Preschool at The Renaissance International School

Hello, We have narrowed down our preschool list to the follow schools. I want LOVE him to be in an emilia reggio school environment that has more play in it than dogmatic montessori but we really like the The Renaissance International School (TRIS) because of its small teacher to student ratio and language program. I am a little curious if the "play" and let kids be kids aspect of preschool and elementary classes is lacking in TRIS or maybe I am being completely off the mark here. Help!! We could not find any schools near us ( Oakland hills, San Leandro, castro valley, alameda) that has small teacher to student ratio, clean, good quality teachers, good curriculum. Does anyone know anything about the Renaissance Int School in recent times. Does it have a good reputation or was the quality good in the past only?

The other schools we are looking at are Daisy Child Development Center, Mountain Boulevard Montessori School and BlueSkies4children (but we are waitlisted on this one). 

Thank you!

Parent Replies

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We also loved TRIS when we toured, but landed a spot at EBI (Spanish Immersion school in North Oakland).  I think we lucked out.  EBI is play based, but is also excellent in terms of curriculum and Spanish immersion.  My daughter has been there for 2.5 years (3 to 5.5) and speaks wonderfully in Spanish even though we do not speak Spanish at home.  She is also learning a lot in PK, including about math (numbers up to 20, very simple addition/subtraction); pre-reading and early reading skills (she is reading very simple books in Spanish); different people and cultures; the environment and our plant; artists (they had a unit about expressing themselves that involved learning about famous artists); music; yoga; dance; etc.  We've been really happy with their PK program.  The program is pretty large and usually has spots.

We are at TRIS right now.

The teachers and the classes are excellent - our kid loves their time there and has made many good friends.  They do get to play, and the education portion comes across well.  TRIS really does Montessori, and every kid we've seen transition out has ended up being "ahead" in social-emotional development and education at their new schools.

However, COVID really did a number on the school.  You will want to confirm the existence of the music program and movement program.  The administration does not seem as interested in maintaining parent happiness as student happiness.  You can see that as a pro or con.

TRIS is a phenomenal school.  Our eldest (now age 9) entered TRIS at age 2 1/2 in the pre-primary classroom, went through primary, and is now in lower elementary. Our youngest (age 5) has spent the last three years in the primary program.

We were initially drawn to the strong language immersion at TRIS, which has indeed been incredible. Each primary class has native Spanish or French guides and an English-speaking guide, while all three languages are combined at the elementary level.  We love that the three languages, while themselves studied, are also mediums of instruction in math, science, cooking... or whatever. The language used simply depends on the guide or assistant who is leading a lesson.

While the international orientation and language curriculum initially attracted us to TRIS, we soon also came to adore the Montessori philosophy and pedagogy, which we found has bred self-confidence, autonomy, independence, and most importantly a deep love of learning.  Regarding your question about play: we find the kids have lots of time on the playground each day, and the environment is incredibly warm, I believe.  Yet also, during work periods, children choose their own work, set it up, and put it away, with guidance and lessons as appropriate.  To me, this helps them find joy -- and "play" -- in their "work," including their academic learning.  I am thrilled that both of our children have a thirst for learning, which I attribute in large measure to TRIS. 

Regarding academics, we love the Montessori materials, especially in math, which breed concrete understanding and provide a rich foundation for later advanced math.  TRIS is a genuinely trilingual environment, and it really shows in the kids. Our eldest daughter read the Harry Potter series in French at age 6 and this is not unusual. TRIS also has a very strong visual art and music program, as well as an international travel component at the elementary level.  The emphasis is on helping kids plan the trips, fundraise, and lead the way in every possible respect.  It is a school that breeds a sense of community, service, and responsibility rather than entitlement. To me, that is so important in an independent/private school.

I do think that the pandemic threw all schools for a loop, including TRIS. It has been difficult for example to staff the Kodaly music program at the primary level.  These issues have continued to be worked out over time.  To echo another parent, I think TRIS focuses first and foremost on the well-being of the children.  It is a small school and community and I feel it is important to be engaged and active to understand what is happening in the classroom and in children's learning.  

Our two kids are thriving at TRIS, and we are grateful that we found this remarkable school. Good luck with your choice!

-- A happy TRIS family