El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative (ECPC)

Community Subscriber

El Cerrito, CA

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

DSS Facility License #
non-profit parent cooperative
admin [at] ecpckids.com
El Cerrito
across from EC Community Ctr.
Maximum Capacity:
Language(s) Spoken:
Ages Served:
36 months - 60 months
8:00am - 5:00am
Additional Services & Features:
Afternoon option,
Drop-in available,
Part-time available,
Sibling discount,
Snacks provided,
Organic options,
Vegetarian options,
Special diet support,
Cloth diapers accepted,
Potty training support,
Special needs support
About the Program:

At ECPC we provide a happy, safe, & supportive environment that contributes to the development of the whole child. We believe children learn best through self-directed play. We offer two half day programs (AM & PM).   Come be part of our community where we spend time each week as a teacher in the classroom.  We are a cooperative school where all the teachers & participators at ECPC support our children as they learn to be part of a larger peer group & greater school community.  

Our 2 part time programs (3-5yrs) take advantage of large, beautiful grounds & an engaged community of caring adults.

Contact us with any questions and/or to set up a tour. 

We look forward to hearing from you!

Parent Reviews

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We can't say enough good things about ECPC - both of our kids went through ECPC in both the morning and afternoon programs. Through a play-based program, my kids learned invaluable social-emotional skills that have set them up so well for elementary school. Through the child-centered program, they learned how to come up with and execute their own ideas, and how to solve and negotiate problems of all kinds (both with peers and otherwise!). All the teachers are warm and child-centered, and my kids bonded with them in a way I didn't know possible. It's so special to know their teachers know and love them just as much as we do. Getting to know all of their classmates and their parents by participating weekly and being part of a cooperative is something that can't be beat - at any ECPC gathering, my kids feel confident asking any grown-up for help and their peers feel the same about us! On top of all that, the lifelong community of close friends you make is just so magical.

How do I even begin to express our gratitude to this amazing school? Our kiddo is in the PM program. He has grown so much and THRIVES under the amazing care and guidance of the PM teachers Jenny and Wendy. Our once shy three-year-old has blossomed; his imagination and creativity are supported and nurtured, and he feels such a sense of ownership over this incredible school. Wendy and Jenny have a true gift of being able to understand and meet each child's unique personality and they pour their energy and hearts into helping each kid grow.

Initially we were a bit worried about joining a PM program with a kid that still napped but I am SO glad we joined. (Our kiddo has been just fine without the nap and we introduced "quiet time" in the mornings!) Our days have a lovely rhythm - a quiet morning followed by the 12pm lunch program at school and a great day of play and learning to follow. The culture of the PM program is nurturing, warm, and fun. Wendy and Jenny bring so much heart, beautiful invitations to play and create, enriching group time activities, constantly rotating learning opportunities, and kid-driven exploration (I mean really... Wendy once spent over an hour turning over every rock and stump at school because my kid was interested in finding bugs and Jenny jumped right on it when he had an elaborate idea to build a birdhouse!!!). Every day is exciting and personal. They meet each kid where they are and build a little family in the PM program.

Being part of ECPC has been incredible for our entire family. We learn so much from the teachers and are lucky to be part of a supportive and collaborative community. The other parent participators have become good friends. It's hard to remember life before ECPC! The school is integral to our lives - a co-op is amazing for young people and their grownups too.

This school is more than anything we could have ever hoped for. If only the rest of my kid's future educational experience could be so great.

Our twins went to El Cerrito Preschool Co-op for 2 years and loved it. Wonderful community, great teachers. I recommend it. I do think though that the child has to be 3. 

This is our second year ECPC and we could not have made a better choice for our family. Going into his first year, our son had just turned 3 yo and we were in the 2nd year of the pandemic so he was very attached to me. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever have a quick or easy drop off. The teachers at ECPC were amazing about letting my son get comfortable in his own time and space. They built a relationship with him and gained his trust and now drop off is a breeze!
The co-op life is definitely something you have to want to do but it has been SO rewarding! I know all the kids and the parents. Compared to my older son’s preschool (not a co-op) where I maybe knew 1 or 2 parents only because we picked up our kids at the same time. 
ECPC is a solid community of amazing teachers and involved parents who want to be a part of the kids’ early education. Not only has my son had a chance to play, learn and grow at ECPC but I have too! I could go on and on about what a magical place ECPC is for us. I highly recommend you check it out for yourself!  

El Cerrito Parent Cooperative (ECPC) is wonderful and fits this criteria. 

If you have time to volunteer, the El Cerrito Parent Cooperative is GREAT! 

This was over 18 years ago, but El Cerrito Preschool co op was really nice for many reasons... I think the 

price was less also, but what stood out for me was that the parents were involved and volunteered ... 

we had healthier foods and less toxic cleaning products for that reason.  

2 day preschool (Feb 12, 2021)


Check out El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative.  Our son is in Pod 4 (PM program) Th and Fri from 1-4:30pm and really loves it.  Usually there’s a requirement for parents to participate in the classroom one day a week, but due to COVID, parents drop off their kids at the school to be w the teachers.   As it’s a cooperative, it’s VERY affordable, but does have a fundraising component (very doable amount).  They still have openings.  Feel free to contact me here or Irene at admin [at] ecpckids.com.  

Hi! We went with a co-op preschool, ECPC, which I realize not everyone can do. My daughter was absolutely terrified and spend the first several months glued to one particular teacher, who kindly and patiently waited for her to become comfortable with her friends and surroundings. The photos tell the whole story - in her first year class photo, she's standing off to the side, glaring at the camera; in her second-year class photo, she is front and center, sitting criss-cross applesauce with her gang of "jungle girrrrrls!" The nice thing about a co-op is that a parent can be on-site without being in the kid's face all the time. I'm very grateful that we had this opportunity. She's still shy! But she very bravely deals with it. 


We attend El Cerrito CO-OP Preschool . we are currently taking applications for next school year. Check it out, its a great community.

ECPC still has a few spaces open in their afternoon program! We had two kids go through there and we loved it. It's not too late ;-)


Check out ECPC--we live in Berkeley near Albany and it's about 5 minutes from us. Both our kids went there. We loved it! Wonderful large outdoor spaces, super friendly community and the teachers are awesome!! And the parents learn a lot from the teachers too. Def'ly take a tour, it's amazing!

El Cerrito Preschool Coop www.ecpckids.com

We love ECPC!  My daughter loves going to school and I love that she loves being there!

 And I love being there too!  It is amazing to be part of a cooperative where we all get to be teachers and we all get to learn.  

There are two professional teachers + 6 parents for each day (with about 28 kids). It is awesome to see with my own eyes how my daughter plays in school, hear what she is learning so we can parallel that at home, and get to know all the other children too!  

The play space pace is so much fun too!!!!  Wish I was a kid there :)

This fall we returned to ECPC after a three year break between our kids. Being back at the school has reconfirmed our love for this preschool, the play-based model and the teachers. Our second son loves the school as much as our first did. We have watched him thrive in the environment with the guidance of the teachers and other parent participators. We love that the teachers focus on helping the kids with conflict resolution and navigating the social world. Teachers Nga and Jenny are firm, but kind and compassionate with the kids and have a good sense of who our son is and how to guide him. There is also great attention to setting up the different areas of the school to continue to engage the kids throughout the year while providing many different types of learning opportunities. In addition to the fixed features such as the sand area and play structures, there are sensory bins, manipulative play areas, art projects and more. I highly recommend this play-based preschool.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2015

RE: Seeking a small, warm, play-based preschool

Hi there! My daughter just graduated from the El Cerrito Preschool Coop (ECPC) and I'm in again with my second daughter. It is a magical place and I highly recommend that you check it out. My older daughter grew leaps and bounds at ECPC and she is now thriving in kindergarten. It's a play based school with unparalleled grounds. It's a very loving environment and a really unique way of building a network of friends for your child and your family. I think the prices are very reasonable for the area. We're having our Open House October 17th from 10-12. I am happy to talk to you more about it. Feel free to email me! Tina

Please check out El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative (ECPC). My 3 year old just started this year and we couldn't be happier with our choice. It's play based and child-directed with a vibrant and welcoming community. The school's philosophy is focused on allowing children to develop their social and emotional skills while learning through exploration and play. The school is bright and air with a seemingly endless supply of creative activities and manipulatives. The 2 play yards are impressive and large. And most importantly the teachers are wonderful and highly experienced. Spanish, Music & Yoga are each offered once a week (and included in the tuition). You can choose morning, afternoon or full day with a minimum of 3 days a week. Since it's a co-op the tuition is very reasonable. We currently pay $330 for 3 days 8:30-12. It's a really special place. If you can make it please come to our Fall Open House on October 17th from 10-12 to experience a day at ECPC. The school is located at 7200 Moser Ln. El Cerrito. Loving ECPC

Jan 2015

Re: Looking for a Play-based Preschool

One of the best play-based preschools in the area is El Cerrito Preschool Co-op.  We have been at ECPC for 5 years and it has been a fabulous experience for our children.   The campus is large, the kids have an extensive outdoor space / sand box.  Inside there is a great block area, game room and art area.  Play at ECPC is child directed, meaning they get to chose what they would like to do, with the exception of group time. They are having an open house on January 24 from 10-2pm.  They are located at 7200
Moeser Lane in El Cerrito.

Jan 2015

Re: Looking for a Play-based Preschool

There are a lot of choices in that area: Skytown, ECPC, Albany Preschool, Peter Pan, Dandelion, CCC, The New School, and others. It all depends what your family needs. Do you need full time or do you prefer a half day? Can you work at the school? Some of the schools allow a choice of days while some offer only five days a week. Do you know you'll start with five days a week or do you want a three-day schedule?

I chose ECPC (El Cerrito Preschool Co-operative) for both my kids because I loved the big, thoughtfully designed outdoor spaces and the freedom they allows the children; appreciated the choice of morning, afternoon, or full-day programs (my eldest attended the morning program and my youngest the afternoon; both programs are structured the same but have different directors and teachers); and liked being able to choose how many days we attended. Their programs are mixed age, rather than separating three- and four-year-olds, and I was glad my children got to experience a mix of ages in their years at ECPC.

Play-based was my only requirement going in, and I toured some really nice schools from the above list. I liked the people and campus at ECPC best, though. I'd pick ECPC again in a heartbeat.

Good luck finding your school!

Feb 2013

Re: smallish preschool in El Cerrito
I don't know if you have actually spoken to the Enrollment Team at El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative, but we are definitely not full! We have plenty of openings in our afternoon program and a very short wait-list in our morning program. Based on how you described your daughter and the environment you are looking for, it sounds like you would be a perfect fit. The school has so much to offer, including a wonderful music program, a huge variety of activities offered daily and an amazing teaching staff. The Co-op model means that you will be intimately involved and share her experiences at the school. I encourage you to contact our enrollment team at enrollment [at] ecpckids.com. ECPC Parent

Reviews of El Cerrito Preschool Co-op?

Sept 2012

does anyone have any recent experience with el cerrito co-op? wer are looking for a really wholesome place for our 3.5 y.o. son and they have an opening. we are really interested in psycho-emotional well-being above cognitive learning... we are into waldorf and hand-in-hand parenting philosphies as well as non-violent communication. hoping it will be a good fit! we are all more than ready for preschool thanks in advance... J.

We are a current ECPC family who would love to tell you more about the school. Our older daughter attended ECPC for two years and our son is currently enrolled.

We are part of the afternoon program, and have nothing but praise for the PM teachers. Nga, Jenny and Sally are wonderful and have so much experience and wisdom in working with children this age. The AM program as a new director (Kathy) with a TON of experience, working along-side Par another wonderful teacher who has been at the school for 26 years.

The ECPC play based philosophy is entirely focused on allowing children to develop their social and emotional skills while learning through exploration and play. There is no academic focus at ECPC. The teachers do a really great job of teaching the children about personal boundaries by facilitating child-led negotiation. We have a home-made (often organic) snack made by the parents every day. And the best part is that by being a parent participator one day per week (unless you buy out of that requirement) you get to see exactly what goes on every day and bring your own skills/interests/philosophies to the school and our students.

If you haven't already, you really should take a tour and meet the staff and parents. There is an Open House coming up on October 6th, but you can also emailenrollment [at] ecpckids.com in order to come see the school earlier than next month. I would also be happy to answer any other specific questions you have about the school or our experience with it for the last 5 years. Lia

We LOVED, LOVED, LOVED El Cerrito Preschool Co-op (attended 2009-2011 and still keep in touch with *many* families from the community). It was an amazing, warm, nurturing, free place for our daughter to grow and learn, and to come into herself. I can't say enough good things about the school, the teachers, and the amazing, diverse, and welcoming community of families there. Also, some people might be concerned about the fact that it is not an ''academic'' program (kids don't sit in a classroom and learn facts, or how to read, etc.). We found that the learning she experienced at ECPC, which was hands-on and experiential, prepared her extremely well for Kindergarten and beyond (incidentally, there is a lot of research to support this). She's now thriving socially, academically, and emotionally in first grade. Wish we could stay at ECPC forever!

July 2012

Re: Looking for a Preschool with a Garden
Please consider El Cerrito Preschool Co-op on Moeser Lane in El Cerrito. We are certified as a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Garden by the National Wildlife Federation. Here's a little bit more about our garden: http://ecpckids.com/garden.html ECPC is a play based preschool for children 3 -5 years old. We offer morning and afternoon programs in a relaxed, supportive and culturally diverse environment. We have an experienced, caring and professional staff with a low turnover rate. Our preschool has operated as a parent cooperative since 1940. While our professional teaching staff runs the program, member families own the school and are responsible for administration and maintenance. This helps keep tuition low and allows parents to be fully involved in their child's education. It also serves to build a strong sense of community among the families in the school. If you would like more information about enrollment, please email: enrollment [at] ecpckids.com

June 2009

My son just turned two and I'm at a loss as to which preschools in the El Cerrito/Albany/N. Berkeley area are good. I like the idea (and cost) of a preschool coop and have heard nice things about El Cerrito Preschool Coop but not sure about the time commitment. I would like to get more recommendations about any preschools in the area. Any suggestions or feedback about ECPC? Anna

ECPC is a great school & I wanted to address your time concerns. Yes, a co-op does require time/effort (minimally: 3+ hrs weekly participation, 30 hrs yearly family job, 12 hrs yearly maintenance, & 4 hrs yearly publicity). Co-ops seem to be more difficult for families with inflexible work schedules or that have sibling childcare concerns. Basically, it all depends on your life situation as to whether it will work for you. Honestly, the more time/energy you can put into a co-op, the more fulfilling you and your child's pre-school experience will be. Co-op participation is a fantastic way of initiating parents into being involved in their child's education. (It's my understanding that one of the biggest factors as to how well a child will do in school, is parent participation or lack thereof.) ECPC allows parents to jump right into being involved in their child's formal education in an environment that helps them learn to work with the school, teachers, other parents and kids. So yes, co-op involvement takes up a lot of time, but it's well worth it. In fact, a priceless experience as far as I'm concerned. We love ECPC. Very Happy ECPC Mommy of 6 & 4 yr old

Sept 2007

Re: Preschool w/ an ''Unconditional Parenting'' approach
In my experience at El Cerrito Preschool Co-op with two of my children they encourage the use of language like you describe which is nonjudgmental and they talk with parents about the ''harm'' done by praise. It was new information for me as a parent but many of the phrases have stayed with us over the years like ''it looks like you worked hard on that.'' It's a great school, it requires some commitment of time though. ecpc mom

May 2007

I am looking into El Cerrito Preschool Co-op. Anybody with current or more recent experiences to share? Thanks. Interested Parent

Hi, My son went to El Cerrito preschool Cooperative for four years. he received a PhD in preschool, actually. I can't say enough good things about this very creative, free-play preschool: the experienced teachers, large play areas, well supplied indoor activities, redone kitchen, supportive membership, etc are great! Good flexible hours and cooperative environment, or buy out if you need. Email me and we can talk in person..fresoc8

ECPC is a fabulous place for children to thrive. The school has two huge outdoor play areas, literally each one is bigger than many other preschools' entire properties, and the indoor is also large and offer many varied activities. The art philosophy is to provide supplies and some guidance, not models, and allows the kids their own way of working with the materials. It's fun to watch how each child does completely different things with the same materials. The afternoon program teachers, Nga and Sally (whom I have experience with) are loving, kind and completely respectful of each child and the parents. The structure of the school fosters creativity, and allows each child to find and develop their individuality in a way I only dreamt that I would find for my children. Both of my children attended ECPC's afternoon program and we very reluctantly left in March '07 after returning to Oakland, although we commuted for 1 year, that's how special the school is. If you are interested in your child maintaining his/her uniqueness in a group setting and want loving, kind, respectful teachers this is the place for you. There is alot of co-op work, but less than comparable co-ops as the school has lots of families because of the AM and PM programs. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Feel free to email me with any questions. silla

ECPC is a fantastic pre-school. My 4-yr old is finishing her 1st yr & my 2.5-yr old son will start in the fall. (However, I suppose most parents believe that their pre-school is fantastic, otherwise why would they attend?) At any rate, ECPC is a big school - 30 kids & is obviously a co-op. Those are 2 of its advantages, but for some they can be disadvantages. Do you think your child will thrive in a big pre-school setting? While it seems we have every type of kid personality imaginable, (shy, outgoing, slight learning difficulties,...), they all seem to find their place at ECPC & I think that's because of parental involvment, as well as the abilities of our outstanding teachers who have design a fabulous play-based progam, not to mention the school itself is a great facility. Also, does your family have the time/energy to put into a co- op? They're simply not for everyone. When we began it seemed overwhelming, but living up to our family obligations wasn't difficult at all, granted I'm a SAHM & my husband works a job with flexible hours so we really share in the co-op duties. While you can ''buy out'' of your weekly participation, I'd encourage you not too because a benefit unique to a co-op is that you can witness first hand your child's progress. As first time parents, we learned what's ''normal'' & where our child fell within that spectrum. Plus, in working with the teachers, other parents & kids, we learned so much about how our per-schooler's mind works. I think the whole co-op experience has simply made us better parents. Please anyone feel free to contact me, if you'd like to discuss further whether ECPC or a co-op in general might be good fit for your family. Good Luck Debbie

I did not like the school. It's a nice idea, (the coop part) and affordable, but they are pure play based-no academics at all. It would have been so easy to ''sneak in'' a little writing or counting or basic ABCs but they are against that (at least from my experience.) I didn't understand that at all. A lot of kids were coming close to Kindergarten age. The monthly meetings dragged on for hours (like until midnight!!!). They were poorly monitored and just gave some parents an excuse to brag about their awesome parenting skills. My child is now in a fantastic private school and is excelling. ANON

April 2007

I am looking for a preschool for my almost 2 year old son. I was curious to hear about people's experience at El Cerrito Cooperative Preschool. thank you! Angela

El Cerrito Preschool Co-op is a great school! The outdoor play area is fantastic, the art area is wonderful and the teachers and parents are very committed. And I was so disappointed when it didn't work out for my kid. My child is very bright and loves communicating with adults and older children. She is also very sensitive and takes a long time to warm up to people. The co-op is good for kids who are independent and emotionally pretty sturdy. My child had a hard time with having the adults change each day and most did not have the time to give to her to make her comfortable. So we ended up switching to a more traditional preschool where the same group of teachers are there each day and there is no parent participation. So it really depends a lot on your child's personality, where will they be comfortable. After our co-op experience I looked at four other schools with my child and really listened to her comments. I also looked at how comfortable the other children seemed. We found a great school and there is none of the stress that she showed at the co-op. anon

The ECPC requires weekly participation by the parent/s as it is a co-op. The program is great but if you cannot participate and have to ''buy out'', it's not worth it. It is difficult to feel like you are a part of the school/program/parent groups when you are not there other than to pick up/drop off your child. Aside from that, the staff is great, supportive and loving and the ECPC has one of the best play areas in the East Bay. good luck!

If you are referring to ECPC on the corner of Moeser and Ashbury, I can say that our experience there was wonderful. The teachers have many years of experience, the director has been there for over 25 years, and the community of parents was a joy to be a part of. It is a coop so of course requires a fair amount of participation, but this is a great plus, since it means you know all the kids and their families and can really make connections. It is play-based and allows for a lot of free choice by the kids. We were particularly enamored of the large play areas in the front and back yards of the school (much larger than any other school we toured) and the free access to lots of art materials (our daughter was particularly enamored of lots of opportunity for water play). The adult to child ratio is low since there are parents there in addition to the teachers, so kids get lots of attention and supervision. The teachers are wonderful--culturally aware, warm, experienced, and very encouraging of socialization and development of self-confidence. Our daughter blossomed there. It is a culturally diverse community as well, with families from around the world. parisdoc

Feb 2007

Re: Is the number of adults a problem at a co-op?
Hi-Our not really shy daughter started El Cerrito Preschool Co- op (ECPC) at age 3.5. It took her about 2 weeks (going MWF, 8:30-noon) to adjust to ''school.'' During that time I would stay for the day & then less & less each day. For the first few weeks or so, ECPC encourages this practice to give children (& parents) time to ease into the new routine. We have shy kids at the school & they seem to adjust just fine, even tho the school is big, 30 kids. From what I've experienced, shy kids tend to seek out a parent (whether they know them or not) to hang around with each day (& that parent then assists in helping the child integrate with other kids.) At ECPC, there are always 6 parents & 2 teachers. Having different parents each day was never an issue with our child. Meeting them was simply part of adjusting to preschool. What was more important was the interaction with the teachers who are the constant that the kids get comfortable with & who initially reassure them that they are in a safe, fun environment. As the school year progresses, kids naturally bring parents into the mix. We love ECPC & the co-op experience. Our son (age 3 in Nov) will attend this fall along with his big sister. Feel free to contact me if you want further info. Debbie

January 2003

I am looking to buy a house in the Richmond/Annex/El Cerrito area and am curious about the preschools and elementary schools for my son who is now two. I've heard good things about Harding as well as a coop preschool in El Cerrito. I'm planning on visiting some of the schools and talking w/ the teachers, but any feedback I can get from parents living in the area would be SO greatly appreciated. Lynn

I can speak to both El Cerrito Preschool Coop and Harding as my children have attended both. ECPC was a wonderful, nurturing start for our kids where we made lasting family friends. The Coop spirit there made for a wonderful community and since many of the families live nearby those relationships have lasted and we now have a ''walking school bus'' of ECPC grads (K-3rd grade) who all go to Harding. On any given morning 5-9 kids and a few parents walk to school together. There is a good-sized contingent of ECPC grads at Harding which makes for a nice transition for the kids and a small but active ''coop-trained'' corps of parents.

(See also: Harding School reviews

June 2002

Re: Preschools with good playgrounds
The El Cerrito Co-op Preschool on Moeser has two LARGE playards. The front one has both a huge sand area where the kids do waterplay all spring until fall and also a large paved ring around a large jungle gym area that allows for cycling, wagon-pulling, etc... Children also enjoy the trampoline with large padded mats around. In the backyard, the parents have built a native garden and we're also getting a new play structure this year and maybe a fort. The school is playbased, and the teachers are wonderfully well-read and experienced about positive disciplining and child-development issues. I'm very pleased with the kind and amazingly consistent responses of parents in working with the children in this co-op. It's also earthquate retrofitted. I've been to 25+ schools and interviewed over 50 by phone! The school's phone # is 526-1916. There are only two pm spots for this Fall still open. Susan

From: Anne-Marie and Tim (3/98)

We'd like to put in a word for our wonderful preschool, El Cerrito Co-op. Our daughter has been there for over a year and the whole family loves it. There are two large outdoor areas with sand, play structures, a garden, and lots of open space. Inside kids can make art and cooking projects, dance, read, dress up, or build with giant blocks. The basic parent participation is one morning a week, but there are different participation/cost options depending on your family's ability to participate. Lots of dads participate which makes for a well-balanced atmosphere. There is a morning (8:45-12) as well as an afternoon program for preschoolers. The afternoon is slower paced and has fewer transitions, but just as many neat things going on. This works well for young children in their first "school" environment or any child who is slow to adapt to changes, and also for the kids who are there all day and need a quieter afternoon. The school is open from 7:30-6 for extended care. The directors have about 30 years combined experience at this school and the whole staff is great. This is just a cheerful, playful, cooperative place.