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I'm just getting my head around looking for preschool for my 2 1/2 year old. I'm a single mom and low income and do qualify for Head Start. Haven't toured the centers yet but I see the kids walking around from the location near me and I'm sorry to say, the kids look pretty sad. Anyone have experience with the Berkeley public preschools? What about financial aid at any of the private preschools around Berkeley/North Oakland/Albany? My little one is pretty bright and I'm aiming to keep it going in that direction. Hopeful Mama
I'm not sure what campus of the BUSD preschool program that you live near, but I can give input about King Child Development Center on Ward Street. We put our twins in the half-day pre-K program for children going into Kindergarten the next year, and it was a wonderful experience for all of us! It was every day for 3 hours, and followed the BUSD academic calendar, so we're on summer break now. Our class had to switch main teachers halfway through the year, which at first was really sad to us; but we were so happy with our second teacher, too, that now we just feel lucky that our girls got to be with two wonderful teachers. Their first teacher continued to visit their class and attended their graduation, even while she was tending to her new class at another site.
The program was really beneficial to our kids, giving them plenty of the experiences that we felt they would need to navigate Kindergarten. It was academic without being rigorous, with plenty of play both structured and free, which was very much what we wanted. I spent a lot of time volunteering in the classroom with both teachers and all the kids really loved being there. Our kids have made friends there that we plan on keeping in our lives for a long time. You find such a diversity of students and their families in these programs, it was a community we were so happy to be a part of.
There wasn't a person working with the kids who didn't love being there. As for fees, the sliding scale, per-family fee really saved us, otherwise we would not have been able to put our kids into preschool at all due to the ridiculously high cost of private programs in the area. The administration is super-friendly, from the secretaries to the principal. It was so reasonable but still provided enriching programs like a weekly library trip and gardening classes, plus field trips to places like Chabot Space Center and the Academy of Sciences. Also, because it's a part of the Berkeley School District, you can get involved early in district happenings and processes. It gives you a sense of how things run and I feel so much more ready to navigate our elementary experience for it.
You may find a private situation that fits you well, of course. But, I would really encourage you to look into the BUSD program and tour each of the three campuses, they all feel different and it's such a strong program that you stand a good chance of finding just what you're looking for there. Best of luck to you! danielle
Our child is currently in the evaluation process for preschool special education services in BUSD and we are struggling to find information about the full inclusion classrooms at King and Franklin. Can anyone write about recent experiences and about the basic structures of these schools' programs? We especially need to know about times of day that the full inclusion programs are open, whether the preschools are open in the summer, extended day care offerings, the teachers, and occupational therapy services available? -Need to know the preschool options
Does anyone know anything about the Berkeley Public Preschools. I know you need a low-income to qualify for admission, but I haven't seen any reviews of the schools. Any experienced opinions out there? Thanks! -Rachel.
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