Cornerstone Children's Center
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Dear BPN Members, We are considering placing our child in either Cornerstone Children's Center or UC's ECEP Clark-Kerr program this summer. Our child will be 6 months old in June. We would appreciate if anyone could provide us with their recent/current experience with either program, especially with respect to infants and toddlers. Some questions we have are: What do you think of the caregivers, the quality of care/teaching, and the environment? What are your likes and dislikes and/or pros and cons? Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks much for your assistance. Anon
We really love Cornerstone. Our daughter has been there since she was 18months - she was in an in-home daycare that fell apart before that. I think her experience at CCC has been so much more stimulating that what she had before. She wasn't in the infant program, but was in the toddler program before going into their preschool programs. The staff is great - and they seem pretty consistent ( at least over the last year, which is how long we've been there). The toddler room is pretty spacious and has lots of toys and always seems really clean. I always felt that my kid had excellent care while she was there. A lot of times she wouldn't want to leave - and there are certain teachers that she has really bonded with (that she is excited to see, and she talks about at home). We are having another child and also plan to use CCC. It is nice having one place where you can get care for both kids (as opposed to multiple pick-ups/drops-offs.) For me, the main drawback is the location - I commute and sometimes the traffic from the freeway to CCC is worse than my commute on the freeway. And it can be stressful trying to get there by 5:30, when the extended care program ends. CCC provides a parking pass for the garage, so parking isn't an issue. Despite that, my husband and I still talk about how happy we are at CCC.
I would have to give Cornerstone a mixed review. After some initial (and possibly inevitable) bumps, we were extremely happy with their infant and toddler care. There are a lot of caregivers but they were warm and caring with the children, friendly and communicative with us. Our child loved to go there. The space is great and the staff seem to enjoy being there. I got to watch them a bit as I went there daily to nurse my baby for about 6+ months and saw them interact with lots of kids. Each day they told us things our child had done that day.
For the 2+ group; however, we found the teachers to be less responsive to our concerns and to not really know how to handle our particularly active and persistent child. When our child ran in the classroom it was suggested that we not let our child run in the house (in the winter with a very active child this was not an option for us) rather that teach him that we do not run in the classroom. When our child went through a hitting phase we were repeatedly asked to work on it at home (which we did and he improved at home but not at school).
They also strongly suggested we have our child evaluated. Two specialists (one a therapist specializing in preschool children and another a developmental pediatrician) and a new school later, our child has no diagnosis and is a thriving happy child again. Similar issues are handled totally differently at our new school where the teachers are tolerant of differences in temperament and very able to talk with children about their emotions. We know people who are happy with the CCC preschool but in the end we are very happy we switched as we found a much better fit for our child and our family.
On another note, we also found the preschool to have less room for creativity than our new school. For example, each child's art project at CCC looked exactly the same while at our new school each project looks different. I once heard a teacher tell a child she needed to come back and finish putting the water on her picture of a fish.
I guess I would say, if you are ok with possibly moving your child after they reach 2 years, I would highly recommend the infant and toddler care at CCC. I do not regret choosing them initially but I do wish we had moved our child sooner. -anon
One and then both our children have been in Cornerstone since 2006, and we absolutely love it. The facility is great (spacious, lots of windows, nice play areas, nice playground). The care givers are wonderfully loving, there's not much turnover and they receive decent benefits. Some have said that the preschool class (Panda Bears) does not have as challenging a curriculum as they would like. Our son comes home with all kinds of information dealt with in school -- the lives of various animals, plant life, the days of the week, dealing with emotions, and more and more. True, there's no focus on formal reading and writing - so you'll be disappointed if that's what you're looking for. Instead, they play rhyming games, Bingo, etc. We value the excellent social skills that they emphasize. Their flexible hours are also very very useful and allows for continual adjustments. We feel fortunate to have a place like this, and people as loving as these providers, for our two kids. --- Clare (Cornerstone parent)
We are thinking about sending our preschooler to Cornerstone Children's Center in Berkeley in the fall. I was very impressed by the people, program, facilities and administration. However, I have one concern -- we are a non-religious family, and I'm worried there may be too much Christian instruction. We were told us that it is minimal -- mostly conveyed through occasional bible stories dealing with morality and right/wrong issues (we're totally open to this). Are there any non-religious families who can comment on their experiences with Cornerstone?
We are non-religious family, and have been at Cornerstone for 18 months now. Overall, we are very pleased with the school. The kids do learn bible stories and Christian songs (my older child loved to belt out ''Jesus Loves Me'' at the park for awhile), celebrate some Christian holidays, and learn age-appropriate moral lessons.
For us, the religious focus of the school is one of many qualities that make up the whole early childhood education program at Cornerstone. Other aspects of the whole program that appeal to us: there are plenty of supplies and toys and activities for the kids (there will be new classroom furniture and a new preschool playground this year); teachers are friendly to parents, seem to enjoy being with the kids, are compensated fairly, and have opportunities for further training; and we feel that the staff have been responsive to our questions and concerns.
Good luck with your decision.
non-religious and happy with Cornerstone
I have a 6+ year affiliation with this daycare. I am not a Christian, but chose to send my children there. I am not at all offended by the religious nature. It is quite mild. The younger children with sing GRACE.
G_d our Father, G_d our Father, we Thank You for our many blessings and for our food, AMEN.
The older children will hear bible stories - I think all old testament. There might be some craft related to Christmas and Easter.
There are few religious symbols - maybe a picture of Jesus. Maybe a manger at Christmas.
The only time I ever heard my son speak of anything religious is when we went to a Thai restaurant and he pointed at a statue of a sleeping Buddha and said ''BABY JESUS.''
There has been amazing retention at this center. Many of the the teachers have been there as long as I have or longer. They just had someone retire after 16 years. I feel my children are safe there. The playground is a little lame, but there is an inside gym for the rainy days. It is clean, and the facility is well laid out and well maintained.
Some other things: There isn't a lot of drop off and pick up flexibility. Personally, a 3:30 or 4 pm pick up would work better for me. Does not exist. It is either 3 or 5:30.
One other thing to be aware of is the 4-5 year class is a play-based program not a pre-school. I think the activities presented were very creative and intriguing. BUT, with the kindergarten these days, they want the kids coming in knowing their letters and knowing how to cut well with scissors and writing their names. You may or may not get that at Cornerstone. So if you definitely want that pre-school experience, you might have to look elsewhere. anon
any current parents of cornerstone school kids pls tell me if you like their preschool program (is there one?) and any further info about this facility. we just moved to kensington and i'm still looking for school for my 3.5 y/o and 4.5 y/o stinkers. any info greatly appreciated!! (including cost?) thanks! Frannie
I have been very happy with Cornerstone for ages around 18 months until about 4 1/2 years. I liked the program and the structure. I think the oldest kids would benefit from some more challenging curriculum. They still had loving teachers and a welcoming environment, but they get a little bored. Cornerstone has great flexibility with a core program between 9-3 with before and after care from 7:30 to 5:30. You can select 2-5 days per week. I found the pricing reasonable, especially given the flexibility and part-time options provided. My kids have been happy at Cornerstone. Cornerstone parent
Re: Childcare: UC v Cornerstone v Woolly Mammoth
I am a parent of a 3.75 year old boy at Cornerstone. I don't have direct experience with U.C. or Wooly Mammoth but have thoughts about Cornerstone vs. U.C. because as a UC employee I am eligible for both. I originally chose Cornerstone for the flexibility of schedule they offer, which UC does not offer, I believe. I have definitely enjoyed knowing that I can cut back on hours if I need to or add hours. UC needs to be more rigid due to staff commitments. I am so glad that I chose Cornerstone. My child started at 18 months and has thrived throughout. He has great friends, a diverse parent community (not just UC folks), great social skills and he loves to go to school everyday. UC has great programs too but I would consider Cornerstone's as good, if not better. Cornerstone offers much greater flexibility to meet parents needs versus the UC's needs. Also, Cornerstone offers a parking lot for drop off and pickup! You will a good experience at any of these, most likely, but I, and my child, LOVE Cornerstone. Happy Cornerstone Mom
We just started Cornerstone in the Waddlers group. We LOVE it! My daughter was in a previous daycare center in Berkeley that we hated. At Cornerstone, the staff is knowledgeable and friendly. They communicate to me what my daughter does everyday. They have a good schedule for the kids: outside play, walks, nap time ... At the previous daycare, my daughter sat in a high chair or a swing and ate cheerios pretty much the entire time. There was very little interaction between the children and the teachers. At Cornerstone, it is quite different. I always see teachers reading to the kids or interacting with them on some level. We are very happy! I must say, I hate the parking lot, tho. beretranelletti
I'd like to exuberantly recommend Cornerstone for infant daycare. Our son is 11 months now and has been in the Infant class since he was 7 months. He LOVES it there. He LOVES his teacher who has a true, deep affection for all the kids. And the nice thing is I get a report card everyday telling me how my son's day went. As a full-time working mom it is hard to leave my child in the care of another person. But Cornerstone has made my transition back to work easier. It feels good to have confidence that my son is thriving away from me. The low teacher/infant ratio (1:3) is also a huge plus. Priscilla
Re: Best Daycare Centers for Infants
I found the perfect daycare for both of my kids (toddler and INFANT). It is the Cornerstone Childcare Center, on Dana Street at Channing. It is a Christian school, but kids of all religions attend. It is a beautiful, clean facility with space, light and great child/teacher ratio, particularly in the infant class. The teachers are loving, competent and very warm. They give a report about the baby at the end of the each day. They offer now curb drop off and pick up service, which works great. The only problem is that they have a waiting list for some days of the week, but I would really suggest you to go and take a look. Katie Spangler is the director and her number is 848.6264 Ext. 228. I, like you, kept my older baby at home longer than the little one, with a babysitter, but I feel like both of my babies are just as happy in this playful and caring environment. Good luck!
I'm looking for child care for my daughter, who will turn one in August. I'm interested in Cornerstone and read the recommendations on the Web site, but they were pretty old and didn't go into much detail. I'd like to hear about experiences people have had lately, particularly with the waddler program. Also, does anyone know if the staff turnover issue (mentioned on the Web site) has been resolved? Thanks. R's mom
My daughter currently attends Cornerstone Childrens Center and I have no reservations about recommending it highly. She is 2 years old and has been there since she was six months. She just ''graduated'' from the Waddler/Toddler group in January, so I am very familiar with the teachers. During the year she was in that class, there was not a lot of turnover. One teacher quit to stay home with her own child fulltime, and one was out on maternity leave and is now back. My daughter loved all the Waddler/toddler teachers and was very happy there. They are very caring and capable and I always knew my child was being well cared for and loved under their supervision. She is equally happy in ''the big kid'' class, as she calls it, but still likes to stop by and give her old teachers a hug when she sees them. Janie
My 2.5 year-old son started at Cornerstone last month. We have been very pleased with the teachers and quality of care. I was concerned about his transition from a family daycare to a larger center, but he seems to love ''big boy'' school. He is excited to see his teachers each morning, and comes home nearly every day with artwork, tired (in a good way) from having spent lots of time on the playground or in the gym. I am very happy to have found this center and would definitely recommend it. Susan
Our son has been at Cornerstone from age 3 mo. He's now 2 1/2 in the Koala class. We have all been very happy with CCC - he has loved it, and we feel the care has been excellent. Overall we were most delighted with the infant care and felt somewhat less enthusiastic as he went along after that (as the ratio goes up and the price goes down), but still feel good about it. We are looking at other options for him starting at age 3, partly because he is already absorbing quite a bit of the religious instruction.
We have experienced teacher turnover, but they have a large staff, so I think to some degree that is to be expected. They have quite a few longterm teachers, and all the ones we have worked with have been great. Turnover hasn't been traumatic for our son.
What I like about CCC: 1- teachers seem to be treated like humans - they get paid sick leave and vacations, there is support for their training, there are enough backups that someone who is sick can stay home, they have health benefits. 2- the emergency preparedness is very well organized. 3- teachers are very caring, and they are supportive of breastfeeding. 4- they have a gym so kids can actually leave their classroom to play even on rainy days (this has been wonderful!). 5- they are very careful about safety and cleanliness. 6- they accept cloth diapers. 7- the diversity of the staff (and to a lesser extent, the kids) is great.
What I'm less thrilled about: 1- sometimes all the rules seem overly rigid, even though I know there are good reasons for them. 2- the religious education is an important part of the program. 3- I have the sense that for the oldest kids, the class is small and there isn't as much variety as there might be at other preschools (I worry they might get bored). But I only toured the oldest class briefly so this may not be accurate. - Enjoy!
RE: Flexible childcare center for infant
My 14-month old daughter has attended Cornerstone Children's Center at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Berkeley since she was 4-months old. She attends 3 days a week and absolutely loves it. I was originally opposed to sending my daughter to a "center" because I was afraid she wouldn't get enough love and attention (she was an infant who didn't like to lie around but insisted on being carried) - but I quickly found CCC to be a wonderful, loving environment. The caregivers are attentive and warm (and there is not a lot of turnover). The infant area is in the same room (separated by a low gate) as the "waddler" and "toddler" area, which in retrospect was a huge plus - as my daughter got older she loved to watch the older kids and easily transitioned into the waddler program.
I've also found that CCC is flexible - I occasionally need to switch my work days, and although they require that you "buy" an extra day (rather than letting you switch), they've always been able to accommodate me. Although I still miss my daughter on the days I go to work, I am comforted by the fact that I know she is safe and having a LOT of fun at CCC. Their waiting list is long, so I recommend you go for a tour and, if you like it, get on their list soon. Also, I think it's easier to get in if your workdays are flexible. Good luck and feel free to email me (suzannejimkelley [at] aol.com) if you want more info. Suzanne
If you are interested in a large day care center, Cornerstone Children's Center on Dana and Channing in Berkeley offers flexible schedules for infants as young as four months. They offer excellent care in a bright and cheerful setting. They are also very flexible with schedules; they will try to work with any schedule you propose and are very good about letting you purchase extra hours if they can accomodate you. They have a six month waiting list, so you should contact them immediately if you are interested. 848-6264. Theresa
I know we have done this topic before, and yes, I have checked the web page on this. However, I need some more timely help. My 14 month old son is currently at Cornerstone Childcare Center (waddler class), which we have really loved until just recently. The teaching staff for his class and for the toddler class is turning over frequently, and there have been days when I drop off my son and I don't recognize any of his teacher that day. I am getting quite worried. If money was no object, what is the best daycare center for babys near UCB? Also, does anyone else at Cornerstone have similar feelings? Lisa
Our daughter is at Cornerstone - in the "young two's" class/Sun Bears. We actually chose Cornerstone based on the strength of the toddler/waddler program - in particular two of the teachers there - but ended up moving Caroline into the Sun Bears within 2 weeks of starting, since she seemed too advanced for the toddlers (she was 22 months at the time.) And then, we heard that the 2 teachers we'd been so impressed with had left - although I've seen one of them subbing occaisionally.
As I said, when we started, there were 2 teachers that had been there for over 2 years - who looked terrific. She's now in a class where the same two teachers have been there for at least a year - and the whole time she's been there (since Feb.). IT seems very stable and she seems to like the program a lot - which is saying a lot, since it took her 2 months to get over her very strong separation anxiety. So - I don't know what to say, except maybe to talk with Katie about your feelings - and get her sense of whether things are going to settle down there - or not. I think, in general, Cornerstone does seem to have a very high quality staff - I've been very impressed with their teachers, compared to other schools for the pre-pre school set that I looked at. As I said, we actually chose it on the strength of the staff - so maybe a talk with Katie might calm some of your fears. OR - maybe you do need to look elsewhere, if it doesn't look like your child's particular classroom will get better in the near future. I don't know if any of this is helpful. Janice
I also have a son in Cornerstone, he is in the toddler class, and so we are experiencing the same teacher turnover. I share your concerns, I have been becoming increasingly distressed with the situation, especially since he only goes two days a week, so I feel like some sort of consistency is really important. I and others have approached the director, wondering at the very least if they could put a nametag on these new people, it is very disconcerting to leave your child with someone whose name you don't even know. I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I suppose it is difficult to retain good people and still keep tuition affordable, although at this point, I would rather pay more for a stable situation. Having said this, today is actually our last day in that class, my son is graduating to the 2yr old room, where I am hoping we will find a more stable situation. Good luck. Jill
Regarding child care for 6 month old- My daughter went full time @ 8 months to Cornerstone Children's Center. The infant care was really great there. They start at about 3 months I think. They are located at the First Presbyt. Church of Berkeley on Channing at Dana, a block west of Telegraph (they have a staffed parking lot just east of the church and school bldg.) The current Director's name is Katie and her # is 848-6252, ext 226. Tavie
I just wanted to thank the members that so graciously imparted their advice on child care when was looking for infant care for my new infant son back in the fall. I have been back to work full-time since December 9th, and it feels great in part to the wonderful day care where I have placed my son.
Thanks to Maria (and I believe one other parent - I have forgotten your name) for the recommendation for Cornerstone Children's Center at the First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley - we could not be happier with the quality of care he is getting. The staff is knowledgeable, courteous, warm and conscientious. And best of all - it is only three blocks from campus, so it is a breeze to do pick-up at the end of the day as well as to drop in on my lunch hour if I choose. I highly recommend them. My husband and I are not church members, but they have quite a few children in their programs who are there because their parents are UC students or staff and who have no affiliation with the church. And for people who may be shy of the religious issues, I think that for an infant or toddler program, it would not have a tremendous influence at this point anyway. I agree with Maria that it just seems to translate into warmth and concern for the children.
For interested parents, just call the First Presbyterian Church at 848-6264.
(By the way, this is one of the few places I have ever heard of that takes infants from birth! Now that takes real dedication!)
My daughter, now almost 4, goes to Cornerstone and has been then since infancy. It is affiliated with the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley (Channing and Dana) so it is very close. They have a core program that runs from 9-3 M-F and you can also get extended care from 7-9 and/or 3-6. It's very flexible--you can pick and choose any schedule that works for you based on availability. You can enroll children as young as 3 months and stay till kindergarten. I've found the center to be extremely clean (my daughter is hardly ever sick), well staffed with nurturing caregivers, and stocked with great toys (educational and otherwise). It seems very professionally run and I feel as if any complaints or suggestions would be carefully considered. You don't have to be Presbyterian or a member of the church to participate. I don't recall seeing this on the Parents list so I thought I'd pass it on. Let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck. Maria