Which School for Kids Who Don't Speak English?

Parent Q&A

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  • We are about to move from Denmark to the Bay Area (most likely close to Berkeley) and I am looking for advice regarding the choice of preschool (& kindergarten).

    I have started to look for accommodation, but I guess that we will make final decisions in May. So far we only know where I will work (at Haas Business School).

    We have two kids (5yo daughter and 3yo son), so in principle, we need two places, but based on what I have been reading I should make sure to enroll in preschool already now (otherwise we may get into the risk of not getting a place at all). I would like my son to start between July and September. He has been 'institutionalized' since he was 7 months old and currently attends preschool in Denmark. He is fluent in Danish and Polish but does not know English.

    I have noticed that in comparison to Denmark, where we have two local preschools (within the closest proximity to home) in Berkeley and surrounding the choice seems to be enormous and I have a hard time comparing different options. Could you recommend any webpages where one could read about preschools/ kindergarten rankings? 

    So far it seems that we will need a full-time preschool, with some potential afterschool activities (if these things are available). I noticed that the average price is 1700 $ a month, which is very expensive, so if there would be any cheaper options I would gladly look into them. I have heard about some potential activities that kids can join while in preschool and obviously it would be lovely to continue with playing violin (or piano), swimming classes and be in touch with Danish/Norwegian or Polish, but I am afraid that it would be way too much to hope for. Montessori preschool would be nice too, but I have heard that these are even more expensive. I have no idea what the preschool in America is like and following Danish principles, I would like my son to like it and feel good there (despite not knowing English). However, so far he has been adapting very quickly to the new environment, so I guess that he will accept whatever gets offered to him. I am wondering what did you take into consideration while choosing a preschool for your kids?

    I am also wondering about the way how kids get recruited to pre-school. I have heard about long waiting lists and the need to apply in January to make sure that one gets place during summer. Is this really the case around Berkeley? What is the typical enrolment strategy? Should I apply for a place in multiple places and hope to get one of them or it is enough to apply for just one where I know that I would like the kid to go?

    I know that some of my questions may sound weird but in Denmark, we have a central system with an officer responsible for preschool allocation in every municipality. I can give him/her a call and get to know exactly where the municipality will offer places in my desired time span. In my current municipality newcomers had a priority to choose whatever place they liked and the municipality offers place guarantee if they get a notification at least 2 months before the earliest possible starting date. It is really simple and price is exactly the same everywhere (regardless of choosing public or private kindergarten) and on average it constitutes no more than 10% of one parents' gross income. There are no (financial) switching costs.

    Thank you in advance for all the recommendations (all PMs are very welcome too)!


    With a 5 year old and a 3 year old, and the costs of preschool and living being what they are, it might be best to send the 5 year old to a public K or TK, depending on age. As you likely already know, in addition to Berkeley, there can be decent public elementary schools in the surrounding communities of Alameda and Albany and in some parts of Oakland. And of course a little further away, in Orina, Lafayette, and the like. I don't know in what capacity you will join Haas, but UC Berkeley offers some subsidized housing to faculty and students, so this might be a good way to reduce costs and meet new people, some of whom will also have just arrived.

    For the 3 year old, there are long waitlists at many "institutional" preschools and daycares, and there are also home-based options. $1700 per month unfortunately is not a crazy estimate. It's probably a good idea to be on multiple lists, including perhaps the UC Berkeley ECEP list - which is not inexpensive or excellent - but is a decent option with many facilities and thus lots of openings - so it could work as a backup. 

    Finally, on language - it is amazing how quickly 3 year olds pick up on a new language, especially 3 year olds that are already bilingual. Yes, the first couple of months will be hard and frustrating, but after that miracles seem to happen.  

    I find that people who are from Europe (or elsewhere in the US even!) often underestimate how spread out the Bay Area is. People routinely commute over an hour to get to work, and even within Berkeley it takes forever to drive from one side of Berkeley to another. So I would actually recommend firming up where you are going to live before you start applying for schools. You don't want to have to drive an hour out of your way just to drop off a child to preschool. Also if your older child is in Kindergarten, the enrollment period for public and private Kindergarten has already passed, so I would actually work on that first. But again, you'd want to know where you are actually living. Just because you work at Berkeley doesn't mean you have to live in Berkeley, and if you want to go to public school, there are neighborhoods around Berkeley that have better (or worse!) public schools. Alas, there is no central place to get ratings, I think the best one is this one. I'm sure Haas has an office that can advise you better. good luck!

  • Hi! We will be moving to Berkeley for two months with kids aged 9 and 11 and a half. Should they be enrolled in regular school in Berkeley for this period? Alternatively are there any appropriate workshops or classes that can keep the kids occupied. Thanks 

    Welcome to Berkeley! I'd enroll them in public school even though you are only here for a short time. In Berkeley and other cities, you just need a local address (rental agreement) and they are then guaranteed an immediate spot in school. It might be a little disorientating for them at first, but it will give them something to do, put them in contact with other kids, and hey it's free!  There are so many families in Berkeley from other places in the world, temporarily and otherwise, that they will not be stand-outs.

    You might be able to find some classes offered to homeschoolers instead, but I really don't think this would be better than being in public school, and it will be more expensive too.  This is a great opportunity for your kids to learn about adapting to a new place, and they might like it so much they will want to come back to our wonderful city for college!

    I am a visiting scholar with 2 kids and I would strongly recommend you to enroll them to school and even to an after-school program (mine 6 years old attends a City after-school program in live oak park and loves it, and you also have after-school programs in each school). There are a lot of kids just spending some months in Berkeley (a lot of them are visiting scholar families) and the schools are used to deal with that.

    Do your children speak English? My 6 years old didn't when we arrived here in August and now he does! There is a special program to help English learners to pick up the language. I don't know when your 11 years old is born (it is important because of the cut-off) but I would suggest enrolling them both (the 9 and the 11 years old) in primary school if they are English learners, it will be easier for the 11 years old to be an English-learner in primary school comparing to middle school.  

    Good luck!

    Welcome to the Berkeley area! I'm not sure if this would interest you but my kids attend a small independent co-op K-8 school in the hills on the El Cerrito/Richmond border called Crestmont.  It's a really cozy community where you could easily meet new families and have instant playdates with other kids.  Teachers are amazing, classes are small (around 15 kids), lots of intentional focus on social-emotional development and fun, project-based learning.  There are spaces currently available in some classes so you could email admissions [at] crestmontschool.org if you would like to consider applying.  We love Crestmont so please feel free to reply if you want to chat with me any more about it - I am happy to share more details about our experiences.

    If you decide to go the homeschool route, there are also lots of great local resources.  There's a FB group Bay Area Homeschool Network that you could check out.  My kids have done camps at Sienna Ranch in Lafayette and the Ranch does classes during the year for homeschool kids as well - it's a really fun place.  There's also the In Addition+ micro school in Albany - I don't know much about it but it's popular among homeschool families too.

    Best wishes with your plans!

  • Hello, I'm seeking advice for a Japanese colleague whose 16 year old son will come to the East Bay area for his junior and possibly senior year of high school while his dad works on a long-term assignment in Emeryville.  The son has been educated primarily in Japan, with some limited education while living in the US when he was very young.  Dad speaks English fairly fluently and can rent a home in Albany, Berkeley or Emeryville as he considers best place for son to attend school.  Would appreciate any suggestions or experiences on best high schools in the area that would be welcoming to a Japanese exchange student; private or pubic considered.  Thank you for any suggestions.


    Absolutely El Cerrito High School. El Cerrito has a wonderful Japanese language program, lots of of kids speak and are learning Japanese. I'm sure he would find fast friends. El Cerrito also has good music, dance, and sports if he is interested in those, and a small, closed campus, which limits the confusion of a big school like Berkeley High. Here's a video of the club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b59iCcGZvks

    El Cerrito HS has a great Japanese language program so there would be kids around who speak Japanese.It would mean moving Into the ECHS school zone, and you'd have to check if there is space for new students.  It's the most popular school in the district.

    Las Lomas HS in Walnut Creek (part of the Acalanes Union HSD) offers Japanese. 

    If private is an option, consider Head Royce in Oakland. Very welcoming, supportive community. My daughter arrived in 11th grade, too. It helps to have a sport, music, robotics, - interest to join in immediately. 

  • Dear parents,

    I will be in Berkley (central zone I think but not sure yet) next year for a sabbatical and I have a son born in 2012, on September 22, so he will be just 6 when the school year begin. If I understood correctly next year he should be in first grande. BUT he doesn't speak english at all, he is not very mature (he still likes to play, not much to do school work...) and will be one of the youngest in the class if he is in first grade. Knowing this: should I ask (and can I ask?) to enroll him in Kindergarten instead? He already attend 3 years of optional kindergarten in Italy, so he is used to go to school and he is very sociable, but he can't read or write (which is normal here for K pupils). I want him to feel at ease and if he has to learn english plus to write ad read... He already is bilingual french-italian and that should help with the english learning process, but I fear that it will be too much...

    Thank you so much for your help! I already learned a lot reading on BPN, it's a very important tool for parents like me arriving from foreign countries. 

    I hope to hear soon from you


    [Moderator note: a similar question was asked recently - see "French child whose English is not proficient - 1st or 2nd grade?"]

    This decision is luckily made for you--a child born on September 22, 2012 must be in kindergarten in 2018-19, and will not be eligible for first grade in California. (The cutoff if September 1st; you might be able to fight it given that he has done a kindergarten program already, but typically they only approve exceptions for second grade on.) So he will appropriately be in kindergarten, among his same-age peers. Have a great year in Berkeley!

    If you'll be in Berkeley you might consider Ecole Bilingue the French-American school in Berkeley. At that age they teach in French about 80% of the time and in English the remaining 20%. That might really help your son learn English if he doesn't speak at all as opposed to a *crash course* which might affect his self-esteem. Since he is a native French speaker there should be no problem getting him in. You can talk with the admissions director about what grade would be a best fit for your son. They will likely want to meet your son to decide. the downside is that it's a private school so it is pricey. Another option would be the Francophone Charter School in Oakland which is public (free).

    I am an intervention teacher who works with a lot of newcomers. I think your child would probably have more fun in kindergarten. He will not be prepared for learning to read in first grade. The teacher and school will spend a lot of time trying to get him "caught up". In Kindergarten he will be learning his letters and the sounds with a little less rigor (in terms of reading instruction). I also think, according to his birthdate, that he is considered kindergarten age anyway.

    Ciao Martina!

    Both of my children were born in Italy and we just moved back to the Bay Area (Alameda). I am from California and my husband is Italian. My son was born Sept. 27, 2012, so he is in the exact same position as your child. Technically in California this year, your son should be enrolled in TK (Transitional Kindergarten). All children born before Dec. 2, 2012 must be enrolled in TK this year and cannot directly attend kindergarten until next school year. So this means that your son should absolutely enroll in kindergarten next year and not first grade. This will also make the language barrier issue much easier to deal with. And he'll pick up the English so fast. When we moved here in March my 3 year old daughter spoke only Italian, and now I can't get her to say a single word in Italian (besides ciuccio!), it's all English all the time.

    Ti potrei scrivere un libro e darti tanti altri consigli (sono andata a UC Berkeley, conosco molto bene la zona). Se vuoi puoi scrivermi direttamente a [*moderator edit:  Please instead contact the original poster directly. You can send them a message by clicking their username at the end of their post.] e sarei felice di aiutarti. So quant'e' diversa la scuola qua in paragona con la scuola materna, mio marito non ne capisce niente. Scrivimi pure per qualsiasi cosa.


    Thank you ! All your answers are so helpful! It's so difficult to understand how the system works...

    So he will be in Kindergarten, which is a good thing. 

    I looked into french-english bilingual possibilities, but I prefer an immersion situation, even more if he is in Kindergarten, which should make things easier.

    Thanks again to you all


  • Hello,

    We are new to the Bay Area but are a West Coast family relocating from Paris, France.

    My children have been in the French school system the past 3 years. My 7 year old is bilingual and reads well in French. Reading in English has been more of a challenge. So this summer, we sent her to live with her grandparents in Seattle while we packed everything up. She's been receiving extensive professional tutoring in English reading there. After 6 weeks, we have to make a decision to enroll her in 2nd grade (which would be normal for her 2010 YOB), or 1st to catch-her up. The tutor feels that by current US standards she is reading at a late kindergarten level.

    She's strong in other areas like math (here in France anyway). What advice would you Bay Area parents give us as we make this decision. Is there a lot of support in Belmont schools for students with our particular language situation?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    Any public school should have a program for English learners, though it is more comprehensive at some schools than others. One thing I would be cognizant of is that math for second graders in California is quite dependent on word problems and reading, so her reading level may affect other subject areas as well. The fact that she reads well in her native language suggests that reading itself is not a problem, though, so she should catch up in English with added support. I'd talk directly with the principal of her new school to gauge which grade is the best fit for her (and hopefully they can move her if you choose one and the other seems better after a few weeks). Also be aware that the age cutoff in California is now September 1st, so there are many 2010-born kids who will turn seven this fall in first grade, plus some who turned seven in July or August who will also be in first grade because their parents waited to start them. Depending on when she turned seven, she may not be the oldest by much (or at all) if you do opt to do first grade. Welcome!

    I would go ahead and put her in 2nd grade. All children come to school with different levels of abilities, and the teachers are good at accommodating this. In both school districts I've been in (not Belmont, but still in the Bay Area), reading instruction is highly differentiated. She will catch up on her reading; you don't want her to not be challenged in other areas because she's repeating first grade. I think that schools in the Bay Area are very used to English language learners as well. Good luck!

    40% of California public school students do not speak English at home and many have some need of English language development. The school districts and the State of California are ready for this. Your children should enroll based in grades based on their age.

    Here is the state document on English-learner students: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/er/documents/nov2013impplanfinal.pdf

    Here is are the educational services contacts for Belmont in case you want to check in with them: https://www.brssd.org/educational-services/

    If kiddo is a good reader in French, I'd enroll in 2nd.  If reading was a challenge in French, I'd consider 1st... but if kiddo is doing great in all other subjects, there's likely to be boredom.


    I reviewed your post and while this may not be an option for you, you could consider a French-American school for this year, where she could get support in English while taking advantage of her strengths in French. My children went to the Ecole Bilingue in Berkeley and we have seen many children coming from France who were able to get in at the regular French grade level and got special support in English to catch up. What I have observed is that by the following year, they are very comfortable in both languages.  good luck

    I am also part of a French/American family, and a teacher. I would recommend enrolling your child in the grade that is appropriate to her age for several reasons. Since your child is already reading well in French, these skills will transfer as she gains more fluency in English. California, and the Bay Area in particular, has a large population of English Learners and teachers are experienced in differentiating instruction and supporting these students. Also, your school should have some type of support in place for English Language Learners. I would ask the principal about what resources are available and what your child may qualify for. Also, since you mention that you child is strong in other academic areas, she would likely be bored by content in lower grades. There is also the social aspect of wanting her to be with peers. Depending on your child's birthday, she may end up being much older than some of her classmates if you decide to retain her. From what I understand, compared with France, we are much less likely to have students repeat or skip grades. Overall, the trend in thinking is that it is more beneficial for the child to be with their peer group. Best of luck, and welcome to the Bay Area!

  • Hi,
    We are a full time working couple from India.I work from home and my wife works near UC campus as consultant.Our 4 year old son is coming to join us in June 2017.We are very new to the pre-school world and looking for help/suggestions from group members and other parents.

    Below is my son's status currently:

    4 year old boy(very active at home).He was going to a nursery school in India till now, just learning basic alphabets.Can't speak or understand English much, except his mother tongue(not english).Date of birth is in March 2013.None of us are US Citizens.Currently in India with his grand parents.

    He is coming to US in June this year and we have below questions:

    a).Shall we look for a pre-school or day care?

    b).Do we need to choose pre-schools or day care centers only based on our street location or can we join him wherever we like?

    c).We are currently in Berkeley and thinking of moving to Albany. Do you think Berkeley is a better place for pre-schools or Albany?

    d).Since he can't speak/understand english yet, will that be a problem for him in pre-school or day care? Is it mandatory to speak/understand english for joining pre-schools?

    e).Since he is not here yet, can we still apply for pre-schools OR do we need to wait till he is physically here?

    f).Are there separate public and private pre-schools in Berkeley /Albany area? (I don't think we will be eligible for any govt subsidy)

    g).Can you please suggest any good pre-schools or day care centers in Berkeley/Albany area?

    Sorry for too many questions..just started exploring this world.

    Appreciate your help/suggestions,


    Hello, I'm sorry I can't speak much to your questions about your son's transition given his lack of English skills. Our daughter is finishing at Bright Star Montessori School this year, and we've been happy as has she. It's right on the Berkeley/Albany border so would be good for you. Our daughter did mention there was one little girl whose family lived in another country for a while so the child came back speaking no English. She seems to have transitioned fine. The student population is incredibly diverse for a private school and there are a lot of international kids. I would contact the school, director is LaRhonda Martin, for more information. (510) 558-2080. Good luck!

    How great that your son is coming to stay with you. Are you planning to remain in the U.S.? If so - I would pick a preschool. You would like him to be ready for kindergarten when the time comes for him to start.  You can go to any preschool or day care that you'd like except for the headstart programs which I believe are restricted to residents of a particular city. preschools in both Berkeley and Albany are fine. The Berkeley schools are getting better and Berkeley High is fantastic for a motivated kid. I volunteer tutor at Jefferson elementary school on Rose and Sacramento in Berkeley and its a wonderful school with excellent teachers and a fine principal. If you move to Albany, the Albany YMCA has terrific support for working families with preschool care, after school care, and summer camps. Look to enroll your son now - some places may want to meet him first but inquire now. It takes a while. In Berkeley Step One, Duck's Nest, Gay Austin (limited hours, small, well run). The kids who come to kindergarten from good preschools who are ready to sit, track, know alphabet, numbers 0-10, colors, have a good start for kindergarten. There are fun, project based preschools but those kids are behind. School expectations have changed and kindergarteners are expected to read by mid-year. Vocabulary words these kids have learned to read and write: I, me, my, he, we, is, she, you, jump, play, friend, go, look, like, see, be, can, do, up, on, in, it, here, yes, no. When the time comes - consider him for a TK or transitional kindergarten class which gives him an extra year before full kindergarten. When he graduates from college no one will care if he started kindergarten at age 5 or 6. It's more important that he is ready for the challenges of his grade level. If he starts behind, he'll be behind every year as he goes along which is discouraging. Many kids start preschool not knowing English. The sooner he is immersed in with other young kids, the more rapidly he will learn. The younger the better - young kids pick up language quickly.  Much luck to you and welcome to the bay area!

    Hello -

    How exciting to have your son with you soon! Here is the input I can provide.

    It is up to you on whether you choose a day care or preschool. Around age 3, generally kids transition to pre-school. In Albany, there is a public preschool which you can tour before your son arrives. Go to the AUSDK12 website and look for information. For private preschools, I do not think it matters where you live. When considering schools, you'll want to think about the hours of care you require, location, whether food is provided or not (and what kind of food), and cost, among many other factors, like teacher:student ratio and what you observe about the teaching style and environment. You can certainly start your research now. I would not worry about your son's command of English. Albany/Berkeley are very diverse, and your son is so young -- he will be fluent in English before you know it. It's a good question to ask specific schools that you tour, though, if they would be comfortable if he doesn't speak English right away; it can help you narrow down options.

    I recommend a few preschools, based on my family's experience and those of my friends. Duck's Nest in Berkeley. Claremont Day Nursery in Kensington. Albany Preschool (co-op). Albany Children's Care Center (the public preschool). Shu Ren and other language emersion schools. There are many, many high quality pre-schools to choose from. You can check BPN for day care openings if you prefer that route.

    Good luck!

    Thanks for all your responses.I got some idea based on your comments.I will start talking to individual schools and see which works better for my situation.Thanks once again.

  • Hi,
    my familiy and I will be moving to the Berkeley area for one year due to my research stay at LBNL from Feb. 2017 until Feb 2018. I have 2 kids in elemantary school age (8 and 6) and one in kindergarten age (4). Their first language is German (as we live in Austria), their second language is Spanish (as I am from there).

    Since we will only be here for one year and my kids speak no English so far, we are looking for public schools which have Spanish/English bilingual programmes. We are still open on the neighboorhood or even area we will be living in (as long as it is in an commutable distance to Berkeley). I have asked already at the Berkeley Unified School District, but their Bilingual/Two-Way-Immersion classes have a waiting list.

    I would appreciate any advice or recommendations on schools (and their respective neighboorhoods) that seem suitable.

    Thanks in advance,


    Have you looked at the German School of Silicon Valley? They have a Berkeley campus. It's a private school but it looks like they have finical aid; not sure if that's something you could do at this late a date, but may be worth looking into.... here is their website: www.gissv.org

    Hi Gabriel,

    We have a wonderful Spanish-English immersion charter school in Napa - the Napa Valley Language Academy - if you are willing to make the 45-minute commute by car from Napa to Berkeley. 

    You say that you are looking for public schools, but it is worth mentioning Escuela Bilingue Internacional, which is a private school on the Berkeley/Oakland border.  They have an elementary school and a preschool.   There also is a private bilingual German English school.

    I know you wrote you want to live in Berkeley, which is understandable since you will be at LBNL. However, there is an excellent public bilingual "dual immersion" Spanish-English public K-8 school in Oakland near Mills College called Melrose Leadership Academy. The commute would be long-ish, but not impossible, and the neighborhoods near Melrose are nice - you could probably afford to rent a whole house down this way (my neighborhood) for much less than in Berkeley. You could take Bus or BART to Berkeley, and there is also a shuttle between Mills College and UC Berkeley, though I don't know it's frequency or limitations. The school website is http://melroseleadership.ousd.k12.ca.us/   Berkeley Parent Network discussion of MLA is at: https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/recommend/schools/oakland/melrose

    Oakland neighborhoods near Melrose Academy include : Laurel District, Maxwell Park, Millsmont, Steinway Terrace/Jefferson, Brookdale Park, Allendale, and Redwood Heights. This sounds like a lot, huh? the neighborhood boundaries are quite small and a neighborhood may be only 4-6 square blocks. For example, my neighborhood (Steinway/Jefferson) is only 4 x 3 city blocks. But these are names to use when looking at real estate maps when looking for a rental. This general area of Oakland is about 30 min by car from North Berkeley, depending on traffic and the route you take. The closest BART station is Fruitvale, which has dedicated bike parking and a bike service station. We have friends up the street who commuted to LBL for several years on a (electric assist) bike.  

    I'd recommend moving to El Cerrito or the Richmond-area that is closest to El Cerrito (Richmond Annex or Richmond View). Housing is generally less expensive than Berkeley and it is still an easy commute to LBNL either by Bart or driving to the back gate. The public schools will also have other students who speak Spanish at home. The West Contra Costa school district has a comprehensive master plan for English-learner students at this link http://www.wccusd.net/Page/5238

    Bienvenidos - willkommen to the Bay Area!

    While this might not help a ton for your youngest child in K, my impression is that the upper classes (2nd grade & on) in the two-way immersion programs at BUSD might have some space occasionally due to attrition (people moving away), and might be amenable to having kids with appropriate language levels (yours are near-fluent in family Spanish, I would assume?) join. Although the administration might not confirm until very close to their start date, it might be worth pursuing.

    Viel Glueck - buena suerte!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


School for 11-year-old Spanish speaking boy

May 2011

I have an 11 year old Spanish speaking boy who has a basic level in English and would like to enroll him in a School in the Berkeley area during his summer vacations for him to learn and practice English. In Peru his summer vacations are in January - February 2012. I would appreciate any information about procedures, schools or programs that my son could apply to. Veronica

You might look at Walden Center & School , a private K-6 school in central Berkeley. During the time my child has attended, several foreign students have joined the school for varying periods of time and have done well. At least two of the teachers speak fluent Spanish, and many of the students also speak at varying levels. Mary


School for visiting German teenager

April 2010

My stepson, who lives in Germany, wants to spend a year living with us in the US.

Here's the thing, my husband and I have never dealt with the school system here and don't even know where to begin. We don't have other children and are not familiar with how to enroll.

He'll be 14 in September, and has relatively good English skills, but not quite fluent. We're not sure what grade he should start in. He's small and still quite young for his age. We can't afford private schools and live in Oakland. Do we have to apply for magnets? Do testing, etc? When do schools even start? We're clueless!

Does anyone know of a resource to help guide us through this very overwhelming process? sr

My wife is very familiar with the German school system and we have been a host family for several European students. You first need to find out if you out if he is eligible to attend school and then if they will allow him to attend. This is something you should start doing now. One of our exchange students wasn't allowed to attend school in Oakland even though we lived in Oakland. (Has to do with funding.)

She wound up going to school in Berkeley. Piedmont and Acalanes school districts are friendly to foreign students. You might also inquire at Private schools as many times they offer scholarships for foreign students.

You need to find out what classes he is taking and how he is doing/grades. The school districts have information on class equivalence. You should contact The German School of the East Bay. (This might be your best resource.) They meet in Oakland on Saturdays. If you need assistance my wife and I would be hppay to assist, just post.

Oakland has the Oakland International School, a public school located in the old Carter Middle School on 45th Street near Telegraph. It is specifically for students who have recently arrived in the U.S., so if he needs English language support, this would be a good place to be. Anon


School for 11 year old who speaks Mayan & Spanish & no English

April 2007

Hi BPN, We know a family that received political asylum in the US after several family members were murdered for political reasons in their home country. Their 11 year old daughter is about to arrive in the US on her new visa in two weeks. Her family wants to know how and where to get her into school and is very worried about this transition. On the one hand, they are thinking it might be better to wait and not enroll her right now. This girl has been attending school in her home country, but she comes from a very small Mayan village. Her first language is a Mayan dialect. She learned Spanish in school but speaks no English. They think that the culture shock might be too much trying to put her in middle school as soon as she arrives.

At the same time, they want her to meet people and to start learning English as soon as possible. She is a very smart girl, good at basketball but rather shy. The family lives in the Fruitvale District and so would be in Oakland Unified.

I am wondering if any BPNers have any advice. Should she try to enroll now? Are there any special programs she should try to get into? Is there a summer school program, even a basketball camp that she should try to get into? Is there an Oakland school that she should TRY to get into?

Thank you for ANY advice on this. Eleven is such a tough age. I want her transition to the US to be as easy as possible! Rebecca

I know that there is a basketball camp for girls at Holy Names University , not far from the Fruitvale district. Not sure who runs it, but it's worth looking into - it seems like a small group, which wouldn't be too overwhelming. anon

Please let your friends know about Lighthouse Community Charter School in downtown Oakland as a possibility for their 11 year old, whether for now or next year. There may not be anyone there who speaks her home language (tho it's possible that there is, I just don't know), but many of the young people and/or their families have experienced coming to the US and learning english as a second or third language. Our 13 year old started there midyear (february) in 6th grade a year and a half ago and the school culture (compassion, respect, responsibility) made the transition much better than I'd thought it might go. An LCCS parent

Hi- You might check with Oakland Unified School District regarding middle schools where there is primarily instruction in Spanish with English Language Development as a large part of the program. I'm almost positive they should have something like this for situations just like this one. Best of luck to her in finding the right school! Laura

Rebecca, I would recommend Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland - K-12 for the family coming from the Mayan village. Their purpose is to focus on the underserved in the Fruitvale district. The majority are Spanish speaking students and families. Most teachers are bilingual. (I'm not sure how to address the need to learn English though. I'm trying to find such a program for my 15 year old nephew. It seems like a lot of the programs are for adults.) Anyway, Lighthouse might be the place for this family and they may still have room in her grade. Celia