Montessori Learning Center

Community Subscriber

El Cerrito, CA

Has Openings

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Elizabeth Sisson
m0me3 [at]
El Cerrito
Schmidt Lane
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
24 months - 60 months
Monthly Cost: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
7:30am - 6:00pm
Additional Services & Features: 
Pre-K program, Year-round, Sibling discount, Potty training support
About Our Program: 

The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach his/her full potential in all areas of life.
At Montessori Learning Center, we provide activities that promote the development of concentration, independence,
respect, communication, freedom, and discipline; in order to empower the children with self-confidence.


Parent Reviews

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Montessori Learning Center (MLC) provides a nurturing environment for children from toddlers to Pre-K.  The teachers (Elizabeth and Shali) are dedicated individuals who put their heart and soul into caring for your young ones and provide them with the right pre-school experience that will set them up for success in Kindergarten.  My daughter was at MLC for a year and had a great experience that she very fondly remembers.  MLC's program is consistent with the Montessori philosophy of developing children to be independent and to have the appropriate gross and fine motor skills to be transition to Kindergarten.  Elizabeth carefully chooses themes for every month that she folds into daily activities ranging from circle time to puzzles that children play with.  Additionally, the program includes enrichment in the form of gymnastics weekly and has a newly revamped playground where the little ones love to play (it is a pirate-themed playground) and a pre-K program for the 4+ year olds.  I strongly encourage you to consider MLC, if you are looking for nurturing place for your little one.

Our family had a great experience at Montessori Learning Center! Elizabeth and the staff were so welcoming to us and graciously accommodated my son's special needs. Their experience and patience greatly aided his growth in development, social interactions, and happiness! The Montessori Learning Center is convenient to working parents' schedules and has reasonable tuition -- both difficult to find at other Montessori schools. We love The Montessori Learning Center and would highly recommend this preschool.

Archived Reviews: 

Aug 2014

Our oldest son has attended Montessori Learning Center, a mixed-age (2-5) preschool, for almost two years, and our youngest will start in January. Our oldest thrives with the balance of individual ''work'' time (children choose purposeful activities, called ''works'') and outside play time, and he looks forward to each new month when the works change based on new themes (the month with some shark-themed works is his favorite). In addition to the works, a subset of teachers helps the 4-year-olds build important Kindergarten readiness skills like letter and number writing. Our son LOVES being a ''Kindergarten Kid,'' and he proudly shows us his ''works'' every night. The school hosts a number of celebrations during the year that parents are invited to attend, and those events are really special. I appreciate that the director, Elizabeth Sisson, arranges her schedule so that she is at the school during both drop-off and pick-up hours, enabling parents to talk to her about their child's day. The staff, Shali, Angela and Lita, are absolutely wonderful. If you're looking for a Montessori preschool environment in El Cerrito, I recommend checking out Montessori Learning Center. Merry Montessori Mom

June 2014

My daughter has attended Montessori Learning Center (MLC) for 3 years and is getting ready to graduate and move on to Kindergarten. She has been well-prepared for a successful transition thanks to the caring and well-trained staff. The learning environment is positive and the activities are challenging and age appropriate; the cost is very reasonable. Our son did better in a play-based preschool, but for our daughter, it was the right fit. I would recommend MLC to others. Anya

June 2014

RE: Preschool for 2.5 y.o with fall openings

I highly recommend Montessori Learning Center, on Schmidt Lane in El Cerrito. Both of our kids are there, and started well before turning 3. It's a great community of kids, teachers, and parents! Happy MLC Parent

Feb 2014

Re: Looking for an affordable preschool/daycare Montessori learning center on Schmidt in el cerrito. My son attended from 8-5, 4 days a week which cost approx $700 per month. Depending on your drop off/pick up time, could be cheaper. May be discounts for siblings/2 kids. He loved the class, instruction, pre k work, had attended for about 2 1/2 years. Worth checking out. Montessori fan

Dec 2013

Re: Recently moved and no space in preschool!
I highly recommend Montessori Learning Center in El Cerrito for your 2.5 year old (and for the SF to Albany family also seeking preschool recommendations!). Our son has thrived there, and will be well prepared for kindergarten next fall. Our daughter will start in February, and I know there is space right now. We love the big room and mix of age groups, the teachers are wonderful, and it's clear the kids get a good mix of creative play time and learning. Happy mom

Feb 2013

Re: Looking for an affordable FT program for a 2.7
If you can drive to El Cerrito, check out Montessori Learning Center. Hours are 7:30-6, and tuition is $950 a month, plus a small materials fee once a year ($175 this year). We're really happy there. Happy parent of MLC student

Aug 2012

Re: 18 month old too young for Montessori?

My daughter started at what is now Montessori Learning Center in El Cerrito when she was about 21 months old and stayed until she was 5.5 years old. Here is what we followed at home:

1. Putting one ''job'' such as a puzzle, blocks, a doll and its accessories, into one container, that is, one activity per container. Then, she could play with any activity, but had to put it away *by herself* before taking out another one. This worked totally great, she is now 12 years old and has never had a messy room.

2. You don't always have to share, but you must be respectful in asking or declining to share and you must keep in mind while you are playing that someone is waiting for a turn.

3. Start letting her get dressed, brush, hair, button buttons, zip zippers, tie shoes as soon as they express interest. If it is not perfect, no problem, don't do lifeskills for the child as soon as they are close enough to doing it themselves.

I've heard that different Montessori schools have different interpretations of the philosophy, but these above were the main things I remember that the school did that we also did at home. good luck

Feb 2012

Re: Need Montessori Preschool Now!
Check out Montessori Learning Center in El Cerrito. Extended full time (7:30-6) is $900 a month this year. It is a wonderful school, and our child is thriving there. Happy parent

Feb - March 2011

Hello, We are very interested in researching the Montessori Learning Center Pre-school in El Cerrito. The price is right, we love that it is a Montessori school and it is very close to our home. Just wondering if any parents out there have experience with this school? Thanks! Sunee

My son has been at this school for 2.5 years. I was so happy to find a Montessori School that accepts 2 year olds (and kids in diapers!), because my son was ready to begin school and I wanted to start his education off with Montessori. He loved it from the first day.

The teachers are very warm and attentive, as is the director, Elizabeth, who is there every day. I have had excellent experience with communication; Elizabeth and the other teachers are always available to answer my questions. The curriculum is traditional Montessori, but seems to be flexible. My son has mastered things that my mother, a retired 1st grade teacher, says she worked on with her 1st graders (Such as letters, math concepts, patterns, cleaning up). We love this school, and would highly recommend it to parents looking for a preschool that will provide an early motivation to learn as well as a loving, stable and nourishing environment. Kari

We cannot say enough wonderful things about Montessori Learning Center in El Cerrito where our son has been in attendance for nearly two years. Our son loves all his teachers who are very warm and caring; he is particularly fond of the owner/lead teacher, Elizabeth, whose enthusiasm for the outdoors, plants, wildlife, art, cooking, etc. is conveyed through all the activities and projects the children take part in. Our son loves to learn and he is eager to share his 'work' with us at home, from telling us about the life cycles of a frog and the world's continents, to talking about how a conflict with a friend was worked out. The kids spend a good amount of time outside, at least twice daily, and they occasionally go on nature walks and to a nearby park. There is no lack of physical activity. Over all, we have been very happy and we feel MLC has more than prepared our son for Kindergarten, both socially and academically. Happy MLC Family

I'm writing to highly recommend Montessori Learning Center. Elizabeth, the director, has a terrific presence and rapport with the children, and my daughter is very bonded with her. The children's day incorporates both structured activities like circle time, in which they sing songs and read stories, child-driven use of the many Montessori materials, and outdoor play. Each month has a different focus (this month it's Europe and it's animals, and reptiles), and the Montessori materials also change each month so the children always have new and challenging work to do. Elizabeth sends out a newsletter each month to let parents know what the kids are doing in the classroom. The school and staff are really committed to diversity, and has a racially diverse staff and student population. We are particularly grateful to Elizabeth for recommending that we have our daughter evaluated for developmental delays (she has since been diagnosed with autism), and for being so willing to work with her and various specialists to help her succeed in the classroom. I'm thrilled that we found Montessori Learning Center.

Oct 2009

Re: Preschool in north berkeley/albany with openings
It's not play-based, as you can tell from the name ;) but the Montessori Learning Center in El Cerrito is reasonably near Albany, small, quite diverse, and may have current openings -- last year's class included a large proportion of kids going on to kindergarten this fall (including my daughter) and so they had many spaces to fill. You might want to consider it. Holly

Sept 2009

Montessori Learning Center is an awesome daycare/preschool and has opening immediately. My son has been attending since earlier this year and he LOVES it there. Four loving teachers. Great learning toys and activities. He doesn't want to come home he loves it there so much. Takes children 2 years old and older and does NOT need to be potty trained (they're helping my little guy with his training now... ) VERY affordable compared to other daycare/preschools that I have researched. Contact Elizabeth, the owner 510-207-2610 to check it out or contact me for a reference.

June 2009

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Montessori Learning Center (MLC) a preschool for children aged 2 and above. (They do not need to be potty trained.) My son has been going there for about 6 months now and he absolutely loves it. The first day, he didn't want to come home... and often since then. The teachers are trying to potty train him and doing an absolutely fabulous job of it.. much better than I. Elizabeth is firm yet gentle with the children and always patiently guides them. The location is great (on Schmit near the recycling center) and did I mention how affordable they are? When I first found out, I thought there must be a mistake or something.. but yeah, full time 9-6, 5 days a week is $820 which is a major deal. I highly recommend this preschool/daycare. Contact: Elizabeth, 510-207-2610

June 2009

I highly recommend Montessori Learning Center in El Cerrito for any looking for a preschool. The rates are fabulous, the staff are fabulous, and the location is fabulous. They take kids starting at age 2 so yeah, I just regret not sending my son there when he turned 2 back in November. He is so super happy there and so are my husband and I. Please feel free to email me as a reference. Elizabeth, the owner's phone # is 510-207-2610. She and 3 other teachers watch and teach the kids. They have a great schedule including nap, lunch, outdoor time... and new learning activities every month. Everyday starts with circle time and there is a special celebration on your child's birthday. The parents take turns bringing snacks once a month which is great so you don't have to remember to pack snacks everyday. Mary

Feb 2009

I was wondering if anyone has recent experiences with Montessori Learning Ceneter on Schmidt (El Cerrito). We are trying to decide where to send our daughter and any direct experiences would help. Thanks! trying to do the right thing

My daughter has been attending MLC for a year and she loves it. The scale of the school is just right with currently 16 kids and four teachers. Elizabeth, the head teacher, holds events for parents to attend and there is a real community. I was a little worried about the Montessori self-directed part but my daughter's progress has been amazing. She is good at writing, knows about geography, has developed an interest in numbers and math and has lots of friends. Her little brother will start in there in the next few months as well. Happy MLC Parent

March 2009

Montessori Learning Center has been a HUGE blessing in our lives. My son is now in Kindergarten but will still go for a few days on the ''off'' days at our Kindergarten.

Elizabeth has a terrific personality - fun to be with, calm, caring but firm and the kids just love being around her. She really ''gets'' kids and enjoys their company just as much as they enjoy her's.

My son started there when he was 3 and stayed for two whole years. He has learned more than we ever expected and we are so grateful that we had such a wonderful preschool experience there. I think they have space right now. The prices are extremely reasonable too. Their phone # is 525-4500. Happy MLC parent

Jan 2009

My little boy (now 4 and half) has been going to Montessori Learning Center for a couple of years and loves it. He loves the order and the rules, doing his kindergarten work, circle time, the lego play, the outdoor play, his friends there and learning a lot of new things. He still naps and they do that from 1-3pm or rest if they are over naps. I like the way they are very organized and have small numbers so get to know your child well. My daughter went to the montessori preschool before where Elizabeth (the owner) taught, so we knew and liked her from there. She manages to keep all the ''boy energy'' under control and they all love her. The other teachers have all been teaching with Elizabeth for a long time too; Lita, Angie and her daughter Marcel and are all very calm and keep control of the classroom while letting the kids enjoy learning. The hours suit me too as a working mom (7:30 - 6pm) but there are shorter hours available too. It is a full year preschool but they do take some vacation (not as many as other schools) in line with the West Contra Costa school district mostly. If you take vacation, you still must pay which is the same at most preschools. I recommend this school highly ! Aileen

Nov 2008

I am a parent who moved to Montessori Learning Center on Schmidt Lane in El Cerrito when the program at Montessori Community School was forced to close and the site was sold. It was a big transitional time and there was a gap in time where families needed to find new or alternative care while Elizabeth Sisson worked on opening a new local school. There were in fact MANY families that did continue on and follow Elisabeth to her new school, Montessori Leaning Center, as well as most of the staff. Both of these schools and the care provided to my two children were loving, engaging, caring, and extremely supportive of me and my work schedule. Having my son at a preschool in El Cerrito and a daughter at an El Cerrito WCC public school was so convenient! My daughter and son both attended Montessori Community School (now closed) and my son moved on to the new Montessori Learning Center when it opened in fall 2006 for his last year of preschool before kindergarten. Call the school (510) 525-4500 for more information about their program. sandra

Sept 2008

I am a single parent of two children, ages 8 and almost 5. My eldest daughter attended another Montessori for many years and was happy there. However, because of policy and tuition changes once my younger daughter was there, we found it impossible to remain. In fact, we were forced to leave with only a week's notice and no other daycare prospects. Which is when I found Montessori Learning Center and Elizabeth Sisson. Elizabeth took my daughter on with no advance notice, and made us feel welcome, safe, and totally at home the minute we walked through the door. She is extremely loving (as is the rest of the staff) and does an excellent job planning age-appropriate play and learning activities for all of her kids. She sends out a newsletter every month for the parents to keep up on their children's progress as a class, and she hosts family events at the school. Elizabeth was willing to work with my daughter and I even though our situation was somewhat unique and she was always accessible, flexible and genuinely concerned with all of her kids' well-being. My daughter left MLC and entered Kindergarten last month and is academically and socially way ahead of her new classmates. Elizabeth is a fabulous educator and MLC is probably one of the best daycares in the area Jessica

Sept 2008

Our boys just ''graduated'' from Montessori Learning Center, and we had a wonderful experience there. My boys have a lot of ''boy energy'' that some can find difficult. The teachers were all warm, calm and compassionate, which encouraged the kids to be so, too. The consistency and experience of the staff really showed; no drama with teachers coming and going, and clear communication with parents to enforce discipline issues.

The facilities are not exciting to adults, but were organizing and stimulating for the kids. I would have liked a separate room during nap time for older kids when they had trouble napping so they wouldn't disturb the younger kids.

The school is montessori-centered but is not as super strict as other schools. It also doesn't require work hours, which is good if you are a working parent but might not be as good if you are looking to bond with other parents that way.

I have a mildly disabled son who receives therapy at Castro Therapy and who was going to Cameron for speech, and the school is very close by which made getting services very easy; at times we could even have a bus pick him up if necessary. The school worked with us to reinforce the occupational therapy issues and was very supportive. I believe it is their support in part that has helped reduce our son's needs for services altogether.

I am immensely pleased how the school prepared my children socially and academically for kindergarten. Wendy

August 2008

We are considering several schools for our 3 year old son. Does anyone have any information on the Montessori Learning Center in El Cerrito, or on it's director Elizabeth Sisson, whom I understand has been a teacher at other area Montessori schools? I know that it's new, and there are a few referrals on the website, which have been helpful, yet I noticed on Yahoo reviews it was given only 3 stars, and there are no comments there to explain why. Any information you have would be so helpful.

My daughter will begin her second year at Montessori Learning Center this fall, which I believe is the third year of its existence.

We are neither disappointed nor thrilled with MLC. We are satisfied.

We are not really huge fans of the Montessori approach, so that is part of my lack of enthusiasm. The school is not a terribly strict Montessori, but they do teach that there is a right and a ''wrong'' way to work with materials like beads and pitchers, and that bugs me. But my daughter is learning and thriving, and will attend a public school starting with kindergarten, so I consider this fairly minor. Also, I suspect there's a little too much focus on ''academic'' work (age-appropriate, like learning about bugs, for example, but ''facts'' oriented) and maybe not quite enough on social skills and creative/imaginative activities. This works okay for my daughter but wouldn't be a good fit for every child.

Physically the school is well organized and spacious, but because it is one large room, there is no way to separate napping from non-napping children. This means that the 1pm to 3pm time just isn't valuable for students who don't need the nap. And the outdoor play yard is relatively unimpressive, in terms of access, space and equipment -- but it's sufficient and the kids enjoy playing there.

The teachers are great with the kids, but don't encourage parent involvement in the way I was used to from my older child's play- based school. This is one of those things that could be seen as good or bad depending on your own situation but I could wish there were more opportunities for us as parents to participate and to get to know the other families.

We do like that the student population is very diverse in a number of ways, so our daughter is learning about working and getting along with people who speak different languages and have different backgrounds. We appreciate our daughter's tendency to be organized and good at cleaning up after herself, which is at least partly due to the school's influence! And we have found all of the teacher to be patient and warm in their relationships with the children.

For us, it's not a great school, but it is a good school, worth your consideration. You would need to think about how well the school's approach and their schedule fit with your child's particular needs -- which of course is true of any preschool. MLC mom

My child attended the school where Elizabeth was head teacher prior to opening Montessori Learning Center. We decided not to send our child to MLC when the prior school closed, even though she brought with her several aides from the old school, and our child was familiar and comfortable with them. In fact, I think only two children from the old school (of 20-30 kids) went to MLC. I think that says a lot.

The school can be a bit stricter with boys than girls, and we were not always happy about dealings with us as parents. But Elizabeth and her staff generally are warm and caring with the kids, and that may be enough. It is amazing, though, to see the results after sending our child to a more established Montessori with a good reputation! I think you do get what you pay for in this case.

Best of luck with your decision...

Oct 2007

My 3-year old son has been attending Montessori Learning Center, a start-up preschool, for about 7 months. I appreciate the staff's child-centered approach and that they seek to develop natural interests and activities (the traditional Montessori mode of learning) rather than use formal teaching methods. The children enjoy a variety of activities including baking, dancing, singing, reading, sharing, yoga and art. The school has an open bright indoor space with lots of engaging developmentally appropriate materials. It also has a large outdoor space with a perfect mixture of natural and man-made elements. The teachers are warm and responsive. It's reasonably priced and minimally demanding of parents. Most importantly, my son often asks to go to school on the weekends -- evidence that Montessori Learning Center fosters contentment, happiness and security. Sonja

Aug 2007

New Montesorri school, open from 7:30 - 6:00, has openings for full time or part time children age 2 (if potty trained) to 6. Large, fenced, grassy play yard, bright classroom with many windows, Spanish and yoga classes, music, art, etc. Affordable rates with a variety of options and an excellent student to teacher ratio. Our daughter loves it and I am sure your child will also! The school is located just off of San Pablo Ave at 7200 Schmidt Lane in El Cerrito.

May 2007

My preschool age sons attend a great upstart school - Montessori Learning Center in El Cerrito. They really enjoy their time here. It is a small school filled with friendly kids and teachers. The kids go to the park, play on the yard, do projects-- and learn! I think it's a terrific place for kids to be recognized as individuals. The price is fair and the schedule is flexible -- best of all the school has a warm environment. The Director, Elizabeth, knows what she is doing. Her assistants have been with her long term and the kids have a bond with them. This summer they are adding Spanish and Yoga for the kids. It's worth checking out! Call the school or email me with questions. (510) 525-4500 Chris

October 2006

My daughter has been attending the Montessori Learning Center since it opened on September 5th. She absolutely loves it! It is in a large, sunny room with lots of windows. They have a huge grassy playground as well as a courtyard to ride trikes and cars. The teachers are excellent and really help the children to become self-sufficient, well-mannered, little people who are having fun learning all kinds of things. They have a few openings if anyone wants to see it. It is located in El Cerrito at 7200 Schmindt Lane. The prices are very low! They accept potty-trained kids from 2 to 6. Their hours are 7:30 to 6. Their phone is 525-4500