewish Community Center also has a good program (probably at YMCA prices, though), and I'm sure there are many others. Good luck. Dianna

All of the Berkeley elementary schools offer various after-school programs for grades K- 5. Some of them are offered on-site at the school, for others the kids are bussed to another location. I found it a bit confusing trying to sort through all the options. Ultimately, we enrolled our five-year-old in "Kids Club," an after-school program run by the Berkeley-Albany YMCA, but offered on-site at the school she will be attending. It's not necessarily cheap. I think it ends up being about $550/month for kindergartners (the most expensive group, because they only go to school 1/2 day, so there are more hours of after-school care). However, we signed up months ago for "Kids Club." I'm not sure if there is still space available. I would think the Berkeley Unified School District Office would be able to tell you about options available at the particular school your child will be going to. Colleen

I'm glad that at least one parent has had such a good experience with the City of Berkeley's afterschool program (at Willard), but here's another view... My experience with the program at Live Oak Park is that while this program is almost free, it may be one of those cases in which you get what you pay for. My kids, who are not exactly sheltered prudes, found it pretty rough -- many of the kids in the program appear to come from families where it is acceptable to use rude, insulting and/or vulgar language and to tease and sometimes threaten others, and that behavior is pretty much unchecked (unobserved?) by program staff. The staff-to-child ratio is not great, and they often resort to dumping the kids in front of a TV. On occasion they have botched even this, and shown something PG-13 by mistake. On most days there is a room (sometimes quiet, sometimes not) to do homework in, but there's little staff or peer support for kids who choose to use it, and very few kids do.

In terms of getting in, if you have an extraordinarily focussed or resilient kid: I showed up at 5:30AM on the designated day and was 10th or 15th in line; some parents *did* spend the night in the park to be first in line. The registration process is phenomenally slow, inefficient and frustrating, so no matter what time you come, it's going to take you 6 or so hours in line. Bring a *thick* book.

I just had to put my two cents in after reading about the Berkeley Park's after school programs.

I used to bring my little one to Live Oak Park to play in the tot lot there. I was astounded at the low quality of the after-school 'program' going on around me. Unsupervised children running everywhere, NO adult guidance once they were outside, just a whirlwind of chaos. Seriously, half of the children could walk off the park grounds and it would never be noticed until the end of the day. I only saw one adult even relating to the children and he was always yelling. He didn't speak - he yelled. Every sentence.

I always wanted to slip notes into the pockets of all the children telling their parents to get them out of that program. Marian