Cooperative Preschool at Caltech

The Cooperative Preschool at Caltech (2 - 5 years)

The Child Educational Center’s (CEC) Cooperative Preschool at Caltech serves all community families, including those from Caltech and JPL, with children from two and half through five years old. The Cooperative Preschool is a part-time morning (8:30-11:30 am) program, beginning in September and running through mid-July.

Our program offers curriculum that is stimulating and challenging to preschool children, as well as nurturing and supportive of each child's unique needs and 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 to interact, teach, and learn from one another.

As a cooperative, parents regularly participate as assistant teachers under the guidance of professional CEC educators. This combination of professional teachers and parent volunteers creates a ratio of 1 adult to every 4 children or better. Enrollment is open throughout the year on a space-available basis.

The Cooperative Preschool at Caltech is located at 250 and 256 South Michigan St, 1 block from the Caltech campus in Pasadena.

Parent Participation

In choosing a cooperative preschool experience for their family, parents agree to become active members of the program and community while working alongside professional early childhood teachers.

  • Each family is required to have 1 parent work in the preschool program at least twice per month, from 8:15 – 11:45 am.
  • As members of the CEC community, families will also contribute a minimum of 7 hours each program year to help with facility improvement and fundraising support.
  • Parent volunteers will regularly attend a group discussion time with the Site Director on the days they work.


Enrollment in our Cooperative Preschool at Caltech is open to children two years, six months of age through five years, eleven months. All families are welcome. Enrollment priority is given to children of post doctoral scholars and graduate students at Caltech, then to employees of Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Families interested in enrolling at the Coop should complete and return an application. Upon offer of enrollment, a time is scheduled for the parent(s) and child(ren) to meet with a Program Director. Once enrollment is confirmed, a set of licensing forms must be filled out and signed before the child enters the program. The family is also encouraged to visit as much as possible before their child's first day. An enrollment fee will be added to your initial billing, to cover processing your child's enrollment; as well as a health and safety fee.* There are times during the year when we offer group tours and/or an open house. Completed applications can be submitted to Director of Administration, Helen Ruppel or at the CEC office at 140 Foothill Blvd. in La Cañada.

Although most of our admissions into the program occur between mid-May and mid-September of each year, we do experience some vacancies mid-year. We hold everyone's applications in our waiting pool throughout the year in the event a vacancy appears. Each year in January, we update the waiting pool list by sending out a form to each family on the list and ask that it be completed and returned. Only those families who return the form are kept in the pool.

Our Learning Environments

Our engaging indoor and outdoor classrooms are full of provocations, areas intentionally designed for exploration, and learning opportunities that intrigue and delight children. Each unique environment is separate from the other developmental groups, allowing it to be appropriately safe, yet challenging. 

Our Teachers

Our low teacher-child ratio allows teachers to offer loving, individualised care to all children, as well as provide fun and engaging activities that support emerging skills.


Our Site at Caltech

Located in a pair of beautiful craftsman bungalows just one block from the Caltech campus in Pasadena, the Cooperative Preschool at Caltech serves Caltech and JPL families, including families from the surrounding community.

Program schedule options:

Mornings 8:30 - 11:30 am,  September through mid-July

  • 5 days per week: Monday - Friday
  • 3 days per week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • 2 days per week: Tuesday and Thursday


Tuition for all programs is due by the 1st of each month, with a late fee assessed after the 10th. Rates are increased as needed at the beginning of each fiscal year on September 1st to cover the costs of increased expenses. Tuition is charged for all week days each month, including holidays, whether or not your child is in attendance. Visit us here for information about Tuition Assistance.

*The Cooperative Preschool at Caltech has an enrollment fee of $25.00 and a health and safety fee of $35.00.

2017-2018 Monthly Tuition Rates


Full Time



Caltech & JPL Families




Commmunity Families




Tuition Deposit

The Cooperative Preschool at Caltech has a deposit of $100.00Tuition deposits will be refunded upon leaving the program. In order to obtain full credit for your tuition deposit, you must provide one month's notice of intent to leave the program. Upon departure from the CEC, you may also donate your deposit to the CEC as your child takes flight into school!