Meeting the Needs of Island Families Since 1974 

Founded by a group of parents in 1974, the Children's Education Center of the Islands is a nonprofit school for children ages 18 months through 5 years.

Our five-acre campus is located at 350 Casa Ybel Road, between the Casa Ybel Resort and Middle Gulf Drive, on Sanibel Island.

We know your child is unique

Our school is designed so that your child is actively involved in his or her own learning and has ample time to pursue individual interests and curiosities. Separate learning centers give your child hands-on experience in math, science and language arts- through the use of music, art, blocks and other manipulatives, books, and dramatic play. 

Every day is exciting and stimulating

Each day includes music, developmentally appropriate classroom activities, story time, plenty of free time to explore in the learning centers and lots of time for outdoor play. There are available extracurricular weekly activities such as arts and crafts, dance, sign language and yoga. We also invite informative special guests such as Ding Darling spokespeople, our island children's librarian and other professionals of interest who stop in to visit throughout the year. Our morning preschool program runs from 7:30am to 1:00pm, and there is also a separate afternoon program which runs to 5:30pm. 

The personal & educational attention your child needs & deserves

Our classes are limited to no more than ten students per teacher. Our college-educated staff combines a wealth of early childhood experience with continuous professional development, and meets regularly to ensure the best for your child. 

At-home connection

Each month you will receive an overview of what's happening at the school, including the month's theme and focus areas. You will also get a list of books for at-home reading as well as suggested at-home projects and activities. 

Parent and community partners

Parental participation in our school is vital to our children's success. Parents provide our daily snacks, run and staff annual fund raising events, serve on our board and much more. The school also enjoys the generous support of the Sanibel and Captiva business and civic communities.

Our History

1974: The school was founded. A group of Sanibel parents founded the Children's Education Center of the Islands in June of 1974. Parents of three and four year olds wanted their children to have group social activities and preparing for kindergarten. They designed a self-sustaining parent co-op and obtained use of the old Bailey's General Store, then still on the bay at the end of Bailey Road (now restored and part of the Sanibel Historical Village)

1980: The move to Casa Ybel. The school moved to Casa Ybel Road in 1980. The Sanibel Lions Club and the Bailey family donated the five acres of land and the Casa Ybel Resort donated two guest cottages, which were then joined together to create our main building.

1992: 2-year-old programs added. Sanibel's Island Preschool lost the use of its building during the summer of 1992. Since the Children's Education Center had always provided articulation and support for the Island Preschool, we decided to bring its 2-year-old program into our curriculum.

1997: Second building added. We added our second building in June 1997. Thompson Hall was originally an island home that was donated to the school in 1993. The building was named after Larry Thompson and his wife, Kathie, our Board President during the rehabilitation process. Today this building houses our Pre-K classes.

2014: Our 40th year! The Children's Education Center is proudly "celebrating 40 years of dedication to education" as of June 2014.