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After School & School Holiday Programs in Berkeley

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Berkeley Public Schools > After School & School Holiday Programs in Berkeley


Questions about Berkeley After-school City of Berkeley Afterschool Programs More After-School Programs with Reviews

Afterschool programs are full at John Muir

Sept 2014

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. Mom

After-School Care: BUSD school programs v. JCC

Nov 2012

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 Edah 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 grade. 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 both. Jewish BUSD mom of 3
Hi, 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 fast.

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


City of Berkeley After-School Programs?

April 2012

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. Working Parent


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. Anonymous
Hello, 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 guide,http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/uploadedFiles/Parks_Rec_Waterfront/Level_3__-General/fallguide2011_web(6).pdf. As for the on-site programs, here is a link to Berkeley LEARNS; http://www.berkeleyschools.net/schools/berkeley-after-school-programs/berkeley-learns/ You may also want to check out the school's website. I hope this was helpful. Thousand Oaks and James Kenney After School Parent

Afterschool Program in North Berkeley for 3rd grader

Jan 2012

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 Trackers afterschool camp...they are awesome and focus on outdoor education and are very imaginative. Their website is www.trackersbay.com anon
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. b.
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 information. kw
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. Berkeley parent


How can I get clear information about after school programs?

Dec 2011

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 down]


Nepotism in our after-school program

Sept 2011

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: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/us/28bcschool.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1&ref=sanfranciscobayarea.

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 same situation?
-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. anonymous


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

Why does extended day care cost more at late-start schools?

August 2011

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 progressive system. 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 back.

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 district again. Sarah


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 school started.

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. Francesca


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 pedagogical reasons).

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!

Afterschool program for beginning student

May 2011

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. Happy Mom

Coverage for BUSD days off

Feb 2011

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. Thank you, --our employers are getting annoyed


Check out the Downtown Berkeley YMCA. http://www.baymca.org/dt/dt_program_list.aspx?categoryId=85&parentId=1786
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 fashion fun. Jenna
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. Anon


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. Alissa M.
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. been there


Looking for after-school care in N. Berkeley

Oct 2010

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!! Angela


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! Anna
A World of Peace after school program is at Live Oak Park. It's run by Karen Cagen, apeacecamp@gmail.com 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 program.

The JCC 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 for! -anon


City of Berkeley Afterschool Program

1998 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. Good luck. Dianna


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. Colleen
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. Marian


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