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The Berkeley School

2030 Francisco Street
Berkeley, CA 94709

(510) 849-8340


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Within the nurturing atmosphere of The Berkley School's Early Childhood program, children aged two+ to four naturally work with interest and focus, developing concentration, self- confidence, independence, and a lifelong love of learning. Our program incorporates what we know to be the best of developmental and progressive educational practices. This includes a blend of Montessori education, practices from Italy's Reggio Emilia schools, and a commitment to environmental stewardship.

Here, children are encouraged to think creatively and critically, engage in collaborative play, and work with the arts as a way to express themselves and understand the world.

Each of our multi-age classrooms has two full-time, trained teachers, some of whom have been with us for as long as 20+ years. Our classrooms are beautiful, organized spaces, full of concrete experiential materials that spark learning and creativity. Our ECC campus is just the perfect scale for young children, with a yard full of gardening opportunities, dramatic and arts play, and gross motor experiences. It's often referred to as a children's magical kingdom.

Our community reflects the diversity of the Bay Area, and we welcome families of all cultures and structures.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Montessori, Reggio-Emilia

From the Director:

We don't use the term 'free play' at our school. Our work period is designed so that children choose their own work, work at their own pace with the teacher acting as a guide to introduce new material. Children are always given choices and not told what to do, but are sometimes led when challenges block growth with mastering particular works.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught The early childhood Montessori curriculum also consists of 'Practical Life exercises' designed to refine eye/hand coordination and control of movement as well as 'Sensorial Exercises' designed to refine all of the senses. Attention to the developement of fine motor and gross motor skills are inherently part of the Montessori methodology.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

TBS Early Childhood Campus classrooms are multi-age, with each classroom containing three-, four-, and five-year-olds. This ensures that children are able to progress at their own pace in both social/emotional and academic arenas, and that each child can act as both a teacher and a learner in the classroom. Teachers work with students individually as well as in small groups to facilitate more difficult concepts. There is also a Learning Specialist and Child Psychologist on staff who may work with students with specific needs.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The Berkeley School is a vibrant community of educators and families, agreeing with Dr. Maria Montessori that each generation of children has the opportunity to remake the world it inherits.

We cultivate and honor children's innate love of learning as they prepare for a life of purpose, integrity, and academic accomplishment.

TBS students gain the skills and confidence to meet the challenges of self, family, community and the world at large.

A Typical Day

The morning consists of an uninterrupted work period when the children choose to work and work at their own pace with the teacher acting as a guide to introduce new material when appropriate.

Following the work period is a story circle where the children are read to by the teacher.

Lunch follows next, which occurs in the classroom.

Outside time follows lunch and then a shorter, afternoon work period followed by dismissal.

Younger children nap during the afternoon work period.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

- Open house the 2nd week of school

- 2 formal parent/teacher conferences (Fall and Spring)

- Informal/quick dialogue during arrival/dismissal

- Parent education classes

- Progress report for 5 year olds (kindergarteners going to grade 1) Our program includes the kindergarten year.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

- First 2 days of school are for new children only

- Parents invited to stay as long as needed

- Extra staff is provided