Seeking a Montessori School or Preschool

Parent Q&A

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  • Would anyone be so kind recommending a Montessori school either near Oakland or near Castro Valley. We live in Hayward, mom works in Oakland. We'd like to find a school for our two-and-half year old. Any help is graciously appreciated.

    We have been at Little Elephant for the past two years and love it. Our son has been going to the Berkeley location, but there is one in Rockridge too. The director/founder, Natanya, is wonderful and so passionate about Montessori education. She is extremely supportive and has helped us work through behavioral problems with our son. With the COVID-19 pandemic, she has also been very open to discussing parent concerns over tuition and working with parents to develop a plan that would relieve some of the financial strain parents are feeling while school is out and also providing for the teachers. She also organizes parent education nights where she brings in people to lecture about topics (like positive discipline, for example). And we have been amazed at our son's development in the environment the school provides. Highly recommend.

    Pride In Learning Montessori - space is limited. Our son Levi is at the lake Merritt campus and loves it. He’s 10 months old. 

    Grand Lake Montessori is located conveniently to the 580 in Oakland between the Lakeshore and MacArthur/Harrison exits.

    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!

  • Urban Montessori Charter School

    (0 replies)

    I am looking for more recent reviews of Urban Montessori Charter School in Oakland.  We have just learned that our daughter is on the waitlist for kindergarten next year.  She has also secured a spot in a hills OUSD school where my other children have gone.  We are interested in UMCS, as our daughter is currently doing TK at a Montessori preschool and enjoys the long, focused work periods and the Montessori structure.  I understand there have been some growing pains, but that now perhaps there is more stability at UMCS?

    No responses received.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions about Montessori Schools


Affordable Montessori Recommendations

Jan 2013

Moving to the east bay March 1. My husband will be working in Emeryville so we were looking at Alameda, Berkeley, Albany maybe or nicer parts of Oakland. My son is currently in a primary Montessori classroom and I am an assistant in a toddler/infant Montessori school. Looking for an affordable Montessori and/or one that is hiring an assistant.

Check out Urban Montessori Charter School at It is tuition free and might be a great alternative for you. Maya

I've recommended Nia House on this forum before, and though it has been quite a few years since my son attended, I would still recommend them highly. When we were there the school fee was based on a sliding scale. As far as I know, it was one of the first Montessori schools in the area to be so inclusive of all levels of income. Nia House Alum

I highly recommend Montessori Family School in Berkeley (preschool) and El Cerrito (K-8). Our daughter is currently attending the preschool program and we love it! The teachers have been terrific in engaging her, and the parents and families are all so friendly and welcoming. In our search, MFS was among the more affordable private schools. They also offer financial assistance. You should check it out. Happy MFS parent

Montessori Schools in Alameda

May 2006

My son is 16 months, and I'm looking into preschools to send him part time once he is about 2 years old. I am a fan of Montessori, and am looking in Alameda. Has anyone had a good experience s/he would recommend? Tara

My 3-year-old son is about to finish his first academic year at The Child Unique and we've been very pleased with it (BPN should have reviews on it ... I think I've sumbitted one). They have a very caring staff and nice kids and parents. Children may be enrolled full or part-time with varying scheduline options available starting at age 2. I think they have a waitlist for next year. Child Unique Parent

Sept 2005

Re: Montessori Schools in Alameda
I am an Alameda parent who sent my then-pre-schooler to 2 different Montessori schools and was disappointed (to a greater or lesser extent) both times. As an educated professional, I was not concerned about my child's academic preparation for kindergarten, and believe that in preschool it is more important for children to learn social and emotional skills. I am really baffled as to why! the Montessori method is so popular. I believe that this method is only appropriate for a small percentage of children, yet it seems to be the main option available. Some of the reasons it was not right for my child include: emphasis on individual work and lack of opportunities for children to work and play together, lack of emphasis and opportunity for children to be creative and use their imaginations (they can decide which materials to use and for how long, but the materials have a ''right'' way, like a puzzle, rather than providing any opportunity for experimentation and creativity). I also did not think that the focus on academics at the expense of play and fun was appropriate, and threatened to squelch my daughter's joy in learning. I will definitely not be sending my outgoing, social, imaginative, and fun-loving second child to a Montessori school. --! not a Montessori fan

Berkeley Montessori vs. Montessori Family

Jan 2005

We are trying to decide between Berkeley Montessori and Montessori Family for our 3 yr old. We enjoyed our tours of both but they have very different characteristics. If you have experience with both, could you offer your thoughts? Also, if he stays through elementary school, I'd love to hear from parents with older children. Montessori Mom

[Editor] replies were posted to the pages for Berkeley Montessori School and Montessori Family School

Culturally Diverse Montessori School

December 2003

I am looking for a culturally diverse montessori school for my 2 year old twins. I'm looking for something in the El Cerrito, Richmond, or San Pablo area. My twins need a loving and academic environment that most day cares do not provide. We would like it to cost less than $750 per month, per child. Tamara

Recommendations received:

Montessori elementary school?

October 2003

My son is thriving in a Montessori preschool program and I'm wondering if it makes sense to keep him in that environment through elementary school. I'd love to hear from parents who have chosen this route. Is there a particular Montessori school in either Oakland or Berkeley that you would recommend? (I'm planning on touring the Renaissance School in Oakland soon.) How do Montessori kids transition into more traditional schools, either public or private, later on? How academically prepared are they? Any pros and cons you can share would be greatly appreciated! Montessori mom

Recommendation received: