Child Education Center (CEC)

Berkeley, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

Childcare Center,
DSS Facility License #
Child Education Center
(510) 548-1414
contact [at]
University/San Pablo
Maximum Capacity:
Language(s) Spoken:
Ages Served:
6 months - 72 months
7:30am - 6:00pm

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello Berkeley Families! Our baby daughter is 7 months old and was recently accepted into the infant program at Child Education Center (CEC). We'd love to hear from current or recent families with babies at CEC about what their experience has been like. We'd also love any advice on transitioning a baby from full-time one-on-one care at home with parents to full-time care at a daycare with other kiddos. We know this will be a big transition for our baby and want to do all we can to make it a smooth one.

    Many thanks!

    My baby is 5 months old and has been at CEC for a month. We are very happy with the program. Baby is thriving, has a strong connection with their teachers, and is happy at drop-off and pickup. The transition was very smooth, possibly because our baby was on the younger side when we started— CEC also had guidance on transitioning from full time home care to classroom care. We did a few half-days before going straight to full-day care, but they’re flexible and will accommodate whatever you need based on your child’s needs. Our baby also is a strong independent sleeper, which helped with the transition to napping at daycare. Best of luck, and perhaps we’ll see you soon :)

    My daughter started in the busy bees class at CEC at 11 months. They really know what they are doing and are very loving. This was in 2018, so pre-pandemic. I was nervous at first to see 1/2 the classroom with walkers, while she was not ready to walk. But they kept the infants in the other area until they were ready to mingle with the 'bigger' babies. She was learning to walk within a couple of months. She really bonded with her teachers -- that's the great thing about kids, they are probably more ready to bond with others and meet other kids, while us parents are doing all the worrying! Enjoy CEC, it's a great community and has weathered the pandemic much better than other sites. 

Parent Reviews

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hello! My daughter goes to Child Education Center, and there are families there with some subsidy!

My daughter really loves Child Education Center off of University/Browning. Good hygiene practices and a lot of fun! The prices went up quite a bit during the pandemic due to limited enrollment, but I would expect them to increase enrollment sometime in the winter assuming vaccines make it much safer for more kids to be together. In the 3 year old class they are learning to write their names (but in a fun way), learning numbers and counting, they go on neighborhood walks together. In nonpandemic times they go to the library for storytime and also can sign up for swim lessons next door. 

Just wanted to put a plug in for CEC (child education center), which is in central Berkeley. The kids love it and we have been with them for a couple years. The teachers and administration are a blend of asian, indian/pakistan, white, Mexican, south american. The kids that attend reflect that diversity as well, although I would say that asian, white, and indian/pakistani children are probably more predominant. Many different holidays are celebrated in the classrooms. It's a lot of fun and competitively priced. Check it out!


CEC in Berkeley has babies through pre-school, all play based but progressively more pre-school like as they age. I believe the piloted a forest-school TK year as well, but I'm not sure where that stands with covid. We really like it, and spots are available now. At the moment the tuition is escalated because they have reduced the total number of kids allowed to enroll because of covid.

Child Education Center has just reopened. Their hours are now 8-5 Mon-Fri to allow for extra cleaning and following all the covid precautions. Our son has been there since he was about 1.5. (now 3). We are very happy. He loves the school, the teachers take such a good care of them, he gets to do a lot of messy play and learns so much! They currently have openings in the infant program.

Agreed! Our daycare, CEC, is open 730-6, it's the longest hours that I've seen. Both of us work 9-12 hour days, so one of us does the drop off and the other does the pick up. We arranged with work to understand that we will be coming late or leaving early in order to make things work. I'll be interested to know how others do it. I've heard of people hiring a person specifically to do either the drop off or pickup so that both parents can put in longer hours, but that seems like quite an expense for us.


We started at CEC on Browning st. last year and we really love it. Their hours are 7:30am-6pm; however they are strict about the 6pm closing, so you'll want to pick up by about 5:50pm to be out of the building by 6.

They are very loving and play-based, and we are happy there!

Child Education Center is an excellent program. My two grandsons attended there and I have been very impressed.  There is lots of messy play - not sure about all of your requests it is an excellent play- based program. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

March 2015

RE: Mid-year opening for 4 year old near North Berkeley?

My 5-year-old goes to Child Education Center in North Berkeley, and we LOVE it. He's been there since he was 4 months old, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's play based (reggio), the teachers are incredibly creative, and there are weekly music and dance classes and lots of field trips. Some of the programs are wait listed, but there might be openings in the preschool. Good luck! Heather

Nov 2014

RE: North Berkeley placement for a 2 year old?

Check out Child Education Center, near North Berkeley BART. It is infant through Pre-K, and my son had been in every classroom there. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I love that I didn't have to move him when he was ready for preschool. Good luck! Heather

Oct 2014

RE: New to N. Berkeley, looking for preschools

My son has been at Child Education Center, near North Berkeley BART, since he was 4 months old and is now in Pre-K there. I cannot say enough great things about it. There is an organic garden, music and dance lessons, swim lessons in the summer, field trips, extremely engaged and creative staff, and a great and diverse parent community. I'm not sure if there is a waiting list currently, but I highly recommend checking it out. Anon

June 2014

RE: Preschool for 2.5 y.o with fall openings

I can't guarantee there are openings, but my son's preschool fits all of your criteria. Child Education Center (CEC) is near N. Berkeley BART, has a big outdoor space with a sandbox and a kid-tended vegetable garden, is infant through Pre-K, has field trips and classes (dance and music every week), and has part-time hours. They used to have chickens, but they had to go because they were too loud. They also had snakes in the past. My son, who is now in Pre-K, has been there since he was 4 months old, and we couldn't be happier. Anon

Jan 2014

Re: Good quality day care in North Berkeley
My son has been at Child Education Center in North Berkeley since he was 4 months old, and he's now almost 4 years old. He loves it, and so do we. The CEC community is quite international, and there is a fair number of students (including a few from China) who started there not speaking any English. The teachers, some of whom speak English as a second language, are incredibly kind, patient and nurturing. They are also great about potty training, letting the kids do it at their own pace, so there is no requirement for a child to be potty trained before starting at CEC. Good luck! Heather

Dec 2013

Re: Recently moved and no space in preschool!
I don't know if you've tried Child Education Center in Berkeley yet, but my son is in preschool there, and we absolutely love it. I think they might have space in the preschool/pre-K program. Heather

April 2013

Re: Preschools in Albany
It's not in Albany, but I thought I'd mention Child Education Center, which is a few blocks from North Berkeley BART. My son, who is now 3, has been going there since he was 4 months old, and we could not be happier--nor could he. We live about half a block outside of Albany, and it's super convenient for our commute to the city. Good luck! The website is a bit outdated, but we got a wonderful new director recently, so I suggest scheduling a tour to get a real sense of what CEC offers. Heather

Feb 2013

Re: Looking for child care in/near downtown Oakland
I live in downtown Oakland, and my husband & I were not successful finding a care situation near our apartment. We ended up going with a childcare center near my office in Berkeley. Baby girl spends more time in the car than I'd like, and my husband can't help with dropoff/pickup, but we so love the daycare (Child Education Center), that I know we made the right choice for us. Good luck with your search! jessica

Dec 2012

Child education center is amazing place !!! Especially the infant room. I have my 5 month baby in this program. The teachers are very nice and very experimented. I like the spirit of the CEC community. My second kid is in the preschool program. My recommendation is to don't hesitate and enrolling now !!! michaelelie

Nov 2012

We've been at CEC for a year now and we love it. Our daughter started in the twos room and is now transitioning to preschool. Her week is filled with a range of fun, play-based activities that help her develop a wide range of social and motor skills while promoting self-sufficiency and independence. They do balance beam and trampoline time, drawing and puzzles, walks to the park, circle time, cooking, dance and music classes, in addition to regular free play, both with their immediate age group and mixing with the older/younger kids from the other rooms. The kids are encouraged to do things themselves whenever possible, like putting on their own shoes and socks and jackets, opening and closing their own lunch containers, and putting toys away at the end of the day.

The teachers consistently impress me with their dedication and experience. The kids are an incredibly diverse group, and teachers know when individual kids need individual attention. Some are shy and others outgoing. Some have come from other countries and arrived not speaking any English. At the end of the day, they're all happily engaged and interacting with each other, in respectful and thoughtful ways. I credit the teachers highly for creating such a warm, inclusive environment. They are ready and willing to help with potty training, understanding that kids will work it out on their own in good time, a process aided by being surrounded with other kids who are already potty-trained.

I can't stress enough how strong and supportive the overall community is at CEC. Parents are expected to volunteer two hours every month, with weekly chores like washing toys or larger tasks like serving on the board and organizing fundraisers. Far from being a burden - most of us do work full-time - this expectation creates a culture of participation that facilitates interactions among families and directly improves the school while keeping tuition affordable.

Bottom line, I feel great leaving my daughter here every day and she has thrived under their care. Anne

Nov 2012

Re: Preschool or Daycare for 2 yr old near Richmond
Hello !!! I have a 3,5 years old boy and a 7 months baby boy ;-) They are together at Child Education Center ( CEC ). It's very convenient to drop your kid by the freeway. The daycare has a very big parking lot. The teachers are very experienced and trained. CEC was founded in 1981. It's amazing place to grow for our kids ! I think the best way is to schedule a tour : Maybe see you at CEC !! Michael

Nov 2012

We were mostly pleased in the infant program at CEC. Teachers were highly experienced, hands-on and communicative. Most of the times I walked in the room at least 2 of the 3 teachers were holding babies on their laps or in their arms, or actively engaged with the children in some way. Teachers provide fun (developmentally appropriate) activities (I got tons of artwork from the infant room!). There's a great play structure that helps babies learn to crawl and walk, a variety of toys on low bookcase shelves so the children can discover them on their own and choose what they want to play with. Once the children are walking, Tanya takes them on the playground during a time when the older kids aren't outside. There are daily communication forms so you know when your child napped, what they ate, what happened during the day, etc. I found the environment to be lively and stimulating for my son. We appreciated that the program covers more than just basic needs. The overall issue with communication (not knowing about substitute teachers, etc.) is one that I've definitely been frustrated with, but I've also noticed big positive changes at the school (parent email lists, more attempts to communicate regularly to parents, etc.)

April 2012

I wanted to hear from current or recent parents with either infants or children in the Twos programs at the Child Education Center. Our daughter is currently in the Toddler program and very happy. I have heard more mixed reviews about those programs and would greatly appreciate any recent experiences/comments/advice. The fact that some people are so positive and others so negative worries me. We are very particular. High quality, bright horizon type daycare options in Berkeley seem non-existent. If you have other ideas/suggestions for high quality care for either infants or twos, I'd welcome those suggestions as well. Thanks very much.

A person posted looking for recent reviews of the infant room at Child Education Center, in Berkeley. We did not have a good experience with the infant room. The space itself is just one big room, with babies expected to nap in the corner, which did not work for our child. While one of the teachers was wonderful, the other two were ineffective, not particularly warm and didn't seem to enjoy their jobs. I felt like they considered a 'fussy' baby a 'bad' baby (we'd be told that she was either 'good' that day, or 'fussy'). Communication was terrible, with random long term (2+ weeks) substitute teachers with no info at all about who the new person was, qualifications, etc. There are a ton of days for 'staff training', but I never saw any evidence that the staff (with the one, good teacher, exception) was particularly skilled or high quality. For kids who crawl and who don't need lots of cuddling and don't mind a noisy/chaotic environment, it might be fine, but I would not recommend for the pre-crawling or sensitive baby. We moved to Great Start Childcare and are thrilled with it. They are both calm and joyful, the perfect mix for us. They have a separate room for infants to nap, in addition to the separate sleeping room for the toddlers on one nap per day. L.

Dec 2011

Our daughter has been at CEC in the infant room since she was 3 months old (she is now 7 months old) and she is very much enjoying the loving care of the three teachers - Tanya, Xiao Ling and Fakhria. Here are a few examples of why it's such a wonderful place.

- The baby:teacher ratio is excellent and all three caretakers know a lot about my daughter's unique characteristics. They have helped her through eating solid foods, through bad diaper rash, and through challenging sleep cycles.

- Tanya runs a tight ship and really makes sure the place is organized and neat. And it's amazing the kids still have time for fingerpainting and music (even as infants!)

- When I forget milk, or bottle nipples, or an extra set of clothing, the teachers always have backup, which is a relief for a spacey working mom on a Monday morning.

- My daughter has already learned how to interact and play with the other kids at such a young age! I think her stranger anxiety is lessened with the comforting environment and exposure the room of seven children every day.

I highly recommend the infant room at CEC!

Dec 2011

Our son has been attending the CEC since February 2011. Previously he had attended The Snuggery, which closed in January. We had actually been toying with the idea of moving our son to a new preschool, as we were dissatisfied with our son's progress and the structure/curriculum. The Snuggery's closing ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Our son has thrived since the moment he started with the CEC. He loves going to school; he has a great time with his teachers and friends, and the curriculum keeps him engaged and active within a diverse environment.

The staff is excellent; we?ve mainly interacted with the Pre-School and Pre-K teachers ? they are great! They are very observant of each kids learning style and work that into the curriculum. The staff is warm, but appropriately firm when need be. Everyone is willing to take the time to talk; if there are any issues they are handled immediately, and if necessary, the parents and staff are all brought together to talk about a path forward ? the approach is very collaborative (there is no finger pointing or accusatory tones from the school). The school encourages parent participation, and I have been impressed with the involvement of the families. The CEC takes great care of the kids, and in turn the parents want to take great care of the CEC.

The surroundings may not be shiny and new, but the kids don?t care ? they are happy with the facilities. There is a new play space being built that should be ready to go by the new year. The gym next door is a great resource for the rainy days, and the pool just on the other side is a great way for the kids to cool off and learn to swim over the summer. They also go on great field trips throughout the school year.

Our son will be going to Kindergarten in the fall, and while we are going to miss the CEC very much, we are confident that he will be well prepared and ready for this next step. We highly recommend the CEC to anyone looking for a great infant through Pre-K program ? we wish we had enrolled our son there from the very beginning. L

Dec 2011

Child Education Center in West Berkeley is conveniently located off University and San Pablo Avenues in West Berkeley. It's open from 7:45am-5:45pm which works perfectly for us working folk. There are 5 classrooms within the center that are organized by age, and they take children as young as 6 weeks old.

My boys, 4 and 2, both started out in the Infant Room. One is currently in the Toddler Room and will be transitioning into the Twos Room within the next month or so. My 4 year old is now in the Pre-K room, and is beyond excited for Kindergarten as his teachers are so enthusiastic about education.

CEC offers a very warm, nurturing, and extended family feeling. The school is play-based which I love because it allows the children to grow academically and socially, and also allows them the freedom to use their imaginations. They offer additional activities such as Dance, Music, Art, Cooking, and even Swimming during the summer months for Pre-School and Pre-K kids. They go on weekly outings to the park or around the neighborhood, and also plan other fun fieldtrips for the kids.

Their rates are reasonable, and the teachers are wonderful!

Come join the family at CEC! Sherry

Nov 2011

Re: Preschool for slow-to-warm child
I know that you are looking for a Montessori based, or Spanish immersion type, preschool... however, if you're interested in other options, try the Child Education Center in Berkeley.

My 4 year old, as well as my almost 2 year old, both started out in the Infant Room. We've been around for quite some time, and have seen lots of children come through the doors at CEC. What's amazing is that each child, even the ones with slow-to-warm up temperaments, seem able to connect with at least one teacher in each classroom. All the teachers are very warm, nurturing, and open. What's great is that there are 5 separate classrooms: Infants, Toddlers, Twos, Preschool, and Pre-K, but at some point during the day, different groups of kids get to interact w/ each other. I love that my 4 year old and 2 year old get to play together during outside time, and that each teacher knows each child. It makes for a great extended family feeling. Sherry

Oct 2010

Re: Pre-K going horribly for almost 5 year old boy
I didn't see your original post, but I have a very active boy who's now in first grade. When he was in pre-K, we were at the Child Education Center in Berkeley and it was so great because one of the two preK teachers is a man who totally understands boy energy. (The other teacher is a woman with an active son my son's age who understands boys, too.) There was a group of active boys in with my son and their teacher was so great with them, and there is lots of room to run around outside. My daughter is two and is at that school now so I know these preK teachers are still there. You may want to try them out: Andi

Sept 2010

We are checking out the two-year room at the CEC and wanted to get some current thoughts on care in that room. Any current parents or parents of kids that have recently graduated? Would appreciate the feedback. Thanks!

Responding to the poster asking for feedback on CEC. My 2 boys (4 1/2 and 2) have been at CEC since they were infants. Overall - super, super happy with CEC. My boys are thrilled. The caregivers are very consistent (one teacher left when she got married and moved out of state but she actually came back for 6 weeks this summer to cover vacations). My favorite room is the toddler room - the teachers there are amazing. Parents are involved, so we've built up a community around our sons' daily playmates. Some downsides - I wish there was more greenspace (though they do use the gym in the attached high school during rainy season which provides an outlet if not more nature).

Jan 2010

Re: Full-day, affordable preschool in Berkeley
You should take a tour of the Child Education Center in Berkeley, not too far from the intersection of University Ave and San Pablo Blvd. It's a great play-based school, and it prepared my son well for kindergarten, where he is thriving thanks in part to CEC. The teachers are great and they go on fun trips, and the community of families is great. Contact the director Darlene for a tour: (510) 548-1414 Andi

Oct 2009

Re: Full-day preschool, with less than 6-month wait?
Try the Child Education Center in Berkeley. My son went there for three-and-a half years. (It's also a daycare that starts taking children at age 3 months.) He just started kindergarten and is doing fabulously thanks to the great preschool experience he had at CEC. Other CEC moms tell me their kids are also doing in great in kindergarten. It's a play-based school with lots of fun extra classes and activities (capoiera, music, dance, etc.). They are serious about supporting kids' emotional growth while preparing them for kindergarten in a really fun way. Give them a call. I think there is no waiting list at the moment (although this may have changed). Andi

I recommend Child Education Center in Berkeley, on Browning Street, which is very close to University, and San Pablo. It's a very sweet school with classes for all ages from infant to preK. I have two girls who both went there for a year. The teachers are wonderful, and it's a very warm and loving environment for kids. The teachers each have their way with the kids, many of them are funny and help to humor the kids out of sad feelings about mom and dad dropping them off. They go on field trips, gymnastics classes, and capoeira, swim classes in the summer. Darlene is the director, and can be somewhat hard to get a hold of for a tour. That is just because she's very busy. Leave her a message, but if you don't get a reply, stop by the school and you may get a tour on the spot. Their website is here: Best of luck to you! laura

August 2009

Hello, I am requesting ANY feedback, positive or negative, on CEC in Berkeley. If you have a child there currently could you PLEASE let me know your impressions? Thank you! C.

Dear Carrie, We have a child currently attending CEC and sadly this will be our last year --moving onto the big K. We've had a very positive experience at CEC. We left a highly regarded preschool in our area to join this very caring community where parents interact with teachers, board of directors, who happen to be some of the parents, and all the other families. CEC is a bit of a melting pot which describes the staff and especially the children from multicultural families.

Today our child attended swimming, which is great for us, no more swimming lessons for ME. The teachers (approx. 4-5 teachers) take the 3's & 4 yr olds out to swim class every day to the City of Berkeley's Swim session, right next door. That's 3 sessions altogether in June, July, & Aug. The kids love it and our child talks incessantly about how much fun he has in swimming. There are so many activities to list, all children take enrichment classes like Capoeira Dance, Music, Gymnastics, every week. Parents can choose some classes like, gym or no gym, it's very flexible. Even the hours are flexible. We pick our child up at THREE, although if you need a f/t schedule they are fully covered with staff. The director starts at 7:45 a.m. and we didn't have to worry about summer breaks or March/spring break, they are a non-profit preschool open all year.

CEC also has access to City of Berkeley's GYM right next door where the kids ride their scooters/bikes on rainy days like ''Wheel Week''. Our child goes right to bed when we mention it's wheel week :)...

The preschool hires ethnically diverse teachers who are highly trained, experienced, loving and friendly. They excel at bringing social and academic learning together in an emotionally safe school environment. Yes, it's play based; they learn to play with their ABC's and #'s. Our kid is ready for kindergarten in every way. Overall CEC encourages a strong sense of community and it prides itself on functioning as an extended part of our family. There has never been a time when we worried about our child after dropping him off and believe me I would take days off work to watch my child at the previous preschool, due to a lot of unfortunate incidents; mainly active bullying, no rules applied by lackadaisical teachers (email me if you need some info.).

Our little boy is sweet, very active and somewhat on the shy side who's also a well adjusted confident kid who loves school, thanks to the Child Education Center. Feel free to email. Regina

My son was 13 months when he started in the Infant Program at CEC. He progressed to the Toddler Room, Two's, Preschool, and Pre-K. Last year he completed kindergarten at Marin Elementary. It wasn't until he entered kindergarten that I fully comprehended and appreciated what he (and I) learned at CEC. The great things about CEC: 1)philosophy of respect - respect for children, respect for teachers, respect for parents, siblings, etc. 2)Darlene and the head teachers' consistency; the warm, cheerful, positive atmosphere of all the programs; 3) the incredible diversity of the families at CEC (during our time there, there were Israeli, Spanish, German, French, African, Italian, Australian families); the diversity was socio-economic as well; 4)the many field trips and outings gave the kids valuable experience with the outside world. 5)The teachers!!! There was a lot of turnover during our time there among the assistant teachers and the Pre-K head teacher, but the stalwarts in all the programs were some of the kindest, funniest, warmest people I'd ever met. My son positively bloomed in Preschool with Nell, and thrived in Pre-K with Jamie. Regardless of the turnover, the values, atmosphere and dedication to the children never wavered, and that was completely due to Darlene. The things I wished were better: 1) the days closed for teacher training were a hardship; 2) the head teacher of the Two's program was great, but the assistant teachers were ineffective. However, it was when my son entered kindergarten that I saw how well-prepared he was at CEC. Unlike most of the other kids, he could count, knew his alphabet, read a little, could write his name and letters, sit in his seat, stand in line, and knew how to conduct himself outside the classroom. CEC was a wonderful experience for both my son and me.

Another important thing: my son came down with the horrible Coxsackie virus while he was in the Toddler Room. It's incredibly contagious, and so I expected lots of the other kids would come down with it as well. We were out for three weeks. When we came back I asked how many others had gotten sick: not one! I knew their health and safety measures were good, but that was really impressive. -timsmom

I am compelled to write about my experience at CEC because my son is about to graduate from CEC's Pre-K. He's been at CEC for 3 full years, so he spent a few months in the ''twos'' program, and longer periods in the Preschool and Pre-K classrooms. We have had a very positive experience. To be honest, in the beginning, we chose CEC because it had an opening, was affordable, and close to my work. Three years later, I have no regrets, and a lot of appreciation. At one point, my husband and I started making more money and therefore could afford to send our son to other, more vaunted schools. We checked some out, and decided that we actually preferred CEC. Here's why:

1.Regularly scheduled extracurricular classes. Every week during the school year, my son had music, dance, gymnastics, and capoeira. During the summer, he had 6 whole weeks of swimming instruction at the city pool next door as part of the school day!

2.Field trips. Those kids really get around. He went to an aquarium, rode cable cars and the ferry, saw the Nutcracker at Julia Morgan, saw Asheba, visited the marina, and often walked to parks and libraries for story time. My son just reminded me that sometimes they walked to the dollar store to get balloons and stickers (LOL)!

3.Cultural diversity. Because the preschool is more affordable, it's pretty diverse in several ways. There are many post-doc scholars doing research sabbaticals at UCB who bring their children to CEC, so my son went to school with kids from many other countries. Frequently, he had friends who were just learning English as a second language.

4.Curriculum. They had units on dinosaurs, planets, gardening, and more that my son really ate up. They also had fun and thoughtful units leading up to MLK Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, and the winter holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. And they learned to cook simple recipes. Almost every day: art projects, math, reading, and writing.

5.Teachers. His Pre-K teachers, J.J. and Shally, are stellar. J.J. is an inspiring role model: fun, energetic, smart, and so good with kids. He is also a coach and actor. Shally is calm, perceptive, organized. Cameron and Nell in preschool are also wonderful. All the teachers are warm, gentle, attentive and loving. And firm, too; children are not allowed to mistreat each other. Rules are enforced. This is not a Lord-of-the-Flies type place. There are ''time-outs'' and lots of reminders to ''use your words.''

6.Administration. The Director, Darlene, is omni-present. She's warm and funny, knows all the kids, and is quite accessible. She's been doing this for a long time. Accountant Tosca is great, and always available when I had questions.

7.Schedule flexibility. Over the three years, our work hours and child care needs changed. CEC was very accommodating, and offered a great variety of options. This is very RARE. Plus, the school operates year-round, which is valuable for working parents.

Well, I think I've exhausted all the main points. One more--there's a big old gym next door, so during the rainy season, the kids still have a place to run, ride scooters and bikes, and get their exercise.

CEC took good care of my kid, and I love them for it! ak

June 2009

Re: Full-time preschools for less than $1000/month?
We love our son's preschool, the Child Education Center in Berkeley. Going five full- time days (7:45 am to 5:45 pm) costs about $931 for kids three and up. It's play-based, but they do a lot to get kids ready for kindergarten, like having them learn to write the alphabet numbers, and their names. They also have weekly dance, music and capoeira classes. On Fridays, the kids take the bus to UC Village for gymnastics. There are optional swimming classes in the summer, and they go to the Julia Morgan center to see a ballet once or twice a year. There is usually a Christmas field trip, too. If you visit soon, please note that right now the preschool and preK classes are in transition (one teacher leaving and one on leave for a month). Our son has thrived there and our daughter will start there soon. Andi

March 2009

I'm expecting a baby in June and have been looking into all the childcare centers to get their wait lists and take tours. As their website directed, I have called and left messages for the director, Darlene Percoats Redmon, of Child Education Center three times now to arrange for a tour over the last few months. I have also sent her 2 emails. So far I have received no response whatsoever. I am getting very discouraged and am disappointed. Is there any reason that the director or someone else cannot respond to my inquiry? Is this a typical response from CEC? Every other daycare center has taken my call and gotten back to me. I understand that CEC may not have any future openings, but I am surprised at the complete lack of response on their part. Can anyone offer any guidance or another approach? Thanks! Elisha

Child Education Center in Berkeley is one of the oldest childcare programs for infants to preschool and pre-K. We're sorry you've had a difficult time getting a response from us and this is not typical procedure. Normally we respond to all voicemail messages within a reasonable time frame.

At CEC our focus is on the children, offering quality childcare on a daily basis and we continually strive to improve the administrative dept. We recently acquired a new office manager and accountant, all calls can also be directed to our Office Manager at Ext.#223. We have responded to your email address and hope we can answer any future questions that may arise in a timely manner. Child Education Center

Feb 2009

Hi there, I'm interested in knowing what current families think of CEC in Berkeley. It seems like a nice place but the past reviews are a bit mixed. What have your experiences been? Also, I see in the handouts that there's a focus on learning colors, animals, etc., and singing songs such as ''If you're happy and you know it.'' My daughter (three in April) already knows all of these things. Is it a stimulating environment? Carrie

I have a 3 year old and a 7 month old, both at CEC. We're very happy with CEC - it is a very warm and caring environment. Very low teacher turnover (my infant has the same teachers in the baby room as my 3 year old had). They promote a community spirit and my son is growing up with friends he has had since 6 months. They do academics - letters, numbers, colors, that sort of work. If you want to talk in more detail or get opinions about specific elements of CEC feel free to send me an email. Brenda

Nov 2007

Re: Seeking preschool with working mom's hours!
Our daughter has been going to CEC (Child education Center)in Berkeley for nearly 1 year, she has just turned 3.The hours are 7.45-5.45. She loves it and asks to go to pre-school at the weekends. She loves all her teachers as well. They all have to get a hug and a kiss before she leaves. They have great art projects and lots of play room. It is a very mixed racial environment which we really like. The teachers are all very nice, and loving. They go on a lot of outings. She learns an incredible amount of general knowledge there- we are continually being astounded by new topics she introduces. I really like that children of all ages from 3months - 6 years meet on a large playground in a well controlled environment. We would would not take her out of this school now. Plus every few months they have a kids nite out on a friday- where they see a movie and do art projects until 9.00 The only downside is that the billing and administration sometimes gets mixed up- however they have just announced that they are in the process of hiring a permanent bookkeeper. Emma

Nov 2007

Our son has been at CEC since he was 6 months old (turning 2 in January) and we are very happy with the school. There has been no teacher turnover and everyone is very warm and welcoming. Our son loves it there - he takes off running to play with his pals everyday. We've met a lot of great people and kids. very satisfied mom of 1

Jan 2007

I recently visited the Child Education Center (2100 Br

owning Street in Berkeley). I had a very good feeling about the school as a warm place. In particular, my child would be entering the two's program in the fall. I'd like to hear from current parents about their thoughts about the school. If you start there, do you want to stay through to the preschool program too? Comments--good? bad? other? Thanks potential future parent

My son is in the twos program at CEC now, and he started there when he was 17 months old in the toddlers program. We love CEC and we will stay there until he goes to kindergarten. (We plan to have a second child and that child will go to CEC too.) The director and teachers are so dedicated to the kids. By being a large program, there is accountability as the teachers and director all know what's going on with everyone and parents are always coming in and out, so I never worry about how my son is treated or what is going on. (My son used to go to a small home daycare with eight kids and I never really knew what happened when parents weren't there.) The director is fabulous and she is always there in the classrooms and around the school working like crazy. My son loves going to 'school' and he has learned so much and has made some friends. He gets mad when I pick him to take him away some days because he wants to stay there and play more! He still talks about the field trip he took with CEC last month to see the Nutcracker. Four hours of parent participation are required each month and there are many ways to fulfill this so you can get involved with CEC in a way you are comfortable with. We love the CEC community and have met other parents whom we like and are starting to socilize with. There are work days and BBQ's and other activities which makes it really feel like a CEC community rather than just a daycare/school. The only downside to CEC is that sometimes administrative functions get mixed up (an incorrect bill or a phone call not returned), but everything that involves the kids is great! Andi

Our daughter was in the infant room at CEC for about 5 months. We were pretty unhappy with the program, as was my daughter, so we found a daycare center which we are much happier with. In general, we felt that CEC was poorly run. The director can be difficult to get a hold of, the number of days the staff takes off for staff training days is insane, and we felt like it just wasn't a well-run organization overall. For all of the teacher training days they had, I didn't feel like the teachers were particularly well-trained. Simply put, we weren't happy there and got out as soon as we got a spot in a different daycare. Anon

August 2005

I've been looking into daycare/preschool for my 19-month-old recently and have been recommended to both Centro Vida and Child Education Center in Berkeley. Currently CEC has space in the toddler room and if I like the facility and staff I may utilize them for part-time immediate care. Does anyone have more current comments on either of these programs? I am currently working with only one personal recommendation each for these centers and am really interested to hear more varied and current feedback from fellow BPN members. Thanks. Maria

My daughter started has thrived at CEC. She loves her teachers, experienced and caring providers that know and love her.Darlene, the director, has years of experience in childcare, and runs the program with amazing enthusiasm and commitment to creating an environment where children can learn and grow.Teachers have been with the program for many years in part due to good benefits, continuing education, and a positive work environment.CEC has a parent-run board. I am on the board and have found it a great way to be involved in my child's education. CEC is a really friendly and diverse place with a real sense of community.My child has made very strong friendships and we have met great families that are now our close friends.It has 5 programs with flexible PT & FT options: 3 month +, toddler, twos, preschool, and pre-k/K.I! work nights and really appreciate the flexibility to spend more time with my daughter in the mornings.There is a lot of play, dance, singing, music, and field trips to the Ballet, Vivarium, and local parks.On rainy days, the children play in a full sized gym on site. We are grateful to have CEC and plan to send our next baby there. plc

I'm writing to recommend the Child Education Center in Berkeley. My daughter is in the infants room -- I think some of the postings on BPN are a little out of date about the infants program. We've had nothing but a great experience so far. The teachers are amazingly warm and conscientious, and are extremely experienced and good at what they do. My baby has had the run of troubles that all babies go through: separation anxiety, teething, first colds, etc, and the teachers handle all of these in stride! , with the same constant love and attention that she would receive at home. I feel totally comfortable and confident dropping my sweety off every day. I wish everyone could feel so good about their child care situation. Sarah

April 2005

Can anyone tell me about your experience with the Child Education Center in Berkeley? I am especially interested in the preschool and pre-K experience, and how you feel/felt about your child's kindergarten readiness. Thanks so much! mom of toddler

My experience with CEC was mixed. My child went there for two years beginning in the preschool room. While the preschool room was a bit chaotic, he had fun and developed many friends. Jenny the Pre-K teacher is absolutely in tune with each child and is also a great educator. She helped my son deal with his socialization issues and was really understanding and patient. If it were not for our experience with Jenny in the pre-k room I am not certain that we would have stayed that length of time. The school itself is lacking teachers and often felt unstable.

Feb 2004

We are considering to put our 2 kids, one and a half and three years old, at CEC. We liked the facility, but did not get the chance to talk to the teachers yeat. I read the reviews in the the parents website, but would like to have more recent god or bad experiences about the Child Education Center @ Browning Street. How happy are you and your kids with the school? Do you have any concerns about the School? Any comment will be welcome. Thank you Maro

My two children now age 2 and 4 1/2 have been at CEC for the last year. Like any school it has pros and cons but overall my kids are very happy there which is the most important part. Most of the teachers have been there a long time and are great with the kids. It is a play based program which I like for my kids but my older daughter has learned to write at CEC and is very close to reading so it does have academic advantages also. They take fun field trips and have music and dance. Sometimes the director is hard to reach and it is hard to reach anyone by phone. If you would like more specific information on the teachers in each room, please e-mail me. monica

My son was in CEC last year for 6 months. He was originally in toddler's program and then transitioned to two's program four months later. We were generally very happy with the toddler's program teachers and the care they provided (one of the kids' favorite teachers has left, though). But I did not like their two's program as much,

Before we withdrew, I wrote up some suggestions to the director about how to improve their two's program based on my observations during my son's transitioning weeks. Here they are for your information:

1) Greet, hug, kiss and comfort kids more to help them transition (in toddler's program, the teachers do a lot of hugging and kissing); understand and tolerate the fact that it's normal for some kids to feel attached to old teachers.

2) Always wipe hands and tables before snack times - as what is done in the toddler's program (I noticed that sometimes the teachers don't wipe hands of kids who enter the classroom in the morning in the middle of the snack time. I guess they suppose that kids come in from home (during the transitioning weeks, from toddler's room) with clean hands.

3) Offer water to drink during snack times - as what is done in the toddler's program (I noticed that they don't offer water to drink during snack times, at least not in the morning. I think water is necessary because it would help kids to swallow sometimes dry crackers).

4) Teach new kids how to eat fruits without the skin (I noticed that sometimes the teachers offer fruits with the skin still on, like apples, oranges and bananas. The kids already learned how to eat oranges without the skin in the toddler's program, but some of them didn't know how to eat bananas without the skin. During the transitioning weeks I saw several kids putting bananas into mouths without peeling them first).

5) Wipe kids' bottoms clean when changing diapers and apply diaper rash cream whenever necessary (My son hardly got any diaper rash while in the toddler's program, but he had been having a BAD diaper rash ever since he got into the two's program. Although I wrote a note to remind the teachers to apply diaper rash cream on him, it seemed to me they seldom did. There were even several times that he came back with a not-fully cleaned bottom. ).

Another thing. We had a written agreement with the center that outlines the procedures for getting our deposit back and I had followed those procedures (we gave one month notice before we left). We expected to get our deposit back immediately but nothing happened for four months. We called the director Darlene many times and each time she just gave excuses that their accountant was not in the office or was on vacation.We finally took the advice that we got from Parents Network and filed a small claims court action, then a couple days later they finally gave our full deposit back. anon

July 2003

The Child Education Center at 2100 Browning Street @Addison in Berkeley has a few openings in infant, toddler, twos, preschool and pre K programs in late summer/early autumn. My daughter started in the toddler program at 18 months and is now in preschool, and I cannot imagine her thriving as she does in this 20+ year old play based program with loving long-term providers who really know-and love- her well. Please contact me via email or the CEC's director, Darlene Percoats Redmon, at 510-548-1414. Thank you! Lisa E.

May 2003

Re: 3 days a week play-based preschool

Check out the Child Education Center (CEC), 2100 Brownig Street (at Addison, near the intersection of University and San Pablo) in Berkeley, 528-1414. My daughter goes there three full days a week. They offer a lot of scheduling options. Nory's mama

March 2003

Hi - I am interested in recent experiences with the Child Education Center day care in Berkeley, particularly their infant program. I've seen the previous comments on the site, but they are old. What did you think about the infant teachers and the way they cared for your infant? the facility? the director? etc. Any comments greatly appreciated. Thanks. Margo

I have nothing but great things to say about CEC. Although my child entered the school at 15 months, and so bypassed the infant program, he has been nothing but happy all the way along. I've found the teachers to be warm, professional and completely committed to the well-being of my child. The director has decades of experience in the field and runs all programs with care, concern, and a broad-base of knowledge. What amazes me is that even after doing this work for so long, her pure affection for the children comes out loud and clear; and her enthusiasm to provide quality care in an environment of love and trust is palpable. This is not glorified child care. There is a committment to a strong and growing curriculum, and close rapport between staff and parents. The bottom line is my son's happiness: over the years, he is consistently thrilled to go to school every day and comes home filled with excitement and stories. Good luck in your search! I hope you have as positive experience as I have. Riley's mom

Our daughter, now almost 2 1/2, has been at CEC part-time (3 full days a week) for about 18 months now. She started in the infant room when she was a year old and stayed there for about five months, until she moved into the toddler room. She is now starting in the twos room.

Most of the favorable comments about CEC on the UC Parents website reflect our current experience. We thought that the infant room teachers related better to the babies than to the parents -- they took good care of our daughter and worked to get her eating, drinking and walking (none of which she did when she started at CEC), but they also gave us some grief about not having prepared her better for daycare. Whenever our daughter was sad about us leaving her in the morning, one of the infant room teachers always was there to hold and comfort her. Even though our daughter was there only three days a week, the teachers understood her: one infant room teacher described her in a written note to us as ''The Boss Lady'' (which she is).

We dropped off and picked up our daughter at irregular times, and we never saw babies left crying for any period of time. Also, from what we could tell, the infant (and toddler) room teachers seemed pretty diligent about trying to keep noses wiped, sick kids out of the rooms, etc. That being said, we were glad when our daughter moved into the toddler room, where all the teachers are so kind and friendly to the parents as well as the kids.

As a previous poster noted, CEC does a great job of transitioning kids from room to room. Darlene, the director, is approachable and very involved in every aspect of the center; she knows all the kids by name and genuinely seems to love and give a lot of herself to the kids and CEC. In the toddler room, the daily activities are planned and carried out well. At the new location, the outdoor play area is not huge, but seems sufficient, and there is a large gym where the kids can play when it is raining.

A few other things we really like about CEC are (1) the diversity of the kids and staff and (2) the flexibility of the schedule. There are not many places around here that take kids as young as CEC takes them or that offer the part-time and part- week options that CEC does. We're grateful to CEC for these things.

Feel free to email if you have questions or want more information. robin

Our 4.3 yr old daughter has been attending the CEC either full or half time (depending on our employment status) since she was 9 months old. We started when CEC was at the Sacramento-Rose site, and have weathered the change to the new site (behind the Berkekey Adult School & pool).

Although we have occasionally looked at other sites (mainly for enrichment as our daughter has a late birthday for kindergarten entrance), we have always stayed with CEC. The teachers are caring and diverse, and the infant room in particular has low to no teacher turnover. Most of the people (that we know) have left because a) their child had a behavior problem (eg severe biting) and they didn't like the school's response b)they got off a wait list for their first choice center (eg UC preschool) c) they moved away from the Bay Area d) they didn't like the new location and had the $ to go elsewhere (more upscale?)

If you value diversity in staff and students, CEC is a good deal for the cost. Andrea


I was wondering if anyone had any experience with the Childhood Education Center or CEC on Sacramento between Rose and Ada? I am looking for part-time group center care and was hoping I could get some references about this center from fellow UCB parents. Any help would be appreciated. Michelle

I placed my (then) 4month old boy in the CEC infant room last winter. My husband and I had not looked around as much as we should have and the CEC was close and our neighbors used it so we went for it. We took him out in March after two months of worry and angst. To be honest our child was FINE. He was well adjusted, slept and ate well there and the teachers liked him (which was key) but what we saw happening with other children really bothered us. A teacher would be folding sheets ignoring three babies screaming from their cribs. Kids would be left in non-swinging swings with no toy to grasp and no one talking to them. The older kids would be wandering around looking bored. In short, most of the teachers were burnt out or lazy and didn't on a continual basis attempt to engage the kids in any creative ways. I know we are talking about infants but to me it was inexcusable that they would just leave kids screaming when they were doing something as unimportant as folding sheets or arranging food bins. I have many many more stories such as medicine not being administered, teachers not telling the whole truth to parents about how their child was that day, talking about parents behind their backs to me, a fellow parent, etc. In the end we hooked up with another dissatisfied family and found a nanny to watch our children. That said, I still know many people who are happy with the CEC for other age ranges, including the family with whom we now share our nanny. Good luck!!!


As a family who is happy with CEC, I wanted to respond to the recent post. My daughter started in the infant room at 5 months and is now in the toddler room.

I have spent many hours observing the infant room at CEC, and I have never seen babies left in their cribs screaming for minutes on end. Some children may fuss and whimper while going to sleep, but I don't consider that screaming. I have seen children in swings that were not swinging, but they were always observing the activity of the older babies in the room (i.e. they were happy). I have observed that some of the kids who are walking seem bored in the infant room, since many of the toys are geared toward younger babies and there are no structured activities in the room. For my daughter this was a very short period of time. For children who walk later, and thus move to the toddler room later, this is more of a problem, which the school may need to address. This is less of an issue in the summer when they take the babies outside to play. Overall, I found the teachers in the infant room to be kind and caring with the babies.

I have also spent many hours in the toddler room. The toddlers do a range of activities, including art, music, books, and playing outside. The day is rather structured, which could be a problem for some kids, but my daughter is happy with it. The teachers all try very hard to have the children talk, and it is exciting to see all of the kids developing.

In my opinion, one of the best things about CEC is the continuity of the staff. Many of the teachers have been there for years. In contrast, a friend's daycare in Southern California seems to have constant staff turnover, which is very disruptive to the kids. My daughter was very attached to one teacher in the infant room (other babies were attached to different teachers), so staff continuity was important to me.

No childcare situation is perfect for everyone, so the most important thing is that the individual parents feel comfortable.


I have been away on vacation and just now getting caught up with messages. Although I am swamped, I feel that I have to comment on the CEC.

First of all, I looked at ALOT of child care places. You will not find another facility that has as much space and sunlight for the kids as the CEC. Secondly, if you do have complaints, the directors, Darlene and Annie, REALLY listen to them and follow up on them.

Both my kids attend. My first entered directly into the toddler room, which is wonderful. I initially had some concerns with one of the teachers, but when I discussed this with Darlene, the infant/toddler director, she spent some time with me, and then gave me names of some of the parents who had expressed similar concerns in the past, and whose children were still at the CEC. She also promised to speak with the teacher. I felt much better after speaking with the parents, and also saw the changes in that teacher immediately. She is a wonderful teacher with the children; my children love her.

My second child entered the infant room as an older infant, already starting to walk. I was not familiar with the teachers, and indeed they were very different from the toddler room teachers. One of the respondents commented that the infant room is set up more for the younger kids and crawlers; I agree. My son needed more stimulation and structure and seemed to be bored with being inside. He cried every day when I left him. But the teachers recognized this and often took him outside to play. Also, he was transitioned into the toddler room very quickly after we enrolled him, when he began walking instead of wobbling! He did not cry once I took him to the toddler room.

In terms of infants crying in their swings and cribs; I am sure it is challenging to take care of 3 infants at a time, which is what the CEC ratio is (1:3). (Luckily, I have never had to do it--my 1 and 2.5 year olds are enough!) Those of us who can't afford one-on-one childcare for our kids can turn to facilities like the CEC, but it is often difficult for us to understand that there will be times when the teachers have to prioritize which child they need to attend to first. Kids may be left crying for a short time, but one thing I have NEVER worried about at the CEC is the safety of my children.

The first person who was critical of the care her child received stated that he was enrolled this past winter. That is when my son was enrolled. I agree that one of the teachers appeared to me to be distracted and disinterested in the children, but later discovered from talking to her that she was worried about a medical condition of hers. After discussing with her and reassuring her, she was noticeably brighter and more interactive the next day and thereafter.

Another thing: I don't believe that the teachers intentionally lie about the children. For example, they keep an infant log, and on several occasions I found that the nap times were repeated twice but differently on the am vs. pm pages. When I asked them about this, they would then recognize the mistake and clarify for me. The comments regarding each infant were also very similar day to day ("He was very happy; played with his friend ____"). I do feel that in large part this was due to some of the teachers' limited English writing skills. But the directors do a good job with teacher placement; these teachers serve the infants much better with hugs and singing than if they were asked to read to the toddlers or twos.

Finding the right childcare is difficult and tugs at our hearts. Ideally we would all be able to stay home and take care of our kids, but the lottery hasn't come through for us yet! It is difficult to find the great teachers for childcare programs; the pay is relatively low. The vast majority won't be college educated. Most people pay their housecleaners more per hour than they pay for the people taking care of their children! Does that make sense??????????

The CEC pays benefits and provides continuing education for the teachers. There is a real sense of community, with alot of cookouts, Parents Nite Out (babysitting on Friday evenings), etc. We have been overall very happy with our choice. Yes, there are occasional problems, but I imagine we would have those with any program.

Lastly, I need to say that we are transferring our daughter out of CEC to the university pre-school, but if she hadn't have been accepted there, we definitely would have kept her at the CEC. We have also applied for our son to enter the new university infant childcare center. However, if he doesn't get accepted there, we will also definitely keep him at the CEC.

From: Lisa

In response to Kyle's (new member) question regarding daycare for his 2 yr. old and 1 yr. old daughter, I can recommend Child Education Center (CEC), located at 1414 Sacramento St., just behind Monterey Market. CEC offers care for kids from 3 months through pre-kindergarten. There are 5 programs in all, each focused on different age groups. Both of our daughters went there (our youngest is just about to leave this fall for kindergarten), and it's been terrific for the whole family. They provide a nurturing and loving environment, and parents are very involved in the school. For further information, call Darlene Percoats, Administrative Director, at 528-1414.

From: Andi

Our child has been in the infant room and now is moving to the toddler room at CEC. I would recommend it to other parents as a good day care program. It is a big place with lots of children, but the staff are kind, dilligent, and have been very stable. It may be especially useful for multiple children because it provides infant care up to pre-K. If you have specific questions or would like to discuss more please contact me.


From: Grace

Our daughter, Rebecca, has been enrolled at the Children's Education Center (CEC), on Rose and Sacramento, since she was about 10 mos. old. The infant room is a building separate from the rest of the school, it's very bright and has a decent size open space for playtime with lots of toys (which my daughter thoroughly enjoyed). Babies age range from 3 mos. to 15 mos. (transfer to the toddler program depends on developmental skills). The teachers are very warm, loving and attentive. My daughter bonded with a couple of teachers and seemed to really enjoyed her time there. We have one of her teachers babysit occasionally.

The director of CEC is Darlene Percoats. She's great and very easy to talk to just about anything. I feel very comfortable in calling her anytime I have a concern and you may want to talk to her about the program. I liked the Infant Program at CEC. The teachers welcomed my calls everyday to see how my daughter was doing.

The reason why I ranked it third was due to the size of the program (I read that babies do better in smaller numbers in daycare) and it's an older facility.

Overall, I was quite happy with the Infant Program. Please call me if you have anymore questions.

In regards to CEC (Child Education Center) at Sacramento and Rose:

My child attended this daycare center for two years and I was quite pleased with it. I took him out for the last year to attend the University H.E. Jones Child Study Center as we lived quite close to it, it was cheaper, and the quality was good.

I would rate CEC as a good daycare/preschool site. They pay their teachers pretty well and have a good benefits package, as a result many of the teachers have been there for years and especially the preschool teachers are very good, on the whole.

They run a well disciplined program which the children seem to love and there is a nice feeling about the place, with many parents coming to help out on work weekends. This place was started about 15 years ago when the University didn't have any full time child care. It used to be located at the old Hillside school on LeRoy Ave., and many of the children had parents who worked at UC. This may be somewhat less true now. I can't say.

If it convenient for you in regards to location, hours, and price, I think you would feel very comfortable leaving your child there.

We had our son in CEC when he was from 5month-9 monthsold, and he was perpetually sick. Everyone said it was because it was his first daycare experience (true), but I found the providers didn't do much to help the situation. I saw a provider use the same tissue to wipe the noses of two different babies.

RE: CEC near Gilman My son(4) started at CEC at age 2 1/2 after "graduating" from a shared caregiver at home, and my daughter, started at CEC at age 6 months. The ratios are low 3:1 infants, and up to 5:1 in the Pre-k room. It's a play-based program with enough structure so kids know what to expect at each part of the day, but home-like enough so that when (3 year olds and up) kids are outside playing they can invent games on their own without participating in choreographed activities all day long. Of course, the programs differ by age group. They do a great job of slowly transitioning kids between age group programs.

The preschool and pre-k kids do lots of cooking (with head teacher Annie Henderson who co-authored a kids cookbook with Mollie Katzen of Moosewood fame), art, dance, and science, and even have a snake and other creatures in their room. The kids do come home dirty after projects and sand and water play!

Since we don't have family on the West coast, I particularly like is having this extended family of teachers and other kids' parents who know and appreciate my kids in all their sweet, and not-so-sweet moods. These teachers are so loving-- my kids often come home with lipstick kisses on their cheeks. And the parents, many UC staff or grad students, (I'm now staff, formerly grad student) are very involved. This message is getting too long, I'd be happy to e-mail or talk individually to any families considering CEC.

I have been reading with interest some of the recent postings regarding child care centers in the area, in particular those concerning Child Education Center (CEC). We have been a "CEC family" for over 3 years now, and would highly recommend it to families looking for an excellent child care center/school for their kids. Staffing ratios are good, and the teachers are highly trained -- many of them have B.A.'s in areas related to childhood development and science, for example. There's not only lots of practical experience in early childhood development, but also great projects in art, dance, music, and science. Some teachers have been with CEC for many years (most for over 5 years, at least one for over 12), which in part is due to the employment/benefits package they get, and also what I think is a healthy work/school environment (work assignments are made with the idea of minimizing "burnout," which is good for the teachers and therefore good for the kids). The teachers are caring and loving, but at the same time provide just enough guidance to allow each kid to grow and develop in his or her own way. Learning is play-based, which is a philosophy that my husband and I like for our kids.

CEC has been great for us. The directors and teachers are responsive to parents' concerns and often work with parents on special projects. Parent participation is required (in lieu of an additional monthly charge), which keeps families involved. Some of us take care of routine tasks (e.g., dropping off library books), while others might come in to teach the older kids about what they do, help out on field trips, etc. In addition, each year the families elect parents to 2 yr. terms on the board of directors (CEC is a non-profit organization, and the parent-run board is required by its charter), which sets the long range financial and programmatic goals for the school. My husband is currently serving on the board and has found that it's a great way to be involved with our children's education. Another nice thing about CEC is that it provides 5 programs: infant (3 mos. and up), toddler, 2's, pre-school, and pre-K. The pre-K program was added last year to help bridge the gap for 5 yr. olds who are waiting to go to kindergarten the following school year. The head teacher in that room is a Cal Biology graduate, and he puts his background to great use.

I think our own situation illustrates why we are so positive about CEC. We moved from the east coast to Berkeley 3 years ago when my daughter Stephanie was 2.5 yrs. old and I was about 6 months pregnant with our second daughter, Julie. We were coming from a home-based daycare situation, and the multiple transitions of moving away from my husband's family as well as our sitter's family was extremely difficult on all of us. Stephanie was very shy and withdrawn at first, but the staff made a concerted effort to bring her out. My husband and I were extremely impressed with the thought and the care which the teachers used in helping both Stephanie (and us) adjust to a completely new environment. Through their efforts, Stephanie soon came into her own and really flourished at CEC. When Stephanie graduated from CEC last spring, we really realized how secure she had become and how much she had grown up in just 3 years. With many tears shed both by us and the teachers, Stephanie left CEC last fall to start kindergarten, and we know that her experiences at CEC will be with her for a long time to come. We started Julie as an infant at 3 months, and now she is having a great time in their "2's" room.

Our family has benefited immensely from our association with CEC. If you're looking for a childcare center environment, it's definitely worth looking into.