American International Montessori Preschool

Berkeley, CA

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Type: 
Childcare Center, Preschool
License: 
Owner: 
Ernest Mahr
510-868-1815
info [at] AIMmontessori.com
Location: 
Berkeley
94703
S. Berkeley
Maximum Capacity: 
117
Language(s) Spoken: 
Chinese, English, Japanese
Ages Served: 
18 months - 72 months
Hours: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Editors' Notes: 

Parent Reviews

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Archived Reviews: 


Jan 2014

Re: Good quality day care in North Berkeley
I would highly recommend The American International Montessori School. This school has amazing teachers! They also potty train and supply the kids with an excellent immersion program! Adrienne



Aug 2012

Re: 18 month old too young for Montessori?

My son is now 6 and he started in IC at 18 months when Ernie Mahr was still the director for PRINTS. For my son, the hardest part was being separated from us and he cried for a whole month before setting into a good routine. But he gained tremendously from being in a language immersion environment from such a young age. It really helped him when he transitioned to CH. He also got potty trained quickly.

Fast forward to this year, my daughter started at AIM in Jan when she turned two. I cannot say enough good things about the IC teachers at AIM. They are loving, patient, experienced and work hard with each individual child to help them learn good practical life habits. The office staff communicates well with parents to keep them informed about their kids, as well as what's going on at school.



Montessori can work well as early as 18 months, or even earlier. AIM's toddler community is a wonderful program: the classrooms are small, the teachers very caring and well trained, and the school's parent community is really nice and supportive. They help with potty training, too, and always have lots of good ideas on Montessori-based parenting. And, as a bonus, your child will also learn Japanese and Chinese!

We chose AIM for our family after visiting many Montessori schools in the area, and I am choosy, as I work for a group of Montessori schools in Orange County. At the OC schools, we offer Montessori programs starting as young as 3 months, and it's amazing what a difference a high-quality, educational program can make even for children this young. So I'd say, go for it (but make sure you get on the waitlist right away - a friend of mine was interested in AIM, but didn't waitlist immediately, and her child didn't get in as the school was full...)

I'd suggest bringing any of your questions straight to the AIM staff. They are so passionate about Montessori, and always willing to answer questions. Plus, once you join the school, you'll get lots of information at the regular parent education events, held about every 6 weeks throughout the school year. Heike - Montessori Mom



My daughter started at 17 months at AIM in Berkeley and she turned three a few months ago and is in their Children's House program. I would have preferred that she be home with me or my wife longer to be honest, but we both had to go back to work after taking leaves before that to stay with her. She cried on the first day but rarely after that, and was generally trying to drag us out the door each morning to go to school. She'd ask for school on weekends. She was potty trained before 2 and became fluent in Japanese and Mandarin unbelievably quickly. This is the time to teach languages Cb wait til six and it's already too late! Her mom speaks to her in Spanish and now she easily switches between her four languages! The teachers and director, Ernie Mahr, are very good about helping parents know what to do at home to encourage their child's independence, but there are also many good books out there about this. Nothing beats Montessori for a child-centered, nurturing environment, at 18 months or any other age. And AIM is the best Montessori program I have found in the Bay Area. AIM Fan



We started our son at AIM at 18 months. He went from being at home with a nanny full time, to being there until 330 pm. We also are not Chinese or Japanese so there was a complete language immersion as well. Given all of these facts our son is flourishing!!! He is now 26 months and He is potty trained, he listens to us and is much more self sufficient. He is also understanding basic mandarin and Japanese. We were skeptical in the beginning but turns out to be the best thing we could have done for him. Happy AIM parent



Putting our children in Montessori school at 18 months was the best decision we ever made. We are convinced their Montessori education has helped us avoid many of the behavioral / sleep / eating issues our friends are going through with their children. Our 2 year old just used the potty, washed her hands, and cleaned up some water on the floor without any prompting from us. We often get complements at restaurants on how well behaved our children are. When the children walk into a store, they instinctively put their hands behind their backs and stroll around until we let them know it is okay to touch! We cannot take credit for their good behavior, though, because we have only done exactly what AIM told us to do. AIM is an exceptional school. The facilities aren't exactly posh, but the money is on the field. The AIM staff is the best in the business. The teachers take their jobs very seriously, have angelic patience, and are frankly just good people. Even if AIM had no facilities and the teachers had to work with the children in an empty field, they would still offer the best developmental education in the East Bay (in my humble opinion).

Early on, AIM provided specific suggestions on how to Montessori-ize our house, and we did. We went to Cost Plus World Market and bought a bunch of cocktail utensils and small juice glasses for meals. We got small furniture from IKEA, including a table and chairs and a toy shelf, which we use to rotate out toys. We favor Melissa & Doug wooden toys and puzzles which can be put away in an orderly manner. We do not keep toys in the children's bedroom, which we think is why they go to sleep so easily. The children's beds are layered with sheets and absorbent pads which make middle-of-the-night sheet changes easy (you rip off the top sheet and pad and a dry layer is waiting underneath). We were given a toy cleaning set that includes a small broom and mop. Through clothing swaps/sales at AIM and other places, so we were able to build up a small collection of cotton training pants. Our bathrooms mimic the potty setup at AIM, including the trash cans, the hampers, and the Baby Bjorn potties. We have individual toddler-sized cubbies in the hallway for hanging jackets, hats, and putting away bags and shoes. It was a small investment, but completely worth it. The children respond well to the familiar objects and routine. AIM Parents


April 2011

Re: How is Montessori style Mandarin immersion

My son is currently at AIM in the infant community and has been there since September. I can't speak to the technical aspects of Montessori but can tell you my experience from the point of view from someone who didn't know a whole lot about it from the beginning.

My son went from a home based daycare with a lot of children primarily under the age of 2. When he arrived, they started teaching him to care for himself, including potty training him. I didn't understand how Montessori helped teach children to be self sufficient. But I saw how they helped him wash his hands. They guided his hand to the soap and showed him how to put his hand on top and push to release the soap. They never pushed it for him. When showing him how to pull up his pants, they guided his hands to his pants and put his hands around the waistline and showed him how to tug up on his pants. I try hard to let him do things by himself at home but am so glad that they are there to teach and challenge him.

I also looked at a preschool that had different classes for the children to attend and the children would shuffle from one room to another. In thinking about it, I am glad that the Montessori style allows children to spend a lot of time on something that interests them. When we have so many things where we can only spend a few minutes here or there, it's nice to encourage our children to get lost in what they enjoy without even knowing that they are learning. It is so nice to see children helping each other and learning from older ones.

I hope these brief examples provide some useful information that helps you from a non-technical perspective.

You didn't ask specifics about the school and the teachers, but that is the true key to the reason that I am so glad to have my son at AIM. They are truly caring and are excellent teachers. They create the environment and they are what makes it all successful. My son has thrived because of what they do and how they do it. Montessori is the tool that they use but they are the reason it works. I am sure that the other schools are very qualified--I can only speak to the fact that AIM has done a wonderful, wonderful job. a happy AIM parent


Hello! I realize that most parents probably say the school they chose for their children is the best one. I also realize that all children are different and so respond differently to various educational environments. But I also know it is nice to have candid advice on the various school options, so here is my opinion which you are welcome to take or leave.

My children are enrolled in American International Montessori (AIM) which we chose for them after reviewing all the options in the East Bay. We were immediately attracted to AIMC-s dual Mandarin and Japanese immersion starting at 18 months. Many other schools have a minimum enrollment age of 2 years. The dual language immersion was a huge plus for us C1 I see it as two languages for the price of one! If this were an academic paper, I could quote several studies that show children are quite capable of learning in two or more languages and doing so sharpens their cognitive skills at an early age. After only a few months at AIM, my children spoke Japanese, Mandarin, and English. They experienced no delays in language development (this is a common myth). Of course, they are toddlers and do not (yet) recite poetry in all three languages. But their vocabulary and sentence forming skills are roughly equal in all three languages and entirely appropriate for their age.

Montessori methods are really great for a lot of reasons. Again, I could quote studies, but you want to hear about our personal experience. My personal view is that Montessori believes your child is capable of much more than you might otherwise think. Our toddlers drink from real cups, feed themselves with utensils, dress themselves, use the potty, put on their shoes for outside play, and take off their shoes for inside play C1 all with little to no insistence from us. In fact, if we try to hurry them along by helping them, they balk and insist on doing things themselves. They clean up spills, wipe their mouths, wash their hands (with soap!), and load the dishwasher. They also entertain themselves, practice sharing, offer apologies, and exhibit generosity. All of this at two years old. We constantly receive praise from family members and strangers (even strangers on airplanes!) about how well behaved our children are.

I know that some critics of Montessori claim the environment is not fun, lacks social development, and is non-nurturing. I absolutely respect these opinions because as I said before, I believe all children (and all parents!) are different. Our experience, however, has been quite the opposite. Our children engage in creative, constructive, and athletic play at AIM and at home. They are also highly social with other children and adults. And most importantly, they are lavished with love and attention at AIM. If you need proof, simply stop by AIM and watch all the deliriously happy children running around during afternoon yard time. Good Luck!


 

Feedback on American Int'l Montessori Infant Program

Feb 2011

i would like to get more feedback from parents who have their children enrolled in the infant community [which is for children ages 18 - 36 months] of American International Montessori program. Would you recommend the program, and address the level of infant/parent community, well-being, and nurture that's provided within it? any important considerations you think parents should know about? many thanks!


While I can't comment on the AIM Infant Community (our child attends the Children's House program (3-6 year olds)), I have been impressed with the school overall.

The administration is very knowledgeable about Montessori (Ernest Mahr, the director, teaches other Montessori teachers at St. Mary's, I believe, and has years of experience in the classroom.) They are also super friendly and provide GREAT customer service, which I have found to be a rarity in schools. It's a new school, so there are occasional challenges - but the director sincerely invites feedback, listens to parents, and eagerly makes changes based on our suggestions, such as implementing a drive-by drop-off (so convenient!)

The AIM parent community is very engaged (they recently started a PTA, and have an active Yahoo! Group), and very welcoming. Many families are of Asian or mixed ethnicity, due to the Chinese/Japanese immersion approach, and the parent group is very inclusive, with a mix of all kinds of backgrounds (adopted children, single parents, mixed-race families, a range of economic backgrounds, a handful of Caucasian families...) We enjoy being around the other AIM parents and children, whether at the well-attended school functions, such as the regular parent education evenings, or at birthday parties and play dates. A satisfied AIM parent


My daughter has been attending the infant community at AIM since last September and I couldn't be happier with this program. The teachers create a truly nurturing Montessori environment where the children are inspired to become independent learners. The prepared environment is properly designed for the needs of infants and the teacher are very observant about the needs and readiness of the children. The teachers are usually busy but you can set up appointments to meet with them and also to observe in the classrooms. This is anew school but there is a lot of community building going on and a group of parents started a PTA recently. If you are not familiar with the Montessori method I suggest that you educate yourself first because it works best when what happens at home mirrors the philosophy. Happy AIM Parent



While I can't comment on the AIM Infant Community (our child attends the Children's House program (3-6 year olds)), I have been impressed with the school overall.

The administration is very knowledgeable about Montessori (Ernest Mahr, the director, teaches other Montessori teachers at St. Mary's, I believe, and has years of experience in the classroom.) They are also super friendly and provide GREAT customer service, which I have found to be a rarity in schools. It's a new school, so there are occasional challenges - but the director sincerely invites feedback, listens to parents, and eagerly makes changes based on our suggestions, such as implementing a drive-by drop-off (so convenient!)

The AIM parent community is very engaged (they recently started a PTA, and have an active Yahoo! Group), and very welcoming. Many families are of Asian or mixed ethnicity, due to the Chinese/Japanese immersion approach, and the parent group is very inclusive, with a mix of all kinds of backgrounds (adopted children, single parents, mixed-race families, a range of economic backgrounds, a handful of Caucasian families...) We enjoy being around the other AIM parents and children, whether at the well-attended school functions, such as the regular parent education evenings, or at birthday parties and play dates. A satisfied AIM parent



My daughter has been attending the infant community at AIM since last September and I couldn't be happier with this program. The teachers create a truly nurturing Montessori environment where the children are inspired to become independent learners. The prepared environment is properly designed for the needs of infants and the teacher are very observant about the needs and readiness of the children. The teachers are usually busy but you can set up appointments to meet with them and also to observe in the classrooms. This is anew school but there is a lot of community building going on and a group of parents started a PTA recently. If you are not familiar with the Montessori method I suggest that you educate yourself first because it works best when what happens at home mirrors the philosophy. Happy AIM Parent



We just started sending our son to AIM in September and love it!!!! My son is in the Infant Community. He has wonderful teachers and has learned to comprehend Mandarin and Japanese. He has been taught so many valuable skills. I am so happy with our choice. I feel really lucky to have my son at AIM and can not imagine having him at another school. Good Luck -Adrian



My son started at AIM in Sept. just after turning 2. There was some transition after being at a daycare but I see a lot of changes in him. At school, I see that he is capable of controlling himself and that he carefully wipes his mouth and nose and will sit quietly and finish a snack even when he sees that I have come to pick him up. His English is improving dramatically (I think he was a bit behind in speaking) even though they don't speak English there. They also potty trained him and had after school training sessions for parents to help us understand the role we play. One teacher told us that getting them to sleep through the night without wetting the bed was more about whether the parents were ready to deal with it than the children. After accomplishing that, I see exactly what she meant. There was no pressure and they were telling us that to support us and hint that we would need to find a time that was appropriate for us and our son. AIM has also used technology to create ways to communicate and has hosted social events. They are very open to suggestion and are very happy to hear ideas. I know nothing else, but am so impressed with how I see my son progressing and how hard the staff work to be available to parents and create a good, healthy environment. -Happy AIM parents and son



Nov 2010

Re: Wanted - Nurturing, high-quality preschool
I would strongly recommend America International Montessori School. I did a lot of research on schools this past summer and this school past with flying colors! I was looking for great teachers, a great facility, and commitment to diversity/language immersion. The director is awesome and very knowledgeable on early childhood developmentally appropriate practices. We love this school! ajs