Family Services

MSRI, now becoming SLMath, strives to maintain a diverse community of mathematicians in its programs, by actively assisting mathematicians with partners (spouses), and children. The Institute has a dedicated person, the Family Services Consultant, who assists mathematicians in finding schools and childcare in Berkeley. The consultant also organizes a weekend picnic each semester for mathematicians with children to meet each other.

SLMath gives special consideration to applicants for the Complementary Program who are partners (spouses) of an invited member of a Core Program. SLMath's Complementary Program is for mathematicians whose interests are not closely related to its Core Programs. Interested partners (spouses) should include their partner (spouse’s) name in their cover letter.

SLMath also has access to private sources of funding that makes it possible for researchers with children under age 17 to fully participate in its scientific activities.

Learn more below about:

Childcare Grants

To allow MSRI / SLMath members, workshop attendees, and other program participants to fully participate in its scientific activities, the Institute is pleased to offer Childcare Grants to researchers with children under the age of 17 years. We are grateful to our Family Support Donors for their generosity.

SLMath prides itself on welcoming mathematicians from all backgrounds and on actively promoting the participation of members from groups historically underrepresented in the mathematical sciences. We encourage members of these groups to apply for family support grants. Historically underrepresented groups include women, Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBT+ community.

These flexible grants may be used for reimbursement of childcare expenses incurred in Berkeley, or at home. These grants can be used for travel, lodging, and meals for children and a caregiver. They can also be used for daycare, nanny, babysitters, and summer camps, either in Berkeley or at the member's home location. Please note that, because these funds are taxable, they are available only to US Citizens and Permanent Residents, and foreign visitors with a visa status that allows for compensation, such as a J1.

If you are interested in receiving a childcare grant, please fill out this form. If you have any questions, please email coord@msri.org

School Information for Families with Children in Grades K-12

Children ages 5-18 years of age, from kindergarten through high school levels, can attend Berkeley public or private schools.

  • Kindergarten: A child entering kindergarten needs to be 5 years old by September 1 to enroll for that academic year
  • Grades 1-6: Students entering Grade 1 need to be 6 years old by September 1; Grade 2, 7 years old, and so on; students entering Grade 6 need to be 11 years old by September 1
  • Grades 9-12 (High School): Students entering Grade 9 need to be 14 years old by September 1, and so on through Grade 12

Overview of Berkeley’s Public Schools

All visiting mathematicians on account of their Berkeley housing rental lease can enroll their children in Berkeley’s public school. Public school is administered by the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) and is provided free of cost. Berkeley’s diversity, influenced by the presence of the University of Berkeley and its urban culture, is well represented in the schools’ student population. Schools are ethnically diverse: 32% White, 24% African American, 21% Latino, 15% Multi-ethnic/Other, and 8% Asian (most recent statistics). Students speak more than 40 languages in the home. All this offers a different learning experience for children from other countries and other US cities.

Berkeley’s school district has over 9,700 students attending eleven elementary schools (kindergarten to grade 5), three middle schools (grades 6-8), one comprehensive and one alternative high school (grades 9-12). Student-teacher ratio average is 20:1 (kindergarten to grade 3), 26:1 (grades 4 & 5), and 28:1 (grades 6-12 in academic classes).

Berkeley School District is unique from many US public schools. In 1968, Berkeley was one of the first school district in America to desegregate without a court order. In its continued effort to maintain balance amongst its diverse socioeconomic residents, the city is divided into school zones. This means that your Berkeley residential address will determine the school zone, and not your neighborhood school. There are three school zones – North West, Central and South East. Each school zone has 4-5 elementary schools and one middle school.

Transitional Kindergarten

Children who turn 5 years during the Fall quarter (September 2 to December 2) can enroll in the Transitional Kindergarten program. This program is a blend of preschool and kindergarten curriculum. Each year the school district decides the locations of this program. The location for the Transitional Kindergarten varies each year according to space.

Elementary School: Kindergarten to Grade 5

Parents with elementary school children (ages 5-10 years) rank their schools within their school zone. Assignment to a particular school is strongly based on parental choice, but final selection in made by the school district in keeping with its diversity guidelines. Families with more than one elementary school child will be assigned to the same elementary school. You can find your school zone on the school district’s website. Below are the names of elementary schools in each school zone. More information on each elementary school can be found the school district’s website.

  • Northwest Zone – Rosa Parks, Ruth Acty, Thousand Oaks, Berkeley Arts Magnet
  • Central Zone – Cragmont, Oxford, Berkeley Arts Magnet, Washington, Malcolm X
  • Southeast Zone – Emerson, John Muir, Malcolm X

The 11th elementary school - Sylvia Mendez offers the Two Way (Spanish English) Immersion program for students from all three school zones.

Curriculum, quality of teachers, and resource allocation is uniform across all schools. Differences occur in the physical infrastructure and the organic emphasis based on school leadership and parent involvement. For example – some schools emphasize more integration of the arts or on socio-emotional development or a language immersion program or a garden-to-table curriculum or a small school-learning environment.

Middle School: Grades 6-8

Middle school children, based on their residential address, will be assigned to Martin Luther King Junior or Willard, or parents can choose Berkeley’s third middle school – Longfellow. Longfellow offers a Spanish immersion program and more counseling services designed for students who flourish in an alternative learning environment. You can find your middle school and information on each middle school on the school district’s website.

High School: Grades 9-12

There is a main high school – Berkeley High - that brings together 3400 children on a single campus. Berkeley also has the Berkeley Technology Academy for children 16-18 years who require a separate, alternative learning environment to complete high school.

Berkeley High School offers an universal grade 9 program where all ninth grade students follow a similar curriculum. At the end of grade 9, students have the opportunity to rank a learning community for their 10th-12th grade education. All learning communities are designed to prepare students for college, while allowing students to choose communities closely aligned with their interests and learning styles.

The six learning communities are....

  • The Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS), Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA), and Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS) offer smaller learning programs. Each of these communities and have approximately 240 students
  • The bigger learning communities are Academic Choice (AC) and Berkeley International (BIHS), which have approximately 1000-1200 students each. The International Baccalaureate Diploma is offered at junior level (grade 11) to students in the Berkeley International community
  • The last community – Berkeley Independent Study (IS) is for students who prefer an off-campus intimate learning environment or have demanding artistic or athletic pursuits, or job responsibilities

Details on the learning communities are provided in Berkeley High School’s Course Catalog. Students rank their preferred learning community. Assignment is strongly based on student’s preference, but final selection in made by the school district in keeping with its diversity guidelines.

Berkeley Unified School District’s Admission Process

The admission process can be initiated only after your child is in Berkeley for the purpose of residency. In other words, no representative can apply on your behalf. The enrollment checklist for visiting scholars can be found on BUSD's webpage. The checklist is also given below - with additional information.The admission process is four-stepped.

Step I: Complete the forms online

Step II: Documents for proof of Student, Parent and Residency

  1. Student’s Birth Certificate
    • If the birth certificate is not in English - please provide a translated copy that has been notarized or formally signed by the concerned official
    • Please note that a passport is not accepted in lieu of the child's birth certificate
  2. Parent's Government-issued identification, example passport or driver’s license
  3. Student’s recent report card, or progress report or transcript.
    • If this document is not in English, please provide a translated copy that is verified by your child’s school
  4. Proof of Berkeley residency – all documents require original copies
    1. MSRI / SLMath's Letter of Invitation to the program
    2. Rental/Lease agreement, which can also be Airbnb, VBRO, etc. along with a receipt of payment dated within 45 days
    3. MSRI / SLMath's letter confirming your Berkeley address. Once you have secured your housing rental — please send the Institute's Family Services Consultant a copy of the signed lease agreement. On receipt – you will be emailed this letter
    4. Any one from the following documents which has your Berkeley address
      1. Current local bank statement of your checking or savings account
      2. CA Drivers License
      3. Valid automobile registration with valid auto insurance
      4. All pages of a utility bill. This can be PG&E (gas & electricity), EBMUD (water), landline/telephone, internet or cable
      The last category, 4d, is most cumbersome for MSRI / SLMath members. Almost all, choose to submit a bank statement. Some members open a bank account in Berkeley solely for this purpose. The process is quick and hassle-free, requiring a small cash deposit. Others have changed their residential address on their permanent bank, again, solely for this purpose.

Step III: Send all nine documents in ONE email or envelope

Documents can be sent via email, regular mail or can be dropped off at the Admission office. The address is Admission Office, Suite 108, 2020 Bonar Street, Berkeley, CA 94702. All required documents must be sent in one email or envelope. Missing documents or those sent through multiple emails/envelopes will not be accepted. If you do not have a local telephone (or cell) number that has a voice message service, please contact the Institute's Family Services Consultant. If you do not hear back from the admission office within the time frame mentioned to you during admissions – please follow up directly with them.

Step IV: Registration

You will receive an email confirmation within 7 business days once all required documents have been submitted and reviewed by admissions. The Admissions Office will provide instructions for how to register your child at their assigned school. Only after registration can your child attend school. The following documents are required to filled or submitted during registration.

  • Assignment letter
  • Child’s immunization record (officially translated into English)
    • Shots for School has information about immunizations required for school entry in California.
    • If your child has gained natural immunity to any of the listed viruses – please provide an official statement from your child's doctor or results of a blood test, to attest for this natural immunity status
  • Your child’s recent report card, progress report or transcript (translated to English) for children entering Grade 2 to Grade 12
  • Parent ID
  • Children entering kindergarten and grade 1 must also submit the Medical and Dental forms.
  • Berkeley High requires you to fill in the Health Center form in ENGLISH

'Notes from prior members': Please plan on the possibility, although rare, for a two-week wait period from submitting your application to your child's first day at school.

Miscellaneous Public School Information

  • For the 2023-24 academic year the first day of school is August 16, 2023 and the last day is June 4, 2024.
  • If your child requires any medication to be kept at the school - please fill in the Medication Authorization Form and have it signed by your child's current doctor.
  • Home-to-school bus transportation is provided free of cost for all elementary children who attend schools within their zones, and who live beyond a 1½-mile walking distance
  • Early and after-school care program called LEARNS — Links Enrichment, Academics and Recreation to the Needs of Students, is available for all elementary and middle school students for a fee. LEARNS is located in all the three middle schools and nine of the eleven elementary schools

Overview of Private Schools in Berkeley

Berkeley has a number of religious and independent private schools that offer a wide range of education pedagogy – from alternative to mainstream, from whole-child pedagogy to area-specific, viz. a higher emphasis on the arts or music or language or academic acceleration.

There are only a few private schools that have the ability to enroll children mid-year and for durations shorter than an entire academic year. There is a wide range in cost of tuition rates, with independent schools have higher tuitions compared to religious schools. The average annual tuition in recent years for independent schools that accept short duration applications are:

  • Elementary (K-Grade 5): $28,000
  • Middle (Grades 6-8): $30,000
  • High (Grades 9-12): $40,000

This is a list of private schools in which SLMath members have enrolled their children:

  • The Berkeley School in Central Berkeley offers a blend of teaching pedagogies – rooted in Montessori while embracing the progressive practices of Reggio Emilia and Project Zero. The school has a preschool and K-8 school program
  • The Crowden School in North Berkeley offers a 3rd-8th grade school with chamber music at its heart
  • Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley in Southwest Berkeley provides a bilingual international environment from preschool to grade 8
  • Maybeck High School in Elmwood, Berkeley, offers an academically challenging curriculum in a collaborative learning environment

Information for Families with Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Parents with children up to 5 years can enroll in a daycare center or hire a nanny. Fees for this service is paid for by parents. SLMath's Family Services Consultant can assist you in finding suitable options.

Over the years the consultant has built a network of centers willing to accept SLMath members' application. Semester-long enrollments are easier to find and confirm in advance of SLMath's program dates. Shorter-term, particularly month-long or week-long enrollments are harder to find and when available, are confirmed closer to the member's program dates. Below is a list of centers which SLMath members' children have attended in Berkeley.

Preschool Centers in North Berkley & Hills Neighborhoods

Information is subject to change. Please visit the school websites for the most up-to-date information.

  • Sprouts offers a home-based preschool program for 14 children, ages 3 to 5 years. The main program is from 8:30-1 PM with an after care option until 3 PM. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week
  • Berkeley Hills offers a preschool program for up to 40 children, ages 2.9 to 5 years. The main program is from 9-1 PM, with an after care option until 5:30 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. You can enroll between 3-5 days a week
  • Keiki’s Corner offers a home-based program for 12 children, ages 18 months to 3 years. The main program is from 8:30-1:30 PM, with after care until 5:30 PM. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week
  • Orange House offers a year-round full-time home-based program for 14 children, ages 2 to 5 years. The program is open from 9-5:30 PM, with optional early care from 8:00 AM
  • Greenhouse Childcare is a home-based program for 10 children, 16 months to 4 years. The program is open from 8:30-5 PM, except Friday it closes at 3PM. They offer a wide range of schedule options
  • Mustard Seed offers a center-based Christian program for up to 60 children, ages 18 months to 5 years. The main program is from 9:00-1 PM, with early care starting at 7:30 AM and after care until 6 PM. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week

Preschool Centers in Other Berkeley Neighborhoods

Information is subject to change. Please visit the school websites for the most up-to-date information.

  • St Johns in Elmwood Berkeley offers a full-day year-round program for up to 45 children, 3 months to 5 years. The center is from 7:30-6:00 PM, with a minimum enrollment of 7½ hours per day. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week
  • Bahia in Northwest Berkeley offers Spanish and English bilingual program. Centro Vida offers a full-day year-round program for up to 65 children, 2 to 5 years and is open from 7:30-5:30 PM. La Academia de Bahia offers a morning-only program from 9 to 12 PM, for children 3 to 5 years old. You can enroll in the programs for 4 or 5 days/week
  • Dwight Way Child Care is in South Berkeley neighborhood and offers a year-round home-based program for 6 children, infant to preschool . The program is operates from 8:30-5:30 PM, and offers a flexible schedule - half day and between 2-5 days/week
  • Cornerstone Children’s Center near UCB campus offers a Christian program for up to 72 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5 years. They offer a year-round flexible scheduling and open from 7:30-5:30 PM. They have a minimum enrollment of 3 months

Nanny Care

Nanny care averages $20-$25 per child, with an average of $5 per hour for an additional child. Rates depend on experience, education qualification, linguistic skills, and ability to do additional tasks like driving, household chores and co-sharing arrangements. Most nannies know of their availability only a month or so in advance of the start date.

Since the pandemic, the best way to find a nanny is on care.com and nanny.com. Locally there is Berkeley Parents Network an established website used by parents, and has a forum where nannies offer their services and parents seek co-share arrangements. However, the shift towards national websites are proving to be more effective, thanks to Zoom and other technological advances.

Local Resources for Parents

  • Bananas offers free referrals to licensed childcare providers and provides information and resources to families with young children
  • Berkeley Parents Network is an established website where parents can look for and recommend childcare, schools, classes, and camps, buy and sell household items, and find out about local activities and community events.