Cooperative Preschool at Caltech

The Cooperative Preschool at Caltech opened in February 2012 and provides an additional preschool option to meet the needs and interests of Caltech and JPL families. The Cooperative Preschool is a part-time, multi-age program in which parents take turns volunteering as assistant teachers under the guidance of professional CEC staff.

Enrollment in the Cooperative Preschool at Caltech is available to Caltech graduate and post-doctorate students, Caltech faculty, Caltech staff and JPL staff families. For other families in the general community, or Caltech and JPL families looking for full time programs, please visit our two-year-old and preschool programs located in La Canada. You may also refer to our Infant/Toddler and Preschool Parent Handbook for additional information.

Using our knowledge of research-based child development principles and more than 30 years of experience operating programs for children and families within the Caltech, JPL and local communities, the Cooperative Preschool at Caltech embodies the same philosophical approach to childhood and learning that are the foundation of the CEC’s mission and vision.

Program Location: Caltech Campus: 250 and 256 South Michigan St, ½ block north of Del Mar Blvd. between Wilson and Hill Streets in Pasadena.

Program Dates: The Cooperative Preschool operates 9 months each year, beginning this year on September 3, 2013, and running through the end of May, 2014. Enrollment is open throughout the year on a space available basis.

Program Hours/Schedules:

  • 2 days per week (Tuesday and Thursday); 8:30-11:30 am
  • 3 days per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday); 8:30-11:30 am
  • 5 days per week (Monday - Friday); 8:30 - 11:30 am
  • An additional hour may be available up to 3 days per week for children staying to eat lunch (please consult with the Site Director for details)

Program Size and Ratios: Enrollment in this preschool program is is currently limited to 21 children daily, but may increase depending on the number of families interested in participating. Program leadership is provided by a Site Director and 2 Lead Teachers. There are 3 to 4 parent volunteers assigned to work in the program each day. This combination of professional teachers and parent volunteers creates a ratio of 1 adult to every 4 children or better.

Participant Ages: Children eligible for this preschool program must be between the ages of 2 years 6 months and 5 years.

Program Focus: The preschool years for children are very dynamic; the children are ready and interested to learn more about the world and how they as individuals fit into it. The Cooperative Preschool utilizes curriculum that is stimulating and challenging, as well as nurturing and supportive of each child's learning style. Outdoor play and exploration is an integral component of each day, encouraging children to develop knowledge and love of the natural world. The daily schedule provides for activities specifically geared to the various developmental levels of children in the program, as well as opportunities for children of different ages and developmental levels to interact, teach and learn from one another.

Parent Participation: In choosing a cooperative preschool experience for their family, parents agree to become active members of the program and community. Parents participate directly in their child’s educational experience by working in the preschool environment and assisting the teachers in implementing the curriculum.

  • Each family is required to have 1 parent work in the preschool program at least twice per month,from 8:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
  • As members of the CEC community, families will also contribute a minimum of 7 hours each year to help with facility improvement and fundraising support.

Parent Education and Support: Parents have opportunities to work alongside professional early childhood teachers and learn about child development theory, fostering age-appropriate activities, child guidance techniques, and the importance of authentic play. Parent volunteers will regularly attend a group discussion time with the Site Director on the days they work in the program.

How to Enroll: Priority for enrollment will be given to Caltech postdoctoral and graduate student families.

To submit an application, please download, complete and return the application for anrollment (located at top of page under "Related Files"). For questions, contact Helen Ruppel ( or 818-354-3418).

2014-2015 Tuition Rates:

  • 2 days - $210 / month
  • 3 days – $316 / month
  • 5 days - $526 / month

Tuition is not prorated for planned or emergency closure dates, for days children do not attend due to illness, travel or any other reasons.