Founder: Karen Lee founded Karen’s Kiddos in 1980. She graduated from the University of Washington in 1972 with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree and a Washington State Teaching Credential.
Karen married her longtime boyfriend Roddy Lee (also a teacher) and had their first son in 1979. She found it difficult to find good childcare and other teacher friends expressed the same frustration. Karen decided to open her own preschool for six children and set up her own program. After 5 years she expanded to 12 children and hired assistant teachers. By then she had her daughter Jessica. Both Adam and Jessica have grown up to follow in their parents footsteps and became teachers themselves. Karen retired in June of 2013, after loving and nurturing children for 33 years.
Owner and Director: Christina Pollack grew up in El Cerrito and graduated from Cal State Hayward (now CSU East Bay) in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies with an Early Childhood Education option and subsequently earning a State of California Child Development Teacher Permit.
When Christina was in 7th grade at Portola Junior High she started working for a family with a 9 month old baby boy. She babysat 3 days a week after school and also filled “mother’s helper” roles on weekends. It didn’t take her long to figure out what type of career she wanted. When she was a senior at El Cerrito High School in 1990 (Roddy was one of her teachers) she applied for a job at Karen’s Kiddos. She worked afterschool until graduation then, worked at the preschool while attending college. After graduating from Cal State Hayward she moved to Denmark for almost a year. When she returned to California she worked for Karen fulltime.
In 2007 Christina married Seth Pollack (they meet in 1993) and they had a son in 2008. Erik now attends school at Kensington Hilltop. When Karen decided she wanted to retire, she asked Christina and Seth if they wanted to take over the preschool. It was Christina’s dream come true. She had worked for Karen for 23 years and knew this was the right decision for their family and continuing families attending Karen’s Kiddos. Karen did not want to displace the kiddos in her care and Christina wanted to take over the business. In July of 2013 Karen and Roddy moved out of their home of 33 years and Christina, Seth and Erik moved in.
Our goal is to help children become prepared socially, emotionally, artistically, physically, and academically for happy and successful experiences in school and life. This includes teaching them to be a valued part of a group while respecting and meeting their needs as an individual.
Social and Emotional Growth:
In order to be a valued, well liked part of a social group, children need to learn to respect each other and be respected. This includes learning to share, take turns, cooperate, communicate, assert their rights in a fair and civil manner, and seek help from others when needed. Learning good manners is also an integral part of being liked and respected.
Music and art are essential components of emotional growth. We will not all become famous artists but we can certainly learn to enjoy art in many forms. Researchers have confirmed that babies respond to music before they respond to the human voice and I have yet to find a child who doesn’t enjoy music. Even profoundly deaf children are very attentive to the beat when they “feel” music.
It is important that children learn to use art materials and to explore their own creativity. We try to impress upon them that it is the process that is important and that whatever they create is of value.
Children without disabilities find it natural and pleasurable to move their bodies. This can be encouraged by providing opportunities for free play, as well as organized games and activities. It is increasingly important to teach children about nutrition and making good decisions when choosing the foods they eat.
The foundation of learning is the development of an attention span and a love for the process. Learning to “focus” is a developmental skill, gradually improving with age and experience. An interest in learning depends on the presentation of the subject matter being taught and on the readiness of the individual child.
In a multi age group the younger children learn from the older and the older learn to nurture the younger, but their ability and readiness are not defined by age. When children are grouped by age they often compare strengths and weaknesses, sometimes leading to a low self-esteem on the part of the less mature child(ren). When grouped by readiness they tend to accept each other without being judgmental.
We place a strong emphasis on language arts including vocabulary, phonics, grammar, listening skills, and conversation. For more information please see “curriculum”.