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Hi-- My son is two-years-old. I have just started thinking about preschool. The process of finding the right one is overwhelming to me. I am a single-mother on a fixed income. We would qualify for financial assistance. I am looking for a school that is diverse & welcoming to alternative family structures (i.e. single-parent). I would love to start him this fall, part-time (3 days a week). Do all preschools offer financial assistance? Any recommendations on specific subsidized preschool programs? Are we too late to enter this fall? Next fall? Are there bilingual programs? I am looking for information on schools outside of Early Headstart/Headstart. Anonymous
We need to start looking for a preschool for our daughter and I have no idea where to start What is more important though we have a tight budget and I am hoping to find a place that would cost about the same what we pay now for a daycare, which is around $1000 a month for full time. I am wondering if it is even possible to find a preschool with such rates in El Cerrito area.I will really appreciate your input and any suggestions. Thank you much! On tight budget
I need help or advice on where to start looking for a pre-school for my 3 year old daughter who is still in the process of potty training. I am a single mother and really need to know where to look or apply . Im currently in school and we are a low income family so I cant afford a private pre-school. We live in West oakland area closer to emeryville and alameda. Does anyone know of any pre-schools. I really need help because my daughter begs me to go to school and I am trying my best to at home to show her letters and reading as well as her colors. Please help! any advice from any parents would help!
I am looking for an affordable preschool/daycare. My son will be four in September of this year. My daughter will be 17 months. My husband and I both work full time but cannot afford more than 1200 a month for daycare/preschool for both kids. Is there such a place that offers great day care and preschool but is affordable? Wishful thinking probably. Erika
We had to leave our preschool suddenly. Any tips about a co-op or otherwise affordable school still accepting admissions? Thank you! Jessica
I don't know if you've found a place yet, but I would highly recommend the School on the Hill :http://www.tsoth.org/ with Rich Sugerman. My son is going to his preschool.
His school was founded on the idea of providing very high quality service (He's a teacher with 30 years of experience and a Master's degree) at an affordable price. I've been extremely happy with his pricing compared to the other places we looked into in the Berkeley area. He's priced for his mission of serving low-income families and operates on a sliding scale, based on your income.
He absolutely loves kids. I can see it with how he interacts with my son and how he talks about why he started his preschool. He takes a lot of joy in seeing my son explore and learn about the world. He is a really good guy.
I know he has openings currently. He is easy to work with and not pretentious like a lot of other places in town.
Good luck, Cheryl
Hello all, I have been looking low and high for a preschool for my son for September 2013.Now, I have unfortunately a lot of things going against me ! He will be 2.7 in September, I am a single mum with a FT job so I need care from 8 to 5pm, and it has to be $1000/month or similar (with financial aid maybe ?). Every school I look at range from 2600/month (insane) to 1600 (doable with 2 income, not on a Teacher's aid salary). I would prefer a program that offers a lot of outdoor time as my son is really active but I'll take what I can ! I would appreciate any suggestion. Virginie. Berkeley/Emeryville/Oakland/Albany
We are looking for a recommendation for a small, home based preschool that is affordable, strong academics (preK math, reading, writing) not just play, small teacher/student ratio, willing to work with a very active, busy toddler who needs some redirection at times. a Dad
Hi BPNers, Can anyone recommend an affordable pre-K program in Oakland (our daughter's birthday won't make the new CA kindergarten cutoff)? Some of the ones I've seen previously recommended on BPN are just way out of our budget. We live in Maxwell Park so we would be willing to go to San Leandro as well. I know that OUSD is going to offer pre-K programs at some of their schools, but are looking for other options as well. Or, alternatively, would anyone recommend an affordable larger preschool that could serve a similar purpose? Our daughter goes to a very small preschool right now, and I wonder if finding a larger one with more kids and a little more structure could also be an alternative for easing the transition.
Hi, I am looking for affordable preschool for my 4 year old son. At present he is going to CASA cerrito in El Cerrito for 4 half days. I am having a hard time at drop-off and pickup because I started a new studio in Berkeley and it's hard to concentrate on work. Looking for an affordable Preschool near Berkeley. Thank you in advance for your advice. -nas
Fellow parents, Could you recommend and affordable preschool in the South or West Berkeley/North Oakland area? I'm looking for a preschool for my three year old, and am having trouble finding something we can afford. Our family is not low income but can't afford the $16,000/year schools. I'm looking for full time around $1,000 per month. I'm finding it surprising that preschool would be more expensive than infant care! Could be Montessori or other style, would love Spanish speaking if possible. Thank you, -just making it financially
My husband and I are looking for a pre-school for our daughter for the fall (she'll be 3 1/2 then). I've looked through the archives but am getting overwhelmed trying to find something that will meet our needs! Hopefully some of you out there can help
To start, we need someplace very affordable, as our budget is reeeally tight--we could probably swing up to $350/month, maybe a little more, although less would be great. It would be for part-time care, 2-3 mornings a week. We live in North Oakland, and are hoping to stay fairly local (Oakland/Berkeley/Emeryville).
I'm also really hoping to find someplace racially and economically diverse. I'm leaning toward a play-based philosophy, but am open to other approaches.
So far the only pre-schools I've found in our price range are co-ops, but we have another baby on the way who we'd have to find care for, which would probably offset the savings of a co-op...Plus my husband and I both work, and the parent responsibilities of a co-op, although wonderful in theory, seem like they would just be too much for us given our circumstances.
So is there anyone out there who has found a wonderful part-time, affordable, diverse non-co-op pre-school??
The teachers are very good; they have a lot of experience, and since they are district employees, they have good benefits compared to many preschool teachers. That means little turn-over. Also, since the school offers subsidized tuition and accepts students from outside the district, there is a tremendous amount of diversity. Out of the 24 kids in my daughter's class, there are 10-12 languages spoken!
We looked at various private preschools in the area, but ultimately chose ACC because of convenience (location and hours) and the quality of the teachers.
I did not look into the public preschools in Berkeley, but that may be an option, too. Hope that helps. Teri
Hi, I am a single working Mom, looking for a Daycare/Preschool for both my 23 month-old son, and 4 year-old daughter asap. I work very close to Lake Merritt and would love for the both of them to be close. My dilemma has been finding a place for both of them that isn't in upwards of $1,400.00 total. I would be considered middle class on paper but my salary supports the three of us with little to no assistance. I have looked for good, f/t care that would work with me based on my salary; I don't qualify for any breaks and a lot of grants and scholarships, I'm finding are for elementary aged children. I am in need of suggestion, ideas or any information that would fit my needs. Thanks so much Working Single Parent
Although I have found several wonderful seeming schools that have openings, they have all allotted their financial aid/scholarships for the year already. (If they offer it at all)
Does anyone have a recommendation of a wonderful school in the North Oakland/piedmont/temescal/rockridge/grand lake area that has openings for a three year old boy and still has scholarships/aid available??? I am willing to help with meals, cleaning, classroom stuff, etc ...
I feel like I'm hitting a wall here. Any advice is appreciated!! And just to put it all out there, I think the furthest we could stretch ourselves would be $300/$400 a month for three full days of care. (and believe me, that is a stretch!!) Oakland mom
If you are willing to travel to Albany, Albany Preschool meets your requirements and is an absolutely amazing school that restored our faith in the preschool system. They are just over the border from Berkeley, and a half block from both bus and bike path (Ohlone Greenway).
Another possibility is the Model School on Prince St off of Telegraph: http://www.themodelschool.org/admissions.htm
I've heard good things about Peter Pan Co-op in Oakland: http://peterpancoop.com/index.htm
Growing Circles near the Piedmont area: http://www.growingcircles.com/index.html
And, Griffin Nursery School in N. Oakland.
You might also try: Tots around Town in Berkeley offers both free and low-cost part-time care. More of a playgroup but great teachers: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=54260
Good luck! Melissa
I find myself desperately searching for last minute preschool openings for my 26 month old son. The catch? We're broke. Can anyone recommend some great schools that offer financial aid options? I mean real aid here. We make waaaaaaaaaaay below the (laughable) $75,000 that most places consider financially needy :)Does the city of Oakland offer anything for kids this young? We need something 3 days a week (MWF) full days (9am-5pm) - we are flexible on times. My son is very bright, adores being around older kids, has an amazing vocabulary. and is potty trained. I could use any advice! Thanks! I'm also more than open to a co-op as long as they offered a long enough day.
Hello fellow BPN folks, As for many of us, our finances and circumstances have changed quite drastically since my son has been born. He turns 3 in August '09, and I have gone OVER and OVER on how in the world we can afford preschool. My son is currently part-time at an in-home daycare while I actively seek employment. We barely survive off of my unemployment and my husband's hourly wage - we can't afford $700/month for 3 1/2 days!!
What are my options? I'm looking into Oakland Head Start which, quite honestly, is frustrating. We do not qualify. We wouldn't qualify if it was just me, collecting unemployment. We also wouldn't qualify if we relied on my husband's $15/hour wage and I did not collect unemployment. I'm going to apply, but I already know the answer, unless someone has had a different experience. I've been told to get ''creative'' on my application, but I certainly don't feel comfortable doing that? Maybe I'm a sucker.
Any suggestions? Is there a place you love that is affordable? I'd love to know anyone's experiences with this...are you going through this as well?? I live in the Oakland Dimond district if that helps. Thanks for reading. feeling helpless
I have not reached the point where I am panicking yet as my daughter is not yet two, but I did ask some questions, and these were the answers that I received. I have not yet put my daughter on a waiting list anywhere (as we are also hoping to move to a new location as well), so don't know the answer regarding how available these options are. However, I do see messages all the time on BPN stating that certain schools have openings.
I hope this is helpful. I would also be interested to know if you find some useful information. Thanks. vicky
Do they even exist in the Bay Area?? I'm finding that most preschools that are full-time (7:30am - 6pm) are OVER $1000 and this breaks my heart. We can maybe-probably do it, but of course with the economy and all (job security?), we're just nervous to commit to a preschool that takes that big of a chunk out of our paychecks when it can go towards savings (for even, god forbid, a really rainy day and one of us gets laid off?). We have another kiddo on the way due this fall too, so we really feel like we should be more on the conservative side. But I have to confess that most of the preschools we've looked at that are within our budget (under $1000) did not knock our socks off. Most of them just felt like daycare extension (lots of playing around in the backyard play structure) but $$ more. My daughter gets plenty of that at daycare! I'd like to find one that has a little more structure than just play all day. Can anyone recommend a preschool that they LOVE and is not $1000+? has to be full time, M-F. Oakland/Berkeley areas. Me or husband being a stay-at-home is not an option for us. Thanks a million, ~On a budget but don't want to shortchange daughter
It is bilingual and they have an extensive list of activities including art, science projects, field trips, circle time, organized and free play and performances for special occasions. The teachers seem well treated and content there and all really like working with the kids.
The neighborhood is pretty dodgey but I've never had a problem picking up and dropping off. The school itself is set back from the street and behind solid gates. I urge you to go in a ask around. Spend a couple hours following one of the teachers around and talk with the director, Sylvana. They do not start kids mid-year so you will probably have to wait until fall, but I think this place is well worth it. ilona
I've got twins and am looking for a preschool opportunity for them that we can afford. Given that we will paying for x 2, most schools are out of our budget, including Skytown, El Cerrito Co-op Preschool, etc. Right now we are on the waiting list for the Albany Co-op Preschool which is the max that our budget allows (about $270 each for 3 mornings a week). I would be fine with just 2 mornings a week, a co-op, home based, whatever. They are really showing signs of being ready to go to school and I would like them to have this pre-kindergarten experience. Thank you! anon
The school is going to be on a short break next week (June 15-19) but will be back in session June 23. Feel free to give them a call on Tu-Wed-Thurs between 9 and 12 at 235-8989. I am not sure if they have any openings for the fall but it's worth a try. Noah's Ark is a little neighborhood gem with incredibly wonderful, experienced, caring teachers. Good luck! Happy Noah's Ark mom
I am looking for a preschool for my son who in September will be 3.10 months. Ideally it would be $650 or less for at least 3 full days or 5 half days. We live in South Berkeley, but I am willing to travel up to 20 minutes(in any direction) for reasonable tuition and a school that fits for my son. I know that some of the schools on the outskirts tend to be just as good and more reasonable than my hood(rockridge/ Elmwood) I also know that it's late in the game for a lot of places. Ive actually been looking since Dec. for my younger son, and have now realized that we just cannot afford the schools around us and the one that he is in. I NEED to find something for my older son, and will put my younger son somewhere if we can afford it, but he doesnt need the stimulation as my older son does. Currently he is in a play based school, but I also like developmental, and Emilia Reggio schools and am open to Montessori as well as long as it isnt super strict and rigid as I dont think thats a good fit for my son. I dont prefer(because of how young my kids are) a co-op but am definitely open to it, if it means my son has a place where he fits that we can afford. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer. **I realize that their is a plethera of info on preschools in the digest, however some is not current- and Im hoping to hear from someone who actually knows of a GREAT PLACE WITH OPENINGS. Thanks so much! lily
I am looking for a preschool for my son who will be 2.3 by the September cut off. Do you know of one that you LOVE?!! It does not have to be super structured, but I would like more of a preschool feel than just childcare. I would like something where he can go at least 2-3 days a week( 1/2 day OK), more if it's affordable. He is very social, and inquisitive and would really thrive with other little ones. I am not sure I am interested in a co op at this time(but am open to suggestions from parents who are involved in one, as I may not have the time to be there each week. I am looking for something in the Berkeley area, or in Oakland, hopefully not much further than Montclair or Rockridge though, as my older sons school is already 15 minutes in the other direction from my house(almost in Albany) I cannot put my younger son in my older son's school as he is not old enough yet. lily
Help! I'm planning to relocate to the Bay Area from Southern California in June and will be seeking preschool placement for my 3-year-old starting in June or September. I'm horrified by the posts I've read -- sounds like applying to preschool is worse than the college app process!
Currently my daughter attends a 5-day-a-week income-eligible program.
For my income level it's free to us, and the program, though not
perfect, is pretty great. Does anything comparable exist in the Bay
Area? And if so, do we have any hope of finding a spot for the summer
or fall? The posts make it sound quite bleak. Any leads would be
Wondering if we shouldn't move
The facilities are not the new and shiny but the rooms are full of wonderful art and all have big windows, there is a large yard with lots of swings and sand and room to ride trikes fast. You won't find a Zen fountain around but there's a small library building in the yard (built in the shape of a train) and lots of dedicated teachers, many who have been there for 20 years. And the director Susan is WONDERFUL - a smart, engaged leader and a real advocate.
Do get on the wait-list early (like now). Albany residents get preference, and here's the trick - if you can start your child during the summer you'll have a good chance to get in because that's when the students graduate and start leaving .We started both our kids in July/August.
Joanne does all the administrative work and has been there
forever. Be kind and thoughtful to her and she'll watch your
back. She really helped us navigate the system when my husband
and I were really struggling financially. We pay full-fee now and
wouldn't go anywhere else.
Good luck, it's a great school!
mom of happy healthy well- cared for kiddos
My daughter is a touch over 2 1/2 and potty trained. She is in daycare currently but really needs to move on to a preschool. I have looked in the archives for some info to help me pick one but a lot of the data is old, unfortunately! I have called a few of the places listed but some are full. Since I am a single mom and my daughter is bi-racial, I was wondering if anyone knew of scholarship possibilities for us? My daughter is very bright and needs to be challenged a bit more than she is in her daycare situation. I am not opposed to a co-op and if anyone has updated information on those that would also be appreciated. My schedule does have some flexibility so I can participate one morning a week. I would be interested in her attending a preschool 4 or 5 days per week, all day. If I do not qualify for a scholorship, I would need to go with the absolute cheapest. I have no idea how much the quality goes down with the price, if at all. Thanks for your help. These sorts of decisions are very overwhelming and I am always thinking if I make the ''wrong'' choice it will have a significant effect on the rest of her school days! I need some help.
On the bright side, for the situation you described you are in, quality does NOT neccessarily go down with the price! My oldest daughter was in one of the 'exclusive' and expensive and often mentioned preschools and had a great, really great first year there (lots of stimulation and activities, it's true,) and fantastic teachers, and a BAD, REALLY bad second year, with a lot of intensive, oldest children, and a burnt out teacher who simply did NOT deal with interpersonal issues(!!!) and an unresponsive administration!
My second child, a boy, went to Nelly's bilingual class at the FREE(!) BUSD preschool 'Franklin State' on 8th street, and he had two GREAT years! (You in fact need to be low income to qualify, which I was at the time as I had a new baby and worked very little). It's only three hours though, but really great, a nice amount of Latin culture (dancing, pinatas, Spanish, lots of Latin families); however, I would NOT recommend many of the other classrooms at Franklin State, from what I saw. My last one now goes to a (?) middle or low priced situation, and it is GREAT!!! Great ratio, owner SUPER committed and caring and smart with children; less stimulation which is fine for this child, very caring. (Called Maria Chairez daycare, next to Centro VIDA.) So, there you go!
Also, I've found that the well-known schools are often expensive and fill up fast, but there are great, not well known places that can for you in! quality before price
I'm in the process of searching for a preschool for our child who will be 3 this summer. I've looked at NPN book and BPN recommendations list, but I have a lot of mixed feelings about the whole search.
First, some schools feel so snooty and don't call back or make you feel priviliged to actually tour the place or don't allow kids on the tour(I don't get that). I just didn't expect this kind of uppity environment or the level of competitiveness to get ''in'' to some of these schools.
Second, we are a single income family of four, and I was not prepared for the cost. We are just keeping our heads above water financially, so even finding an extra $200/month won't be easy. I was expecting about $5-7/hour for a non coop. This doesn't have to prepare my kids for Harvard, just give them some socializing and learning and creative play that we can't give them in a home setting.
Third, I am looking for one that is not a coop. I would like to be involved by doing work on weekends or some other job besides classroom participation. Our child has a younger sibling, and we don't have any family in the area to watch the baby. If I pay someone to watch the baby, then the savings we realize by doing a coop is lost on paying for childcare for the baby. I know we could trade off childcare with another family, but I'm not a big fan of watching other's kids.
So, bottom line, is there a non coop(or a coop where we could opt out of classrooom participation) where a 3 yr old could go 2 or 3 mornings a week for about $5-7/hr or $200-350/month in the Berkeley/Albany/Kensington/El Cerrito/Richmond area? or am I living in a world that just doesn't exist anymore? Sign me as Surprised and Confused
We are looking for a pre-school for our 2 year old that is under $700/month full time. I live in San Pablo and work in Berkeley so the school could be located in San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany or Berkeley. I am going to visit the Montessori Community School in El Cerrito. Are there others that anyone can think of that are in my price range? Appreciative Mom
hi i am looking for a good preschool thats close to berkeley. my job hours are 9.30-6.30 and saturdays 10-4 and i am worried about childcare (i am a single mom).he has to leave the present school since i will no longer be a student. I want a small school where he can form bonds and the emphasise is on nurturing and lots of love and affection and open till 7pm at least. i have heard that some private schools are priced on a sliding scale? thanks mary
Hello, I would like to know if there are any programs/scholarships that pay part or all of the cost for children in preschool? Thank you, em
When I was checking out pre-schools, I discovered Pacific Academy in Richmond (pre-school to high school) works with an outside organization for scholarships. I think Step One has diversity scholarships. I also found that some schools were willing to negotiate on tuition, so check the yellow pages and call around.
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