Karen's Kiddos Preschool

El Cerrito, CA

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

Home-Based Daycare/Preschool
DSS Facility License #: 
Christina Pollack
510 525-6775
karenskiddos [at] aol.com
El Cerrito
Avila Pl.
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
12 months - 72 months

Parent Reviews

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Both our son and daughter went to Karen's Kiddos - my daughter when she was 18 months when she started and my son started when he was 6 months old.  Anyone reading this would be lucky to have their child(red) go there. It's an amazing atmosphere. Both Christina and her staff as well as the other families that go there all wind up feeling like family!  

Karen’s Kiddos.  I don’t know if they have room,  but this is a great place.  I’ve known Christina for years.  Very caring place.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2014

Our son just finished his time at Karen's Kiddos and I wanted to put in a whole-hearted recommendation for this terrific family day care/preschool in El Cerrito. When our son started this program, at 18 months old, we were quite nervous to transition him into a program after being with a nanny at home, but we could not have been happier with the loving, attentive, warm, and nurturing care that he received.

The best thing about this program is that it feels like a family. Christina, who runs the school, creates a calm and happy atmosphere that is such a gentle, positive introduction to a group education environment for little ones. It was the perfect transition for our son, coming out of being cared for at home, to learn how to get along in a group and to develop the social and emotional skills that will serve him as he transitions to elementary school. The mixed age group was such a positive experience. Our son loved watching the big kids when he was little, and once he became a big kid, he really enjoyed ''taking care of'' and watching out for the babies.

We appreciated that Christina and the co-teachers emphasize being polite and kind to one another. Our friends and family cannot believe how polite our little guy is, and that is all because of the Karen's Kiddo's program. We were always so heartened to watch our son and his classmates because they all loved and looked out for each other. The Karen's Kiddos program sets the stage for the kids to become their own little family. As full time working parents, both my husband and I are so grateful that we found this program to give our son such a great first start. Eliza

June 2013

Karen's Kiddos is a gem of a family daycare/preschool in El Cerrito that has been a major part of our lives for 7 years. Our younger child is ''graduating'' next month (starting K), and we will miss the teachers and families dearly. They accept kids aged 1 year to pre-K and currently have a few full- and part-time openings in September. Hours are 8:00-5:00 or 5:30.

Each of our kids will have gone to Karen's Kiddos for four years starting at age 1. The teachers are loving and nurturing, yet firm and consistent. Every day they serve morning and afternoon snacks and hot (warm) lunch -- and they have been sensitive to food allergies and dietary restrictions (our child has food allergies, another is vegan). Kids have play time, circle time, story time, ''letter of the week,'' afternoon naps and outdoor time in the backyard.

One thing I love about the small, multi-age setting is that the younger kids have role models, and the older ones look out for the younger ones. When they are ready & interested, the older kids learn good old-fashioned phonics -- but it is introduced when each child is emotionally and intellectually ready. Many but not all kids can read by the time they graduate. I realize this may not be a selling point to everyone, but we are pleased that our kids love books and love to read at a young age.

Call us crazy ... even after moving 9 miles from El Cerrito a few years ago, we kept the kids at Karen's Kiddos (and we don't work near EC). We looked at more than a dozen other preschools closer to home and work, and none of them had the right feel as the one we already knew worked well for our family.

Check out their website and call them for more info: http://karenskiddos.com/ or 510.525.6775. We will miss our Karen's Kiddos family! Been a Great 7 Years

May 2013

I cannot say enough about the level of care, educational stimulation, fun, play and overall wonderful experiences we have had at Karen's Kiddos. My very shy daughter has been at Karen's for about a year now and has flourished, thrived, learned all of her letter sounds, made amazing friends and felt so safe and happy every day she attends. Karen and her colleague, Christina, are absolutely incredible. Every child is nurtured and embraced, there are clear and consistent expectations around conduct and behavior. The children are so well loved and cared for that I cannot imagine a better environment for learning and growth. Karen offers the perfect combination of morning instruction and afternoon play. She feeds the children nutritious, whole meals often with fresh salmon, chicken or even tofu. Fresh fruit and veggies are served with every meal, the children brush teeth after lunch and nap time is always a quiet place for nappers and non-nappers to take a break. My daughter has built an entire binder full of letters and letter sounds, she knows her numbers up to 40, she knows her colors, shapes, etc- and did I mention that she is 3??? If you are lucky enough to get your child in, you will never regret it.

March 2013

I have nothing but great things to say about the preschool my 4 year old son attends, Karen's Kiddos in El Cerrito. My son will be graduating this fall and heading to kindergarten. He has been very well prepared for kindergarten, both academically and socially. The teachers, Karen, Christina, and Alexis, are wonderful and warm with all of the kids. The school is located in a converted house in the hills with nice outdoor space that includes space for ride toys, a swing set, play house and more. Lunch is served every day (which I love!) and the school is able to accommodate a wide variety of dietary needs. The school accepts both part-time and full-time students and runs from 8:00am to 5:00 pm. Check out their website: http://karenskiddos.com happy parent

March 2013

We've had our 3-year-old at Karen's for a year, and just love this place. Our son couldn't be happier.

It's warm and friendly, like going to a good friend's house, thanks to Karen, Christina, and Alexis. They're a stable team and the kids are happy, creative, and have a very firm structure as well. They've helped our son learn social and interpersonal skills with the other kids, as well as early letters and sounds, but their academic approach is just right for us. Not too pushy on the academics, but underneath quite rigorous.

They've been around long enough to have the nice aspects of a school--a generous play yard and equipment, large open plan room, cubbies, and large seasonal displays all give some of the excitement of a ''real'' school, but in the comfort of a home environment.

Our nephew went here years ago (he's now 15), and he loved it too. I can't say enough about how much we like this school!

Oct 2012

If you are searching for a preschool in the Albany/Kensington/El Cerrito area, we wholeheartedly recommend Karen's Kiddos, a small, inviting treasure of a school that focuses on developing the whole child. Our son attended the school for 4 years, from around his first birthday until he graduated this year and entered kindergarten. We couldn't be happier with our experience and the effect it had on our child. Academically, he is extremely well-prepared for kindergarten, having developed strong reading and math skills and, more importantly, an intellectual inquisitiveness and a true love of learning. The teachers tailor each student's learning program to his or her own pace. To us, however, what makes the school stand out is its emotionally and socially nurturing environment. Teachers Karen, Christina, and Alexis identify and foster the gifts of each individual child while teaching respect and instilling self-confidence. In addition, much focus is placed on the children teaching each other. The younger children watch and emulate the example of the older children, who in turn learn empathy and feel pride in their own abilities as they assist the little ones. We give great credit to the school for our son's ability to play constructively with children of all ages. The parent community is also terrific. The school is housed in a lovely converted home in the El Cerrito Hills (near Fatapple's) and has a yard with swings and other play equipment. Lunch is served every day. Karen accepts both part-time and full-time students, and although the school is fairly small (around 15 children), there are a few openings this year. The cost is reasonable and the school is open from 8:00-5:00 M-F. We miss Karen's Kiddos, but we also know that it's a major reason we have a happy, well-adjusted kindergarten student now. http://karenskiddos.com/ Happy parents of happy Kiddos grad

Sept 2012

I'm a parent of a recent graduate from Karen's Kiddos. I couldn't have been happier with the amount of attention and caring that my child received during her time there. The teachers are wonderful and have fully prepared my daughter for kindergarten. Each child receives 1-1 attention each day to work on their individual curriculum (be it learning their letters, reading, or writing). Lunch and snacks are provided, which is another huge plus as it means one less thing to worry about each day when sending your child off to school. Karen, Christina and Alexis make each child and their parents feel like family. It's a great place and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a nurturing environment for their child. Amy

July 2012

We moved from Norway to Berkeley for a year for my husband to do research at the university, and we were a little bit anxious about how our two-year-old son would take the transition to a new and English-speaking preschool. I can truly say we could not have been more satisfied with the preschool and the staff. Karen's Kiddos has the right balance between play based and educational preschool. The group size with 12 kids is ideal. There are always kids in the same age group to play with, but at the same time they learn to interact with children from early toddlerhood to kindergarten-age. I like the way the kids learn to respect each other, and how they are taught to solve their problems by using words instead of aggressive behaviours. As a foreigner to this country and to Berkeley I can't emphasize enough how much it has meant to me to go to "Ladies Night Out" to connect with other moms and the lovely ladies working at the preschool. I would whole-heartedly recommend Karen's Kiddos. hannesil

May 2010

I couldn't be happier with the Karen's Kiddos Daycare and Preschool! My 2 sons (ages 31 mos and 15 mos) have been at Karen's since they were 11 months old and they love it. They look forward to going to ''school'' each day and have made some wonderful friendships. Karen and her staff are professional, caring, flexible and genuinely interested in the well being of the children. My sons have learned so much at a young age, from good manners to the ABC's. The children have lots of free time to play, as well as a structured learning environment. There is plenty of outdoor time to enjoy the large play space and explore their surroundings. I highly recommend Karen's Kiddos!

May 2010

My son attended Karen's Kiddos for 2 years. The director, Karen, was a teacher in the public schools before opening her daycare. She accepts children between the ages of 1-4. It is truly a wonderful place! The setting is beautiful with an inviting outdoor space. Karen and her staff nurture the younger children while preparing the older ones for kindergarten. Most of all, she offers an amazing sense of community by welcoming parents and families to visit as well as providing plenty of extra functions to bring families together. In fact, my son is now 15 years old and the Karen's Kiddo's moms still meet once a month for a ''Mom's Night Out''. I can honestly say that some of my best current friendships started at Karen's Kiddos. I would highly recommend it!

May 2010

Karen's Kiddos Preschool, a home-based preschool, has a lot to offer to preschoolers. It has plenty of toys & manipulatives, a reading corner with chairs, calendar and circle/singing time, letter of the week activities, lunch time, TV time, nap time, snack time, outside play, and help with potty training. My 4.5 year old son attended the preschool for 3 years and my daughter attended for 2 years. I feel my children are well-adjusted and they looked forward to going to preschool everyday!

What I like most about Karen's Kiddos Preschool is 1)the professional and nurturing teachers, 2) mealtime- lunch is provided daily and my children like to eat vegetables, 3) the emphasis on good manners and routines, and 4) the spacious layout of the school, both indoor and outdoor. I recommend Karen's Kiddos Preschool for your child's preschool needs!

May 2010

My daughter attended Karen's Kiddos Preschool from the time she was three years old until she graduated and began attending kindergarten. I have to say, Karen's Kiddos was such a blessing to us as a family. Our daughter had attended other preschool/daycares before and we had never felt so comfortable with the curriculum, the cleanliness, the way the staff deals with behavioral issues and the communication we received from the people who were caring for our daughter. I made friends with many of the parents whose children attended Karen's Kiddos at the same time and engaged in activities with them outside of the school. It really feels like a family there. Now that my daughter is in kindergarten I can really see how the time spent at Karen's Kiddo has helped her to be prepared academically as well as behaviorally; she is very helpful and courteous and she is a very good listener AND she already has the basics of reading and math. I highly recommend Karen's Kiddos.

May 2010

Several months ago I enrolled my now 2 year-old daughter at Karen's Kiddo's based on a friend's recommendation whose 2 kids are KK veterans. Karens Kiddos is a small family childcare for kids 18 months - 6 years. Can't recommend them highly enough. They are really dedicated to each child, taking the time to get to know each one. Karen and staff have a strong background in early child development and are enthusiastic, loving and easygoing. They really focus on helping the kids grow intellectually, socially and emotionally. This was my (slow-to-warm)daughter's first daycare experience and she loves it --it provides the right balance of a gentle environment with just the right amount of stimulation. And they feed the kids healthy lunches and afternoon snacks (and it's really nice to not have to pack a lunch!).And if all that wasn't enough, the parent community is equally great. I really wish I had found Karen's Kiddos sooner. Hours are 8:00-5:00pm and they have part and full-time openings (take advantage of it - they don't often have many openings!).www.karenskiddos.com or 510-525-6775.

April 2010

My son (who will be 16 next month)spent the first 5 years of his life at Karen's Kiddo's pre-school in El Cerrito. It was the basis for his upbringing and I could not have been more pleased with Karen and her staff, all of whom I continue to have contact with. The pre-school is the perfect blend of home and school. It is structured yet homey and the perfect environment for learning and play. The children are taught to be polite and respectful and all the skills needed to get along in the real world. Karen and her staff taught me a lot about raising a happy healthy child. Two of my cousins sent each of their two children to Karen's Kiddos also. I would highly recommend Karen's Kiddos to parents of children of all different personalities and interests. Contact: Karen Lee, 510 525-6775

June 2003

Does anyone have any experience, advice or knowledge regarding Karen's Kiddos home based pre-school in El Cerrito-run by Karen Lee? I have searched the archives but found nothing. Thank you!

Hi, My daughter has been at Karen's Kiddos since she was two years old. She will be graduating this June. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can e-mail me Knita

My sister sent her two sons there and was very pleased with it (the boys liked it too!). Other parents I have spoken to have also thought highly of it. (FWIW: We wanted to send our son there but didn't get on the waiting list in time. We ended up at Piccoli Preschool and have no regrets -- it's a wonderful program.) M's dad

My son went to Karen's for 2 years and we were very happy there. It is a wonderful, small school.I assume you know, she only takes students by referral, which is probably why you did not find any discussion of the school on this site. If you want to discuss it further, please email me. Amanda