The Renaissance International School (TRIS) Preschool

Community Subscriber

Oakland, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

DSS Facility License #: 
Leslie Hites
info [at]
Dimond Av.
Maximum Capacity: 
Language(s) Spoken: 
English, French, Spanish
Ages Served: 
24 months - 60 months
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Editors' Notes: 

Parent Q&A

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  • Feedback on TRIS

    (3 replies)

    Hi Parents!

    We are considering TRIS for our daughter when she turns two.  We toured the school a few months ago, and really like the staff and general Montessori approach.  Just hoping to get some more recent feedback about TRIS as it looks like the last reviews are from 2014.  

    Thank you so much!

    B & S

    Hello...  we currently attend TRIS and our children have been there since 2012, with my youngest starting at age 2.  I currently have one child in Upper Elementary and one in Lower Elementary so you can guess we love the school.  The preschool program is amazing!  For our family, the language immersion was critically important, add to that the amazing music and art curriculum and its really the perfect place.  I love that I don't have to run my children around to additional lessons outside of school.   We also enjoy the year round schedule and the extended hours of the program, and quite frankly, my kids hate when I pick them up early.  They love to stay at school until 5pm or 6pm!!

    The teacher teams are amazing and really do an incredible job.  They are loving, nurturing and genuine.  I don't think any other Montessori program can offer what TRIS does.  They really are about nurturing and growing the whole child, especially if you continue the program into early adolescence.   If you have further questions or want to talk directly to parents I'm sure the office would be happy to give you contact information for currently enrolled families that you could speak to one on one.  Good luck with your decision - I know its a big one.  

    Our child has been at TRIS for two years. It is a wonderful place. If I could go back in time, I would enroll at the school as soon as my kid turned two (as you are planning to do) instead of waiting until the latter part of his preschool years, as I think he would have really benefited from the Montessori approach and the nurturing, loving environment and top-notch teaching staff at the school. The children hone practical life skills, interpersonal development, foreign languages (French and Spanish), art, music (lots of singing), and geography, in addition to reading, writing, and math. They have regular PE and outdoor education lessons, and instrumental lessons are available. It is not cheap, but we feel that it is worth every penny as our child is happy, thriving, and developing into a wonderful, well-rounded person. 

    We are there as well.

    Generally - the school is great, our children love the teachers and are very positive about things.  We have personally noticed positive behaviors coming out of our kids that are directly attributable to the school.  We would definitely go there again (but wonder about what the difference really is with a few options that were closer to home)...


    The staff communication is horrible.  They don't really seem to provide a support network for the parents from what we've seen.  This is most clear in two ways (which may not be a con to you):

    1. it's hard to get teacher feedback on day-to-day things, like even if the kid pooped or napped

    2. there's no guidance on what we can do at home to further the lessons

    Usually such questions are met with "the Montessori method means we can't be overbearing and you're not trained" or some variant of that.

Parent Reviews

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Our child goes to The Renaissance International School (TRIS) which might fit your needs. It’s Montessori and the hours are 7:30a-6pm, with a community full of working families.

I highly recommend The Renaissace International School (TRIS) located in Oakland’s Dimond district. Our daughter started there when she was 2.5 years old and is still there. She has had an amazing experience with this Montessori school where not only she is learning a lot (in English, Spanish and now in French too) but also that’s where she was fully potty trained in a stress-less and extremely healthy & caring environment. Our daughter who is now 3.5 absolutely LOVES her school and has developed amazing social and emotional intelligence through their approach & philosophy in addition to great academic learnings. She has also established great friendships and wonderful bonds with her extremely professional & caring teachers. My husband and I have also found an incredible community of parents where support, guidance and compassion for all have been at the foundation of all interactions & relationships, specially during the past few months with the Covid19 challenges. We had done a LOT of research prior to enrolling our daughter at TRIS and I can honestly say our choice was one of the best decisions we have made in our daughter’s life so far. Everything that TRIS told us at the Open house and throughout the enrollment process was absolutely honored and during these extremely trying times they have proven even more their commitment, compassion, professionalism and excellence at all levels. I am more than happy to answer any other questions you might have and hope to see you soon at TRIS!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

The Renaissance School preschool rooms - Academics + fun?

July 2014

Hi BPNers -

Hoping i can get some feedback on the Renaissance School - Preschool Rooms - which I am seriously considering enrolling my son for next fall. I recently toured for the very extensive 2.5 hour visit and just like everyone has said here - the school is obviously top-notch academically for a montessori bilingual approach.

I wanted to get feedback from you parents out there: Is the school also fun for your little ones? I haven't been able to get my hands on a schedule yet of the 'typical day' but do they have multiple times outside? How about the extended care time from 7:30 - 8:30 and 3:00 - 6:00? Do the kids get to choose what they do? Can they choose art, play outside, etc? or is another work time?

My husband and I both work so my little guy is going to be someplace for 10 hours a day so i want to make sure besides being academically focused it also offers some free time and fun time which is hard to get a sense of from their website or tour.

Thanks! Future Preschool Mommy

I have two kids at the Renaissance International School (TRIS). My kids attend approximately 10 hours per day. My oldest has been there for approximately 5 years. My youngest for 2 years. The youngest is very high energy. TRIS has been good for both kids. I was somewhat worried about my youngest attending TRIS but it's worked out very well for him. The classrooms are calm and well managed with kids working on their own or in small groups. This helps him focus and reduces the chaos that can be created when he has too much stimulation.

Both my kids attended the same Primary (3-6 yo) class and they often talk about dancing with one of the teachers to music in Spanish. They love that activity and it happens a lot on rainy days. The teachers are warm and they incorporate a lot of fun, creative activities that promote growth for the kids. For example, in the afternoon some of the kids may be sewing which improves fine motor coordination.

TRIS incorporates a good amount of outdoor time. I was really happy to see that in the last 2-3 years they've added more outdoor activities for the kids in addition to their normal outdoor time. My oldest is very athletic and I think it would have been a show stopper if the school hadn't added more outdoor activity (run/play as a class in the nearby park & some trial PE classes). The outdoor space has been improved over the last couple years as well.

Unfortunately we'll be moving out of the Bay Area in the near future. TRIS is on my top 5 list of the things I'm going to miss the most when we move. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a warm, nurturing community. I initially was interested in TRIS for the language program but we've gained so much more than I would have expected. The music program is excellent and provides a great foundation for learning. Although my daughter hasn't taken piano lessons she can pluck any popular song by ear on a piano. My kids have learned much about world geography and other cultures. My daughter's creative writing skills are allowed to flourish and are encouraged. My son's still not a great eater but the cooking days have helped expand his eating horizon quite a bit more than I could have alone. I'm seriously jealous of my daughter's art skills that she's learned. I realize with our move I have no idea how to help my youngest gain the same solid art skills my daughter has achieved. Although there are a lot of parents who are professionals I feel the parent population focus is excellent education with a worldly outlook in a creative manner. So, the parents are a lot of fun too. Lastly, the school is well managed and operated which many of us likely take for granted since the TRIS Director and Staff do such a good job. Will Miss TRIS Big Time!

I have two girsl at TRIS (ages 7 and 5) that both started at 2 years old. The environment allows for plenty of fun. In fact, both girls still get mad at me if I pick them up before 6 p.m. In addition to the work periods, there is play outside at least two times a day and sometimes more as certain lessons and excursions frequently occur in the play yard and surrounding park(and if it's raining they still go out for some rainy day fun in rain gear). During open play times, the art studio is available if the child chooses to go, and there are a variety of creative materials brought into the yard in addition to the structures and bicycles. I would also add that the work periods really are not ''work'' for the kids. The nature of the hands on materials feels very much like play (although it is academic) and the children move through the materials at their own natural pace. The classroom environment also has a very home-like feel that my children really see as an extension of their own home. So when they are not in a work period or outside running around, they have some down time to simply relax with a book, sew, or a calming activity of their choice. I hope that helps! Ashley

Hi there, My son just started at TRIS in May and all of us couldn't be happier. He is in the extended day program 7:30-6:00 and there are days when he doesn't want to leave. When I arrived yesterday, he and his other late stay friend were outside with their teacher playing with some balls. Then they ran inside, grabbed some musical instruments and proceeded to run around their teacher in circles while singing the alphabet song and shaking maracas. I sat on a bench and watched while they giggled and sang. It was wonderful to see how happy he was and I know he is receiving all the benefits of a Montessori and bilingual education. I strongly recommend TRIS. I wish I could have had an experience like this when I was young. Hope this helps in your decision making. We are absolutely delighted with ours. Happy Mama

Depends how one defines "fun." If for you "fun" is letting kids run amok with total abandon, than TRIS is not for you. There are plenty of cheaper daycare settings where children are left to their own devices and kept distracted by "fun" and games. The question is, what sort of child emerges from that kind of environment?! From your post, however, I get the impression you would not want that kind of environment for your little guy. You are looking for something much better and are concerned that he would only work and not have fun in the sense of running outside in the sunshine several times a day. I understand that the kids spend at least two such periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Moreover, they often eat their snacks outside, weather permitting. My daughter comes home plenty full of dirt under her nails and bruised knees, which tells me she definitely had some outdoor fun. The kids even have a lovely little vegetable garden and a worm composting bin, which they tend to with utmost care. So, if for you "fun" includes deep appreciation of life's wonders, developing of one's full artistic and scientific potential through the training of one's attention, respect for children's inner core - i.e. not tampering with their essence - then TRIS is definitely for you. There have been times when the atmosphere in the classroom seemed "unfun" to me too, looking from the outside for a few minutes, however, on a deeper level, I truly can rest assured that is only the appearance. The teachers are fully attentive to the children in the classroom, and what may seem like a strange atmosphere from outside is in fact the atmosphere of deep attention, and there is nothing more important for children to develop in today's world of so called Attention Deficit Disorder and all too frequent prescriptions of Ritalin. I am very happy with the way my daughter has been developing during her years at TRIS. No shortage of fun in her life. In fact, she has a rather profound sense of humor for a child her age.

Oh, and a note on the use of the word "work" for play. I find that word extremely important, because to me it signifies a deep inner connection with the object of attention, be it a puzzle, a set of pictures to be matched with words, cutting, sewing, pouring liquids, polishing metal, cleaning windows, sweeping the floor etc. It is not a synonym for drudgery. It is the exact opposite of that. It teaches children to appreciate any given task fully and with deep attention. What a gift to the child and humanity!!! ida

Hi Future Pre-School Mommy, I have a daughter in Pre-Primary and she is so happy to be at TRIS that I have to coax her to come home everyday. She attends from 7:30a-5:30p. She is only 2.5 years old and has learned how to ride a bike, ground coffee beans, arrange flowers in a vase, water plants, loves ''play doh work'' (as she calls it), learned how to use scissors comes home with drawings and necklaces she made, etc. When I pick her up, she is usually in the playground either playing in the sandbox, climbing the ladder in the jungle gym/slide (which she also learned to do at TRIS) or just running around uncontrollably being chased or chasing another classmate. This is not to mention that she helps with gardening and one day there was a chicken on campus, which she was so excited to show and explain to me. Yesterday there was a basketball hoop in her school yard, and she explained how she played with a basketball. There are mats in the yard for her to simply jump up and down on. I've also enrolled her in gymnastics at TRIS(for an additional fee), which she attends once a week during the school year. There are many board games, and toys in the classroom that she can choose from and play with at most times. I am sure that I am missing some events since my daughter has only been there almost 4 months. Yes, everything I've listed has happened within this 4-month period of time. I know that TRIS has parties for special occasions (e.g., Halloween, Narooz, end of school year, Fetes des Parents, etc.) There are plenty of fun options for any child to participate in at TRIS. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. daphneh

My daughter is in a primary classroom at Renaissance, so I can tell you in our experience that Renaissance is both for the preschoolers, fun and a place to learn.

The day starts with a traditional Montessori ''work'' period. It's easy to misunderstand what that means as we adults think of ''work'' as the thing we go to in the morning that gives us a paycheck. In Montessori-land, it means a three hour period where the children get to move freely around the classroom, watch each other, and choose the activities they wish to engage in. My daughter goes nuts for these activities. She just LOVES them. The magic is that as she's learning to choose what she enjoys, to watch other children and learn through observation, and to concentrate and stay focused while engaging in something she has genuine, pleasurable enjoyment in, she's actually learning things that provide an astounding foundation for the rest of her school life. Focus. Concentration. How to follow directions. How to ask questions. Divergent and creative thinking. The wonder of the world around her and how it works,and how surprising and delightful is actually is. She's learning how to resolve conflicts (truly, my 3-3/4 year old can stand in a room with a similarly aged friend, and when they both want the same toy can turn to her friend and say, ''We both want to play with this. What might a solution be?'' And she actually comes up with creative solutions on her own.) She's learning that she's competent. Self-reliant. That if there's a work she wants to learn that requires skills she doesn't have, that she must learn preliminary skills first. She actually KNOWS this now. She knows she must master some skills before she can build the Roman Arch, and she really wants to build that Roman Arch. So she's learning patience. Fortitude. How to practice. And in all this, incidentally, without it being an issue and without there being any tedious drills, she's learned the alphabet, how to draw the letters, and how to sound out words. Some of them in another language. It's been effortless, joy-filled learning. And she knows how to cut vegetables.

Kodaly method singing is twice a week, times vary by classroom. (Google it. The children LOVE Jutka, the Kodaly teacher.) The art program is astounding. It's custom built by a longtime art educator based on Montessori methods. Art studio happens once a week during the work-period. There are only a handful of students in the art studio at a time.

After morning work session/music/art is outside play. Raucous running around, digging for roly-poly bugs, watering plants, climbing, tumbling, imagination play, sandbox, trikes. Then lunch. Nappers nap until about 3. Non-nappers play outside or do works (I believe.) Around 3 everyone goes outside to play again. Art studio is available to limited children, spur of the moment, if they wish to have another session. Around 4-4:30 the children have afternoon snack, and then another indoor work period.

Again, that work period means they're interacting with Montessori materials that are a game to them. Don't let the language misconstrue what's happening. The materials are engaging, the children select what they're interested in, and the teachers watch what every child is doing to see if it's appropriate to teach them new aspects of what they're doing. They may read, may do a work that involves another child. My daughter particularly likes the egg work. She actually puts on an apron, and by herself opens the fridge, gets out a hard-boiled egg, neatly shells it, puts it in the egg slicer and slices it and then cleans it all up. Not sure if she eats it herself or puts it on a tray and offers pieces to the other students. She also loves metal insets, which teach her the beginnings of geometry as an art project and that develops her pincer grip. Why do I care about pincer grips? When I started writing I kept getting hand and finger cramps. Montessori children don't get those cramps because various works (use tweezers to move these blue balls from one bowl to another) develops it so well.

Lastly - what I love about this school is that my daughter isn't just given art supplies to play around with. She's given art supplies and direction on what to do based on what she WANTS to do, so she knows how to figure out how to draw her rocket ship, or her best friend, or a bird, whale or car. She's given excellent materials and just enough instruction to allow her to thrive and explore, with enough freedom to make the whole thing fun.

It's been working for us. Happy Renaissance Parent.


Feedback wanted about TRIS for pre-primary

Nov 2013

Hi, We are seriously considering sending our son The Renaissance International School next year for pre-K. So far, we have read great things about the school and were impressed with the staff/facilities. We are also considering EBI as Spanish is very important to us. We'd love some feedback from parents with kids currently (or recently) in TRIS's pre-primary. Our only concern is that is not truly Spanish immersion (unlike EBI). Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Our daughter is currently in pre-primary and started there in March 2013 when she was 2. She has been there ever since including over the summer (during their summer program).

We have been extremely happy with our experience so far and our daughter has thrived in their environment. Few things to note:

1. She is socially much more confident now, is able to speak with adults and other children her age / slightly older - her language skills (and music skills) has grown tremendously

2. She is also physically more confident given the excellent playground at TRIS where they can play on slides, climbing spider web etc. (she goes to gymnastics as a separate place and even they have commented on this)

3. Her potty training has come leaps and bounds (we tried ourselves in November last year with not much success) since starting at school, in the last 9mo, she is now going to potty by herself and we are recently in no pull ups for nap. The school and parents work together closely on this including being able to talk about which training pants to use, when to go off pulls for naps, so that we are completely coordinated. I have leaned on her teachers a lot in this area. And other pre-primary parents.

Re the language immersion, I would say that TRIS is a true Spanish and French immersion program (in PP, it is English and Spanish, and in Primary you can choose whether you continue Spanish or move to French, and in elementary it becomes Spanish and French both). The PP class has 2 teachers, one speaks only English and one speaks only Spanish (in fact the Spanish-speaking teacher cannot speak English so during the Parent-Teacher meetings, we have a translator there for her to speak with parents). My daughter now understands and speaks English and Spanish (and a third language that my husband speaks with her at home). It truly is a bi-lingual education. I cannot stress that enough - this was very important to us while finding a school.

Also my husband did the transition week with my daughter and I think it set the tone for her experience at school. The transition is so well done at TRIS. My daughter had just welcomed a baby brother the week she transitioned to TRIS, and we were concerned about it being too much change for her. TRIS gave us options and were very flexible if things shouldn't work out. But in the end, going to TRIS actually helped her adjust better to a new baby at home.

The teachers, the staff, the principal, the parents, the entire community is wonderful. My daughter started with the 3pm program but now stays until 6pm.

I am happy to answer any questions. Sulakshana

Hi Stephanie, you are considering the right school for your little one. TRIS is as amazing as it seems. It is actually more amazing! My 4 and a half year old daughter has been there for almost two years now in the primary program. We were very interested in giving her language too and this trilingual program is top notch. Our daughter (who is in the Spanish speaking class) is not only speaking and understanding Spanish but she has also began picking up some French from other children and teachers! She has an overall appreciation for language and a strong command of both English and Spanish.

The amazing thing is that TRIS is a trilingual school and so much more. For example, my daughter recognizes continents around the globe and understands the animals, languages, and cultural dynamics of the various continents, countries and regions. In essence the language is supported throughout the curriculum by the way they learn and teach geography, science and math.

The school also has a strong emphasis placed on grace and courtesy as well as conflict resolution. People always comment to me and my husband on how well behaved our daughter is and I have to say she is but honestly it is not because of us-it's the school! They continuously teach grace and courtesy and focus on natural consequences to actions and behavior. The school provides great support and network to parents too. Their course on redirecting children's behavior really helped us become more confident and better parents.

I really can't say enough about TRIS. It is the best kept secret in the Bay Area. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Editor Note: reviews were also received for Escuela Bilingue Internacional

Feb 2013

Re: Oakland vs Rockridge vs Renaissance Montessori
My daughter has been attending The Renaissance International School (TRIS) for 4 years, my son 1/2 a year. If you are considering a multi-year commitment to a preschool I would highly recommend TRIS Montessori. The programs that I see really make TRIS a step above some others is art, music, language, and culture. Children of all ages go to art studio for hours each week. I'm jealous of what my daughter is learning and am always excited to see how her art skills are progressing over time. The music program is wonderful and steps through a natural progression that gives children a joy of singing which later develops into music theory and then instrument skills. The billingual and trilingual (elementary age) programs are fascinating and work well. I initially thought kids would get a little language instruction in their classes second language (either Spanish or French) but that's not the case. Children are taught whatever materials they are studying at that time of the day (math, letters, practical life) in either English or the second language. It's amazing and works well. My daughter is picking up French, her third language, rather quickly. I love that my children are learning the locations of other countries and about cultures in many different parts of the world.

The other great things I see is that the school is very well organized. There is never any flakiness at the Staff level. There's good communication at all levels and the Staff is always available to help you navigate through any issue necessary. Lastly, although my kids did not attend the pre-primary school my babysitter often saw the pre-primary teachers with their students. She often told me how incredibly impressed she was with the teachers and the children. Glad we found TRIS

Spanish Immersion Montessori preschool near Oakland?

Dec 2012

We have just moved from Kensington to Oakland (Montclair) and are looking to start our 2.5 year old daughter in a pre-school program ASAP. We have been with Adela's World of the Children daycare (in El Cerrito, who we absolutely adore), and are hoping to continue Spanish integration as she enters pre-school. Ideally we would love a Montessori style pre-school, but I can't seem to find one that does more than reading a few books now and then or have a teacher that teaches the absolute basics. Does anyone know of a Spanish immersion pre-school that has a fairly structured curriculum? In Oakland?Affordable? Lorena

Our daughter attends The Renaissance International School (a Montessori school that goes from preschool- 8th grade) on Dimond Avenue in Oakland. She started when she was 2 yrs 6 months and is now 3 yrs, 2 months. The Pre-Primary class, where a 2 yr old would start, has one English speaking teacher and one (only) Spanish speaking teacher, so the children are getting half of their language exposure in Spanish all day long. When they transition to the next level at age 3, families can choose to have Spanish or French integrated into the classroom. Currently, my daughter has one English Montessori guide, one Spanish guide and one Spanish aide. The art and music programs at the school are outstanding, my daughter is in a concert next week! The school was established 20 years ago and the director and music director are still the same, the teachers are stable, with a low turnover rate, my daughter is very happy there and is learning a tremendous amount. They also have a great system/website for notifying parents about upcoming activities, it is run very well. Perfect for language immersion and Montessori together. Amy

My 2 daughters attend the renaissance international school on diamond blvd in oakland. The kids start there in preschool with an option to continue for elementary.

The Spanish is great, all native speakers (from mexico, Peru and other countries) and the classes are truly bilingual, the Spanish teacher speaks spanish and the English teacher speaks English. The kids actually think the Spanish teacher doesn't know how to speak English and that if you want to talk to them you have to speak in Spanish, so they learn a lot.

My husband is from Argentina but we don't speak Spanish at home, so we were looking for a good Spanish foundation and this is great. My younger daughter started at 3.5 years (you can start at 2 if you want) and she sings and speaks in Spanish, my older daughter also started at 3.5 and is now in 2nd grade there and reads Spanish books. The kids actually learn to read first in Spanish at about 4 years old since spanish is so phonetic, it's much easier than reading in English. The confidence they got from this seemed to spur them ahead in their English reading once they got the idea of it.

It's a true Montessori program, so the reading, math and life skills are also great, as are the families. Very down to earth friendly, not materialistic.

They have financial aid if you qualify. The music program is pretty awesome too and they also have an English/french option. Hope this helps. Valerie Valerie from glenview neighborhood

My kids attend The Renaissance International School (TRIS previously TRS). We could not be happier with the language program. The primary classes are bilingual. Initially, I assumed that the Spanish teacher would only be teaching language. During my school tour I learned they teach all subjects; math, language, geography in Spanish. Both of my children had learned Spanish with their nanny. The school has helped them retain their Spanish and move forward with reading and writing in Spanish. My daughter who is nearly 8 is now in a trilingual class and is now learning French. She is picking up French rather quickly as do her classmates. Beyond the language program the Music and Art programs are stellar. The Staff is warm and helpful and always have prompt answers whenever I have a question or have an issue that needs to be addressed. Lastly, the Director of TRIS is always on top of things. I never worry about the direction of the school or whether or not things are being properly handled. I feel extremely fortunate that my kids are attending TRIS. I know the foundation that is being built for them is very solid and nurturing. Feel free to contact me with any follow up questions. jahlskog

April 2012

Re: Spanish Immersion Pre-school, S Berk/Montcl/Rockridge
My 2 daughters attend the renaissance school on diamond avenue. Both started at age 3. This Montessori program is truly bilingual, the English teacher only speaks English and the Spanish teacher only Spanish. The kids learn Spanish very well this way. The school is a 5 day program but my kids did fine, and by kindergarten my older one was reading! The school prepares them very well for grade school and the teachers are very loving, they have a cute and safe playground and a lovely singing program. Valerie c

Nov 2011

Re: Preschool for slow-to-warm child
The Renaissance School (TRS) enrolls students at the age of 2 in its pre-primary program which is a ''single age'' classroom where children remain until they are socially and developmentally ready to transition into the primary multi-age classroom (typically 3-6 years old). My oldest daughter remained in pre-primary until after she was 3 years old, because she simply needed more time while my youngest daughter transitioned to primary earlier because she was ready. Every child is different and the school takes an individualized approach to learning; many schools say this, but this one walks its talk. I couldn't think of a better place for a slow to warm child to blossom over time and for you as parent to have access to a phenomenal faculty of teachers and learning resources to support in that process. The language (Spanish and French), music, arts, and classroom learning curriculum are phenomenal and integrated with one and other to provide a holistic learning approach. Definitely go on a tour and speak with Leslie Hites the Head of School to learn more. Very satisfied parent at TRS - Ashley

Oct 2011

Re: full-time program for 2-year-old
The Renaissance School fits your description perfectly ( It is a Montessori program and non-religious. The campus is wonderful with great indoor & outdoor spaces. It is located right next to a park. All the rooms/facilities/grounds are well maintained daily. The teachers & staff have been with the school for many years. This particular school goes beyond the standard Montessori program by offering separate art & music teachers. Primary students have either a French or Spanish speaking teacher communicate in their native language exclusively. We are very happy with the school. My oldest daughter started at age 3 & is now 6 soon to enter Elementary at the school. My youngest started in the Pre-Primary program for 2 year olds. This Pre-Primary program is a great start for children. The school offers a 5 day program with different times for different ages. Please check out the schools' website & take a tour! TRS mom

Sept 2011

My kids are both students at The Renaissance School in Oakland. My youngest has been in the Primary school program (preschool) since he was almost 4 and we moved my older son to the elementary program last January when he was 6. We have been extremely happy at TRS. The preschool program was so wonderful that we felt compelled to move our son from his excellent public school in Oakland into their elementary program.

The primary school is an immersion bilingual program where you may choose Spanish or French as the second language. My son is in one of the Spanish classes, two teachers in the class speak only Spanish to the children and one is an English speaker. The program runs until 3pm everyday, which may seem like a long day, but the children are so engaged and happy that it is not too much for them. The classroom is filled with a diverse array of lessons for the children to complete. They have a lesson plan that is individually created for each child to meet him at his level. The children work individually or in small groups. It is a multi-age classroom (3-6) so the children can benefit from being mentored by the older children or by being the mentor. There is a very important emphasis on ''grace and courtesy'' in the primary program. The children are taught/encouraged to respect the teachers, their peers and the environment. This lesson is learned by modeling- I have never experienced a more tolerant, kind and patient group of teachers. They understand that a very important goal of these years is to help these little wild creatures learn to control themselves, not try to control them externally. The classroom is not a disordered free for all that we encountered in other preschool classrooms. The students are being productive in a way that makes them feel empowered and encouraged. The children cook their own lunch once a week in their kitchen, and because this is an international school the meals are an extension of this mission. Last year they were studying Asia, so my son prepared and ate everything from kimchi to Thai chicken curry. I loved walking into the classroom last year and watching these tiny kids lined up at a kids sized counter in their aprons, working chopping vegetables for a soup they were preparing. TRS is also a choral/music school so all of the children learn to sing and if they want, play an instrument. In the older students, music theory is part of the curriculum- all the students learn to read music.

We also have been happy with the elementary program. My older son is in the lower elementary program, also a multi-age classroom. At the elementary level they add a 3rd language. On any given day he may be getting a math lesson in Spanish or a geography lesson in French. He also has an individualized lesson plan that will allow him to work at his own level. If he is reading at a 4th grade level and doing math at a second grade level, they are able to meet his needs. In his class there are 3 teachers for a class of about 22. One other plus is that the students are so productive during their day, they do not have homework. Very rarely, they are given something to do over the weekend if they did not complete some lesson they were working on during the week. If this happens, it is work that the student is able to complete on their own- it's not parent's homework. Finally, TRS is set up in a way that makes being a working parent easier. The school is available from 7:30-6:00 pm. A variety of extracurricular activities are available throughout the school year for the kids to participate in if they choose. I think it is important to note that this is not just childcare after school hours- the teachers are with the students until 6pm. They may be getting an instrumental lesson, taking a gymnastics class, learning capoeira, playing soccer, etc. If they are not participating in any of the extracurriculars, I will find them in their classroom choosing to do a lesson that they are interested in completing or quietly reading a book. When I ask what time my kids want to be picked up- they never say when class gets out- they want to stay until at least 4:30! tessa

Jan 2011

Re: Oakland/Berkeley Preschools with Caring Teachers
I recommend you look at The Renaissance School (TRS), in Oakland. Our kids have been there for several years and we have been very happy with the care both the teachers and administration give all of the children. The curriculum (Montessori) is well balanced and indeed fosters both a love of learning and kindness and respect towards others. They have a beautiful outdoor space and, because the school is located adjacent to Dimond Park, the children frequently have outings in the park. All of the classrooms at TRS include language immersion. The pre-schoolers/K can be in a Spanish or French class. The elementary kids learn in three languages: Spanish, French, and English. The school has rolling admission so it's possible, assuming there is an opening, to start your child at any time during the year. They take children as young as 2. However there is not a part-time program for any age child. It's a five day a week program for all children which we were concerned about initially, but ended up being very happy with when we saw how content our children were while at school. There is a nice continuity having them have the same schedule every day. It makes it easier for them and us. I think TRS has regular tours so you might go on one to see what you think. Happy TRS Mom

June 2010

My daughter is in her second year at TRS and she started around her 2nd birthday. She loves her teachers and the school. My husband and I are totally impressed with her transformation to an eloquent, respectful, and independent 3 year old in just 1 year! Other folks have mentioned about the school's amazing art and music programs but all you need to do is see the children's art or listen to them sing! It's worth the tuition right there! I was really impressed to see how well the older children understand their math as you see it so well in their drawings and sculptures. Not only do children learn to have good learning skills and problem solving skills but they learn to be independent, curious, and creative. Learning in English, Spanish, and French also trains the brain to process things a little differently good for a budding engineer or scientist. Leslie Hites the Head of School is very open and approachable. This is truly a top school in my opinion. There are a lot of famous and successful people (founders of Google, Amazon, Wiki, etc.)who have benefited from this style of learning. I spent some time in a Montessori school growing up and I believe in their values and style of teaching. TRS mom

Feb 2009

Re: Preschools with Alfie Kohn Approach
I encourage you to check out The Renaissance School, in Oakland, next to Dimond Park. It's a Montessori school. Each of the four Primary classrooms have at least one teacher who speaks nothing but Spanish or French to the children. You can choose to have your child be in either a Spanish or French classroom. The head teacher in each classroom always speaks English. It is truly amazing to see how easily the children pick up the second language.

The school is a big fan of Alfie Kohn. When he spoke in the Bay Area last year the school encouraged parents to go hear him speak.

TRS provides a warm and nurturing environment. The children have a great deal of freedom of choice. At the same time, they are taught to respect their environment and the people around them.

To top it off, TRS has an amazing music and art program, and the most culturally diverse community of families, teachers, and staff that you can imagine. The best part is that the school doesn't seem to need to try to be diverse... it just has naturally grown that way.

Now the downside of this seemingly perfect school... it is expensive. But, the school has a financial aid program, so I encourage you to check it out. Here is a link to their website: A Very Happy TRS Parent

The Rennaisance School for 2-year-old?

Feb 2009

I was curious to know of any past graduates as well as current students who go to The Rennaisance School. I am thinking of sending my daughter 2.y.o next fall. Most of the posts are old and I was curious to know of both the old and the new families at the various grade levels. For the graduates or past students how well did they thrive in the environment and how well prepared were they for the next step? For current students anything you can say I would greatly appreciate. anon

Love, love, love The Renaissance School! Our kids started there when they were 2. I was apprehensive before they started because I thought that attending pre-school five days a week would be too much. But, that couldn't be further from the truth. They have truly thrived there and if I had more children I would start them there as soon as I could. It is a very special Montessori school with amazing music and art programs and it is a naturally very multi-cultural environment. The teachers and staff are very warm and thoughtful. It's a nice, calm environment where children learn to respect each other and the environment around them. And, most importantly, the children are inspired and enjoy learning for learning sake, not just to pass a standardized test. Happy TRS Parent

Our nearly 5-year-old daughter entered the pre-primary program at TRS when she was 2.5 and she has thrived at this school. We soon will be sending our younger daughter as well. TRS is an extraordinary school, and we feel extremely fortunate to have found it. The school's philosophy is Montessori, and it offers very rich arts, music and language programs that are tightly integrated into everything the children do. As importantly for us, however, has been school's culture and deep respect the teachers and administrators show for all children. This is a place where the teachers and administrators really do value who the children are, their innate capabilities and their potential. The program fosters internal motivation - rather than motivation through external rewards - a strong sense of community, respect, independence and imagination. The parent community is very strong as well. We really do feel like the school is a ''partner'' with us and is concerned about all aspects of our child's development. I would be happy to answer questions or give you more specifics offline. Susan

My kids are at The Renaissance School and we have had a great experience there. All of the teachers have been wonderful -- very devoted to the children and helping develop confident, creative, independent thinkers. The school is really unique in that it provides a Montessori curriculum through Upper Elementary, in a multi-lingual environment with a very strong art and music program.

One of the great qualities of TRS is its emphasis on the study of world cultures. The children learn all subjects in two (or three, at the Elementary level) languages. Each classroom at the Primary level studies a different continent in-depth each year. They learn about the physical and cultural geography of the continent, hear presentations from people who are knowledgable about a country, take field trips, and prepare a meal every week from a different country or region.

Another great thing about TRS is its commitment to the arts and creativity. Each child participates in studio art sessions (even the 2 year olds!), with individual instruction from wonderful art teachers -- the children learn art technique in a way that allows them to develop and express their individual creativity and imagination. The school has an art show that is open to the public in late spring (May or June, I think), and this is a great way to come learn about the art program. Also, children at all levels participate in chorus and have regular performances, which really helps develop confidence and composure in addition to developing their musical abilities.

And most importantly, our kids love TRS and are excited about going to school. They have built strong relationships with teachers and friends, and have learned how to peacefully and respectfully resolve conflict (an ongoing process, of course!) The school also does a great job of teaching the parent community about the curriculum and the Montessori method -- this week the school had a interactive presentation on the math curriculum, which was really impressive.

Good luck! Happy TRS parent

We are currently enrolled in the Renaissance School. However, we have decided that the school is not a good fit for my child, and are seeking another school for fall.

I agree with previous posters, Renaissance School has a lot to offer:

  • Excellent, professional teachers who really do see each child as an individual; we love our child's teachers and have received much feedback from them
  • Low teacher-student ratios
  • Music classes and art classes twice per week
  • Foreign language instruction in both French and Spanish
  • A Montessori curriculum and those fancy materials!

However, the school follows the Montessori method very literally. There is very little flexibility in their approach. So if you are considering the school, read up on the Montessori method and be sure that you are happy with it. Make sure your child will thrive in the Montessori classroom. The school is very strong in intellectual developement, but weaker in social/emotional and physical developement. Some of the things that did not work for my child are:

  • Long work periods without time for play and exploration; not enough playground time
  • Too much emphasis on individual work and no small group activities.
  • Little chance to be directed in social skills or to learn how to make friends. For a social child, this was frustrating.
  • Strict rules for how to work with the materials, with very little room to explore and find answers on their own.
  • Always doing Montessori, not much variety or activities to help integrate the details
  • No variety in the afternoon program for working parents - more Montessori
  • Many vacation days, which is difficult for working parents

However, the school is excellent and many parents love the school. My child has made many increases in cognitive development, but has just not been really happy. I have been very concerned about my child's attitude toward school and learning in general since attending Renaissance School. I believe at these early years that learning should be fun. I feel a happy child learns better than one who is frustrated, anxious,and worried. still searching

We have been at TRS for more than 2 years, and have found it a place where all types of children - social, quiet etc. - can and do thrive. This school is exceptional at truly meeting children where they are at - socially, emotionally, ''academically'' - embracing children for who they are, and at the same time challenging them to grow. While we were initially concerned that a Montessori environment may not address the social and emotional needs as well as other types of schools, I can say unequivocally that TRS specifically does a tremendous job on these accounts. There are multiple opportunities inside and outside of the classroom for children to work and play together in a very natural way. I see this when I drop my daughter off and watch a friend eagerly ask her if she would like to ''work'' with her. At the end of the day, she will often be sitting with another child or in a small group of other children doing ''work'' together. Small groups of children also cook meals together for the class each week, learning to work together and to contribute to their classroom ''communities''.

The classes are mixed ages, so my daughter has had the opportunity to learn from and teach other children, which I believe has helped develop her confidence, self-esteem and social skills. TRS also places a strong emphasis on conflict resolution, and I see this in very real ways in my child's interactions with others. Just recently, she was playing with two other children who disagreed over where to have a tea party. One girl in particular was very adamant about having it in a specific place and she was at the point of screaming and crying. I watched with great pride as my daughter said several times ''I have an idea'' or ''Here's one solution,'' trying to help the group come to agreement. On another occasion, my daughter was helping me unload the dishwasher and she suggested that we do it ''as teamwork, like in school.''

TRS is not a place where 15 children sit in a circle and are told to make papier mache elephants and asked to share scissors, paper etc. It's a very special environment, and in some ways it's hard to explain. Teaching children social and emotional skills does not occur through orchestrated, contrived activities. Instead, the school has created an environment where children learn to be social, make friends, share and resolve conflicts in a very natural way that ultimately comes from within.

I will say also that while I believe that all types of children can and do thrive at TRS, the families who benefit the most and are the happiest are the ones who believe in the Montessori approach and philosophy. Anonymous

Nov 2008

Re: Piedmont Preschools
If you're looking for Montessori type schools in the Piedmont area, I encourage you to look at the Renaissance School on Dimond Ave in Oakland, which is very close to Piedmont. It is a Montessori school and has the balance you describe you are looking for. There is a big focus on music, art and languages but at the same time the children are challenged academically and move at their own pace. The parent/teacher community is very diverse and welcoming. There is a small 2-year old class and following that a 3yr-5yr old classroom setting (there are 4 of those). There is also an elementary program for children ages 6-12 that continues to expand as more families desire to keep their kids at the school. My daughter started in the 2 year old class and is now in the Elementary program. My son just recently started in the 2 year old class. My kids couldn't be any more different in terms of personality and temperment, yet both are very happy and are thriving academically and socially at the school. Big fan of the Renaissance School

Looking for a French preschool

Feb 2008

We will be looking for a french preschool for our son. In the Oakland or Berkeley area, Any recommendations would be great. marina

I just noticed in the last newsletter that no one responded to the request for a French pre-school.... I had intended to do it! The Renaissance School in Oakland has one preschool classroom (ages 3-5) that is bilingual French/English and their other preschool classrooms are Spanish/English. There is one Montessori teacher in the classroom who speaks just English and one who speaks just French and is, in fact, French and just came to the US to work at The Renaissance School. If you continue on at the school, their elementary program is tri-lingual. It also has an intensive art and music program. Wonderful school - we've been there with our 2 kids for 4 years.. There was just a lovely article about it on the front page of the Montclarion today (1/25). Roxanne

Nov 2007

Re: Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley
We considered EB a couple times and in the end decided to send our children to The Renaissance School (TRS), a bilingual Montessori school (pre-K to 6th grade) in Oakland. EB offers a very thoughtful approach but TRS' very structured Montessori education made much more sense, to us, from developmental perspective. Our children started at age 3 1/2 and now our oldest is in the first grade. We have found that they have thrived academically and enjoy a rich environment of language, culture, music and art. The primary classrooms (ages 2.9 to 6) at TRS are truly bilingual. There is 1 French bilingual classroom and 3 Spanish bilingual classrooms. In the French classroom, there is a marvelous native French-speaking Montessori teacher who speaks only French to the children. There is also an AMI trained Montessori teacher who speaks only English. All the children receive lessons in each language every day. Though it is not complete immersion, it is truly bilingual. My children are learning to read and write in French, to cook in French, to sing in French, to do math in French and more. Once the children enter the elementary level (grades 1-6), there are native French and Spanish teachers, so their education becomes trilingual. It really is amazing. In addition, the school values music and art education like no other school I've toured or heard about. The children learn music through the Kodaly method and choral music is a part of their day every day at the elementary level.

TRS is a small school with a very strong point of view. It may not be the right place for everybody, but it sounds like it may be worth considering for your needs. The staff is very helpful and I know they have regular tours. Here is the website if you want to contact them:

May 2007

I was wondering how much the Renaissance School encourages or discourages imaginative play. I went to Montessori school myself, so I understand and support all the cooking, cleaning, and general self-sufficiency that is emphasized there, but I also believe in the value of role-playing and imagination for small children (mine is 3). Any experiences with the school one way or the other? anon

Regarding the question about whether the Renaissance School encourages imagination, I would say that the school more importantly encourages creativity. While there is a focus on the Montessori activities cited (cleaning, cooking and so forth), there is equally a focus on developing one's creative self. The art program there is superb and relies on the child to develop and execute his/her own ideas, while not relying on copying the ideas of others. In fact, the school has an art show every year that is the testament to the amazing work of children from ages 2 and up. This year's show is called A Celebration of Children's Creativity, and it will be held June 10-24 at 5900 Hollis St. in Emeryville. I urge anyone considering the school to attend the show, meet other parents and see for themselves the joy and creativity of the children. My daughter has attended the school for 4 years, and I like not only that aspect of the school but also its philosophy of non- consumerism and the discouragement of television. I think this has done as much for my daughter's creativity and imagination than anything else. TRS parent

Considering Renaissance School preschool

March 2007

We are considering moving our 3-year old daughter out of her large preschool, where she is overwhelmed, and into a Montessori program. Can anyone comment on the Renaissance School in Oakland? We are interested in the quality of the teachers and the Director, including how effectively they communicate with parents. Any thoughts would be most appreciated. Elizabeth

We didn't enjoy Renaissance Montessori, and after 2 years, switched schools. Our problem was with the French program -- people had totally different and very positive, experiences with the Spanish program. We felt that a lot was promised that wasn't delivered. I'd also consider whether you are truly committed to the Montessori approach (Renaissance is VERY traditional), as opposed to just wanting a good preschool. This is NOT the place if your particular child would do better in a play-based learning environment. PS: we switched to Ecole Bilingue and had a wonderful preschool experience. It's an excellent school to transition to, once the child is school-aged.

Our child had a very difficult time transitioning to Renaissance. Some of the teachers such as our classroom teachers and music teacher were quite good. However, we found the school to be extremely strict, and unwilling to take our recommendations into consideration for our child. They felt that if a child cried for months, it meant that the child was trying to trick the parents into believing they weren't happy at the school. They were not very willing to be flexible with early pick ups the first couple of weeks of transition and didn't want to help our child overcome shyness by making connections on the playground, stating this was the child's own responsibility.

Ultimately, we decided it was not a good fit for us and our child thrived at another (more playbased) preschool. I now feel terrible that I inflicted that horrible experience on my child. As a child expert once told me, if you as an adult don't like to live in a rigid atmosphere, then why should you expect that of your child? If you have a very independent child and are looking for a more rigid montessori, you'll be happy with this school.

I wanted to respond to the post requesting recent feedback regarding The Renaissance School. My three year old has been at the school for over a year and is now in the French primary classroom. We are very happy with the school. The teachers are wonderful -- they are very caring and attentive to the individual needs of each child. There is a very positive energy at the school, and my daughter is excited to go to school every day. In addition to the very high quality of teaching in the classrooms, the school's music and art programs are terrific -- the children participate in vocal and instrumental performances and art shows throughout the year.

The original poster asked specifically about communication at the school. I have found the teachers and the administration, including the Head of School, to be very accessible to parents. I have daily interaction with the teachers in my daughter's class, and if parents need additional time to discuss anything, teachers will make the time to talk over the phone or in person. Parent-teacher conferences, class parent meetings, open houses, and other gatherings provide additional opportunities for parents to communicate with teachers, the administration, and each other. Parents are definitely encouraged to be an active and involved part of the school community. We are very happy that we decided to send our daughter to TRS! Kerry

Dec 2006

Re: East Bay Bilingual Montessori
You MUST check out The Renaissance School in Oakland. It's a hidden jewel. I don't know what language you are looking for, but The Renaissance School has bilingual programs in French AND Spanish for the primary level (ages 3 to 6) and TRIlingual program for the elementary level (through 6th grade). We moved here from France a couple of years ago and really wanted to find a bilingual French program. We checked out the Ecole Bilingue and liked it but it wasn't quite right for us. We are believe very strongly in the Montessori method so when I found The Renaissance School, I was over the moon. Each Primary classroom has a trained AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) teacher who speaks English and an AMI trained teacher who speaks either Spanish or French. The head of the school has very high standards for her teachers. They must be native speakers and have completed the AMI training. The Spanish and French teachers speak ONLY their native language in the classroom. The children have all their lessons in both English and either Spanish or French. In addition, they have language lessons to help build their vocabulary. They also sing and listen to music in the second language. Our daughter is 5 and is now learning to read in English and French. She is also learning to write in French and is learning to use a stylo plume just like French students! It's amazing. My husband and I are both American but speak French and love that we can also keep up our French by singing and reading with our daughter and speaking to her French-speaking teacher everyday. Our younger daughter, who is 3 1/2 and is in the same classroom, was not exposed to as much French when she was little but loves learning the language now and thoroughly enjoys receiving lessons from her French-speaking teacher.

The Spanish classrooms are the same. Everyday when I pick up the children I hear the teachers speaking to their students on the playground in Spanish. It's normal and expected to hear several languages on campus. It's a very international school with many multicultural families.

I should also point out that The Renaissance School has an incredibly strong music and art program, which is another aspect of the school that drew us to it. The children are taught music using the Kodaly method and really develop beautiful singing voices and an understanding of music very early while having fun doing it. Depending on their age, they have a total of 1 or 2 hours of dedicated music each week in small groups with a wonderful music education staff. Of course, they also sing in their classroom. When they are old enough, they can take chorus and instrumental lessons at school, which cuts down on schlepping kids around after school to various lessons.

I'm glad you asked this question. Whenever people say that the Ecole Bilingue is the only French bilingual school in the East Bay is just wrong. True, it is the only bilingual school accredited by the French government, which may be important to some, but their are some of us who have more flexibility and it's important to know there is a choice.

If you have any questions about the school, I'm happy to answer them. The school has been great for our children. They are growing into caring, kind, respectful, interesting, curious, intelligent, musical, French speaking children thanks in part to this great school. Carrie

Sept 2005

We are considering The Renaissance School for our nearly 2 year old daughter, does anyone have any personal experience with this school to share? thank you, tina Anon

My three daughters started at Renaissance School each when they were two years of age and the whole family is quite happy with this decision. Renaissance provided a strong foundation for their education to follow. My older two moved into the Renaissance elementary program for a number of years (now eldest is just starting high school and middle is still in middle school), and my youngest just moved this summer into the Renaissance elementary program. Because of the skills they learned at Renaissance, my older two have excellent time and project management skills, are independent, and have always been self-sufficient in their schoolwork. They learned to take ownership of their education which is valuable. The preschool program provides a nurturing environment that also encourages the children to explore and learn. Not only do they learn math and language skills, but also practic\ al life and presentation skills.

Here's an example of how the school supports student ideas - Last year after the tsunami, my daughter's preschool class talked about how tsunamis occur and what happened to the people in SE Asia. During the course of this discussion, they wanted to collect money to send to the tsunami relief agencies. So the several kindergarteners of that class wrote up a proposal and approached the Head of the School. With her blessing, they set up collection cans and in teams of two, they went to all the other classrooms (including the elementary classrooms) to give a presentation on the tsunami and explain why they were collecting funds. It was incredibly touching from a parent perspective, and the children felt empowered and supported in their ideas.

And the music program is out of this world - I doubt you'll find anything comparable. They use the Kodaly method and it's amazing to watch even the preschoolers playing bells alongside the choristers. When they move into the elementary years, different instruments play together harmonizing. I never understood how much they were learning until a work colleague with extensive musical background happen to look at my eldest daughter's homework assignment to write a song. I tried to explain the assignment to him, and he understood everything, but noted that it was unusual that the music teacher would allow her to put a particular chord in a certain spot of the song. When I asked my daughter about it, she smiled and explained that she asked for permission. These were eye-opening conversations that I cannot explain any better, because I don't have that music theory background. You may have specific questions, and sinc! e I've been associated with the school for awhile, I'd be glad to share a parent perspective. I do encourage you to learn a little about the Montessori method so that you'll understand the activities your child's experiences in the school. If you (or any other parent) would like to talk about the school more or have some specific questions, feel free to write back and we can set up a time to talk. Janna

My daughter attends the school and is very happy there. Please e-mail me directly if you have specific questions. Jeannine

Renaissance School's preschool program

April 2005

I'm interested in finding out information about the Renaissance School's preschool program. In particular, I'd like to know whether people are pleased with the program and why? Or unhappy and why? Also, I'd like to know whether the kids in the program are generally happy or does it seem overly strict? Finally, are kids who complete the program generally well prepared for elementary school? Thanks so much for responding. Anon

My preschooler went to Renaissance School for two years. I would suggest that you look carefully at the school before sending your child there. During our time in the school, there was a tremendous turnover in teachers. Many of the teachers were young and inexperienced and some did not even have Montessori certificates. The inexperience began to trouble us when we discovered that the teachers did not even realize that our four-year old could read! I witnessed two separate very tense arguments between two of the teachers (one on a field trip, of all things) that underscored for me the general tension within the school.

The school has a rather tough love approach to teaching independence in their students. Athough I agree with the goal, the message is delivered rather harshly. For example, if your 3 or 4 year old cannot tie his or her shoes you better work on this before starting the Renaissance preschool. The teachers will not assist a child who needs help with shoes or socks.

My husband and I were quite attracted to the language program but, in fact, very little language instruction really happened during our time with the school.

That said, the music and art teachers were outstanding. If the quality of the rest of the teachers and instruction matched the standard set by these two, we never would have left.

Changes may have been made in the school since we departed. I suggest that you ask careful questions before making a decision. Signed: anon anon

Both of my kids are now in preschool at the Renaissance School and we have been extremely happy with the school. The staff and teachers are fantastic and are very devoted to the well-being of each child and take each child's development very seriously. My daughter is very shy and the teachers have gone out of their way to help her feel comfortable and develop her social skills. My son just started in their two-year-old program. Both kids love school. We are not a very strict family and the kids seem to welcome the structure at the school. That said, the philosophy of Montessori teaching is about letting the child take the lead in what they want to do and the Renaissance school takes that seriously. So while they provide a lot of structure, within that the children have a great deal of independence to pursue what they want. I can't speak to the issue of elementary school placements. If you have any questions,please feel free to email me. Overall, the school has really exceeded our expectations. roxanne

I have to respond to a recent negative posting about The Renaissance School to say that my experiences are not anything like what that person reported. My daughter has been there for two years of preschool and she is absolutely thriving. Not only are the art and music programs spectacular but my daughter is doing impressively well learning French, learning to read, developing cooking skills and working on social skills including helping the younger children learn. In talking to other parents, I have never heard anyone complain about any of the issues brought up in this posting, and other parents seem very pleased with the school. I don't sense any tension within the school or any issue with getting teachers to tie shoelaces. With regard to the turnover of teachers, there was a large turnover at the beginning of this school year, but I don't think it's fair to imply that it has anything to do with the school; each teacher had her own personal reason for leaving and it was coincidental that several of them left at the same time. I sense complete dedication on the part of all of the teachers.

Of course this school, and Montessori schools in general, are not for every child. But I would hate for people to form an impression about The Renaissance School without hearing from a number of parents. Jeannine

January 2004

The Renaissance School, a Montessori school in Oakland, does have a good language program. However, it's not a total immersion experience. There are three ''primary'' classrooms (ages 3- 6) with two English-speaking teachers and one Spanish or French teacher per class. The kids receive instruction in both English and the other language throughout the day. (The pre-primary program for 2-year-olds does not have a language component that I'm aware of.)

In the short time we've been at the school (we started in Sept) I've been amazed by how much Spanish my 3- year-old has picked up (she sings in Spanish and understands quite a bit). Even my 5-year-old, who's not particularly verbal, can understand some basic Spanish now. There are many families from Spanish- and French-speaking countries at the school -- it's a very international student body. Hope this helps! Happy at TRS

December 2003

This is in response to the parent looking for Oakland Montessori preschools that emphasize arts, music and creativity. The Renaissance School (on Dimond Ave next to Dimond Park) has an outstanding music program that utilizes the Kodaly music method. Jutka teaches ''music appreciation'' to all levels (preschool starting at 2 y.o. up to the middle school kids) - the comprehension level and grasp for music theory and performance is quite amazing. In addition to singing, there are various instrumentals (e.g. piano, drums, guitar, etc). The piano students often will accompany the choir. My older girls were playing piano duets with one another by the time they were 7 and 8 years old. Art is also well integrated, and creativity and expression are everywhere in the Montessori curriculum. The school does utilize the typical Montessori curriculum, but I felt that there was far more music than elsewhere and arts and creativity were evident in the program. If you have any questions or want more extensive comments, please feel free to write to me. Janna

March 2003

I am interested in any recent information about the Renaissance School (formerly A Child's World) or the Growing Light Montessori School's Oakland site. The web site has outdated info for Renaissance and no info for the Oakland location of Growing Light. Any details on teacher quality, balance of program, and well-handled transitions would be much appreciated. Lori

We just moved our Daughter to The Renaissance School this month, to get a head start (and to make sure she was in for kindergarten this fall) and we are so happy! She is very happy with the teachers and we have seen just in the last 3 weeks that she has become more curious in learning. I know it is pricey, but it is worth every penny! She loves the weekly cooking, music, Arts and the emergent Spanish program and all the tools to learn with in the classroom. We love it! Yvonne J

My son has been at the Renaissance School for 6 years (he's now in fourth grade), and my husband and I are extremely pleased with his academic progress. My child is enthusiastic about going to school every day. The Renaissance School is more expensive than some others, but they offer a program that has both breath and depth. Also, they have the entire line of specilized Montessori equipment for all ages, not just a selection. Music, art and foreign language are fully integrated into the curriculum. The staff and student body are culturally diverse. The school sets high standards which the children meet. It's a place where the kids take pride in their accomplishments. In short, it's a great school. Helene

Feb. 2003

Re: Spanish Language Pre-school?
The Rennaisance School in Oakland has what they call language immersion in the pre-school years. English, and Spanish or French, is spoken consistently in the classrooms. They have a truly international comminity and it is not uncommon to find other bilingual kiddies in the same group as you child. Worth checking out. - happy Renaissance School parent