Berkeley School, Hearts Leap, others preschools in the Berk flats

Hello BPN! We're looking for a preschool for Sept 2021 for our daughter. We would love to stay in South, Central, North, or West Berkeley. Our daughter is very outgoing and curious, so we think she'll adapt to most schools well. She's biracial (Black/Asian), and we'd love to find an inclusive and diverse preschool. We'd especially love for our daughter to have Black peers and teachers. Does anyone have recommendations?

We've spoken to a few schools (the Berkeley School, Hearts Leap South, Little Elephant too) and have a few others on our radar (Aquatic Park, New School), and we'd love to hear from current parents (or parents of recent alums) about their experience. 

Thanks!

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My two girls (3 and 5) are at Little Elephant too. Happy to chat if you have questions, but generally we are really loving the program and staff, and our girls are thriving. Our family is white, fwiw.

One school that you might want to add to your list is American International Montessori, if you're interested in either Chinese or Japanese language immersion (and Montessori, obviously). As you might expect, its student & teacher population is majority Asian. However there are no Black teachers and few (if any) Black students, which I can completely understand you seeking out. We do have a gender-diverse child at the preschool and have really appreciated the support we've seen from the teachers & school (and larger school community) on this type of diversity - so I'd give them general high marks for an inclusive atmosphere.

My son attends the Nia House on 9th street. It’s a truly wonderful school with excellent teachers and staff. It’s a Montessori program, and my son has really flourished there. Of all the preschools I toured for my son, it was the most diverse. Good luck with your search!

Step One School in North Berkeley is phenomenal. The teachers are pros and they have a robust social justice curriculum. They have both Black and Latina teachers. Between my two children, we spent five years there and the teachers and staff feel like family. There’s a wonderful outdoor space in addition to great classrooms. My children’s teachers sang and played piano and guitar with the kids every day. I cannnot recommend the school highly enough. 

I recommend that you add Monteverde Preschool to your list. It has a diverse teaching staff, serves diverse families, and employs an anti-bias curriculum. It is such a joyful, unique, special place, and they build community in such purposeful, equitable ways. My kids are now in grades 3 and 6, but I still think of (and miss) Monteverde and its fabulous teachers very often. They are geniuses at communicating with the little ones, facilitating their confidence and autonomy but also fostering friendships and a sense of togetherness and helping kids grow into empathetic, stellar human beings. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Montessori Family School’s Berkeley campus has been great for us. The pods right now are teeny- about 5-6 kids in each pod. There is a lot of individualized attention, good autonomy for our son, and lots of folks from different backgrounds. I believe that one of the teachers identifies as a white woman, one as a black man, one as an Asian/Latina woman, and I am not sure about the fourth. Hope that helps! 

We're at Hearts Leap (we have a 3-year-old), and we've been very pleased with our experience. There are not many (any?) black children, and there is one black teacher (she is wonderful!). Having said that, they have made a commitment to incorporating anti-bias and anti-racism into their curriculum. I hope this helps. 

My son went to Aquatic Park School - he is also Black and Asian. His class had two preschool teachers, one of whom was African American and one was Chinese American. He also had a number of mixed race friends there, mostly half Black and half White, as well as some half Asian and half White. He really enjoyed his time at APS, as there was a diverse group of teachers, lots of outside space to play, and an emphasis on learning through play and socio-emotional development. I highly recommend it.

Hello, I saw your post about  looking for a preschool that is inclusive and diverse.  I highly recommend you check out The Berkeley School. Our daughter is growing up in a trilingual family, my husband is German American, I am Turkish and our daughter is born in Berkeley. It was very important for us to send her to not only a school that understood and practiced diversity, but also for all of us to be a part of a diverse community that valued community service. From the moment we entered the early childhood education center's garden, 5 years ago, we realized this was a community that practiced its mission and values: "Ignite Curious Minds, Awaken Generous Hearts, Engage A Changing World" is the school's mission, and I wished that the rest of the education system was like this. I am a design educator, and founded a school my self. I highly recommend The Berkeley School's approach to education, to creativity and to social learning.  If you have more questions, happy to help more. 

Hi Penny! My daughter (also biracial) is at Montessori Family School, in El Cerrito. She's in her third year now (1st grade) and was at the El Cerrito campus for her first two years of KT but the school also has a preschool campus in Berkeley, which is great! Because she is so energetic and outgoing, we were drawn to the learning-based model of Montessori with added structure - and that has worked out really well for her! Hope that's helpful!

Just wanted to put a plug in for CEC (child education center), which is in central Berkeley. The kids love it and we have been with them for a couple years. The teachers and administration are a blend of asian, indian/pakistan, white, Mexican, south american. The kids that attend reflect that diversity as well, although I would say that asian, white, and indian/pakistani children are probably more predominant. Many different holidays are celebrated in the classrooms. It's a lot of fun and competitively priced. Check it out!

Our toddler is at Mustard Seed Preschool on Hopkins.  There are all types of families from different ethnic backgrounds there, including international ones!
 

They take COVID-precautions super seriously.  We love MSP!  It’s the perfect fit for us.  The teachers there are so loving and stay there long term (newest teachers are there for 5 years already) which was really important to us.  We didn’t want our son to have to deal with teachers cycling in and out - we wanted a stable presence in his time in preschool.   They take kids as young as 1.5 years old.  
 

MSP is a Christian preschool but most of the families are secular.  They are play-based and focused on a child’s holistic development (not just academic redefines but emotional and social development is just as emphasized).  Happy to answer more questions!