Early Childhood Education

Families interested in attending BENS must tour the school to submit an application. More about our fees and enrollment process here.

About Beth El Nursery School

Beth El Nursery School (known as BENS) is a comprehensive preschool program for children 2 to 5 years.  Each class is instructed by a group of talented early childhood educators, who skillfully weave developmentally-appropriate practices into the daily schedule.  Our new facility boasts big, bright classrooms with easy access to our "Oak Tree" playground, chicken coop, block building area, sandbox and children's vegetable garden.  BENS provides our Beth El tots with a warm and loving community within which they can learn and grow.

Nursery School

At Beth El Nursery School we provide an atmosphere where children can develop as independent, caring people through the media of play, art, music, drama, movement and conversation. We emphasize inclusion in a diverse and multicultural world. For individual tours, please contact our Early Childhood Director, Jodi Gladstone at 510-848-9428 ext. 219 or email Jodi@bethelberkeley.org for more information.

Take a look here a sample newsletter from our Gan Galim (3's) class.

Take a look here a sample newsletter from our Gan D'vorim (2's) class.

Beth El Nursery School (BENS) is a place where teachers, parents, their children, Rabbi Kahn and the clergy team join together to build a strong developmentally-appropriate, play-based community for children. Collaboratively, we have created an environment where children from all cultures and religious backgrounds are welcome to be themselves, excite their curiosity, explore the many languages of the world around them and have the freedom to choose the areas of their interest from a variety of thought provoking activities. Our community of teachers and parents share a common belief that together we can continue to establish an environment of strong identity and belonging where sharing and exchanging our knowledge and resources with each other becomes a process of our daily routine.

BENS’ educational approach weaves together the recent child development theories of Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Vygotsky (Tools of the Mind: A Social Emotional Scaffolding), Lillian Katz (Developmentally Appropriate Practices) and Reggio Emilia (The Hundred Languages). When combined, these approaches create a harmonious, sensible and developmentally appropriate curriculum. Our main emphasis is to allow children to explore and develop their emotional, social, physical and cognitive qualities at their own pace.

Starting from the age of two and transitioning through the age of five, we focus our teaching styles on developing healthy habits. We facilitate and promote appropriate social skills, close friendship, communication and language skills, self-expression, positive self esteem, physical growth (fine and gross motor skills) and respect of one another. We pride ourselves in the way that we value each child’s abilities and potentials, listen to their amazing ideas and help create a map of knowledge for them to explore at their own pace so they can achieve success.

Our main goal is to meet the needs of each individual child, parent and teacher.  Together, we strive in creating a supportive, nurturing and cognitively inviting environment for all to be in.

Snacks and Lunch

BENS provides snack for its children twice a day Monday through Thursday.  Once during the morning program and once during the Gan Shemesh (afternoon extended program).  On Fridays, for Shabbat we serve special snack provided by families.  BENS' snack consists of a variety of healthy foods such as: seasonal fruit and vegetables, dairy and grains. We serve snack to ALL our children in a home-like setting using real dishware.  Our daily snack schedule varies from classroom to classroom depending on the age groups. 

BENS is a peanut/tree-nut free school.  We do not serve them.

BENS lunch time is an important part of the classroom’s daily ritual.  It is a time when our children and their teachers gather in a common area to eat, socialize, dialogue and exchange their daily experiences with one another. We equally believe that parents play an important role in creating a culture that supports this process. Involving your child in making a decision in preparing his/her own lunch helps eliminate the possibilities of your child disliking it.  BENS has a produce basket in each of the classrooms.  The purpose of the basket is to enrich the snack menu that we already serve.  Each family can bring an item or two per week from their favorite market. The items will be kept in the basket throughout the week and will be added to morning and afternoon snack menu.  Parents can choose to bring from a variety of items to share with the class; seasonal fruit, vegetables, dairy or grain products that do not contain sugar, nuts, peanuts or peanut oil. 

Enrichment Programs

The morning enrichment program has been specifically designed to enhance the daily curriculum of our children and staff. This program as well as its instructors has been carefully chosen to meet the needs of our children.  These special activities have been incorporated into the daily schedule for each of BENS' classrooms.

Our goal is to foster a love and appreciation of music and to make music!  The children will learn a wide range of songs while engaging in movement and exploration.  They will learn to sing and chant in English and Hebrew.  They will use props such as scarves, balls and hand puppets and will be introduced to rhythm and pitch utilizing fun games with instruments.


BENS Celebrates Shabbat with a special ceremony every Friday!  Shabbat celebration is a time when BENS children, members of their family, and teachers join together with our Rabbis to welcome Shabbat with songs, prayers and candle lighting, challah and "wine" tasting.  Our Shabbat celebration begins at 12:30 pm in the classroom.

About once a month we celebrate a Friday evening Tot Shabbat with the Beth El community. We gather at 5:00 pm for service, followed by a catered dinner at 5:30 pm and then an all-ages, music- and fun-filled service led by Rabbi Rebekah Stern. 


Birthdays are significant events for us and our children as they symbolize an important passage of time and growth. Birthdays are also a time of celebration and sharing good feelings with one another.  At BENS we try to emphasize and create a festive atmosphere for the birthday child.  We sing songs, share our wishes and recognize his/her special day in the classroom and during that week’s Friday Shabbat celebration.  Some families also choose to bring in a book donation in honor of the birthday that stays in the classroom.

Although a child’s birthday is often celebrated in the traditional manner of serving sweets, cakes and ice cream, BENS community has adopted healthy snacks for birthdays including: muffins made with real fruits or veggies, fruit popsicles or kabobs, pasta or pizza lunches, mac & cheese, cream cheese sandwiches or assorted vegetables and dip.

Special Events

Throughout the school year BENS celebrates a variety of special events including Jewish religious and national holidays as well as other special events put on by Beth El Congregation and the nursery school.  The purpose of celebrating these events is to provide our community with a greater sense of belonging, identity and togetherness.  Some of our events are celebrated during the morning hours while other events are scheduled during evening hours.  All holiday celebrations take place with our staff, children and their families.

BENS honors all Jewish, Israeli and American National holidays and we recognize Teachers’ Month throughout the month of May.  The holidays of Thanksgiving, Sukkot, and Chanukah are celebrated with a large gathering that includes a potluck lunch for all parents, children and staff. The holiday of Pesach is celebrated with a hands-on workshop for the entire family.  Other Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Tu-B’Shevat, Shavuot, Lag b'Omer, Yom ha' Atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim are all celebrated in the classroom with the children, staff and participating parents.  The holiday of Purim is celebrated widely with all Congregation Beth El members, Religious School, BENS families and the community at large.

Although BENS prides itself of having a diverse and multi cultural community BENS does NOT celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick Day or Easter.

Admission Application Process & Tours

Interested parents of new students must schedule a tour to observe the Nursery School and meet with the Director.  Applicants will then fill out an application form and return it with a $50 application fee, payable to Beth El Nursery School. This will place you in our waitpool. Admission priority is given to Beth El members, according to our enrollment priority policy.  A deposit of $500 is required to secure a spot once a space has been offered to your family.

Families interested in touring Beth El Nursery School can make an appointment with Early Childhood Director, Jodi Gladstone at 510-848-9428 ext. 219 or by email jodi@bethelberkeley.org. BENS is an open enrollment school. Tours are conducted individually for each family and children are welcome to join in the tour!

Program and Tuition Information for 2016-2017

CORE PROGRAM:  9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Tuition is divided into 10 equal monthly payments and billed monthly September - June
Gan Dvorim (Two-Year Olds)
Five Days/Week
Tuition – Community (Non-Members)         $11,500/year    ($1,150/month)            
Tuition – Congregation Beth El Members      $9,500/year    ($950/month)

Four Days/Week
Tuition – Community    (Non-Members)     $9,800year    ($980/month)
Tuition – Congregation Beth El Members      $8,000/year    ($800/month)

Three Days/Week
Tuition – Community    (Non-Members)     $8,600/year    ($860/month)
Tuition – Congregation Beth El Members      $7,000/year    ($700/month)

Gan Galim (Three-Year Olds) & Gan Hadar (Four-Year Olds) 

        Five Days/Week
     Tuition – Community (Non-Members)         $11,250/year    ($1125/month)
        Tuition – Congregation Beth El Members      $9,250/year    ($925/month)

EXTENDED CARE PROGRAM: Options as noted below
Rates shown below are per month regardless of number of days or weeks/month that BENS is in session.

Extended care programs are billed monthly based on the scheduled care. Parents may request schedule changes for reserved extended day programs in writing 30 days in advance. Extended Care program rates are the same for all ages and for Beth El members and non-member BENS families.

Extended Care

1 Day/ Week

2 Days/ Week

3 Days/ Week

4 Days/ Week

5 Days/ Week

Drop-In/ Day**

8:00 – 9:00am







1:00 – 3:30 pm







1:00 – 6:00 pm








* BENS closes at 3:30 pm on Fridays.
** Drop-In’s will be billed with the following months’ tuition invoice               

General Program Information:
BENS core program operates 9:00 am to 1:00 pm from early September through the middle of June.

Early (8:00 am – 9:00 am) and afternoon (1:00 - 3:30 or 1:00 - 6:00) extended care programs are available and BENS offers a summer program with the same schedule options as well.

Children attending Gan Galim (3’s) and Gan Hadar (4’s) attend all five days. Children attending Gan Dvorim (2’s) have the option of attending 3, 4 or 5 days/week. Gan Dvorim families who start at less than five days/week can, provided there is space available, elect to increase their child’s attendance when their child is ready.
Application Fees:
For each child, a one-time $50 non-refundable application fee is due with the enrollment application. 
Registration Deposit Applicable to June Tuition:
Upon acceptance to the school, a $500 deposit per child is due immediately to reserve a space in the school for Fall.  Deposits are non-refundable, however these funds will be applied to the June 2017 tuition provided all fees have been paid and the family’s account is current.  (This deposit is not eligible to be applied to outstanding tuition fees owed in the event a family departs prior to the completion of the school year).

Tuition and Activity Fee:
Tuition is divided into Core Program and before and after care programs.  Beginning in September and each month thereafter through June, invoices will be placed in each family’s BENS mailbox by the 5th of each month for that upcoming month’s tuition, scheduled extended care, and any drop-in fees from the previous month.  Payment is due by the 15th of each month. Tuition is due regardless of any absence, holiday or family vacation.
A $180 per family annual Activity Fee is billed with the first tuition payment in September. 

We offer a 10% sibling discount off the cost of the core program for each additional child that is enrolled from the same immediate family. The discount will be applied against the core program only, and only for the regular program year, not for summer camps or other special camps. The discount will be applied against the largest core program cost if you have children in different core programs.
For extended care programs, families are welcome to make changes to their child’s schedule anytime throughout the year with a 30-day notice to the ECE Director. Extended care fees are not prorated and changes made mid-month will be subject to the greater of the fees incurred during that month. 
Financial Aid:
Financial aid is available to BENS families who are members of Congregation Beth El.  Applications are available around mid-March and due by May 1st. Financial aid is needs-based and awards will be made by the end of June. Unfortunately, financial aid cannot be awarded midyear.  Also, please note that financial aid is not available for BENS summer or winter/spring camp programs.