Teeter Tots Preschool

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 #: 
City of El Cerrito
(510) 215-4300
El Cerrito
EC Community Center on Moeser Lane
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
Ages Served: 
22 months - 42 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
9:00am - 12:00pm
Editors' Notes: 

See also: Casa Cerrito for ages 3.5 - 5 years

Parent Q&A

  • Part-time morning preschool for 2-year-olds in West Contra Costa?

    (5 replies)

    Hello! I am looking ahead to the fall when my daughter will be newly 2 (her birthday's August 17) and thinking by that point she and I will be ready for her to start spending a little more dedicated time as part of a group of kids under adult supervision that isn't mine. I had my eye on Mama Bear's Play Care in Pinole (almost literally down the street from us!) but the owner's just closed up shop to go do other things. Is there anything else out there that meets my rather fussy specifications? 

    1) In West Contra Costa (El Cerrito, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Richmond, Pinole, Hercules...) 

    2) Open to mornings AND part-time enrollment -- I'd be looking for something like 2 mornings a week, ideally home by noonish.

    3) More open-ended/play-based than academic -- we've done some mommy-baby classes at East Bay Waldorf, I love almost everything about Waldorf early childhood stuff, and I'm not particularly excited about heavy-duty "school readiness" at this age.

    4) Doesn't require kids to be fully potty-trained. My daughter will be just BARELY two and I don't want to put that pressure on us!

    Is there anything out there? I've looked a bit at Berkeley Rose (day is longer than we'd like + too far), Gay Austin School (a bit pricey + a bit far), and Little Earth Seeds in El Sobrante (day is longer than we'd like, + I don't care for the enforced EC approach). Would love to hear if others have found places that work for them!

    I don't 100% know the specifics of these places, but both are highly recommended.  Karen's Kiddos and El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative.  Both in El Cerrito.  


    Check out Sunshine Playschool in El Sobrante.  They offer part time, but it is kind of expensive.  Our kids went to Mama Bear's before my husband went back to work and loved it there.  I looked all over for somewhere that gave me the same warm fuzzy feeling I got from Mama Bear's, and Sunshine was the only place that came close.  Kids don't have to be potty trained, it's play based and has an amazing outdoor space.  They are open from 8 am to 5:30 but seem very flexible in making the day you want for yourself.  Our son goes 9am to 3pm, but some other families seem to leave around noon.  The warmth, attention, and sensitivity of the teachers has just blown me away and it is a truly magical place.

    I loved the City of El Cerrito's Teeter Tots program the year my daughter was 2 (5 years ago now). Very good intro to "school", socializing/sharing toys, age appropriate activities, and very affordable. You can go 2 or 3 mornings a week, 9-12.

  • Parent apprehensive about childcare in the Bay Area

    (6 replies)

    I moved to Oakland from Mendocino a few years ago after my husband and I were engaged.  We now have a 21-month old boy, and I am overwhelmed by the prospect of finding occasional childcare for him.  Coming from a small town, there is a certain kind of accountability that exists that I haven't found here at all....it is a lot easier to find like-minded families that you know and trust that if they recommend someone, you can be sure that person is trustworthy because if they weren't, the whole town would know.

    Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but finding childcare online through recommendations of people I haven't met is not something I feel comfortable with.  However we are at a point where I feel my son can benefit from spending time with someone aside from my husband and I, we could use a date night every now and again, and I would absolutely love to take a yoga class once/week!  I haven't found a community of parents I connect with here at all, even though we go to different parks and activities almost every single day.  So I have nobody else to ask.

    Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    I suggest contacting Mills College School of Education to see if you can post a job there; they have a lab school on site, and their grad students at the school of ed have experience working at the school. Our experiences with their grad students have been fabulous. You might also check out Montclair Community Play Center in Oakland. They have a toddler play time in the afternoons that's a great way to meet other families, and it's a good way to ask around about babysitter recommendations. UrbanSitter is also a way to find sitters that have been booked/recommended by Facebook friends and others in your network. We found our sitter this way. Kindergym with Dawn (just google it) is also a good place to meet other parents and exchange childcare intel. Good luck! 

    The downtown Berkeley Y (gym) has yoga classes and very affordable childcare on-site. 

    Hi! We moved to the Bay Area from North Carolina right before my son was due, didn't know a soul and had no family in the area, so your post resonates with me. We had luck with Swiss cheese for date nights--they vet their sitters and we felt comfortable with all of them. You can also chat with them before you book so you have control of your choices. We also used care.com to find our permanent part time nanny and she was great.  Another idea if you're not in a hurry--hang around the toddler parks in Oakland and Berkeley and chat with other moms and nannies. If you mention you are trying to find someone you might make a connection.  

    Hello,I live in Oakland too. If you haven't done yet, try facebook groups. There's Oakland 2015/2016 babies group that I am part of. There's also childcare  subgroups under mamahood eastbay. And you're right it's so difficult for me to trust a babysitter without having recommendations from others too! So let me know what you got. I can recommend someone too if she's still available. 

    You could try joining a gym that does yoga classes and has a crèche on-site where you can put your child eg Bladium in Alameda. That would ease you (and him) in and from there you might be able to ask the people who work in the crèche if they do babysitting or if they could recommend someone. Or ask friends? Or even do babysitting swaps with friends. I too wouldn't risk using someone who isn't recommended by someone I know. 

    There is an organization called Swiss Cheese Childcare that I have tried once and they have vetted and background checked babysitters, but it's really expensive. 

    How about part-time toddler preschool? Two or three mornings a week, maybe a coop where you volunteer one day a week. We liked Teeter Tots in El Cerrito for that age, Berkeley has something similar, maybe Oakland does too.

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

July 2014

Re: Recommendations for in home daycare near El Cerrito
Since you say your child has a nanny they like and you like, just needing more peer interaction, I'd recommend trying the city of El Cerrito's Teeter Tots program, for kids aged 22m-3.5y. My daughter had a great experience there in 2012-13. It is a pre-preschool setting, part-time (min 2 mornings a week, 3 hours each), so many families blend it with a nanny for childcare, and it's a great way to ease into ''school''. Call the community center to set up a tour. I sound like a paid endorser... I'm not! It was just so much better than my other child's ''fancy'' preschool. mom of 2

June 2014

Re: Need Advice on Kensington preschools
Hi - Picking preschools is hard to do much in advance, because both you and your child will evolve over the next year. With my first child, I settled on one too early and it wasn't a great fit for where he was a year later, by the time of entrance. That said, one way to dip your toe in locally and see how your child does in a group setting is to check out Teeter Tots, at the EC Community Center (just down Moeser from Kensington), which is a ''pre-preschool'' program. You can go 2x week for 3 hours/morning, and they take 22 months to 3.5 years, so it's very targeted to that little-kid age group. My second child had a great experience there with some very sweet caregivers and low-key programming (wish I'd done it for #1) and it helped me crystallize what I wanted for her ''real'' preschool experience starting at age 3+. Call the Rec Dept for a tour. Mom of 2

Feb 2013

Re: smallish preschool in El Cerrito
Check out the City of El Cerrito's two programs, Teeter Tots (22m-3.5y) and Casa Cerrito (3-5). We're very happy with Teeter Tots and plan to move our child to Casa when age-appropriate.

Feb 2011

The city of El Cerrito has a part-time (half day, Mon-Thur) program called ''Teeter Tots'' for toddlers ages 22 - 36 months and on Friday's, it's called ''TGIF'' which is located at the El Cerrito Community Center on Moeser Lane.

Parents have the option of enrolling their child for a minimum of two days/week in the Teeter Tots program and/or on the TGIF program but you cannot exceed a total of three days per week (that was my understanding).

My son Jonas started Teeter Tots when he was 22 months old and has been there for almost 7 months now. When he was an infant, I had the luxury of bring him to work with me at an infant day care. So, as I continued to work at the infant day care, my mother (his grandma) helped bring Jonas to and from the program. Sadly my mother will be returning to work in March and Jonas will be going to a full-time school since my husband and I also work full-time.

My son was very outgoing before he started the program at the El Cerrito Community Center and still is until this very day. It took him about a month (attending 3/week) to fully adjust to being there (not crying anymore at drop off). The staff was very understanding when he cried and someone would always hold him until he felt comfortable enough to go play on his own.

After a month of attending the program he started to sing songs that I have never heard of before and he even started to sing the Alphabet song, my husband and I were very impressed! As time went on, he learned how to count from 1 - 20, he could read the alphabet, read numbers, and he even knew the different colors and shapes which we haven't even practiced at home with him before, he totally learned it from school! Just two months ago, I realized he knew the names of his classmates because they sing a ''good morning'' song which incorporates their individual names in it. I am so happy we picked this program for our son, it prepared him for his next phase (preschool)!

As you can see I only have possitive things to say about this place. There are both men and women who work there so the children get exposed to both sexes. The one negative thing is, it seems you have to initiate the topic of conversation before it gets brought up on their part, I think the staff doesn't know who to bring up an ''issue'' if or when one were to arise. So, my advice is to ask questions and follow up on how your son is doing every day. You may want to consider enrolling him in another day or two if he needs it.

Good luck and I hope you and your little guy gets a possitive experience out of Teeter Tots / TGIF! Lai

May 2009

We just put our 25 month old son on the El Cerrito Teeter Tots waiting list. It'll probably be a few months before he gets in, but I was just wondering what experiences people have had with this program. The two reviews in the archive are from 2006 and somewhat mixed. Please give us your positive and negative experiences! Thanks first preschool

My daughter (now 2 1/2) has been w/TT since she was 22 mo. & so far she has been very happy here. I read previous posts and can't agree w/them not supporting kids who are considered ''spirited.'' My daughter is very active, very curious, and would definitely be considered spirited and we feel she has done quite well here. We feel it has helped her social skills and that she benefits from the structure that they provide - like most toddlers, she thrives on routine. We chose it also because of the big space inside and outside and that on colder days they have a big space to run around inside and not feel all cramped up. I would also add that my daughter is biracial and we like that it is very ethnically mixed, unlike a lot of the daycares & preschools that I visited in the Albany/EC area. On the negative side: the city has moved some of the teachers around to other EC schools and this takes away from the stability and consistency that kids at this age benefit from and it isn't always the most warm, loving environment, but the kids seem happy & engaged. Hope this helps...... anon

My son is 2 1/2 and has been at EC teeter tots since he was 22mo...he had a very tough time being left at first but the teachers dealt with it and now he seems very happy to go...it has been good for him to socialize with kids his own age since he is mostly around his older sister(4yrs)and her friends... he is very proud of the artwork he does and it,s just been a good experience for us EC mom

May 2006

I searched the archives and wanted to see if I could get a more current review of the Teeter Tot program run by the City of El Cerrito. We checked the program out today and I thought the place was nice - clean, 4 to 1 student/teacher ratio, lots of play, circle time, stories, music and art. Just wanted to get some feedback from parents who might currently have their kids enrolled there. Seems like a great little program! Thanks!

We had our son enrolled at Teeter Tots El Cerrito from age 22 months to about age 2.5 We pulled him out then due to overall unrealistic expectations on part of preschool teachers there. One of the teachers in particular who was sweet, but age 21 with no kids (just a Child Ed degree) does not quite understand what are behavioral issues vs. a 2 year old kid being a healthy, active kid. It is a bit too structured for the majority of toddlers this age. If you have a very passive child, not real curious, active and what some call ''spirited'', then the program may work for you. It is an overall good program, and the play yard is quite spacious. My son liked it there.....but as parents we were concerned about very unrealistic expectations such as ''child not waiting in line to wash hands'' with 18-24 toddlers and one sink. Or ''child not sitting still during story time''. That should really be an option at this stage. A preschool should not kill a childs playful spirit. We also noticed a couple safety issues, such as very sharp object left in yard in which a child was running around with, and the 2 year olds expected to cross a street holding onto a rope. anon

My child has only been at Teeter Tots for a few weeks but so far we are completely happy with it. The teachers are kind and numerous (five for 20 students) and have been very sensitive to my son's separation anxiety while getting used to being away from me. The school day is quite structured which isn't everyone's cup of tea, but my son has always thrived on routine so I like it. There's nothing super-fancy about it, but it's clean, it's affordable, and my son's having fun--so we're thrilled.

Aug 1998

I would highly recommend the Teeter Tots preschool program at the El Cerrito Community Center for 2-3 1/2 year olds. My children, now 7 and 8 1/2 both attended this program. It is very nurturing for this age group and they are not subject to some of the dominance that occurs when this age group is in a mixed pre-school which goes up to kindergarten age. Everything is small-scale -- trikes, painting easels, kitchen stuff etc. The staff are very nurturing and are sensitive to issues in this age group, including separation anxiety and potty training. I know one of the key staff people moved away since we were there, but I believe the tone has been maintained with current staff. The hours are short (9-11:30 as I recall), which is great for this age group but not ideal if you require longer childcare hours.

My younger daughter started there at 23 months and she was fine, but I don't know if they have a younger-end cutoff. You mentioned that your child is 20 months old and you may have to visit with your child to see if you want to start now or to wait a few months.