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Hi All: What are your favorite after-school programs? I have 2 kids in Berkeley Elementary schools, and would like to know your experiences with these programs. Looking for after-school care 4-5 days a week, where the kids can get directly to the care without me. I need care until about 6. Alex, father of 2
Karen Cagen has over 30 years of experience working with children and the young adults she hires as staff. With A World of Peace, she has managed to achieve the perfect balance between the much wanted free time my children need after being in school-structured academic activities all day long and some structure and the staff attention they need to feel safe and play. There are plenty of activities offered throughout the afternoons every day for the children if they want to participate. And, for those who would rather play ball, jump rope, color, play board games, read, do homework, or just hang out, there is always a warm and attentive counselor to help make it happen. The Kindergarteners even have their own dedicated staff person!
Another skill Karen brings to her program is the talent to hire and keep wonderful staff! Karen has a knack for finding warm, playful, responsive, energetic, and committed staff whom my girls have loved over the years. Furthermore, Karen closely trains and supervises her counselors and has regular staff meetings with them so that they understand each child and can respond individually to his or her needs. This kind of individualized attention has been so wonderful for my girls in the afternoons and not something I have ever seen at my kids' BUSD aftershcool program.
Another great benefit of A World of Peace is that it is open whenever the schools are closed for holidays, Winter and Spring breaks, staff development days, etc. This has been a life-saver for me as a working parent who can't stay home for all those Monday holidays or two for two weeks in December. On those 'Holiday' days, A World of Peace has fabulous field trips to amazing locations in the Bay Area (Bowling, skating, swimming, Cherry Picking, Arcades, Rock Climbing, etc.).
A world of Peace also strives to help kids think about their world and those in it. The Staff helps create a community where the children resolve conflicts, peacefully and consider others (they even have a monthly Giving Project' where the children collect items to send to kids in-need all over the globe). I really appreciate that my children are encouraged to think about the world beyond their own backyard.
Finally, A World of Peace has been taking the kids swimming once-a-week this Spring and my daughter loves it so much that she is willing to miss her beloved softball games so she can stay at A World of Peace and swim. Whether my child is in a pool at the end of the day or playing at Live Oak Park, she is always happy when I come to pick her up. This peace of mind I have knowing my kids are happy and safe is worth the price of admission! Abby
I have a first grader, don't know yet if he is going to Albany or Berkeley schools. Have anybody heard of ''A World of Peace'' afterschool? any feedback please. anon
You can't go wrong with A World of Peace. It is a wonderful place with the right balance of all the things that matter to our kids. e-mail if you want to know more. Or stop by for a visit with Karen in the afternoons at the park, her number is 510-292-0263 Cynthia
I also really appreciate that the program stresses the values we all need to make the world a nice place to live. On Thursdays Karen announces the ''Peacenik of the week'' by getting the kids to guess who the peacenik is. They all nominate the other kids, saying things like ''because he/she has been nice, has included, has shared, etc.'' Over time I've seen my son pick up on this language (especially of trying to include rather than exclude other kids in his play.
We couldn't be happier with the program. The other day I pulled my son out of school to observe a religious holy day, and he insisted that I take him to A World of Peace afterwards because, in his words, ''BUT I LOVE A WORLD OF PEACE!'' Enough said!!! http://www.aworldofpeace.info/ Erin
The things I've mentioned are not provided by our school's after school program. Kids are grouped by grade level, there aren't many organized activities, there are many kids per counselor, and the counselors often sit together and socialize while barking orders at kids on the playground. Berkeley Parent
I am writing to recommend A World of Peace Afterschool program at Live Oak Park (N. Berkeley). My son, who is a kindergardener at LeConte Elementary, has been at AWOP during this school year. Our experience has been excellent. We love the fact that he gets to spend his afternoons in the beautiful Live Oak Park and in a mixed-age environment. We find it to be the perfect mix of structured and unstructured time. We also appreciate that the program stresses citizenship values (sharing, including, kindness, thinking of others, etc.). We are so happy with the program and highly recommend it to families looking for part or full time afterschool care - it serves kids from both Albany and Berkeley schools. Erin
Re: Afterschool Program in North Berkeley for 3rd grader
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.
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
Re: Looking for after-school care in N. Berkeley
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
This aftercare is a rare find these days. Not only do the kids have lots of engaging activities & projects and both indoor & outdoor time, they also really focus on teaching children about getting along. The staff were all kind & responsible and my son really liked them. There's a strong emphasis on teaching the children the values of respect, sharing, diversity & peace--all while the kids are having fun.
They also hold a summer camp: A World of Peace Summer Camp-- which we have not yet attended but I'm sure will be lots of fun for the kids.
To top it all off, this is a very reasonably priced aftercare program so this past year my son attended a better program & we saved money at the same time. I highly recommend it! holly
I just wanted to recommend A World of Peace After-school program at Live Oak Park in N. Berkeley because it still has a few openings this year. It has drop-in for $40/day if you want to try it. My kids love it -- the program uses the L. Oak facilities -- really good play structures and swings/ basketball court and the really big auditorium there. It is on the smaller side which really resonates with both my kids. I have a K and 4th grader. My K loves the indoor/outdoor baseball and my 4th loves the cooking on tuesdays and craft projects like knitting. You can also take advantage of the classes like pottery, sewing, and carpentry the city of Berk (Live Oak Park) offers although we havn't tried them yet. Call Karen Cagan (director)510-292-0263 for more info or feel free to email me with questions. Michele
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