Shu Ren International School

Community Subscriber

Private School
operated by KSS Immersion Schools, Inc.
Chinese, English, Spanish
PreK-Grade 5
140 students
Email: admissions [at] shurenschool.orgPhone: Admissions: 510-841-8899
2125 Jefferson Avenue Berkeley, CA 94703
Program Type: 
Language immersion

At Shu Ren International School, we are committed to empowering students to become internationally-minded critical thinkers and lifelong learners.  Our curriculum emphasizes inquiry based learning through interactive projects, creative activities, and field trips that link academic lessons to practical life and skills.  The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum in combination with an immersive Mandarin language environment (available for ages PreK-5/PYP level/Grades K-5) allows children to enjoy learning while reaching their full potential.  Families at Shu Ren International School enjoy a close knit, inter-connected community, international exchange opportunities, and a loving, diverse internationally educated staff and faculty that is dedicated to providing the best education and opportunities for your family.

Parent Q&A

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  • Latest on Shu Ren?

    (1 reply)

    Hello everyone.  We are considering the Shu Ren International School for next year’s kindergarten class and were hoping to get some insight on recent experiences with the school from this group.  We toured the school a few years back with an older child and our impression was lukewarm, but they have since had a change in administration and added a number of teachers, and our current impression is more positive.  We would love to get the perspectives of current or recent parents at the school.  [Note: our child has attended a Chinese immersion school and is bi-lingual in English and Mandarin, which is a primary reason for our interest in Shu Ren.]. 

    Our child is academically smart, but can be obstinate and needs some growing up socially/emotionally.  So how flexible the school is, and how much the teachers and administration focus on providing individual support to the students, are very important to us.  

    We are also interested in any impressions concerning (1) how effective the school is in raising truly bilingual kids, (2) the amount of homework in early grades, and (3) the after school program (ours would be there until at least 5pm every day).  

    Thank you!

    Hi Xiaolongbao, Love it and one of my child’s nicknames! Feel free to direct message me at my username. I’d be happy to answer your questions and share my experience over the last 2 years. All the best! 

Parent Reviews

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Our daughter is at Shu Ren and loves it there.  Also check out

I’ve a 3rd grader at Shu Ren. We moved from 5 years in China when he started 1st grade there. He’s natively bilingual in both Mandarin and English like me and has thrived there with very dedicated, warm and supportive teachers who are well experienced in the inquiry based IB curriculum.  Among the 3 schools the biggest differences are class size and curriculum.  As the private school, Shu Ren has the smallest and likely the lowest student: teacher ratio. If Mandarin immersion is a top priority the more input the better and as young as possible, especially if there’s no Mandarin support at home. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss more. 

Love Shu Ren so far.  Really kids centric.  

Hi. We enrolled in shu ren for our kindergartener. Like everyone else we also applied to yu ming but its nearly impossible to get in. We live in berkeley, and liked shu ren’s academics and approach to learning. They really seemed to do a good job with group based learning and creative activities. The director is so responsive and their dedication to in person learning was also important. We realized early on that the school was not a good fit for our child however and did leave mid semester. The immersion was too much for our child, who was not as proficient with english letters, writing and reading as i think they should be in order to handle immersion. We are not a chinese speaking family however, which obviously would make this easier. We also had limited communication initially from the actual teachers about the obvious problems that were occurring with regards to our child’s learning. And there was no mention ever of social skills and development. They don't have resources for learning differences and there was also no community development within the K class. 
our feeling of the school is that its likely great for kids who are academically advanced and/or speak chinese at home. I think its really important to think individually about your kids and their needs. Our kid is thriving at a non immersion school now, and has made huge strides in the areas of struggle when in the immmersion environment.  Public schools also have far more resources for students and far more diversity in needs as well. But if immersion is the priority i think its great you have these options.

This is the first year in seven years our kids won't be going to Shu Ren, having graduated. We started there (ages ago!) in kinder and 1st grade, respectively.

Being at Shu Ren has been one of the most transformational and memorable events in our lives. Neither my wife nor I are Chinese, but we wanted the children to have a strong foundation in a foreign language and thought Chinese was a good one for them to be well versed in. Well, after years of being an involved parent there, I can say that we're glad about the decision we made. 

We also got much more from Shu Ren than we expected. We came for the Chinese but stayed for the IB.  The International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Shu Ren has been so amazing that i can't begin to state its praises. We never thought such a well rounded education was possible in the elementary years, and IB and Shu Ren have exceeded our expectations.

On top of the amazing education, the staff and parents have made Shu Ren all that much more special. From Jie and Tony--the founders--to Rebecca, the current head of school, to the parents, everyone is special and wonderful. We've made life-long friends through the school and parent community and are so lucky to have had the school as a part of our lives.

Every once in a while you have to make a decision you're not sure about--whether it's worth it or whether it'll pay dividends. Sending our kids to Shu Ren was not such a decision. Sending our kids to Shu Ren was an investment, and one that's paid us back (and hopefully will reward society) multi-fold. We couldn't have made a better decision. 

We have had one child at Shu Ren for seven years, and another who started two years ago.  Our experiences with the school have been exceptionally positive, and our only regret is that it does not continue into the middle and high school grades.  The combination of an International Baccalaureate curriculum, Mandarin immersion, outstanding and dedicated teachers (with high teacher:student ratios in classes), and a diverse and global perspective on all matters educational, has been for us without peer in the Bay Area. We strongly recommend this school.

Our son started Kindergarten at Shu Ren in September 2019 and has absolutely thrived here. Knowing we wanted him to learn Mandarin, we'd initially tried to get into Yu Ming, but were 250+ on the waitlist, so then started to look around and luckily found Shu Ren. Here's what we love:  

The curriculum: Not only does Shu Ren offer Mandarin immersion, it is also centered around an engaging inquiry-based curriculum with an emphasis on problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and global appreciation. 

Their approach to teaching and the teachers: Some earlier posts pre-2017 noted that the curriculum, faculty, and administration were rigid and interested in conformity. This has not been our experience at all at Shu Ren. In fact, what we've appreciated most is the fact that our son's teachers have really gone out of their way to find learning methods and routines that work for him. He's VERY active and has trouble focusing at times, but his teachers have really worked with us to find an approach that works for him. They keep in touch regularly on his progress, which helps us encourage and support his growth at home as well.  

The parent community: Parents are very engaged, down-to-earth, and supportive. The school has hosted several fairs/functions in the 6 months we've been there and it's always been nice to see a group of parents participate in the activities as well—from teaching others about their cultural heritage to selling the products that they proudly make. 

I highly recommend any parents looking to provide their child with a Mandarin immersion education that will foster a strong love of problem-solving and curiosity to attend one of Shu Ren's open houses. 

This school is absolutely phenomenal. We have a 3 y.o. and 6 y.o. enrolled here and they couldn't be happier. My 6 y.o. says that she wants to go to Shu Ren for life. There are lots of reasons (elaborated below) that my wife and I highly recommend Shu Ren but the most important one is that my kids love the school and their teachers. It is such a happy and warm place and it really instills a love of learning and going to school. This sentiment is universal amongst the other kids and families. To elaborate:
1. The teachers know my kids. Over our 4 years of experience with Shu Ren, the teachers have always been spot on with what the needs of my kids are and they customize their approach around each kids' learning style and abilities. Kids who are more advanced are challenged more / given more complicated assignments. I could give lots of examples but trying to stick to the highlights.
2. The curriculum is amazing. It's incredible that my 6 y.o. Is fluent in Mandarin now but the language learning is really just a bonus. The IB program is both rigorous and engaging for the students. Not only do the kids develop a love of learning at Shu Ren but they are far ahead academically than some of the top rated alternative schools (this claim is mainly based on anecdotal evidence but I've heard so many cases of kids being bored / way advanced when switching schools that I have little doubt about the academic excellence of Shu Ren).
3. The overall school culture + administration is very warm. Some may have stereotypes of strict Chinese teachers but Shu Ren is not like that at all. I've seen the school deal really well with kids with behavioral issues - they take responsibility upon themselves to help these kids rather than just put it on the parents or throw the kid in detention.
4. The wider school community is great and morale is high.

Finally, it's not in my best interest to admit this but the school is underpriced. It is on the low end of the tuition scale. The school's biggest drawback is that it doesn't do more to market itself and it lacks a certain polish of some more elite private schools. But that is part of the charm to me. The school is also starting to offer need based grants and scholarships. They don't have a large endowment or slush fund and so they lack certain enrichment activities that other schools may offer. On the other hand, the kids get to take a field trip to China. They are making strides to improve on enrichment and I have seen large advancements over the last few years.

In short, I would say Shu Ren provides as rigorous or better educational experience than your top private school in the Bay Area but for a nice discount AND with the bonus of Mandarin (and Spanish starting in 2nd grade) AND with a global perspective. My wife lives abroad and attended an international school as a child. She feels that Shu Ren provides a comparable experience (but without being abroad) so if that's your kind of thing, then I can't imagine a better school than Shu Ren.


My son is going to ShuRen International school, it is an IB Chinese immersion school. We are very happy with the school and most important, my son LOVES it. He cannot wait to be back when we are on vacation... I don't know what is the age of your child, I understand they may have a program for kids who do not Chinese to catch up with the language. Worth a try. I cannot say enough about this school.

We love Shu Ren (! It's a certified International Baccalaureate school (of which there are very few in the country) and Mandarin immersion - globally oriented and inquiry based. We were intrigued by the IB curriculum and have been delighted by the Mandarin acquisition on top of it. Every classroom has two dedicated teachers - one teaches in English and the other in Mandarin. Our daughter started after Kindergarten and is doing extremely well now two years later - and I would expect that you can still enroll this late in the year. Classes are small, the new director is incredible, great location... check out the Jefferson campus (they have a preschool on University as well), you won't be disappointed!

From Day 1, our son loved Shu Ren - started mid-year into Pre-K4, enjoyed their fun summer programs and is now loving Kindergarten. Shu Ren offers a focused, inclusive and caring educational program with patient, communicative and experienced IB teachers. Mandarin Immersion is what drew us to Shu Ren but IB (International Baccalaureate) and the teachers are what's really keeping us here. Based on our experience thus far, we really like the school and the overall community (parents, teachers and administrative team) - everyone has been very welcoming and the environment is caring and nurturing for children and parents (especially those new to the area - which we were). Plus, our son really enjoys it and seems to be learning and having fun at the same time.

As mentioned in the previous post, the school has moved to a new campus and recently made some administrative changes - all in the anticipation of improving the school dynamics. We took this into consideration when selecting schools and see this as a positive - i.e. we feel like we're early adaptors and getting in before the school program and attendance grows (which we anticipate will happen soon!). The Jefferson Campus is fantastic - a lot of natural light in the classrooms, great outdoor play area and they're in the process of building a new library. All positives which we noted when we did our tours of different schools in the area. Hope this helps. 

Hi - we were actually in the same predicament (early October 2011 birthday) and are currently at Shu Ren International. We recently moved back to the area so enrolled him in their Pre-K4 class and he just started Kindergarten a few weeks ago. He loves it and we love it - the atmosphere and community are great. Since we were new back, we actually didn't know about TK options and really wanted him to attend Kindergarten early per cut off dates (and felt comfortable him being one of the youngest in the class) since he is pretty mature (and also tall) for his age. We figured we would have to pay for another year of pre-school care anyway, so why not give Kindergarten a go and ask the teacher to help us assess along the way. This gave us the option to continue onto Grade 1 or repeat Kindergarten. We highly recommend Shu Ren if you are considering them, no need to speak Mandarin as kids learn along the way (especially when entering at Kindergarten). Feel free contacting me if you have any questions, unfortunately we don't have any experience comparing oldest vs youngest child in class, but have queried a lot of my friends (and educators) and their advice has always been that each child is different and all really depends if you feel they are ready. And we did. Hope that helps. 

I love Shu Ren!  Yes, there were administrative challenges recently, with the move to the new campus overwhelming this small school's resources last year.  But even in just this first month of the new school year, I continue to be amazed at the work that my daughter is doing in this incredible learning environment.  The teachers are caring, creative, talented educators.   My daughter once told me, "Chinese is fun, because we actually DO things in Chinese."  She meant that in Shu Ren's immersion style of teaching, she was learning about the world, building models, and collaborating with her peers in the Mandarin language, rather than studying Mandarin as a separate subject independent of her other classes. Beyond that, Shu Ren is an accredited IB world school - not to be confused with those other schools that claim to be "inquiry-based" but don't bother with the certification.  IB is the international gold standard for education, with years of research and development behind it.  Receiving and maintaining the credentials is a rigorous ongoing process with all educators, staff, administrators etc. required to follow its strict guidelines.  It's not like the Montessori schools that each get to define what "Montessori" means.  Loving it for my kid!

I have to say Shu Ren is truly a hidden gem for education. My son has been enrolled for 3 years, since he was 3 years old, and now in Kindergarten. He is a very happy child and never bored at school. ShuRen may be better known as a bilingual immersion school, but its value goes far beyond that with the Inquiry Based learning curriculum accredited by International Baccalaureate (IB) organization, which is well known for its academic and personal rigor. During the past 3 years I witnessed first hand my son's development in multiple categories - academic, social behaviors, language, and more to be listed here. The curriculum is challenging to a point that keeps kids highly engaged and stimulated. The teachers are amazing - hard working and dedicated to education. The student profile is diversified, coming from different background with unique heritage. The immersion program is highly effective. A lot of students in my son’s class come from families where Mandarin is not spoken but they thrive after several months’ of immersion, and it’s always heart-melting to engage small talk with these cute little kids in Mandarin. On the other hand, my family speaks Mandarin at home, so initially I worried about my son’s English, but as soon as Kinder started teaching phonics, my son showed strong interest and has proven my worry to be unnecessary. Besides above, ShuRen’s educational philosophy is something that I personally can’t appreciate highly enough, which is to develop, instead of a checklist-ed child, an all-round adult, who knows his/her true identity. Facility wise, since Sept 2015 the Elementry-Middle campus has opened in the new location at 2125 Jefferson Avenue, in the heart of Berkeley, and the school has made so much improvement to the new site, with designs that suit children’s development throughout. Overall I am very happy with the school and highly recommend it. If you have any question please feel free to contact me. A Happy ShuRen mom.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

GMIS vs Shu Ren

Feb 2016

i was wondering if any parents out there were trying to decide between global montessori vs shu ren for their 3 or 4 year old. what made you pick which school, and are you happy? leport & AIM have waiting lists and global seemed more play based surprisingly… is it? i think my child will do ok in either setting although you never really know until he's in it. mom trying to decide

If the goal is acquisition of Mandarin, I'm not sure why anyone would choose a
school that's not 100% Mandarin immersion. Shu Ren is 100% Mandarin at the preschool
level (limited exceptions made- to comfort a child when needed, etc). GMIS is
bilingual English/Mandarin. True immersion is proven to be the fastest and most
effective way to learn, and children's brains soak it right up. Kids learn English
everywhere else in the world, so they're not ''behind'' if it's not their preschool
language of instruction. If you're worried about preschool having too much
play-based learning (though I personally think play-learning is critical at this
age), I think you will find Shu Ren academically rigorous and
elementary-school-like, although there is still lots of playtime. I can't speak to
the culture of both schools, but can say Shu Ren teachers (at the preschool level)
are quite interested in conformity. (You didn't ask about this, but there are
factors other than language to consider.) Though, again, if language acquisition and
rigorous academics are your top priorities, you can't do better than Shu Ren.
Immersion Believer

I didn't catch the original post, but I just wanted to speak up since we had a difficult interaction with ShuRen. It seems like you stated your top concern is learning the language, but I would ask you also to think about your child's emotional well being. I would recommend you (or some other native chinese speaker) spend some time around the teachers and really observe how they talk and interact with the kids. At the time we were there, I felt the preschool staff's focus was on getting the kids to behave and not on the child's general well being. I heard a lot of negative statements: ''if you don't do x; I don't like you; or your parents will be very angry at you.'' It felt like a 1950s approach of strict rules, rewards and shaming. Which was too bad, since I really impressed with the whole IB curriculum, etc. Things might have changed since then, but don't just go by the open house interaction. -was unhappy w shuren

I've been asked by a few parents what I think about Shu Ren. (I'm a current parent.) I think if parents only focus on what's going in the classroom for their kids you will keep your personal frustration levels down and be much happier. But even this I'm starting to worry about. (I'll write more about this later.) The teachers do a pretty good job in the classroom. (They do seem less enthusiastic this year, though.) Working with the administration is a challenge. The head of school will politely listen to you but little follow through happens. Be aware you may get a really defensive response to your questions and concerns, though. How the school is run doesn't really seem to make sense. (Why would you post the code to the door lock on the lock? When they changed the code again they buried it in the school newsletter where you had to log in to get it. Not fun when you're standing in the cold and rain trying to drop off your kid!) Things don't seem very organized and it's really confusing to find out who you're supposed to talk to to get answers. (I just talk to the teacher directly but even then there's a lot of "I don't know".) They have a room with books but I'm told that the kids only get to check out books once a week during library time. (When I asked about it I was told the class gets about half an hour.) They do have an art teacher and P.E. teacher that visits the class once a week. (I think they have a Spanish teacher that comes in once a week, too, for the older kids.) I have heard from another parent recently that they don't have substitute teachers but use the receptionist or the after care staff to teach when teachers are out. This last bit is what has me really concerned. For me that's not okay. While we have become friends with some parents it doesn't seem like there is much of a parent community. There was an event that was cancelled in the fall and all other events for the rest of the year are, too. While our kid has done well at the school and seems happy we aren't sure if this is the right place for us.

Summer camp for new Shu Ren student?

July 2015

Hello, We are just moving to Oakland on August 6th. My younger son, 8, will start third grade in Shuren Chinese Immersion on August 31st. We're looking for a day camp from August 10th to August 28th focused on outdoor activities. Would anyone be able to give us some advice? If Shuren kids of his age go to one particular camp it would be ideal, he could then make new friends ahead of school start. French Dad

Dear French Dad, Welcome to the Shu Ren community. If you are looking for an outdoor camp, I highly recommend Sarah's Science Summer Camp, which is an outdoors science camp and runs through August 28th. We have gone to the Oakland Roberts Park location for a couple years and love it. Your child will get to explore the great outdoors among the majestic redwoods while learning science concepts and making new friends. Shu Ren kids do different things over the summer - it's a great time to meet other folks. There will be plenty of time to meet Shu Ren families when the school year starts. Cheers, Shu Ren mom

Hi- welcome to the area and to Shu Ren! I'm a fellow Shu Ren parent and wanted to let you know that Shu Ren camp is happening the week of August 10-14. (I know they say the camp is 2 weeks, but in my experience they've been very accommodating and it might be worth asking, especially as you are just moving to the area and your child will be attending their regular school.) There is no specific or unified plan for what the other families do on the weeks summer camp isn't offered, so you're on your own, although there are tons of day camps in the area as BPN attests. Finally, you may have just been approximating, but heads up that the first day of school is Sept 1, not Aug 31. Welcome! Fellow Parent

Dec 2013

Re: Immersion school for gifted kids?
May I make another suggestion to consider? It continues to surprise me that people don't mention Shu Ren International School in the same breath as EB, EBI, & GISSV when discussing private immersion schools, though I guess at 5 1/2 years old they are kind of the new kid on the block! That said, I have my very bright daughter there and have been continually impressed. They are a Mandarin-immersion, official International Baccalaureate (IB) school and extremely committed to inquiry-based learning. It is very child-centered and kids are continually challenged to work at the level most appropriate for them and to engage creatively with their lessons. No rote learning and the projects seem to really engage her. It has also struck us as a very caring, nurturing environment. Just my two cents- something to consider! Happy Parent

Shu Ren Summer Camps

April 2013

We start Shu Ren this fall and are so excited! There are 2012 reviews but not so much on the camps. Do you feel they are a good value? Do you feel they learn a lot? For my younger child with lite mandarin experience is the transition extremely difficult? We love the adventure we are about to embark on! We would love to meet some families in the area who will also be attending kindergarten this year! Curious and excited

Welcome to Shu Ren! You and your child are so lucky to be joining this great community. Shu Ren summer camps are fantastic. The kids not only learn a lot of Mandarin, but they explore in depth the themes of each session and go on amazing field trips. Last year they studied the elephant seals of Point Reyes and the geology of Yosemite. The camps are also a great introduction to Shu Ren's inquiry style of teaching. The activities are very hands-on and engaging and the kids all have a blast. I highly recommend it. In fact, I know of a couple of families who went to camp and liked it so much, they decided to enroll their children in Shu Ren full time in the fall. Shu Ren teachers - especially the amazing Kindergarten teacher - are skilled at the transition for students who don't have a Chinese background. So the first couple of months of school might be a bit tough on your child as he or she gets used to the immersion environment and to handling everything in Chinese, but the teachers are very supportive and knowledgeable about how to ease the process. And enrolling your child in camp for at least one or two sessions would definitely help with the transition in the fall. Good luck! Happy Shu Ren parent

Our son is in his first year at Shu Ren in the Pre K 3 class. We are thrilled to have found this wonderful community and our son LOVES school! We are so pleased that we are transferring our daughter from another school into 1st grade at Shu Ren. We will put her in the summer camp as well to help her adapt to the language element and the school overall before fall. The teachers and staff are so passionate, devoted and caring, we are confident that the summer camp will be as great as the school year. We are excited to have both children at Shu Ren in the fall. I'd be happy to answer any questions, have a play date or simply meet you in person or via telephone if you'd like to chat more about our family's experience with the school. Feel free to contact me at kellymajid [at] Kelly

Welcome to Shu Ren! I would highly recommend the Shu Ren summer camps. Our son took a Shu Ren camp last summer and we were so impressed by the educational philosophy of the school, the teachers, and community that we switched him from his old school to Shu Ren for the regular school year. The summer camps are fun and interesting, even for children with no Mandarin, and a great introduction to both the inquiry-based teaching and to the students and teachers. Our son, who had never spoken a word of Mandarin, felt welcomed and engaged, and also learned a lot! The summer camp helped him feel more comfortable about starting a new school in the fall, too. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk more. Virginia

Nov 2012

Re: School advice for British/International kids?
I'd like to recommend my children's school, Shu Ren International School. It has many of the characteristics you are looking for: nurturing, structured, with small classes that offer students lots of one-on-one attention and differentiated teaching. It is an IB candidate school so they utilize the IB structure and the curriculum and environment are very globally-focused. It is Mandarin immersion (100% Mandarin in Pre-K, 20% English in kindergarten, reaching 50/50 by 3rd grade) and Spanish is introduced as a third language in 3rd grade. Students who have started with no Mandarin work individually with teachers so they can catch up on the language, while also being supported in the other subjects. They also have a Mandarin immersion summer camp that can help jump start the language exposure. If your children already have some exposure to Mandarin, it would be that much easier for them. It is a wonderful school, both my children are very happy there and my husband and I are thrilled by the depth of their learning and their enthusiasm for school. The teachers and administrators are very talented and responsive, and the parent community is fantastic. shu ren mom

Aug 2012

Re: Shu-Ren Vs. Pacific Rim for Middle School
My son has been at Shu Ren for four years and my daughter will be starting in the fall. We couldn't be happier with the school. We've been consistently impressed with the teachers, the inquiry-based curriculum, and the dedication to true Mandarin immersion. The combination of inquiry learning and language immersion works beautifully to engage the students in the subjects they are learning and to get them excited about it. It also teaches the language much more in-depth than other language classes or immersion schools I have seen. We have been very pleased with the quality of education and students' personal development we have seen over the years at the school, and we feel very lucky to have such a great opportunity for our children in our backyard. Happy Shu Ren parent

Feb 2012

Re: Mandarin-immersion elementary schools
My son attends Shu Ren. When choosing schools, we looked at all the local Mandarin immersion programs and chose Shu Ren for three primary reasons: small class size, the IB curriculum, and the serious dedication to Mandarin immersion. My son was fluent in Mandarin before starting and we have been constantly amazed by his progress since then. He is now in 2nd grade and is writing lengthy essays, reading, and conversing fluently. I don't believe any of the other local schools can offer the high-level of Mandarin instruction that Shu Ren does. The small class size is key as teachers work with each student at their individual level and students have plenty of opportunity to engage and participate in class discussions in Chinese. The inquiry-based curriculum teaches subjects in-depth, so the students learn very sophisticated vocabulary and understanding of the topics in both Mandarin and English.

This year, two new teachers (one who is also the Assistant Head of School) have been brought on board, and the level of teaching, especially in math, has risen to an impressive new level. My son has made amazing progress in math this year. He is doing fractions, decimals, division, multi-digit multiplication, and more with ease and he really enjoys it. The math now combines the best of Chinese teaching (ie drilling of key concepts and facts, like multiplication tables) and American teaching (conceptual, practical skills) and is very effective. English is also taught on a differentiated basis so students progress at their own level and are always challenged. Several students in my son's class are reading and writing a grade level or two above their age. They also have a wonderful Kodaly music program. We have not had to supplement my son's learning at all.

Socially, the small size has been wonderful for my son's social development. The teachers know each student really well and their strengths and weaknesses, and work on building community within their classrooms. While the small class size means students have more limited options for making friends, it helps build important skills as students learn to work out differences and accept differing points of view, rather than just being able to switch to another groups of friends when conflicts arise. The students in my son's class have all become very close and he has made several very good friends. The small size also allows teachers to plan regular field trips, including overnight trips, which have become a key part of the learning process. The trips have also been a lot of fun and helped the students and teachers (and parents) forge close bonds.

In short, we are so happy we chose Shu Ren. The academics have exceeded our expectations but most importantly, our son loves going to school every day and we know he is being well-cared for in a warm, nurturing environment by wonderful teachers. happy Shu Ren parent

I can tell you,my son was at a very reputable and progressive private school here in Berkeley, that turned out to be a very bad fit due to his teacher who just had it in for him....then we found Shu Ren International School here in Berkeley. It was night and day. Shu Ren turned his life around. Before he was crying before school (at the other place), had a LOT of anxiety and depression, but now, he WANTS to go to school. His teachers all adore him and help him succeed ( emotionally and academically). AND did I mention he speaks Chinese now? Yes. That's right, he's been there two years and he writes and speaks Chinese. Mandarin Immersion has been a real gift for him. His classes are stimulating and challenge him, and he is learning an absolutely invaluable tool: fluency in Chinese. I couldn't trust any other school with this. Totally worth the tuition to see him happy, thriving and gaining these life skills. It's a true investment in your child's future. Shu Ren family a true Mandarin Immersion School

I am a very happy Shu Ren parent with a son in the 1st grade. My son started at Shu Ren in kindergarten with no knowledge of Mandarin and has done extremely well in this environment. At Shu Ren I feel like I am getting two things for the price of one - the inquiry method and the Mandarin Immersion.

Firstly - The inquiry based learning method is amazing and my son is thriving on all counts (especially with his awareness of the world he lives in). The children spend a lot time doing hands on learning - while being in a warm and nurturing environment. His teachers have been amazing and always accessible if I need anything (as well as the administration). His math skills in particular are really high and the teacher continually challenges him without it feeling threatening. We do not supplement his education in anyway because what he is learning is already beyond our expectations. And as far as reading in English, he is slightly ahead of the curve despite him only having 20% of his time devoted to English. The English teacher encourages children to go beyond their levels, without putting pressure on them.

Secondly - The Mandarin immersion model. I am envious of all that my son is learning. The inquiry method with the immersion model is a great marriage.

Our son comes from a non- Chinese speaking household and has done exceedingly well with his Chinese and really enjoys learning another language. We have been told by many native speakers at the school that my sons Chinese is very good and he is starting to sound more like a native. He has done well with learning how to write his characters and is working on his reading in Chinese. As far as the immersion model, our son is telling us that his Chinese homework is easier then his English homework.

As far as social skills, he is doing really well. I use to think my son was shy but now see that his social skills are very good. He is in a small class and gets a lot of attention from his teachers and the other students. He has access to kids of all grades and plays well with a multitude of ages. I also have lots of play dates at my house with the kids from school

Additionally, we were accepted into the public Chinese school for 1st grade but were so happy with Shu Ren that we declined the offer. Happy Shu Ren parent

My child goes to Shu Ren International School. Although we have been to a different school you have mentioned in your list, I cannot offer a comparison, since it was preK, and now we are in elementary. However, I can offer my experience with Shu Ren.

My child is in 2nd grade. This year they get a list of 20 Chinese characters that they can practice at home. They can exchange for a new list as soon as they memorized the current list. My child went through 19 lists in the first semester. They also reads and write in Chinese in class. They get reading materials based on their level. Since we have Chinese speaking background, my daughter gets more advanced reading material. She can write in much longer paragraphs than last school year. Her handwriting has improved tremendously.

Her English is also very good. Besides the work they do at school, they also get spelling list, reading list that they do every week at home, they are all self-paced. She is at a very advanced reading level. They also write based on the topic they are learning. And their writing is very organized with a beginning, each paragraph has a central idea, and a summary ending, etc.

Math is another area that I am impressed with. They have a teacher that has taught in a language immersion school in China. In my opinion, she integrated some of the better methods they use in Chinese schools. In 2nd grade, my daughter memorizes times table, she can do multiplications with 2 digits numbers, for example 35 * 24. She can do addition and subtraction even in thousands in her head (without the help of a pen and pencil). Quite a few of her classmates is at the same math level as her. In class they break down the kids into groups based on their level, and teach them new things, and give them practices based on their level of math skills.

So overall, here is what I feel. How much we (both parents and kids) put into, is how much we get out of. And Shu Ren offers the opportunity to let them advance at their own pace, will not slow them down. With a smaller class, they get a lot more personal attention.

Of course it's not all study at school. They have a lot of fun. I have a lot to say about that, but that's not what you were asking a parent

When my child was ready for Kindergarten, I knew that I wanted a bilingual education for him. Even more importantly, it needed to be a school that has an excellent education philosophy, independent of the language immersion. It being where my child spends most of his time, it has to be an environment that I believe in as a whole. We ended up choosing Shu Ren. I was immediately comfortable with the IB curriculum, which is trans-disciplinary, and is gradually being adopted by the top high schools in the US. The students are encouraged to be thinkers and concepts are emphasized as well as concrete skills. Ultimately, I believe that these are invaluable skills that make academics more intuitive and will continue to be used throughout the studentsC",E! lives.

Our experience is that the small classrooms really enable the teachers to provide differentiated teaching for different levels. My child is in second grade and learning in-depth concepts with each unit of inquiry, in English and Chinese. Additionally, he has self-paced work in Math, Chinese and English. He's comfortable with multiplication, division, and fractions. I think that he can read just about any English chapter book put in front of him. He has also been taking home packets of 20 Chinese characters each week and advancing at his own pace. Friends and family have been surprised with the level of thinking and learning that he demonstrates.

It was very difficult to get him to speak Mandarin by the time he was 3 even though it was the language of his primary care taker. He initiates Chinese conversations with Chinese family members now. We've recently texted in Chinese when he was out of town.

Socially, his classmates all know each other well and play together. I've observed that he has been able to make new friends under different circumstances, outside of the classroom. The afterschool programs also bring different kids together from the community.

The one thing that I will say is that the school has focused most of its energy and resources on the quality of its teachers and curriculum, and not as much on making itself known in the community. I hope that this would change because what an incredible opportunity if you can take advantage of it. Happy ShuRen Parent

My children currently attend Shu Ren International School. My youngest started in Pre-K and is now in Kindergarten and the eldest started in Kindergarten and is now in 2nd grade. We love Shu Ren and the IB program works for them. Before Shu Ren, my eldest attended PRINTS for a year and we did not think Montessori reflect her personality. Please note, we were at PRINTS 3 years ago so not sure if it has changed but at the time we went, the Montessori way at PRINTS was too stringent and the children had to follow the school's Montessori guidelines of learning. My daughter was taught to 'follow' rather than allow to express herself as an individual. If she did do something differently she was corrected to follow their routine until she did it their way. My daughter is pretty independent and very expressive so Montessori was pretty stifling for her. We switched to Shu Ren because we felt the IB program works better with our daughter's personality. IB focuses more on experiencial learning so instead of being stuck in a classroom all day long and learning by following a routine, they actually get to 'experience' what they learn in the classroom - Example, subject would be about Lifecycles, this is taught in class first -through books/pictures, discussions with class and teacher, visualization - teacher brought in eggs so kids can experience the process of life cycle by watching how the eggs eventually hatching into chicks, and then write about it allowing them to express themselves, how they feel and what they learned. Then they get to "experience" what they learned in class by going on field trips that pertains to the topic -a few of them are overnight camping trips. My daughter comes home excited about what she learns in school every day and you can tell she is "really" learning cause she would talk or apply what she learn at school wherever she goes on vacation with the family, trip to the market, at a restaurant, etc. And the teachers are very dedicated and passionate about what and how the kids are learning...the number of field trips that the class have for the year are not easy to plan and her teachers attend every single one even the overnight trips despite having young kids themselves. For the Mandarin immersion part, the classes are mainly taught in mandarin. It was a bit of a challenge for my youngest daughter in kindergarten. She comes home telling me she doesn't understand what the teacher is saying. However, the teachers and the administration were very opened to talking to us and in working out a plan that works for my youngest - giving her extra help at school, being flexible and switching to English when only needed and giving recommendations on what we can do at home to help her with her Chinese. We are non- mandarin speaking family but with the help of the school my kids' mandarin has progressed every year. Even my stubborn kindergartener knows how to speak, write and "sing" (cute) in Chinese now and my 2nd grader knows how to write Chinese characters in correct stroke order. As for math, I actually think the math is pretty advanced for their level. They get paper and online math homework every week. The IB program at Shu Ren teaches my kids to be independent learners so it works for my kids' personality. We are very happy with Shu Ren. Good luck with your decision. shurenparent

Nov 2011

Re: Looking for small school, flexibly paced program
Since you mentioned you are open to a bilingual program, I would like to recommend Shu Ren International School. It fits all your criteria perfectly. My child is in the 2nd grade there. Classes are very small (currently 14 students with two teachers, plus additional assistants/volunteers who help out) and learning is differentiated so students are working at very different levels according to their own ability. Much of the day is spent in small groups (2-3 students) according to students' levels in various subjects, especially in English reading where the class includes several different levels. The teachers are skilled at focusing on where individual students need extra support and finding ways to fit it in. It is bilingual Mandarin/English but the curriculum is all integrated so they are learning the same content in both languages. The class has students who are native Mandarin speakers, English language learners, and those who had no prior Mandarin and are just learning, so the materials and curriculum are designed to take different levels into account. It is a very nurturing, supportive environment and I highly recommend it. happy shu ren mom

July 2011

Re: Mandarin Immerson Summer camp
Hi: Regarding the Mandarin immersion camp inquiry... This may not be in time for the current summer, but I wanted to post a message for parents to keep in mind perhaps for next year re: summer camp recommendations. We sent our son to Shu Ren's Mandarin Immersion camp last summer (for many weeks) and can recommend the teachers and staff there as great (smart, patient and hands-on). We had other plans for most weeks this summer but I imagine that the camp is just as good as the summer before. Parent

April 2011

Re: How is Montessori style Mandarin immersion

My children have never been in a Montessori classroom so I can't respond to that part of your question. But we did look extensively at all the Mandarin options, including the local Montessori schools, when choosing a school for my son. We chose Shu Ren for two main reasons: 1. The Mandarin immersion seemed much more intensive there than the other schools, and we had more faith that our son would become truly bilingual. And 2. we think the curriculum developed at Shu Ren (which is aiming to become an International Baccalaureate World School) is quite amazing. It teaches children to become independent and critical thinkers and compassionate human beings, even at preschool age. After three years at the school, we couldn't be happier. It is a warm, nurturing environment with a supportive and enthusiastic parent community and talented, thoughtful teachers and staff. I highly recommend it. happy shu ren mom

I am a Shu Ren parent and cannot speak highly enough of the School and our experience there. We are a transracial family and speak only English within the home. My son has thrived at the school and has done very well with learning Mandarin in his Kindergarten program (a class of 10).

I believe that the school is still accepting applications and I have found the tuition to be right on par with the quality of education. If you do a cost comparison with the Montessori schools, you will find that Shu Ren would be right on target.

The general vibe at Shu Ren is is one of enthusiasm. It's a tight group of parents working together to build something great. The teachers are dedicated, enthusiastic and also very nurturing. The style of learning is focused, but is still really fun for the children. The class sizes are small which allows the teachers to give excellent individual attention and work with individual needs. Additionally, I have found the administration to be very attentive to concerns or questions that arise.

The learning style is based on a very well respected International learning method and is described as inquiry-based. While the teachers provide the structure for learning, they encourage the children to participate and help guide the process. I believe this results in well educated and confident children who learn how to navigate their world early on in life.

I would highly recommend Shu Ren, not just for preschool but also as a consideration for kindergarten and grade school. You'll find that the rates are competitive with other preschool programs, and you get the second language. Shu Ren Parent

My child went to PRINTS Montessori program for one year after we moved to east bay area, then went to Shu Ren International school, this is our second year at Shu Ren.

Shu Ren is IB program which is quite different from Montessori. For my child's personality, already pretty quite, bit on the shy side, Montessori didn't offer the social interaction, and the child like play we needed. After joining Shu Ren, I can tell the difference in my child's behavior within couple months.

The teachers are great, and my child is very happy. So far I am very happy with Shu Ren, both from my child's academic growth and social skills. Happy Parent

Feb 2011

Re: Mandarin Immersion Elementary Schools?
There is currently really only one true Mandarin immersion elementary school in the East Bay: Shu Ren International School. Of the elementary schools with Mandarin offered, it's the only one that uses Mandarin as the main language for teaching most subjects. Last week's newsletter posted several reviews of the school so I don't want to repeat, but the main things we like about it are: small class size and the chance for individualized teaching; full Mandarin immersion taught by talented native speakers; a very strong English program so I never worry my son is behind kids in ''regular'' schools; and the IB curriculum framework. It's a wonderful school and I highly recommend it. mom of shu ren elementary student

Feb 2010

Re: Mandarin summer mini-camps for 5 year old
Shu Ren International School in Berkeley offers a Mandarin summer camp in two-week sessions throughout the summer. Our son is in school there and attended the camp last summer and had a lot of fun. The teachers are great and the kids learn a lot of Chinese. Registration forms are available now at:
shu ren mom

Oct 2009

Re: Mandarin Bilingual from K on - which one?
Our son is in Kindergarten at Shu Ren and we love it. It's a warm, nurturing environment with talented and enthusiastic teachers and staff. Our son spoke Chinese before going but most of the children had had little or no exposure before this year, and they are all reading, writing and speaking Chinese already, after just two months. The teacher has done a great job of creating a community feeling among the students, and our son is excited to go to school every day. The workload is intensive but must be in order for them to learn such a difficult language, and my son enjoys the work, loves doing his homework, and they are learning a lot. They also spend a lot of time on art projects, music, and free play outdoors. Because it is 100% Mandarin in Kindergarten, except for an hour a day of English, the children really benefit from an immersion environment. The staff and administrators are very dedicated and smart, enrollment is very stable now, and I'm trusting that the school is here to stay. The school is hosting open houses and tours this month, check out their website for more details: Shu Ren mom

Oct 2009

Re: Mandarin Bilingual from K on - which one?
I usually don't take time out to write letters of recommendation, but I feel strongly enough about a recent poster's inquiry into a good Mandarin bilingual school to reply: In my opinion, Shu Ren International School in Berkeley is the only place to go!!!

I have a long-standing interest in foreign languages, linguistics and bilingual education. When considering the right school for our only child, my husband and I looked at a broad swath of highly recommended schools in the Bay Area. We visited both Spanish and Mandarin language immersion schools; and we even spent a couple of preschool years at a Spanish-English bilingual language school. A number of the other schools we looked at were quite good, but we can state unequivocally that Shu Ren is the absolute best we've seen. I was a little hesitant before starting the year: although I speak three languages fluently, neither my husband nor I have any knowledge of Mandarin (with two busy careers and no nanny, we weren't anticipating a lot of extra time to devote to learning the language). But our Kindergartner is thriving in a warm, loving environment filled with rich learning experiences (academically and socially), a broad-based educational framework, and strong, creative and professional teachers and administrators -- We couldn't be happier and we are so grateful that we found Shu Ren.

Please google it to make sure but in case it's handy, I think their number is 510-981-0291. Best wishes, Happy Parent of a 5-yr Old

Oct 2009

Re: Mandarin Bilingual from K on - which one?
Shuren is the only mandarin-immersion school in the Bay Area that strives to follow the International Baccalaureate Program, an internationally recognized academic program that will help the children become self-inquirers and develop a passion for life-long learning. To that end, Shuren has hired teachers that share this vision and have taught their initial classes of pre-K through 2nd grade kids how to nurture this desire to learn. My son has been going to Shuren since this January as a pre-K student and has truly loved going there. His mandarin improved dramatically within weeks of starting and we truly want to see Shuren succeed in its endeavors to become a K-8 school. Please go visit the school for yourself so you can see what the kindergarten teacher has taught the children. I believe they are still doing tours on Wednesday mornings, but please call the school to check. Their website is Their number is: (510) 981-0320. Good luck in your decision-making. Mom of a Shuren Child

Oct 2008

We are asking parents' input on Shu Ren International School. We visited the school with our 4-year-old daughter and really liked their environment. But since it's new, we would like to hear from Shu Ren's parents about the teachers and the kind of progress their children are making. We are hoping this would help with our decision making. looking for info

My son has been at Shu Ren in the Pre-K class since it opened in September and we are extremely pleased with the school so far. He has been very happy to go to school every day. Overall, it has been a very creative and stimulating place for him and he has been thriving there.

The curriculum is based on the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, which is centered around themes, and so all the day's activities are interconnected and relate to the particular theme they are working on (right now the theme is My Body and so they learn songs, do art projects, read stories, play games, etc about various parts of their bodies.) The day is quite structured (compared to play-based pre-schools) but they seem to have plenty of time for free play and to play outside. But the best part is the Chinese immersion. Even though my son was fluent in Chinese before entering Shu Ren, he was always more comfortable speaking English in new situations, but his Chinese has really taken off since he's been there. The teachers are warm, thoughtful and making a good effort to create an active and dynamic environment, even with just a few students. They also are great at communicating with parents. Our son's teacher writes up a summary of what they did in the classroom each week and posts it on a blog with photos for parents to see. I've also heard great things about the kindergarten/1st grade teacher.

The one downside is that enrollment is low (there are currently six students in the pre-k class, some of whom are part-time), but that is changing as new students have been enrolling almost every week. I highly recommend Shu Ren to anyone who wants their child to learn Mandarin, or just wants a small, warm, creative environment. shu ren mom

Our son has been attending Shu Ren for about a month and a half now and it has been a remarkable experience. Friends of ours who speak Mandarin are so surpised to hear him speak in beautifully pronounced Mandarin because they know that he didn't speak a word of Chinese just a couple months ago.

He absolutely adores his teacher and comes home singing songs everyday. In fact, he likes the songs so much that he sings to himself while we're in the car or running errands. I have no doubt that he will soon be completely fluent in the language.

Our kindergarten teacher, Kai Yao is amazing and just a natural at teaching. She laughs a lot with the children and seems to enjoy their company as much as they enjoy her's. We are delighted and grateful to have such a supportive and engaging learning environment for our child. Shu Ren Parent

Our daughter started part-time at Shu Ren a few weeks ago, and we have been pleased with her experience so far. The teachers and administration are very committed, smart, and enthusiastic. They have been flexible about enrollment (full-time, part-time, half-days, full days, etc). Class size is small so far. We would love to see more students so the school will be successful and sustainable! camille

Oct 2008

Re: Chinese school in Albany?
There is a new Chinese immersion school in Berkeley, Shu Ren International School, which also has after school Chinese classes that are open to the community. Our son is currently a student there and it is a great school with wonderful teachers and a friendly, warm atmosphere. They are having an open house next Wednesday, October 29. Their website is: and phone number is (510) 981-0320. The address is 1333 University Avenue, Berkeley. Shu Ren parent

If you're interested in a very good Mandarin language program, you may want to check out Shu Ren International School at 1333 University Avenue in Berkeley, which also offers after school classes. My daughter goes there for a beginning Mandarin Chinese class twice a week. Because the school is new, their enrollment is pretty low right now, so it's like getting a private class for the cost of a group class. You can contact them at 510-981-0291 or 510-981-0320. Their website is Amy