JCC East Bay After School Programs (Berkeley, CA)
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JCC East Bay After School Programs (Berkeley, CA)
see also: JCC East Bay After School Programs for other locations.
Re: JCC at Oxford Elementary
I've had both of my kids at the JCC after school since K-- & it's been like a 2nd
home to them (& us!) for the last 4 years. The program does a great job with the
little ones-- with a separate space/teachers/classes just for K kids. My oldest
needs a ton of structure, too-- & the JCC's enrichment class program does that
really well. The kids choose 2 classes each day that give variety & an organization
to their time. The variety is impressive-- including piano, drama, dance, cooking,
sports, art, etc. For kids who just want to hang out, there's a great outdoor play
space & plenty of homework support too. They pick the kids up after school & the
program runs until 6 pm, if you need it.
Happy to answer any questions--
Re: Thousand Oaks - After School Options for Kinder
The JCC East Bay has a great afterschool program which
offers pick up from Thousand Oaks. (My son has been
attending for 3 years, and my daughter will start next
year, also as a kindergartener from TO). You can choose as
many days as you need.
We're looking into after school care options for our son
who will be in first grade in the fall and I was hoping to
hear of some recent experiences with the Berkeley JCC
aftercare program. Is it a warm and nurturing place? If you
used the van transportation did you feel good about it? Are
there some structured activities or only free play? Is
there time for outside play? Homework assistance? Is it
crowded/manageable, well-staffed? Thanks so much for
painting a picture of the experience, both pros and cons.
I had children in the JCC after-school program for many of
the past 12 years. JCC has always had a commitment to
excellence, no matter who is in charge. My daughter was
there for 2.5 years, through last December. The program is
somewhat structured. Playing on the yard is usually a
choice. There are lots of other creative and interesting
choices. My daughter took piano lessons, which only became
available last fall. She spent several months doing aerial
acrobatics at the Athletic Playground in Emeryville. They do
offer homework help every day, although in our experience
you had to sign up quickly to get the slots you wanted.
(They switch classes 2 or 3 times/year.) They choose their
van drivers as carefully as they choose their
teachers/counselors. I never had any concerns about the van.
In summary, it is an all-around quality experience with
excellent staff who love kids caring for your child.
Hi, my daughter started at the JCC center stage program last year & will return
this fall. As a kindergartner last year, we were concerned about it being a gentle
start for her and it was. They designated a special counselor to help the kinders
with their transition and she quickly found a group of friends. The day starts
with free time and then moves to structured activities. It took a while for her to
want to get involved in the activities, but that is more due to her personality
than the program. I've found the counselors to be engaged and creative. They
did improvements to the play structure outside last year and will be resurfacing
the basketball court/play area soon. I'd be happy to answer any specific
Our son, now in 2nd grade, is having a terrific time at the JCC
CenterStage afterschool program. We've found the level of
organization and the activities offered to be really great, and
the staff to be warm, fun people.
The new director of youth and family programs is an amazing
person, and she's brought in a very good director for the
Berkeley location, where our son is at. The staff really know
how to make things fun for the kids, and are adept and the
innevitable ''conflict resolution'' situations that come up. The
program is fully licensed - which eliminates some potential
concerns we'd have with other programs.
I have to say, the list of options for activities is really
impressive - art, drama, drumming, capoeira, a newspaper, a radio
station, and more - phew! Of course, there's also flexibility to
give kids the downtime or free play they might want. We've found
that a mix of formal activities and more relaxed time works best
for our kid.
As far as I know, Berkeley school buses drop off from most
schools in town, and there are vans provided by the program for
kids from Albany. They also have ''camp'' days for almost every
day that Berkeley (and Albany) schools are closed, which is very
Other than that, I can only add that our son comes home happy
from CenterStage virtually every day, and has made some really
great friends there.
== Happy CenterStage Family
We visited the JCC East Bay recently to check out the after
school program. I'd seen the space for the preschool before and
it seems really nice, plus I've only ever seen positive
feedback about it here. However, I was pretty surprised by the
after school space, especially the kindergarten room. It looked
messy, dirty, unorganized, nothing interesting to look at on the walls.
I know the program gets high marks, right?, but what do people
think of the space? Is it a reflection of how things are run?
Thanks so much for your insight.
My kids loved the JCC afterschool kindergarten program. During
the first semester, the kindergarteners spend some time in the
kindergarten room and apart from the other kids. In our
experience, this has helped them get to know each other, and to
give them a bit and their 2 staff, and to give them a bit of
buffer from the lively JCC program. There may not be much on
the walls there, because they spend so much time focusing on
what they are creating right in front of them. And a lot of
time on the play ground or in the back room playing games
(the ''hall''). Most kids get there after their school ends at 1
pm or 2 pm, so they don't spend a lot of time in the room.
Also, it is not like an instructional classroom where letters,
words and numbers are all around the room. My kids didn't
really care what was on the walls at the ''J'' in kindergarten,
and they don't care how sparse the decor is elsewhere in the
building. The playground is fabulous, the staff and the
director are great. The classes (cooking, drumming, drama) and
the spirit of caring, respect and fun are fabulous. And my kids
take the school bus there afterschool. Kids from a variety of
regligous and ethnic backgrounds and family structures attend.
We love the ''J''!
Anon JCC Mom
You are right--the walls of the kindergarten room aren't very
inspiring. But the kids don't spend a lot of time doing art and
usually take home any art they've made as soon as it's dry enough.
The art room, for first grade on, looks better and those projects
stay there longer. The looks are deceiving.
My son went through Center Stage and now my daughter is there as
a kindergartener. The staff is dedicated to the kids and really
know how to keep them engaged. My daughter loves it and takes
full advantage of it.
Karen Cagan has been the JCC Youth Director for many years and it
is to her credit that it is such a strong and solid program with
great role models for the kids.
Re: Afterschool programs at Kensington Hilltop
The Berkeley JCC has an afterschool program that runs
until six. They hav a van that picks kids up at Kensington
schools and take them to the JCC. The JCC is on the
corner of Walnut and Rose, in North Berkeley. There is
some jewish content in the program (celebrate shabbat on
Friday afternoons) but lots of non-jewish kids attend and it's
a great program. Call 848-0237.
Re: Jefferson After School Programs
There are a variety of afterschool programs your child can take
the school bus to (assuming the buses survive the budget cuts).
My daughter goes to the JCC, which she's loved. The
kindergartners have their own classroom, and until winter break
are mostly separate from the bigger kids, when they start
joining in the classes and choices the older kids have. What we
like is that the teachers present different classes, like
cooking, gardening, storybook making, sports, drama, taking
things apart etc. There is Jewish holiday content, and about
half the kids are Jewish.
happy with the JCC and Jefferson
Re: Cragmont After School
My daughter goes to the JCC aftercare program and loves it. The
first part of the year the kindergartners spend the time until
4:30 with the kindergarten teacher, then as the year goes on
they get to take specialty classes with the older kids. The
director does a good job of hiring people who enjoy being with
kids -- there will be turnover because a lot of them are college
students, but there are also longer term staff. The other thing
I like are the hours -- most days that the Berkeley schools are
off it meets, and it goes to 6:00. It is closed for the first
day of many of the Jewish holidays, but luckily next year almost
all of them fall on the weekend. You should call and visit now,
so you can see if it's the program for you.
The JCC has been great for us. The staff this year seems
particularly great--always engaing childern, not letting things
get out-of-hand, but not interfering when kids are playing on
their own. My daughter was a kindergartener this year--they
have special program for kindergarteners for the first 2/3 of
the year, then they integrate them in a bit more.
Kindergartners still have their seperate snack time, and other
special times. A friend who started with her daughter the year
before was happy not to send her child back--I think it was not
a good match for her daughter's temperment.
We have used the JCC afterschool program, Center Stage, for
three days a week for my kindergartener. We have been very happy
with it. The children can sign up for a variety of ''mini
activities'' such as the Harry Potter Club, basketball,
gardening, drama, Storybook - Oven (a winning combo. of stories
and baking!), etc. A number of friends we knew at Berkeley
Montessori also have their kids at the JCC.
My friend's child will be in kindergarten in the Berkeley public schools
and is signed up for
transportation and after-school care with JCC (the one in Berkeley on
Shattuck and Rose).
We have heard good things about the program, but wonder what people's
of the administrative/staffing aspect. Although the child got enrolled as
hoped, they didn't
answer the phone in person, nor return repeated phone calls or notify the
parent in writing
or by email as requested. Thanks in advance.
My son has gone there for 3 years now. The director is very responsive
and always returns my messages the same day. I'm not sure if she's there
regularly in the summer, though--I think the summer camp director is someone
else. The best way to find out who is there and when they might return your
call is to speak to the main office during regular business hours (9-5, I
think) and ask.
Our son went
to the JCC afterschool program starting in kindergarten. BUSD will bus
students there if they attend a school in the Central or Northwest(?) zone.
(JCC will also pick up from some Albany schools.) I think it has
JCC is the Berkeley-Richmond Jewish Community Center, at Walnut and Rose. My
guess is that about half the kids in the afterschool program are Jewish and
there is some Jewish culture in the program, but it's not overwhelming.
There has been some staff turnover in the two years my son was there, but
they always seem to hire really excellent staff. Fran
I sympathize with your childcare dilemma; we'll be going through the same
thing with our 5-year-old. You may be interested to know that there is a fourth
childcare option for Albany schoolchildren. The Berkeley Richmond Jewish
Community Center (Rose & Oxford in Berkeley) has vans that pick up children
from Albany elementary schools. That's where our daughter went last year, and
she really enjoyed it. In my opinion, the JCC is the best afterschool option
for Albany students. Since Berkeley schools start a week earlier than Albany's,
the JCC afterschool program actually begins August 31; so if you decided to
send your daughter there for the school year you would only have one week to
This year we switched Steffi to the JCC (Berkeley-Richmond Jewish Community
Center) for after-school care and she's doing much better. Most nights, all
of her homework is done before she comes home because they give good support
there if the child wants to do homework. This give us time to relax
together and maybe work on a special project or read.
I would second the recommendation of the Berkeley Richmond JCC for Albany
afterschool care. For Albany parents, particularly those in the
kindergartens, the JCC is great because it has a Bridge K program in the
morning that the Albany kindergartners can participate in; they are then
driven to their schools. (If you work at the University, drop-offs and
pick-ups are right on your way.) Although the J has a lot of kids and can
seem chaotic in the afternoon, the morning kindergarten class is small,
quiet, and intimate-the J is practically empty in the mornings and the
kindergartners have the run of the place. (Even in the afternoons, the
kindergartners are kept separate from the older kids, sharing a few
activities with the 1st graders.) My son, who was one of those
not-quite-ready-even-though-he's-five boys, went to the Bridge K before
attending kindergarten in the Berkeley public schools and it was a very
good year for him. In case you're wondering about the religion piece:
family is firmly Episcopalian, but we've sent both kids there from the
moment they left preschool, a total of 5 years for my daughter and 3 for
son. Originally I chose it because it was close and some of their friends
were going there. But it's worked out very well and I really like what my
children have learned about religion and other cultures from their
involvment. Also, the J is committed to running full programs for all
school holidays and vacation in all districts and they have extra programs
in the afternoons (drama, karate, etc.) that you can pay extra for. There
are quite a lot of Albany kids at the J and it's likely your kids would
find others from their own schools.
We had two experiences with after-school programs in Berkeley. My
daughter went to Oxford school, and from K - 3 she went to the
after-school program at The New School on Bonita near Cedar. The school
bus stopped at the Arts Magnet school on Virginia just below Shattuck,
and a New School teacher would pick up all the after-school kids and
walk the two blocks to New School. I would then pick up my daughter by
6. I believe there are many Berkeley elementary schools that have buses
that stop at the Arts Magnet (Whittier) school and you could take
advantage of this program. This was a nice continuation for my daughter
because she had gone to New School as a
preschool. We quit the New School program after 3rd grade because at
the time there wasn't much homework support and as my daughter got along
in school she needed more of that. (They may be doing more homework
support now, I don't know.) We then switched to the Jewish Community
Center after school program. Because Oxford is just up the street, the
kids simply walk down to the JCC. We liked the JCC program & the
homework support. JCC also has vans that do pick up from Berkeley and
Albany public schools. By the way, we are not Jewish, just in case you
are curious. Both programs, as I recall, were in the $200/month range
for after school care up to 6 pm, certainly cheaper than full time
You should also check out the
Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center,
which is not a religious center. Buses bring kids directly there from
their school and the cost for kindergarten times is about $330 (1-6pm) a
month. They keep kindergarteners separate from the bigger kids, but they
do get to run around, there are art projects, dance, cooking, outdoor
games, and some specialty classes (like gymnastics, chess) that you do
pay extra for. It has its ups and downs in terms of organization, but my
kids have been going there for years and have liked it.
My son (kindergarten) attends the program at the Berkeley-Richmond
Jewish Community Center at Rose and Walnut. It is $240/month for 5 days
a week to 4:30. BUSD school buses in the general area drop kids off,
and JCC has its own van that picks up kids in Albany. Our son loves it
a lot and we're very happy with it. JCC also has a breakfast program
for kids who need daycare before the school day starts. Buses or the
JCC van take the kids to school from there.
One really great thing about JCC's program: it is open the entire day on
most of the days that the schools are closed. Not major holidays, but
minor holidays, teacher training days, conference days, spring and
winter vacations. There are a few Jewish holidays when JCC is closed,
but these are days that the school is open, so it only means you don't
have after-school care those days. Your family does have to join the JCC
to participate; I think it's about $300/year (this includes one of the
annual fees for the after-school program).
this page was last updated: Oct 31, 2012
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