Harold E. Jones Child Study Center - UC Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

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University of California, Berkeley
(510) 643-5449
moreida [at] berkeley.edu
UC Berkeley campus - 2425 Atherton St.
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
32 months - 56 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri

Parent Questions

Berkeley area preschool with good outdoor area(15 responses)

Parent Reviews

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Archived Reviews: 

March 2015

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

We love the Child Study Center, part of Cal's childcare. We started in February, 2014, when our daughter was three and we had just moved to the East Bay. We were shocked that they had an opening, and I think they do now for 4 year olds. Amazing teachers, no turnover, spacious yards and plenty of choice in activities or free play for most of the day. Perfect, except the price and the upcoming Spring Break. http://ece.berkeley.edu/ Amy

Feb 2013

We are considering applying for a spot at the Child Study Center Preschool for 2014, and would love to hear from current families (or those in other preschool programs on campus) about how things are going with all of the changes in management of the UC early childhood programs this year. Are things moving in a positive direction? Have the changes affected the day-to-day operations of the preschool? Any general feedback from current parents on your experiences there? Thanks! Curious parent

I am a parent of a child at the Child Study Center. Aside from lots of extra communication from RSSP and lots of communication among the parents, I haven't seen any noticeable difference. No change to the schedule, philosophy, activities, teachers. I know the teachers were very stressed when they were considering outsourcing management, but now that things have settled it seems like things are ''back to usual.''

We are very impressed with the CSC - our child is thriving in the environment. The teachers are very engaging and create a fantastic environment for the kids. I highly endorse CSC. Happy CSC parent

April 2011

Much to my surprise, we've just been offered a slot at the Harold Jones Child Study Center. The most recent reviews for this preschool that are listed in the BPN archives are from 2008, so I'd really like to get some feedback from current parents or the parents of children who've recently been through the program. My son is already in another school (which is smaller, cheaper and closer to my house) and he's doing just fine there, so I really need some advice as to whether Harold Jones would be any better. I'm well aware of the noxious effects that budget cuts have been having on all of UC's programs (goodbye, my office phone!) and I'm particularly apprehensive about what even more cuts might mean for these early childhood programs. Any reviews, positive or negative, would be very, very helpful. Faculty Mama

We love Harold Jones. The teachers are fabulous, the space is amazing with enough room for both a near yard and far yard (and ginormous sand pit), and our child is very comfortable, happy, and learning a lot via their play based curricuium. A number of parents did have to spend considerable time this year trying to fight back against teaching staff reductions threatened by the UC budget crisis; most proposed changes have been either squelched or will not, I think most of us think, destroy the quality of the program. We are planning to keep our child in the program (and as far as I know, everyone else who can return is planning to, as well). Having a child at Harold Jones is a great way to get to know people across other departments. It has also been an interesting space from which to insist that the university lives up to its claim to family friendly and gender equity policies, and working together on this issue with other parents has been inspiring to me. We are really pleased with the truly excellent quality and significant experience of the teaching staff, the curriculum, how they tackle particular issues, etc. All of this said, there are two classrooms, East and West, and we only can speak to our experience in the latter. But ask the moderator for my email and I will happily tell you more and put you in touch with other parents (in both classrooms) as well. another faculty mama

Even though the UC budget cuts have impacted the Harold Jones CSC pre-school, the teachers remain excellent and committed to child development. My daughter is finishing her second year there (and been in UC childcare since she was an infant); I am very grateful to have had this resource. Harold Jones has decades of knowledge behind them, and provide a wide range of experiential activities for the children, robust early literacy and math development, and diverse, creative activities for children to engage with the world around them. Strong social development is a priority. You can certainly do far worse than UC, and I would be hard pressed to find how you could do better. UC parents continue to fight the stem of budget and service cuts, and they are a powerful group, so I have high hopes that the quality of the program will maintain. Satisfied Berkeley Parent

There are/were many great things about Harold Jones preschool, especially if you work on campus; near your work, same holiday schedule, great to know other campus parents, beautiful setting, meals included, great early childhood theory, teachers provided with benefits, paid vacation. However, I am sad to say that my most recent experience there was not good and I pulled my son after only 4 months. My older son spent two years there and he and I loved it. that was several years ago. My younger son did not have a great experience. Maybe it's his personality and he didn't ''click'' with the teachers(?), maybe the effects of budget cuts on teacher floor time which resulted in a place too chaotic for him to manage on his own without more direct interaction with the teachers -or maybe it just wasn't the right place for him. Regardless, I was not happy with how our time there was handled. anon

Dec 2008

My son is approaching preschool age and we're fortunate to have two great options starting next fall: Nia House Montessori or one of the UC Berkeley preschools. I really liked the feel of Nia House and can sense that it's a fantastic environment for introducing kids to the joy of learning. On the other hand, the fact that they don't provide meals/snacks and that the school is far from my home and work would add quite a bit to my daily stress. The UC Berkeley preschools have a great reputation, although I'm a little less enthused about them relative to Nia House. But...they're close to home and work, and meals are provided. Thus, more precious moments with my son that would otherwise be spent driving, shopping, and cooking. Do any of you have relevant experience, suggestions, advice? anon

Our daughter is currently at the Child Study Center (Atherton street) at UCB and we love the program. I firmly believe that a play based developmental preschool is the best way to go, compared with a Montessori or more academic format. They have been very accomodating and nurturing of our daughter, who is a very active and somewhat intense kid, and she loves it there. If you have a choice between different UCB preschools, I prefer the Child Study Center to Haste Street. The Haste street building is beautiful and totally green, but the outdoor space is much bigger at the Child Study Center. Our daughter was at Haste Street in the toddler program and it was a nice program, but with her activity level we thought she might do better in the larger space at the Child Study Center. The food in both programs is great, UC has switched to organic/whole grain foods, and they get multiple hot meals and snacks. Happy UCB parent

editor note: reviews were also received for Nia House

Nov 2008

Re: Preschool for spectrum kid
My kid was diagnosed as being on the spectrum by one developmental pediatrician and possibly on the spectrum by another. He has had a great experience at Harold Jones Preschool in Berkeley. I don't know that the teachers have particular training with ASD kids, but they have like 20 years of experience and were really good at providing help and support to my son. He is much better at playing with other kids, making connections with them, staying on task, imaginative play,..., basically all the things I was worried about when he started. You need to be UC-affiliated to get in.

Feb 2007

We just found out that our child has a space in the Harold Jones Child Studeny Center for next year (the original campus, not the new one). All the reviews of it are old. I'd love to hear what current parents think about it. Thanks! Wondering about preschool

I was just offered a place at Harold Jones for my preschooler and I am thrilled. My older child graduated from H.J. last fall and I can't wait to become part of this center once again. Some reasons: The staff is terrific - - wonderful, experienced teachers augmented by energetic Cal undergraduate assistants. The outdoor playspace is well-designed and well-used. Weekly gymnastics or dance classes. Lots and lots of classic children's books (the best collection I've ever seen). The classroom interior is comfortably worn but warm. Great involvement by parents. I could go on and on. I find it to be a truly inspiring place and I hope you will too. Fan of H.J.S.C.

We are completing our fourth year at Harold Jones. It has been fabulous. I couldn't imagine a better preschool experience: nurturing environment, experienced teachers, great community, etc. Let me say a couple of things about what you WON'T find at Harold Jones. There is very little academics; the curriculum is ''play-based'' so if you want your kid to get a headstart on ABCs, this is not the place for you. I have heard from parents whose children went on to very academic private schools; they felt the program should have been more academic and did not fully prepare their child for kindergaretn. Another thing: of you want hands-on teachers who will get down on their knees and play with your child, this is also not the place for you. The teachers strategically and consciously lay low and stay in the background letting the kids play with one another and resolve their own conflicts; they don't make a point of ''entertaining'' the kids (aside for the obvious circle time and group activities) but rather try to get kids to learn how to amuse themselves and one another. This style fits with what we wanted in a preschool but may not be for everyone. Happy Harold Jones Parent

Our daughter graduated from Harold Jones a few year ago, and our son is there now. We are thrilled with the teachers and site supervisor (they are professional, warm, caring, and very creative). It's a terrific place for kids (the facilities and activities are great) and a terrific place for parents (it's been very nice getting to know fellow UCB faculty/staff parents). We recommend it highly! Happy Parents!!

January 2003

I would be very interested in how current parents of students feel about the Harold Jones Child Study Center. (The posted reviews are from 2001.)

We feel incredibly fortunate to have our daughter at the Child Study Center. The teachers are outstanding and the facility is perfect for that age. Our daughter has learned so much - about other cultures, new songs, dances, arts & craft - the list is long. They encourage a wide variety of inside and outside activities - both structured projects and freeplay. And perhaps more importantly, the teachers are very encouraging with respect to social skills, so that she will be able to develop the confidence and appropriateness that are so important in interacting with her peers. Frankly, I can't even begin to put into words how happy we are with everything. When I tell my friends about the preschool, I just simply say that we feel like we have won the greatest lottery on earth to get a space there. I have already put my son on the waiting list (he is only 4 months old - but that is how much we like it!). I recommend it highly. Maryanne M


My son has now been at the Child Study Center for two years now (East Classroom). My husband and I couldn't be more pleased with the center and the staff there. They provide a safe, loving environment for kids to learn about who they are and the world around them. My child is very happy there. Also, the staff make themselves available to the parents for advice and support. It's been very helpful to receive advice from professionals who truly know my child, and can offer suggestions tailored to his temperment. In terms of the rate increase, the Center provided us with a rate comparison of comprable centers/preschools in the area, and the Child Study Center rates are still below market rate. My feeling is that its worth the money, but obviously everybody has to make that decision for themselves. Good luck! Donna A.

I am a parent of a child currently in her second and last year at the center, and I am very enthusiastic about it. It is too bad that the tuition is going up, but it is still very reasonable compared to most full-time preschools in the area. Right now it is a huge bargain, and it will still be a bargain next year, only not quite as huge. It's a great facility, well set up for all kinds of indoor and outdoor play. (Perhaps a little bit old-fashioned -- but I rather like that and the children certainly don't mind.) Another nice thing about it is the researchers' observation gallery, which parents can use at any time. The teachers in my child's classroom are terrific -- very enthusiastic about their work with the children, committed to helping them learn and develop, very imaginative in coming up with ideas for activities. My daughter really likes it there and is obviously getting a lot of intellectual stimulation as well as great social interaction. I haven't compared it to other preschools, but I find it hard to imagine any place that would suit my daughter better. No complaints here! Hannah

I am responding to the request for recommendations for the Child Study Center. I posted last year at this time as well but I will re-iterate that I am very happy with it! In fact both of my children, 3 & 5, are in the East Classroom this year. The facilities although not beautifully new, are well maintained and the variety of supplies and materials that are offered to the children on a daily basis are vast! I've been there for a year and a half and there are frequently new items that I haven't seen before. I can't speak highly enough of the staff. They work as a team and really have the children's best interest in mind. Both my children had some illnesses this year and the staff incorporated surgeries and hospitalization into their "circle" times to help not only my children but the whole class understand what was going on. I never even thought to ask them to do this but it really helped both of my children deal with the stress. I've found all of the teachers, both students and career, very accessible and they really get to know your kids. Regarding the increase in price, I happen to sit on the Parent Advisory Council as a Parent Representative. I'm not sure if you were given a copy of the survey that was done with your admittance paperwork but out of at least 12 (possibly more) local daycare providers/preschools with similar hours and facilities, the Child Study Center was the least expensive. The increase to $850/mo. only brings the cost up to the next least expensive preschool in the area. I know, it was a shock for me too but I think mostly because as UC workers our wages have fallen so far behind. Hopefully now that UC is getting it's act together the cost won't be as much of a burden. In any even, you certainly get a huge bargain in my eyes for the quality of care you receive. Janeen


My 4-year old daughter goes there and my experience has been nothing but positive. The teachers and helpers are very nurturing -- the research aspect doesn't take away from that in the least. Hannah

My daughter goes to the Child Study Center. If you are fortunate enough to have gotten a spot there, you should take it. The quality of the care is very high, and the ratios are far better than in any other nursery school I could afford. We have found that our daughter has really thrived while at the preschool. I do have my suspicions that while my daughter is very successful there, my son whose development was somewhat less even might have had a little less success there, not because the caregivers were not wonderful, but because the children were all at about the same place developmentally and it's hard to meet the needs of someone who has a wider range.

The research aspect is a pretty small part of the program... it certainly does not interfere curricularly. The kids all seem to want to go and "play games" as they refer to it. My daughter is particularly fond of one of the researchers (Dave, I think). Myriam

My son went here for a year and loved it. For most of the studies a grad student would take one or two of the kids off to a little study room and do things with them. For example, in one study the student taught my son a simple song, then studied how well he taught the song to another child. In the year he was there he participated in about 4 studies, all with my consent. For each study you are asked to sign a consent form. As far as I can make out, he and the other kids all enjoyed the extra attention. As far as the observation gallery goes, they were never aware of being observed. But you yourself can go on your lunch time or at other times and observe what your kid is like when you are not around, something I did a few times. All in all it is high quality daycare at a reasonable (tho' not exactly bargain basement) price. My son is still a good friend of a kid he met there, who goes to the same elementary school. Dianna

Regarding the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center. I have only words of praise for that wonderful place. Back when my daughter was a student there, the center only operated as a three-hours-a-day preschool and I cannot speak to its current full-time program. Still I imagine that some important elements have not changed. The layout of the place was exceptionally good; children were free to play either indoors or outdoors and part of the playground was sheltered enough for them to play outside even on rainy days. The ratio of preschool teachers or assistants to children was excellent. My daughter felt as close to some of the assistants as she did to the Head teacher. The center is spacious enough that it never felt crowded, and it offers a wealth of toys, equipment and activities. Regarding the research projects, those were always described to parents first and the parents' authorization is always requested before children are asked to participate. Through observation windows, we were able to observe one such session which was designed as a game and was clearly enjoyed by the children. Our daughter spent two years at the Child Study Center; she was one of the youngest students of her group and spent the bulk of her first year outside on various play structures, only turning to the arts and crafts in the last six months or so of her preschool life; it was great to see that as her interests and curiosity were evolving, the school offered so very much that she continued to be very happy there. Laura

I did my dissertation and pre-dissertation research at the Child Study Center (and I taught preschool before going back to graduate school) and I thought it was an excellent preschool. Besides having a caring, experienced staff, a diverse group of families, and a very child-centered curriculum, they take enormous pains to ensure that research does not interfere with daily activities. In addition, proposals must be approved by the Director, and parents sign consent forms for every study - so if there's one that you don't want your child to participate in you simply don't give your consent (also, your child gets the final say - so if you give permission but s/he doesn't want to for any reason at all, s/he doesn't have to). In addition, you can always talk with researchers before or after the study to ask questions, learn about results, etc. All in all, I think the research aspect adds an important dimension to the school for the children, staff, and parents. Lauren

I sent my two active, young-for-their-age boys to the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center (to the East Classroom) between the years of 1994-1998 and had a mixed experience. I would say that it is not the ideal place for a child that still needs a lot of one-on-one, emotionally nurturing adult attention (which my guys still needed.)

It is a very beautiful facility with great resources for a self-starter kid with fairly strong social skills. Not a great place to learn those social skills for the first time, but a great place to refine and polish them. I would never characterize any of the full-time staff in the East Classroom as bored. They were very committed, experienced, intelligent and caring. Less positive: their reaction to my kids' problems (and mine) felt sometimes overly analytical and somewhat lacking in emotional sensitivity. This may be due to the research oriented nature of the program. Whatever. In retrospect I should have sent my kids elsewhere, and in all fairness to them they gently tried to advise me to at the outset, but the proximity to campus and the diversity of resources and the lovely facility appealed to me. It was, it turned out, not an ideal fit for my boys. Carol

I have a four year old daughter in the East Classroom. I am quite happy with CSC.

CSC has a curriculum which is quite well thought out and implemented by actual professionals (at the school of education, actually). I have found the teachers to be very kind and well educated people that I personally like and would for the most part socialize with. This is important to me. I have found their manner with my child respectful, helpful and joyful. She enjoys her days, She is sad to leave and loves her classmates and teachers. Her language skills have improved incredibly since she's been there, and her vocabulary is large and surprising. Some of this I attribute to normal development, some of it to the preschool. Circle time, twice a day is always a big event, and she comes home with a huge range of art and science projects (sunflowers, ceramics, dyed eggs, kites) No child is forced to do any project but they are all encouraged. The space is magnificent... Designed AS a preschool, not a church basement or someone's house.

I would say the teachers are lower key than at some of the other preschools I've looked at (and I've looked at many, many preschools since I have an older son) but I like that.. Their interactions with my daughter are more like my own. Your mileage may vary on this, but I don't like it when adults interact with children in a self conciously perky way.

Additionally, they do a lot of screenings at CSC which are not routinely done elsewhere. In the course of this year, they discovered my daughter had mild exotropia, which means that she has a slight lazy eye... I am not certain we would have noticed otherwise.

In any case, I urge you strongly to take your child to the center and watch him interacting with the staff, and decide accordingly.

The Harold Jones Child Study Center has a West classroom and an East classroom which are mirror images of each other in physical layout and in the age distribution of the children but there is no overlap in staff. Teachers in the West classroom were much more interested in arranging outings and field trips than were the teachers in the East classroom, and I have heard there are other differences as well, but I have no first hand experience with the East classroom. I found the career staff in the West Classroom to be consistently excellent in the two years my son was there. I never saw a bored teacher and whenever I was there--occasionally watching, unseen, from the observation gallery--the teachers had put effort and enthusiasm into circle time and other activities. Above all the teachers are very loving and give a great deal of attention to the needs of each child. In contrast to the previous school my son attended, where there was a heavy handed approach to discipline, my son was treated with respect and got real support. My son loved his teachers and a year later still wants to visit. The student/teacher ratio is so high that little escapes unnoticed and the staff rapidly intervene and re-direct before things get out of hand. I feel very lucky to have gotten a spot there. Xanthippe

I would like to respond to the Harold Jones Child Study Center opinion request. My son (now 4 yrs. 4 mos.) started there this past August and my daughter (now 2yrs. 6 mos.) will begin this coming August. I obviously am very happy with the program otherwise both my children would not be attending. I really am having a hard time comprehending that someone felt one of the teachers seemed bored. I've dropped in on my child at all times of the day and I also at times visited the observation room where no one, including the teachers knew I was there. I certainly have not encountered anyone seeming disinterested. My son is in the East Classroom as will be my daughter. I feel one of the best things about this program is that teachers have a real clear sense of when to intervene, how much to intervene and when to let the children work it out on their own. The attention given to each child is evident. In my experience (we have parent/teacher conferences once a semester) I am certain that the teacher my son was assigned to has really gotten to know him and is able to assess what areas of development we should be aware of and/or be working on. I don't think it is really possible for someone to fall through the cracks there. I've found all of the teachers very approachable and as questions have arisen, I've talked with them and they've been really helpful. I know everyone has their own experiences but here is mine, for what it is worth. Janeen


My son is completing his first year at Harold E. Jones, and he absolutely loves it--his teachers and fellow schoolmates are the primary topics of conversation when he gets home, and he really looks forward to going to school each day. The teachers are particularly attentive, I've noticed--at the end of each day, they are always willing and able to tell you about your child's day with specific observations about behavior, interactions, moods, and the like. They also provide good suggestions for ways that parents can work at home with children to help them further develop. The activities in which the students participate are well-conceived, age-appropriate, and thematic in design, which gives a nice continuity to the program. My son is the youngest in his classroom, and at first that concerned me, but he is developing quite well and holds his own with the older children. The student assistants employed by the center are also quite good, love children, and seem to be very well trained in discipline and toilet learning.

We haven't had much experience with the research aspect of the program yet. The major disadvantages for us have been the Center's hours (children have to be picked up by 5:30, which can be difficult if your job, like mine, keeps you away from campus more often than not), and the parking (which is being resolved quite nicely). Other than that, we've really enjoyed the experience. Yvette


I was hoping that a message regarding openings at the Child Study Center could be send to all members. We are located at 2425 Atherton St. We maintain an applicant pool/waiting list for future years and parents are welcome to apply at any time. We begin notifying parents of acceptance in Feb - April of the year in which the child is eligible.

The University Preschool, located at the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center, currently has a few openings for the 1996-97 academic year, beginning on August 14, 1996. University staff and faculty families with children who will be at least 2 years and 9 months in August 1996 are welcome to apply. However we especially need children born between April & June 1993 or Oct - Dec. 2, 1993. The program offers full-day, developmental pre-school, from 7:45 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday. The University Preschool is a joint program of the Institute of Human Development and University Child Care Services. If you are interested, please call Randi at 643-7031 (or e-mail at randice [at] uclink2.berkeley,edu) to request an application.

Randi Roberts, Administrative Assistant
Harold E. Jones Child Study Center
University of California, Berkeley
(510) 642-7031

Re: preschool recommendations. My younger son, now 7 and in 1st grade at Sierra, attended the Child Study Center for 2 years and absolutely loved it. I realize that the nature of the center has changed somewhat now that it offers full-day care rather than a "traditional" nursery school, but I was very pleased with the facility and the overall approach of the center. The indoor and outdoor areas are so spacious and there's so much to do that I found there wasn't the same competition for resources and elbow room as there is in smaller facilities. (The fact that I attended the Child Study Center myself when I was a preschooler has nothing to do with my positive feelings about the place.)

Seems to be some confusion about UC's child care for staff. My daughter , who just turned three, just started there this June. It's separate from the students' child care, and it's located on Atherton Street in the south campus area. It's on a UC calendar in terms of holidays, and is closed only the first two weeks in August. It's a wonderful program, a fantastic facility, and great staff. Call them at 642-7031.

more info: It's the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center (maybe sometimes referred to as University Preschool). This program for staff and faculty kids started in 1989 in an existing preschool facility. They use this University facility in exchange for letting various UC researchers conduct studies there. (There is informed consent requested from all parents if their kids will be subjects in any research, and the teachers review any research proposals to be sure it would not interfere with their activities; children are not pressured about it, either.)

There are two classrooms of 24 kids each. There's an age mix in both classrooms, from 2 yrs, 9 months to pre-kindergarten. The program is play-based learning, with an emphasis on social development, self-help skills, conflict resolution, language development, etc. Some of it is free play with lots of great choices in activity corners; the rest is more structured: circle time, projects, etc. There's lots of space, including lots of open space. Every child deserves this kind of child care! The cost is now $535/month. I don't know if there are any openings for the Fall right now. There was an ad a few weeks ago in the Berkeleyan about openings.