After School & School Holiday Programs in Berkeley
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After School & School Holiday Programs in Berkeley
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.
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
http://www.edahcommunity.org/ (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
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
Jewish BUSD mom of 3
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Thousand Oaks and James Kenney After School Parent
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
afterschool camp...they are awesome and focus on outdoor education
and are very imaginative. Their website is www.trackersbay.com
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.
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
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.
I'm a single mom with full-time job and a prospective kindergartener. I am
looking carefully at Washington and Oxford, both of which are in our zone
and look great, but where and how can I get a clear picture of the
afterschool programming? Is Berkeley LEARNS the main site? When kids take
the bus to different afterschool locations, how does that work? I read the
most recent posting about Washington merging its programs, but where can I
get a bead on how these programs work for a kindergartener who will be wiped
out by 1:30?
Is it possible that Private School could be cheaper than care for a school
day ending at 1:30?
My kids are at Oxford. Yes, it's run under the Berkeley LEARNS
program. The director at Oxford, Aaron Grayson, and his staff are
wonderful, and the kindergartners are kept separate from the other
grades all afternoon, at least for the first several weeks of school
(all kids stay with their grades most of the afternoon all year).
They have plenty of quiet time, and even nap if necessary. OASIS (the
Oxford LEARNS program) staff understand that the transition from
preschool to Kindergarten is exhausting for many of the kids, and run
the program accordingly. No, I don't think private school could be
cheaper than an afterschool program! Last I heard, the full price for
full-time (5-days) OASIS was less than $350 a month. There is also a
sliding scale based on family income, and siblings get a discount.
happy Oxford parent
Missed the original question but the relevant info I have is that the
full fee for 5-day-per-week after care,which you pay regardless of how
many hours your child is in the program on a given day (whether you are
in a late or early start school and no matter how long you leave your
child), is $415 a month.
If you need before school care (a decided possibility if the school
doesn't start until 9 or later), it's an additional $200 EACH MONTH.
Even if you pay less on the sliding scale due to having a lower income,
you will pay extra if you need both before and after school care. [You
can also opt for the 2 or 3 day per week schedule, which brings the cost
Our Berkeley public school after-school program underwent an upheaval last
year. We had to pay twice what we paid before and initially didn't see
much change. The start was rough: not only was it financially difficult,
but a beloved staff member was fired, we had to enroll twice, etc. We were
told that the higher fees were to pay for kids whose parents could afford
nothing (not sure what those kids did before). We were told part way through
that we'd have everything from photography to cooking to a sports program
that would actually try to encourage girls. Some of the staff were highly
professional and creative, and some were so-so; others: parents wondered how
they got the job or they saw such unprofessional behavior, they decided not
to put their kids in the program. Well, this summer I learned that one
employee of the new program is the girlfriend of the principal's son and
that another one is the roommate of the principal's son. Nice enough
people, I guess. However, this info shed a new light on certain aspects of
the program (lack of info, professionalism, leadership, financial
transparency, and communication). I thought these problems were due to an
inability to hire the best professionals. Now it looks like the
incompetency you get with nepotistic hires.
My questions to BPNers: 1.Who is the head of your afterschool program? Is it
the principal? 2.Are your afterschool coordinators/employees dating, related
to, or living with anyone related to the head of the program? Would it make
you question the qualifications of the employees, if they were? What would
you do if you found out that they were? What would you do, if the principal
of the school was also the head of the after-school program and hired
his/her friends and relations? 3. An RFP put out this year to look for an
"employer of record" stated that the program must retain the existing
non-unionized staff -- including the girlfriend and roommate(s) of the
principal's son. The only respondent to this RFP was the current
"employer of record:" B.A.C.R., which is accused of inappropriately
siphoning money to SFUSD employees. The NY Times article can be found here:
We have been told that we must keep BACR this year, as well as the current
staff, or else we will have no program. (The typical way our principal
operates: fear mongering) Why does our school have to make such a choice
when other Berkeley schools, presumably, do not? Or is your program in the
-I would be ashamed if I engaged in such hiring practices
I am not sure which elementary school in Berkeley you are speaking of,
but perhaps it is the one which is not run by Berkely LEARNS. The
BUSD school that my child is at (which is not yours) has a well-run
after school program. Here is some language from the BUSD web site
about Berkeley LEARNS, ''The programs are in operation at ten
elementary school sites (Berkeley Arts Magnet, Cragmont, Emerson, John
Muir, Le Conte, Malcolm X, Oxford, Rosa Parks, Thousand Oaks and
Washington), at all three middle schools, and B-Tech.''
The director of the after-school program at my kids'school is not the
principal. The director is on site and is an employee of Berkeley
LEARNS. I believe the principal does have some input when a new
director is hired, but not for the staff. The after-school staff are
not district employees and are not credentialed teachers, generally.
If you have concerns about problems at your kid's school's
after-school program; and you have already discussed them with the
program director, and you are still concerned; then you could write a
letter describing your concerns about the program's effectiveness, and
about every other specific concern you have, and send it to elected
and appointed folks at your school and at the district and you can
even send a copy to the press, if you'd like. You can put on the
letter all the names of people you are sending it to. It is important
to get you concerns down in writing and sent to folks who make
decisions in the district. In that way your specific concerns will be
known by people in charge, and everyone will know that others have the
same information. I don't know what regulatory authority would deal
with such issues, but you can find out and copy them on the letter if
you would like to.
I think it's inappropriate hiring and of even greater concern is that
the principal has hired a company that has used its funds improperly.
I would notify BUSD (Superintendent's office). If you don't get a
good response write to the School Board members. If you don't get a
good response from them, contact local media.
I am disheartened to see that BPN is being used to spread false
rumors, by what is a very small minority, about the after-school
program and the principal at our school. As a member of this school
community for many years, I am impressed with the changes that are
taking place after school. Enrollment is way up, the students enjoy
themselves, they have a great homework program, & they LOVE the
employees that were pretty much trashed in that post. The truth is
this: The principal didnt hire those employees; the former director
of the former PRIVATE program hired them. One was hired to run the
business side of the program, so it was natural that she would move
into a leadership role with the new program. We are nothing but
pleased with the work she is doing. While the cost did go up a bit, it
is in line with what other schools pay, and pays for a sliding scale
program so lower socio-econiomc students can take part. The principal
has facilitated wonderful things for our school. So many great changes
and so many successes around equality of education. To call her a
''fear mongerer'' is anything but true. It puts a wedge in our
close-knit community - one that works hard for each other & supports
the positive change we see on a daily basis. If you are upset that a
''beloved'' (to you) after school teacher was not rehired, why not
just hire her to nanny your student after school? Or quit the after
school program as a whole? There are many others out there.
--Jazzed About After School Program
This is not so much a request for advice as a hope for clarification/peace on a
somewhat annoying issue. Our daughter was placed at BAM as an entering
kindergarten student. BAM has a late start--9:10--and since she's a
kindergartener she'll be done at 2:25. Like many others, we are unable to fit
our work hours around such a schedule. She will be in the before and after
school programs, and we will pay the full amount for both as we have the
income necessary. After adjusting my expectations a bit (I had hoped the
transition from preschool would leave us a with a bit more pocket change), I
was getting my mind around the cost, until it struck me that children at early
start schools do not have the same amount of expense for child care as those
at late start schools do.
Basically, as I understand it, all the after school care through LEARNS costs
$415 a month at most, no matter when it starts. But the students at early
start schools can arrive at school at 8 (more of a possibility for most working
parents) and thus skip the additional $200 a month for before-school care.
Is there anyone in the community who can correct me? Am I missing
something? I'm not really asking for advice so much as seeking to understand
and calm myself around this issue--it seems like a striking inequity which is
hard to accept in the middle of BUSD's otherwise very thoughtful and
Semi-disgruntled BUSD parent
I think you give an accurate assessment of the disparity of care costs
between early start schools and late start schools in Berkeley. And I
agree -- it's not fair.
It will get a little worse for you next year when your kid is in first
grade and you realize you are paying $415 a month for just 3 hours of
care afterschool while early start kids get 4 hours of care for the same
price (and you still get to pay $200 a month extra to drop your kid at
7:30AM and it's free to early start parents). Also, since it's only 3
hours afterschool late start schools don't get all the same activities.
Some early start schools go swimming on Wednesdays, but there isn't
enough time to do that with the late start kids.
I sent an email about this to my school principal a few years ago and
she promised to ask the district aftercare folks about it. I never heard
Since it looks like only four of the eleven elementary schools are late
start -- why not just switch all the schools to 8:00? Or allow us to
drop our kids off at 8:00 for free since we pay more for a shorter
afternoon care? It seems like there should be some solution that would
make it a little easier for parents. Guess it's time to write to the
I don't know about your daughter's preschool, but my daughter's
preschool ran 9:00-3:00. The rest of what we paid was for before-school
and after-school care. You will have to expect to pay that as long as
your daughter needs full day coverage but you may not have to pay as
much because as kids get older, they need less supervision. That's
based on logic--in reality the per-hour fee varies based on how the
after-care facility is financed, what employees are paid, how fancy the
program is, etc. You might want to look around for less expensive
programs. BAM's regular afterschool program is called BAM All Stars.
That said, BUSD school assignment is not a passive procedure. People
who participate in the lottery can use a school's start time as a
criterion for ranking schools. We did. (In the Central Zone,
Washington is the big school with an early start time.) BUSD has a
second lottery and a waiting list for more chances at getting the school
of your choice. It still may not be too late to switch schools by
getting on a waiting list--our son got into Cragmont 2 days before
Our daughter is going into 4th grade at BAM. It's a wonderful school
and I hope your family enjoys its time there if you stay.
I wanted to clarify and add to my original question about the extended day
programs at BUSD schools. Two of the posts in response included statements
that I had already understood. What I was seeking to find out was if I had
misunderstood the situation. It seems clear now that I have not.
My question was: am I correct in understanding that parents at different
Berkeley schools pay a different amount of money for child care because of
the arbitrary start and end time differential?
One person responded that it might ''seem unfair to pay a bit more per hour
at late start schools'' but that this was balanced by the fact that kids at
early start schools have to stay longer hours after school.
In fact, the difference between people needing full time care at early and
late start schools is $615 a month rather than $415 a month. That is not
''a bit more.'' That's a LOT more!
Another person wrote to say that we have choice in Berkeley schools and
therefore should not mind if we pay extra for child care at one school or
another. I have two feelings about that: 1) since Berkeley has a lottery
system, our 'choice' is actually very limited. BAM was our third choice in
the zone. 2) I can't believe, with all the thought that has gone into the
BUSD system and the attempts to make all the schools excellent, that
administrators would want parents to choose their schools based on start
time (it's not as if the schools choose the different start times for
So, my next question is: given that the system is inequitable (as I now
believe I was right in understanding initially, based on the responses here
and from other BUSD parents to whom I've spoken), how should I address it?
To whom should such concerns be directed?
New BAM parent
The reason BUSD has varied start times is to accommodate a
limited fleet of school buses that take kids to various schools. It would be
impossible to get kids to school all at 8 in the entire district. While you
might think it is unfair to pay a bit more per hour breakdown, parents at
early start schools who use aftercare struggle with having to leave their
child at school for 3.5 - 4.5 hours AFTER school has ended.
There is always short end!
What after-school program do you recommend in the Berkeley area? Looking for
comprehensive programs (2pm-5:30p or 6pm), not short classes. Our child will
start in the BUSD this fall. We are most interesting in programs with a blend
of homework support, free play, and enrichment activities led by quality staff
in an organized way.
new elementary school parent
My 5th grader loves the after school program at her Berkeley Public
School. It is easy for her to get to, affordable, provides
interesting sessions by excellent teachers in art, engineering and
music; and she is able to spend down time with her buddies. I
encourage you to check out the after school program at your child's
assigned elementary school.
wow, BUSD sure takes a lot of time off! My spouse & I have used up a
lot of our vacation time covering in-service days and holidays that the
workplace doesn't recognize (eg, MLK day, Veteran's day and the day
before veteran's day, the Wed before thanksgiving, the Fri before
President's and Memorial days, Malcolm X day etc. Are there any
mini-camps in Berkeley for those sorts of single days off? This is
becoming a true hardship for us.
--our employers are getting annoyed
Check out the Downtown Berkeley YMCA.
Kids in Motion might meet your needs. They are an after school progam
located on the John Muir school campus, but they are not affiliated with
the school, and anyone can attend. They are open most of the days that
BUSD is closed, including winter and spring break, and all the days you
describe. On BUSD holidays, hours are 7:30-6:30 pm.
My son attends, and he's very happy there. The ratio of kids to adults is
good and the staff is experienced and been there long-term. The emphasis
is on fun. It's not a fancy program, but it is a place to build legos,
play checkers, ride bikes, jump around in the creek, read a book, etc.
It's a program with respect for children, and joy in facilitating old
The JCC used to have all day camps for the BUSD holiday days. THey
likely still do. Also, Karen Kagen may offer the camps at the City's
Thousand Oaks park site (near Rose Street).
We often willshare a full or half day with one or two families and the
kids have a great play date day, and we take off less time. It is very
workable, with a bit of planning. And is nice to schedule a 3 day
weekend get away when no one else does.
You should check out A World of Peace at Live Oak Park/Community Center
in North Berkeley, assuming that's a convenient enough location for you.
World of Peace runs after school programming which friends think highly
of, but we have used them only for this exact purpose -- on an as-needed
basis to cover some of the holidays/breaks that BUSD takes that don't
coincide with working holidays. I don't think they had camp during this
most recent teacher workday, but we've used them for Veteran's Day, day
before Thanksgiving, etc. The kids take field trips (e.g., Albany Bowl)
on these days, and my kids have had fun the few times they have been.
You can call the program director (Karen) at 510-292-0263 for more
information -- info on the internet is a bit spotty.
The downtown Berkeley YMCA offers fairly low-cost camps for those
annoying days off. The city of Berkeley Parks and Recreation department
also runs some sports camps for those single days and for breaks.
This was a problem for us, too, but now that the kids are older sometimes
we just bring them to work with a book.
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!!
Hi Angela, I recently heard that
The New School of
Berkeley (www.newschoolberkeley.org) 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!
A World of Peace
after school program is at Live Oak Park. It's run by
Karen Cagen, firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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