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Two after school programs - too much?

Jan 2014

Our daughter will be starting kindergarten in Albany, most likely Cornell or Marin, next year. My husband and I both work, so she'll need to be in an afterschool program until 5:30pm. We really like the JCC - we think our daughter would benefit from the structure the program provides and would enjoy the different classes. But, I'm concerned that socially this would be suboptimal because she'll have less exposure to her classmates than she would in a program like Tupelo or the YMCA. So, I'm thinking of signing her up for the JCC three days and week, and for Tupelo or YMCA for the other two, but I'm wondering if that may be too much. (She's been a preschool until 5:30- 6pm for three years, so she's used to a full day schedule). Has anyone done this, or has any insights? Also would appreciate feedback on Tupelo vs YMCA, as we haven't decided on our first choice of school yet and are pretty much on the fence on the merits of Marin vs. Cornell. Thanks! anon

I did the same thing for the same reasons and it was fine.We ultimately changed to just one as my daughter liked it better and it was cheaper. Ellen
My kids are at Cornell. They are not in after care, so I have no direct experience of hese programs, but I can say this: I see Cornell kids getting on a JCC bus after school every day. So your kids would certainly not be the only ones at the JCC. If you like the program, I would make the decision based on that. Anon
Our family has experience with all the afterschool programs you mention. Yes, I would say that two afterschool programs are too much. We know a child who tried it with the Berk JCC and Tupelo and it was too disruptive.

My oldest did the Berk JCC in third grade from Marin/AUSD for afterschool (Tupelo was full), then went to the Albany YMCA afterschool program for 4th and 5th. My take: the JCC offers great enrichment programs (many with extra fee) and a great facility, but you pay for bus service and your child spends a chunk of time on a bus everyday. It was almost an hour by the time the bus went to all 3 AUSD elementaries and Kensington Hilltop and back to the JCC. (Worth checking if they still do this route). It is a very big program and was a bit overwhelming for my child.

My youngest enjoyed Tupelo. It offers a fun Spanish immersion program and is onsite, which makes it easy to build friendships with schoolmates. It only serves grades K-3 though, then you have to figure out A/S care for 4th and 5th grades offsite.

The YMCA afterschool is well run, but rather basic. For the upper elementary grade program (the only part we experienced) I liked that they really focused on getting homework done, which helps preserve family time. They offer several A/S sports options which is nice. They consolidated all 3 AUSD elementaries on one campus so kids were met at their AUSD elem school by a YMCA counselor and walked to the hosting campus.

Good luck in your decision! Afterschool Parent

Although I can't comment on the merits of he specific programs you are considering, I will reply to your request for insights, which is that I'd choose only one, and here's why:

- your choice of after school programs from year to year is easy to flex and change - it's not at all like changing schools. You can simply sign up for one of the programs this year, different one(s) for summer and consider whether your child would enjoy the variety of 2 programs next year.

- even though your child is accustomed to being in the care of others until 5:30-6pm, the transition to, and intellectual demands of kindergarten can be quite a leap for some kids. Think about the last time you made a big transition, such as changing jobs. In your first month or so, did you feel like your brain was full by the end of the day? The change from preschool to kindergarten was intense for my little guy. He met a new group of kids & teachers at school, and different new group of kids & teachers at his after school program. He had to learn all kinds of new rules, teaching styles, names, personalities, playground etiquette and politics. Plus he lost a much-needed nap/rest period and learned how to take the school bus, all while trying to absorb new academic skills - math, reading, writing, language, following instructions, etc. I had to move his bedtime up to 7:15 due to tired-kid meltdowns. I can't imagine adding one more social challenge to the mix.

Do Berkeley and Oakland offer free afterschool care?

Aug 2013

I'm trying to come up with a long term budget and plan for the next few years, to the extent possible. I will be returning to work full time either this year of the following one. Right now my son is in a great SF public school with free after care. We are considering moving to the east bay if we need to, to reduce costs. Do the Berkeley or Oakland public schools offer free after care? If so, is there an income qualification? Or are there only some schools that offer this?

I've been poking around on-line, and can't seem to find an answer - sorry if I'm asking something that I could easily look up myself, but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now by all the details and would be so grateful for any assistance this community is willing to give. Is your child in a great after school program? If so, which one, and what is the cost, if anything? Thanks! puzzled

Childcare options vary by school. At my daughter's school (Cleveland Elementary in Oakland) there is a program called OASIS that is geared toward low income kids (sorry, I don't know the particulars on cost or eligibility). Also on campus is Bear Cubs, and there is an off-campus option with van pick-up. Some of the kids also do a City of Oakland program at a nearby community center (staff come and walk the kids to the center), which I've heard is very reasonably priced.

I've never heard of free aftercare that didn't have an income qualification. Programs like Bear Cubs (or the similar Adventure Time at other nearby schools) run about $5 per hour (maybe a bit more; it's been a while since I priced them). Depending on when you pick up, you could be looking at 50-70 hours of care per month. Carrie

We are in BUSD (Emerson) and love the after care provided at the school through BUSD (berkeley learns - I think you can find a whole price schedule for learns on the busd site). The cost is based on income and number of family members, and tops out at around $415/month (half that for 2nd child). After care at our school is from when School lets out (1:30 for k, 2:30 for older grades) until 6pm. Good luck! Liz
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