Frequently Asked Questions

What are the program hours?

On our preschool campus, the school day runs from 8:50 am-3:00 pm*, with a short day option of 8:50 am-1:00 pm. Drop-off is 8:30 am, and pick-up is 2:45-2:55 pm for Live Oak and Eugenia*, and 2:55-3:05 pm for Cedar and Magnolia*.
At the University Avenue (K-8) Campus, classes begin at 8:30 am for all students. Afternoon pick-up is staggered by level.

Grades K-2: 3:05-3:15 pm
Grades 3-5: 3:15-3:25 pm
Grades 6-8: 3:35-3:45 pm

* PLEASE NOTE: Friday dismissal is exactly one hour earlier for all K-8 students.

There is before-school and after-school care on both campuses. At the ECC, before-school care starts at 8:00 am; at the University Avenue Campus, students are welcomed as early as 7:30 am. After-school care on both campuses runs from dismissal until 6:00 pm.

What kind of student is best served at The Berkeley School?
By admitting curious, motivated, and thoughtful students, we balance the range of learners so that we are able to meet the needs of all the children in the class, including those who require additional resources for either remediation or enrichment. The Berkeley School admits a number of students with learning differences and disabilities who benefit from both our regular instructional practices and our support systems, and whose ability to self-regulate and learn from peers and teachers are a good match for our classroom structures.
When my child leaves The Berkeley School, will they be prepared for a traditional high school?
Absolutely! We know few schools whose graduates move on to such a diverse group of high schools; our alumni can be found at nearly every public, independent, and parochial high school in the East Bay, and many cross the bridge to attend school in San Francisco or Marin. Our students “learn how to learn,” and our graduates are adept at working with their peers in a variety of settings – an invaluable skill in high school and later in life.
How many teachers are in each classroom?
All of our Early Childhood classrooms are staffed by three full-time teachers; two full-time teachers head up each of our K-6 classrooms, giving The Berkeley School one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in the area. Students in grades 7 and 8 learn from seven core subject and core arts faculty members. We strive to provide a personalized educational experience that develops each child’s best skills and exercises their challenges.
How big is The Berkeley School?
As an intentionally small school of between 275 and 300 students, we’ve found that a class size of 20-25 students allows for topic breadth, collaboration, and building interpersonal friendships between our students. With four Early Childhood classrooms, a stand-alone Kindergarten class, two classrooms of combined 1st and 2nd Graders, a stand-alone 3rd Grade, and two combined 4th-5th classrooms, students have the opportunity to grow and learn in what we feel are optimal configurations. Our single-grade classrooms (K and 3rd Grade) align with developmental stages when children solidify social/emotional and academic awarenesses and skills. Multi-grade classrooms (1st/2nd and 4th/5th) allow children to move naturally between the roles of mentor and learner.
What sets you apart from other independent schools?
Few schools focus on the essential acts of teaching and learning with the intentionality and follow-through that we do. Every aspect of our organization — our board, our administration, our budget, our fundraising program, and even our family potlucks — is set up to support children’s learning. We say “What matters in education is what matters in life,” and we walk our talk, paying the same careful attention to the playground and the lunch program that we give to our curriculum and instructional practices.

We know that the best way to ensure student learning is to hire and retain motivated teachers whose desire to meet students’ needs is only matched by their dedication to continuous professional growth. Consequently, we invest heavily in professional development and in program administrators who can support faculty in improving their practice and implementing new approaches. Most of our faculty have attended Harvard’s “Project Zero Classroom Institute,” where cutting-edge, pedagogy-neutral research into teaching and learning is disseminated experientially and joyfully; all spend time observing at other schools (including Italy’s renowned Reggio Emilia preschools), and many lead workshops for the California Association of Independent Schools, the California Teacher Development Collaborative, and other local and national professional organizations. In addition, all TBS faculty participate in a year-long Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) program, where they work to understand essential practices related to identity and privilege that, when implemented, allow a diversity community of learners to thrive. All teachers want to be successful, but few get to experience the level of support and commitment that they get from our school.

The Berkeley School also places a strong emphasis on social development. Beginning at our Early Childhood level and continuing through 8th grade, we structure our curriculum and instruction to include conflict resolution skills, empathy-developing role-playing, and student-led exercises and campaigns that address social issues that affect the school, the local community, and the world. Learn more about our Social Emotional Development program.

What is a typical day’s schedule at the ECC?

Classroom schedules at the ECC varies, but here’s an example of a typical day:

 

8:00-8:30 am – Before-School Care (optional)
8:30-8:50 am – Welcome and Free Play
8:50-9:15 am – Morning Circle / Curriculum Introduction
9:20-10:40 am – Open Work Period
10:40-11:00 am – Outside Recess
11:00 am-12:00 pm – Circle Activities + Story Time/Lunch
Noon-12:45 pm – Outside Recess

12:45-1:00 pm – Pick up time for early dismissal students (staggered by classroom)
12:30-2:00 pm – Nap (for those who nap)
12:45-1:30 pm – Rest (for non-nappers)
1:30-2:40 pm – Work Period (for non-nappers)
2:40-2:45 pm – Closing Circle
2:45-3:10 pm – Pick-up (staggered by classroom)
3:00-6:00 pm – Extended Day (optional)

What kinds of adjustments are common for children coming from more traditional schools?
Our Montessori-inspired classrooms make for a happy and successful transition. New students respond enthusiastically to the chance to have more autonomy and responsibility. Sometimes a child, who is accustomed to adult direction and limit-setting, needs more time adjusting. Our faculty is experienced in transitioning students from traditional school backgrounds.
Do you offer sports?
We do!
Run by our dynamic PE teaching and coaching team, Craig Jackson and Jared Briggs, the Middle School program features co-ed teams in three sports: flag football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and volleyball in the spring. Teams are inclusive and accessible to all Middle School students who want to participate. Players learn the importance of communication, teamwork, and sportsmanship. They hone athletic skills and develop a healthy competitive spirit. The sports program for Middle School students is included as part of tuition.
Is it true that The Berkeley School doesn’t give grades?
We recognize that consistent feedback is helpful in understanding areas for improvement. We also believe that letter grades do not adequately reflect a student’s mastery of a given subject. We chose to make this change after meeting with high school admissions officers who assured us that it would not handicap our students in the admissions process. Having seen our students go onto some of the best high schools in the area, we are certain that this model does not hurt their acceptance into programs after The Berkeley School.

Learning made visible is an essential component of our approach to education. Learning is a dynamic, never-ending process and we strive to make all parts of that process visible to children and to families. Detailed progress reports and twice-yearly family conferences are just the beginning. Classroom blogs, performances of understanding, portfolio reviews, engaging and appropriate take-home assignments, and school-wide exhibitions like the Art Show, Math Night, and our schoolwide Readathon make learning visible here at TBS and connect families with their children’s experience.

Do you give standardized tests?
The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment is given to TBS students in the 4th through 8th grades three times a year. This computer-based adaptive assessment adjusts to individual students’ levels to measure their growth and inform ongoing instructional choices in math, reading, and language usage. Although a multiple choice test, MAP is not a standardized test used to judge student mastery. In addition to MAP, TBS uses a wide range of assessment tools throughout the year, and provides detailed narrative evaluations to report a child’s progress twice a year.
Is The Berkeley School accredited?
The Berkeley School is accredited by the Schools Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). We also hold full accreditation from the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS).
What should I do if I missed the priority application deadline?
The Berkeley School offers rolling admissions on a space available basis. Our cutoff for new students happens in late January of the current school year to allow the classes to settle into their peer relationships.
Please contact Paula Farmer for more information:

Paula Farmer
Director of Admission
(510) 665-8800 Ext. 103
pfarmer{at}theberkeleyschool.org

Why is an on-site visit necessary for preschool age children?
This is an opportunity for children to visit the school and meet some of their potential classmates and teachers. It allows our faculty to meet your child to get a sense of their level of development, social characteristics, and interests. Feel free to explain it to your child as a play date.

K-8 Campus

Early Childhood Campus

K - 8 Campus

1310 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 665-8800

Early Childhood Campus

2030 Francisco Street
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 849-8340

K - 8 Campus

1310 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 665-8800

Early Childhood Campus

2030 Francisco Street
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 849-8340

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