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Little Elephant Montessori Preschool (Oakland, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Preschools & Daycare > Little Elephant Montessori Preschool



Feb 2012

I would love to hear from parents who have some recent experiences with Hearts Leap (on College), Little Elephant Preschool or the Model School. My husband and I are considering those schools for our little girl starting at age 2.5. Because we are considering starting her so young, I would love to hear from parents whose child began in the twos program as well as parents whose child started later. What were your experiences with the schools? Anything negative that I should keep in mind? Our daughter is kind, sweet and a bit sensitive to chaotic situations and can get overwhelmed by lots of noise or active boys running around. We are looking for a place where the teachers provide lots of love for the kids and also help foster their independence. We'd like conflicts to be resolved without scolding, lecturing, blaming, or shaming. Thank you in advance for your responses. Nervous Mom


Hey, sounds like you've just described our son as a 2.5 year old who had never been apart from his parents before his first teary-eyed day at Little Elephant. He is now a thriving kindergartner, and I think we owe much of that to his three fabulous years at LEM. The teachers there treat all the children with great respect and allow them to progress at their own pace, both academically and socially. The classrooms were a very peaceful and ordered space for him, and he was allowed a gradual transition from the lower Caterpillar class to the upper Butterfly class - so he felt quite comfortable there on his first full day in the ''big class''. Besides being extremely loving with the children (honestly I get a bit teary-eyed thinking about it even now), the teachers also have great rapport - the kids love the teachers, too! Best of luck as you find the right school for your daughter, Kevin
July 2011

Re: Preschools near a BART station
We love our preschool, Little Elephant Montessori, which is very close to the Rockridge BART station on Miles Ave. Our son has thrived there over the last three years; the teachers are fantastic and loving, and the children are able to follow their own interests with guidance from the teachers. kj


May 2008

Re: Full-Time Preschools in Oakland
My son completed his Preschool and Kindegarten at Little Elephant Montessori near Rockridge Bart Station in Oakland. Both my husband and I work full time and our child was there from 8:30AM to 6PM, M-F. Because of the long hours, we were very careful in picking a school which offers an ''extended home'' environment. Little Elephant was a great match for our needs. Their kind and loving environment natured our happy and confident little boy. My child will be entering 2nd grade next year. When I count my blessings, I still count Little Elephant. You should go to their website: http://www.littleelephant.net or call their Director, Natanya Moore: 510.597.1963 Kay


Oct 2007

I don't see any reviews of Little Elephant Montessori Preschool on this website. I love the location (right across from BART), but I need to know if any parents out there LOVE this school! Our very first requirement is that the teachers love their job and are willing to hug and cuddle kids when they need it. Opinions? Thank you. anon


Our older daughter graduated from Little Elephant and started Kindergarten this Fall. She had a wonderful experience at the school and was more than prepared for Kindergarten, both academically and socially. She had very special bonds with her teachers and loves to come with me to pick up her little sister, who started this fall, and visit. Our younger daughter's transition to school hasn't been as easy as we had anticipated, but the teachers at Little Elephant are so loving, dedicated, and experienced that she has truly settled in and now loves coming to school. You say your first requirement is loving teachers. You'll definitely find that here. They are truly amazing -- lots of hugging and cuddling when needed. The parent community is also very tight and involved. You'll find that many families are like us and have just started round 2 with their second child. The school is really special and we feel lucky to be there. The location is just an added bonus. happy LE family
We're very happy with Little Elephant Montessori. When we were researching preschools, we weren't sure if we wanted a Montessori program. But, we really liked LE's director, who is completely dedicated and committed to children's well-being and development. We also think the teachers are excellent -- they are smart, kind, and energetic -- and they want the children to learn -- socially and ''academically'' -- respect for others, responsibility, conflict resolution, as well as the alphabet, numbers, and the names of the continents. Our daughter loves the school and loves her teachers -- when the occasional tearful morning drop-off arises, I know that a teacher will take her by the hand and hold her and give her the hugs and reassurance she needs and all will be fine. Happy with Little Elephant
Jan 2007

Do you know little elephant preschool on Miles in Rockridge? I am looking for feedback of any kind. The website looks good, but for such a big decision I'd be grateful for information from others who have researched it. Nurturing? Structured? Fun? Happy? OK on Education? Thanks in advance.
little elephant curious


Our daughter attended Little elephant for two years, from the time she was three until she turned five. We loved the school. It is small, warm, very nurturing and has a wonderful curriculum. Our daughter began reading shortly before her fourth birthday and learned a lot of advanced math concepts, geography, social studies, etc, from the broad array of Montessori materials available at the school. The staff are very professional and caring. The parent community is also close. We still have regular get togethers with many of the families so that the kids can keep in touch with their friends, even now that many have moved on to different schools. Our daughter now attends Bentley, and is doing very well. She has always been very bright, but we also think the preparation at Little Elephant really helped her to make a smooth transition into such an academic elementary school setting. Her skills appear far beyond what is expected of most five year olds beginning Kindergarten in the public schools, even the better ones. You are right to consider this decision carefully. It is important that the school setting be one that is the right fit for your child. A tour of the school and conversation with some of the current and past parents of Little Elephant may be helpful to you. Good Luck!
Happy Little Elephant Mom
Dear Curious: Our daughter has been at Little Elephant since she was 2.5, and she is now in her kindergarden year there. She has been very happy, well-loved, and well-prepared during her years there. We have been very pleased with the balance of structure and freedom that Little Elephant has offered. I don't know whether all Montessori schools are like this, but our daughter has done very well ''academically'' without ever feeling pressured or forced. The teachers are an ecclectic group, but all very caring, talented, and committed to their profession. One of the teachers is quite a musician, and our daughter has enjoyed lots of music in the classroom. The only potential drawback I can think of at Little Elephant is that the yard is fairly small, so if you're looking for a basketball court or lots of running room, you won't find it there. The kids do have plenty of outdoor play time and seem to get quite enough activity playing, riding and climbing. We would definitely recommend Little Elephant. If you'd like to discuss further, post you're e-mail address and I'll get in touch.
LE Parent
My son has attended LEMS since July 2006. Yes, it is nurturing, structured and fun. I imagine the educational program is very strong, but I have not followed this as closely because my main goal for my son has been the social environment. I have found this to be a perfect school for my son as he is generally calm, likes order, and does not like chaotic environments (so unlike his sister!). It is certainly not the type of school where the kids run wild as they chose what they want to work on. The school has a lot of structure as to social behavior which I appreciate, but I would not consider it ridgid at all. The teachers absolutely love the children and take their job very seriosuly. The have quite a bit of vacation (about 5 weeks per year)and I believe are very-well compensated- they are treated as the professionals that they are which makes me feel that my son is in good hands. There is also strong parental involvement with a monthly ''PTA'' and the director is always open to feedback on how to improve the school. I highly recommend it but you will have to decide if your child's tempernment is suited to the Montessori envionment.
LEMS fan
Nov 2005

There was only one recent post regarding Little Elepant and it was not very positive, so I am hoping more of you will chime in with your experiences (positive or negative). I am considering this school for my sweet and sensitive little boy. I have not had a chance to visit the school yet (tour is in January)- but wondering about the outdoor area since my son loves to play outside and climb. Any input would be greatly appreciated. anon


I saw your question about Little Elephant Montessori School for your boy. I can understand your concerns. It does not matter how academic or good a school is if it does not give your child what he needs. You mentioned that your boy is sensitive and loves to climb, etc...If he is lively, needs to move, be outside, plus he is sensitive, it may be a challenge at Little Elephant. It is true that the school has good intentions but the yard is too small, during the winter it is too wet, and with so many children being inside it does not always work well for each child. Their indoor facilities and their other activities are limited in comparison to many other preschools. It works well for some children especially those that are more passive or those who come only part time. anon
In response to the request for more information on Little Elephant. Our son has attended for over a year and we are generally pleased with the school. There is an ongoing question for me as to whether or not Montessori is appropriate for a highly active, energetic boy, but things have worked out for us. Little Elephant allows the children two significant outside play periods during the day, and he comes home nice and tired.

It may not meet the academic requirements of some parents who have their kids on the fast track at four. However, at four, my son is working on adding whole numbers and reading three letter words. He can also work on the things he is most interested in at the time (i.e. art, culture, geography, building, life skills, etc.)

The school is very affordable compared to other schools in the area and the hours and location convenient for working parents. The parent community is active and there is an unoffical expectation that you will volunteer your time. I personally think the school is appropriate for highly sensitive children -- boys or girls. It is less suited to higher maintenance children, but this may be because it is Montessori. anon


I am responding to a recent question about Little Elephant. We have had our daughter at L.E. for almost three years and have been very happy there. She is thriving, ''academically'' and socially and she loves it. Contrary to the belief that the montessori approach is rigid or isolating, she has had great opportunity to explore and learn in the manner and pace that suits her, both independently and working together with other kids. The three ''lead'' teachers are all excellent. LE incorporates a lot of music, which our daughter loves. We have also found the LE parents to be very friendly, involved and supportive. On the con side:! LE has not maintained its Spanish language curriculum. Although I have seen the staff work very hard and cooperatively with parents when there have been special needs, there have also been a few students who haven't worked out, which may be better for the other students at the school, but hard on the families in that situation. The outdoor play area and climbing structure are small, and might not be great for bigger, more active children. All in all, we feel very lucky to have found LE. anon
I assume you are asking about Little Elephant Montessori Preschool at Rockridge. I have a very active boy attending this school. You'll be surprised how much the little kids can do in the play yard. The director of the school is also planning to spend the money from our last fund-raising on equipments for the yard. Besides the play yard itself, the school also schedule other activites for the kids. They went to FROG park a couple times this year. Went to Berkeley Botanical Garden and a ranch last year. Had a Halloween Parade up and down College Ave a couple weeks ago. (The children waived and smiled at the merchants and shoppers and just about melted everyone's heart.) Going to Rockridge library this week. Going to a special Nutcracker Ballet performance in December. These are just the ones I remember off the top of my head. I am sure there are many more I forgot to mention. Will this be enough to keep your little guy happy? anon
I have a four years old currently attending Little Elephant Montessori Preschool. He is happy, he wants to learn, he loves his friends at school and he loves his teachers. ; The teachers respect that each child is unique and they motivate and communicate with them in their individual level. They teach the children how to respect others, such as taking turns and resolving conflicts. They also teach the children how to respect the classroom by showing them how to clean up after themselworked with. This is not a play-based childcare facility. The children are learning and making progress everyday WITHOUT feeling pushed. If you are looking for a well-rounded and enriching experience for your child, you should visit this school. anon
I have a child enrolled at Little Elephant Montessori and am extremely pleased with the school. It is a warm and friendly school that thrives on the diversity of its students and their families. It is a very flexible Montessori program, following the basic tenets of Montessori philosophy but using those ideas in new and spontaneous ways. My child has been enrolled for a year and she has learned so much more than the basics of reading and writing. She comes home singing about the continents, telling stories of helping other students and taking care of the garden outside. The teachers are enamored with every child that comes through the door each day. Teachers are accessible to parents as well, giving their time and sharing their suggestions when parents need advice. They have a great location very near College Ave and take advantage of their surroundings by having holiday parades and walks to the park. I strongly encourage a visit to see in person what a happy environment this school provides. anonymous ves and putting away the Montessori materials they
Sept 2005

I've checked the archives and wanted more current opinions about The Mulberry School and the Little Elephant Montessori School. I'm considering these 2 schools for next Fall and wanted to get people's opinions/experiences with either of these schools before I hand them my non-refundable deposit. How caring are the teachers in these schools and how much emphasis is on academics and preparing young children for elementary school? Thanks for any insight you can provide. Parent who's looking for a good school in the Oakland Hills area.


I saw the question about Little Elephant Montessori School. I had my child at the preschool and have moved on to a kindergarten. It is a good preschool but not every child will do well or be happy there. It is rigid (if your child does not respond in the expected way -which only narrow number of children do- and does not meet certain expectations of the individual teachers, your child will feel the rejection in spite of the smiles and good words), it is limited regarding other activities, it does not have much of a support during vacation days (maybe they are working on improving that), it is not as loving and nurturing as many other montessori schools in the Oakland area are. It is convenient if you commute on BART. It has parents that are trying to convince the owner of the school to improve the school. anonymous
Re: Seeking smaller preschool for shy 3 1/2 year old (Nov 2003)
My daughter attends Little Elephant Montessori Preschool in the Oakland Hills. She is also fairly shy and slow to warm up. She is 2 1/2 and has done amazingly well at Little Elephant with a few initial visits before the start of school to get oriented to the space and the teachers. dawn
July 2003

I am interested in sending my two year old daughter to the little elephant monterssori preschool that just opened in July. Does anyone have their children enrolled there already? Were you able to get references for the teacher? How has your experience been so far? Any info would be appreciated. Dawn


I've found this great home-based Montessori Preschool just above Montclair Village--Little Elephant Montessori Preschool. It is run by Natanya Moore, a woman who has been a Montessori teacher for the past 10 years and is wonderful, kind and caring. She's just starting the school and has a great vision. It's also a very intimate, professional setting. My daughter is very, very happy there. I know it's tough finding good, quality care for our 2-5 year olds, so I wanted to be sure and share the school's information. If you are looking for a GREAT situation, call Natanya Moore at 510-338-0084. If you'd like any further information, you can also contact me directly. I'd be happy to discuss it further. Denise
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