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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please click the links below to get the answers to our most common questions.



What are the hours of the school day?
School starts promptly at 8:20 a.m. and ends at 3:35 p.m. for all students.  The office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Our Extended Day Program (offered at an additional cost) starts at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m.
Is Northern Light School year-round?
No.  We operate under the traditional school year, September to June. 
Do you administer standardized testing?
Yes.  We administer the ERB Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP4) to students in grades 3-8.  The CTP4 is a rigorous assessment of student achievement of essential standards and learning domains in English/Language Arts and Mathematics.  The Verbal Tests emphasize the development of reading and language skills necessary for effective communication both in academic settings and in the world beyond the classroom.  The Mathematics Tests assess students’ understanding and application of a variety of content and process areas in mathematics.
What is your average class size?
The preschool and pre-kindergarten classes have a total of 24 students in the program.  Currently, our K-8 classrooms average 16 students per class. 
Where do students go after Northern Light School?
Northern Light School school’s graduates go off to some of the most prestigious private, parochial, charter and boarding secondary schools nationwide.  See Our Legacy for more information.
Do you offer before and after school care?
Our Extended Day Program is offered daily in the mornings, 7:00-8:05 a.m., and in the afternoons, 3:35-6:00 p.m.  On early dismissal and minimum days, the Extended Day Program is offered 2:00-6:00 p.m. respectively.  See Extended Day Program for more information.


Do you offer an online application?
We are requesting that all enrollment applications be submitted online.  If you are unable to apply online, please contact the Office of Admissions or 510.957.0570.  See Online Application for more information.
Do you provide financial assistance?
Yes.  While Northern Light School does not provide full tuition assistance, partial tuition assistance is available based on family financial need.  All families are eligible to apply for tuition assistance since financial profiles vary from family to family.  Families approved for sliding scale tuition must reapply annually.  Tuition assistance decisions are made independently from admissions decisions.  See Financial Aid for more information.
Do you have a sibling policy?
Yes, we offer siblings priority consideration in the admission process.  A second child discount of ten percent (10%) will apply to families paying full tuition for the first child.  If there are three or more children, they will pay the same as the second child.   There is no second child discount for Extended Care or for families who benefit from Sliding Scale Tuition.
Do I need to attend a Morning Tour or an Open House before submitting an application for my child?
As part of the Admissions process, we require that all families visit Northern Light School.  A prime opportunity to learn about what makes Northern Light School special and unique is at our Open House.  If you are not able to make it to an Open House, you can sign up for a group Morning Tour, offered on Wednesday mornings from 8:45 am - 9:30 am.  See Open House and Tour and Morning Tour for more information.
Do you accept applications after the January 17, 2020 deadline? 
Yes.  We offer rolling admission on a space-available basis for all applications submitted after January 17, 2020.   Given our tuition assistance budget is limited each year, we encourage families to apply no later than January 31, 2020 if seeking tuition assistance.  Tuition assistance will then be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been awarded.


What is your preschool and pre-kindergarten program?
Northern Light School offers a hands on pre-school and pre-kindergarten environment.  The classroom is designed to help students develop a joy for learning and discovery.  The environment allows each student to develop at his or her own pace in several areas of study, which include practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics and cultural subjects.  The activities in each of these areas aim to assist each student in acquiring independence, concentration, coordination, and self-confidence.   See the Preschool program page for more information.
The pre-kindergarten students are member of the preschool class. 
Does my child have to be toilet trained?
Yes.  All children must be toilet trained by the start of the school year. No exceptions to this policy will be made.
Does my child have to nap?
ALL of our preschool and pre-kindergarten students are required to nap (or have quiet time) in the afternoons.  Preschool students nap (or have quiet time) 12:30-2:30 p.m. and pre-kindergarten student nap (or have quiet time) 1:30-2:15 p.m.  There are no exceptions.  Pre-kindergarten students spend each afternoon outdoors playing, reading books or working in the garden.
Do you offer a part-time preschool and/or pre-kindergarten program?
No.  Our Preschool program is a full day program, 8:20 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  See Montessori Preschool for more information.
Do you accept children younger than three years of age?
Northern Light School voluntarily adheres to the California Department of Education’s kindergarten statute of students entering kindergarten at five years of age.  Thus, working backwards, students entering preschool must be three years of age.  On rare occasions, we will consider accepting a student who turns three years of age later in the fall.  Ultimately, we are looking at both fit and readiness.  This includes students who can handle a full-day, academically rigorous program.  We do invite children with late fall birthdays to apply.  After the Shadow Visit and Assessment, we will recommend the class for which the student is best suited.
Do you have a kindergarten age cut-off?
The California Department of Education requires that students entering kindergarten during the 2020-2021 school year should be five years of age by September 1, 2020. Although the kindergarten statutes only apply to public schools, Northern Light School generally adheres to the state kindergarten statutes.  However, on occasion, we will consider accepting a student who turns five years of age later in the fall.  Ultimately, we are looking at both fit and readiness.  We do invite children with late fall birthdays to apply.  After the Shadow Visit and Assessment, we will recommend the class for which the student is best suited.  Variables that factor into our acceptance decision include (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Enthusiasm about learning
  • Ability to speak understandably
  • Ability to listen and follow instructions
  • Desire to be independent
  • Playing well with others (most of the time)
  • Willingness to separate from parents           
Do you offer morning or after school extended care?
Yes! Our preschool program offers morning care from 7:00 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. and our afternoon care runs from 3:35 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The preschool extended day program follows the rules and regulations for licensing and is separate from the K-8 extended day program. Only a certain number of students can be enrolled based on the adults in the room. For this licensing reason, drop-in extended day is not an option for our Preschool program. The preschool extended day program enrollment is on a first come, first serve basis. Priority will be given to families who turn in their contracts first. Once the program is full, families will be placed on a waitlist and will be notified when a spot is available.

We formally adopt and comply with all provisions of the current CAIS Code of Ethics