Seeking a middle school with small classes, foreign languages

Our (just turned) 11 year old daughter has been going to the amazing Shu Ren International School since kindergarten. Next year, she'll finish up 6th grade there, and it's time to move on to a middle school.

The school, faculty, and the administration have been amazing at this International Baccalaureate (IB), Chinese immersion program.

We're located in El Cerrito, and aren't sure Korematsu is necessarily a good fit for her given her personality.  At Shu Ren, not only has she gotten an amazing, personalized education due to IB, but she’s been in an intimate setting with 12-15 kids per class.

We’re looking for charter/(affordable) private middle-school recommendations that meet the following criteria:

  • Personalized learning
  • Amazing teachers
  • Smaller than normal class sizes
  • A foreign language emphasis, if possible (Spanish is fine, but Chinese is ideal)

Any suggestions?



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You should check out Canyon. My daughter just started there in 6th grade and she loves it. It's a K-8 public school in the redwood forest! Your daughter would be in a mixed-age class of 6-7-8 and the teacher is amazing! The entire school community is amazingly nurturing and kind. And the academics are also stellar. Feel free to contact me for more info.


Montessori Family School in El Cerrito has an excellent middle school - a real hidden gem in the Bay Area. Class sizes are small; community is diverse, welcoming, and caring; curriculum is very engaging; and the teachers and administration are amazing. While its emphasis is not foreign language, Spanish is part of the course of study.

Have you considered Yu Ming Charter at all?  While it is very challenging to get in in the younger years, some students do leave at middle school, opening up spaces in 6th, 7th and 8th.  The challenge for Yu Ming is finding kids with sufficient Mandarin to enter in middle school.  Sounds like you may have an ideal candidate.

I have an 11 year old  sixth grader (currently at elementary school at Fairmont in El Cerrito, headed to KMS next year), and my advice would be to talk to your daughter. It's not clear if she's currently in 5th or 6th, but even if she's only a 5th grader, she might already have a sense of a) how important Chinese is to her, 2) how important it is to start a new school with a new cohort (for example, Korematsu is just 7-8, so all the seventh graders are "new"; whereas Prospect Sierra middle school is 6-7-8, so starting in 7th would make you the "new kid"), 3) how wide she would like her friend circle to be, 4) other factors we don't know are important (such as where school friends or neighborhood friends are going). I'm not saying the decision is totally up to her, but it doesn't sound like you have engaged with her at all about this milestone and transition yet. Keep in mind that private school applications require a student statement/essay - so she's going to have to want to go to the place you want to apply to. You may want to spend time with your child on the campus of some of the schools your family is considering and see what her reaction is. Our child has had the opportunity to take band once a week on campus at KMS and we try to occasionally go to social events there open to the public. Everyone's comfort level has increased with greater familiarity.