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Re: Jefferson After School Programs
We love the program at James Kenney Park. Everything there is pretty structured, with divided age groups, scheduled activities, etc. The director, Nick, is incredibly dedicated and very much on top of everthing that goes on there. When a problem arises -- and problems do arise there -- Nick deals with it proactively and positively. Every encounter I've had with any staff member has been positive. The facility is really nice and very well-maintained with the usual caveat that sometimes the bathrooms get gross, but that's always been addressed as soon as a staff person finds out about it. They have a fun and creative art program that includes clay-work and a kiln; there are organized sports activities, homework help by UC Berkeley students, walking trips to local playgrounds, yoga for kids, etc. The Kenney program is on the Jefferson after-school bus route, and is one of the first stops, so it's not a long bus-ride.
A downside to Kenney is that Berkeley city holidays are rather frequently different than the school holidays, so sometimes you'll find yourself scrambling for an alternative. That's one of the reasons we are signed up for both. The other reason is that Jefferson has other after-school programs in the form of actual classes that are offered by a variety of organizations or individuals (art, dance, chess, languages, etc). If your child is enrolled in a class, s/he may not be able to catch the bus to Kenney.
Our solution has been to enroll in Voyager on a 2-3 day/week basis, as well as Kenney full-time (a bargain at only $20/month for snack fee). This gives us the leeway we need to do a little of both.
Re: Afterschool programs in Berkeley
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
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 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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