Back to Berkeley Preschools

Gay Austin School

1611 Hopkins Street
Berkeley, CA 94707

(510) 526-2815


5 parents took the survey TAKE THE SURVEY

The Gay Austin School is a private preschool dedicated to providing quality education for 2-, 3-, and 4-year olds, regardless of race, nationality, or religious belief. We are located on Hopkins Street in North Berkeley, near a small group of shops and parks, and in a neighborhood of tree-lined streets. Our experienced faculty is dedicated to nurturing the emotional, cognitive, and physical growth of young children.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

Each program has at least one group or circle time each day. This is a time for music, movement, and teacher and children discussions. Our discussions usually follow important ideas the teachers feel need to be brought out and interest provided by the children.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

More Information

  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

More Information

  • Puzzles
Time & space more

More Information

  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

More Information

  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

More Information

  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

More Information

  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

More Information

  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

All programs include indoor and outdoor play, visual arts, individual and group activities. Children have free choice in deciding which activities they engage in. Each school day includes: math and science, language skills, art music, and physical activities. All of these lead to nurturing the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical growth of young children.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Our philosophy is based on Piaget's observation that 'play is the work of the child.'

We use dramatic play, games, artwork, songs, and group activities to help children develop emotionally and socially, and to lay the foundation for later skills in math reading, science, and writing.

Our programs build on the natural curiosity of young children, and instill an excitement for learning.

We recognize that children develop differently, and value each child as an individual.

A Typical Day

Each day includes outdoor and indoor play; a circle (group) times spent singing and discussing ideas of interest; an activity time for free play with games, art activities and dramatic play; snack time; lunch time; and special story time with teachers.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

A week before school starts we have a parent/teachers meeting. At this meeting we discuss school procedures and parents get to know others in their group and their teachers.

In January there is a parent-teacher conference. All teachers are available for individual conferences and for evening phone calls.

We provide information about all the schools, but want the parent to make their own choice. We give as much help and support as we can to each parent.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

On the first day, the parents stay with their child. This session only lasts for 1 1/2 hours. After that, any parent may stay with their child for as long as it takes to make the child comfortable.