Nia House Learning Center (Berkeley, CA)
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Nia House Learning Center
- Owner: (non-profit) Director: Eve Uberman
- Phone: (510) 845-6099
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neighborhood: W. Berkeley
- Zip: 94710
- License #: 010205758
- Capacity: 50
- Website: http://niahouse.com/
- Ages: 18 mos. to 6 years
RE: friendly Montessori preschool
I would HIGHLY recommend you check out Nia House Learning Center - a montessori preschool in
central-west Berkeley. Everything about it is outstanding, imo. And most importantly, very
committed and thoughtful about their practice of montessori philosophy.
Eve is the director and she can give you an overview, tour, etc.
Re: Warm and Fuzzy Montessori?
Nia House in Berkeley! I've written in about them before, always to
say that I wish my son could be in school there forever. Such a warm
and creative and open environment with Montessori principles.
Unfortunately, they don't often have openings.
Hi - We are looking into pre-school options, or morning
learning programs/class. Our son is 18 months and attends a
wonderful family daycare, but we feel he is ready for a bit more
structure and i know waiting lists can be long. We are looking for a
part-time program or class that would challenge him a bit. Does anyone
have any feedback on Nia House Learning Center and the Model School?
The reviews on BPN were older posts. Ideally we are looking for a
morning learning program maybe a few days a week, I feel he
is still to young for a full pre-school program and we would
like to keep him in the family care environment. Or are
there any other learning structured classes that you can
recommend? We are open to music and art classes as well.
Thank you in advance for any advice and/recommendations.
Our family has been part of the Nia House community for the last 6 years.
My daughter started in the preschool just before her third birthday (she
is now 9) and my son started in the toddler room when he was 18 months
old (he is now 5). I feel quite confident saying that sending my
children to Nia House has been one of my best parenting decisions so far.
The program at Nia House teaches each child that s/he is a valuable part
of a peaceful community - the Nia House community, the Berkeley
Community, and the World community. Everyday, through every
interaction, the children learn the responsibilities and privileges that
flow from being part of a larger group. Responsibilities include being
kind and respectful of one another, taking care of physical surroundings,
and working out problems with other children using "kind words" (ie. no
hitting, no excluding, no bullying, ever). Privileges include being a
teacher/leader to new students, going on field trips, celebrating
birthdays and holidays together, doing wonderful art projects, performing
puppet shows, cooking banana bread, and just plain ol' having fun
together. Somehow, every teacher at Nia House knows how to strike just
the right balance of kindness and firmness to create a safe and
predictable structure for every single child. As a result, the children
flourish socially, emotionally, and, it turns out, academically.
The "academics" at Nia House seem to grow organically from the social
and physical environment. As far as the children are concerned, the
biggest "privilege" of being a student at Nia House is getting to do
the "challenging works" - activities which include the Montessori
curriculum (numbers, letters, practical life, sensorial, etc), reading,
and art for a one hour period each morning. I know this might sound
overly-rigorous and structured to some, but over the years I've observed
the children during their "work" periods many times, and I can say with
100% confidence that they love it. They love learning new things, they
love working together, and they take tremendous pride in showing their
friends and family their new skills. Our kids add to our dinner table
conversation many details about animal life cycles, invertebrates, the
solar system, adding numbers, and other amazing topics.
Both of my children were incredibly well prepared when they transitioned
to a new school: socially/emotionally they knew how to work with other
children, they were able to control their bodies and not be wiggly at
inappropriate times. They are able to focus on a task for an extended
period of time, and both were so skilled with reading, writing and
numbers that they instantly felt comfortable with the material they were
presented with at their new school.
For me, the strong academic skills both of my children gained at Nia
House - while quite amazing - were simply icing on the cake. Everyday my
husband or I dropped them off at Nia House, we knew they would be cared
for and supported in a safe, loving environment rich with new things to
discover. For a working parent - any parent really - what more could
one ask for?
Nia House is the best kept secret in Berkeley. The teachers get continuous
training and have an impressive number of years of experience with kids. Each
child is treated as a person, and these teachers care dearly for the kids. My
child thrives there every day! I couldn't say enough about the care that each
child gets, and how much they learn because of this environment.
The Nia House teachers pay special attention to how children learn. They
understand that young kids are capable of extraordinary things, and that they are
each unique. The children learn social behaviors that help them solve conflicts
with words, which makes the kids well-rounded and able to act independently...and
it's all age-appropriate.
There is a gentleness to all the instructors that makes me feel my child is in
great hands all day long. There's never a moment that the children aren't being
watched. The kids are not only being watched, they are, at all times, admired.
Nia House Parent
My son is approaching preschool age and we're fortunate to have
two great options starting next fall: Nia House Montessori or one
of the UC Berkeley preschools. I really liked the feel of Nia
House and can sense that it's a fantastic environment for
introducing kids to the joy of learning. On the other hand, the
fact that they don't provide meals/snacks and that the school is
far from my home and work would add quite a bit to my daily
stress. The UC Berkeley preschools have a great reputation,
although I'm a little less enthused about them relative to Nia
House. But...they're close to home and work, and meals are
provided. Thus, more precious moments with my son that would
otherwise be spent driving, shopping, and cooking. Do any of you
have relevant experience, suggestions, advice?
I'm sure other Nia House parents will have similar answers, but
the convenience of a short drive and not packing a lunch everyday
will not outweigh the outstanding benefits of childhood learning
at Nia House (which does provide healthy snacks btw). My 2 kids
learned conflict resolution, focus, and advanced communication
skills by age 3. They went on to early reading and math skills,
all within a social justice and peace curriculum. Most
importantly, I learned all of my most effective parenting skills
at Nia House. Really! At Zellerbach Hall field trips, it's the
Nia house kids listening to their teachers, waiting patiently,
and listening intently to the performance - not the older grade
school students, but these preschoolers. You would not regret
your choice of Nia House.
a happy nia house parent
My son is 2 (28 months) and we're also researching
preschools...especially Montessori. The ONLY (and completley
self-serving) reason I had to post is that I am a Nia House Alum.
Nia House (I'm 36...years not months, lol) were my first memories!
Painting, singing (they let me sing in spanish even though I
didn't know a lick? WTH? poor teachers).
I have no clue how Nia House is run today. Please take my post
with a grain of salt.
Nia House Alum
We absolutely love Nia House. The Director and Teachers are
great and there is a real sense of community! Our daughter has
thrived in the Montessori environment. They do provide snacks
BUT lunch does take extra time/dedication in the morning. Nia
House also encourages healthy meals so ''lunchable type'' stuff
is not an option. It has actually helped our whole family eat a
lot better. We do a short drive in the morning but it always
editor note: a review was also received for Child Study Center
at UC Berkeley.
I would love to hear about recent experiences with Nia House.
The reviews on BPN are a few years old at this point, and it
would be great to hear from some parents with kids currently
enrolled there -- I'm especially interested in the toddler
program, but any thoughts would be appreciated.
Nia House is fabulous! We had two older daughters go through their
5-10 years ago, and our current 3 year old has been there for a year
and a half.
The staff is wonderful and the toddler room teachers have been there 20
15 tears each respectively, but they are not ''burnt out''- they love
the kids and
are completely attuned to their developmental needs! In fact many of
has been there 15+ years, and the new teachers are equally terrific. I
always amazed at how engaged, caring and genuinely happy all of the
are at Nia House. They love to be at school and learn so many skills
there confidence and capabilities, it's exciting to watch. There is a
af families there also- racially, economically, and family structures,
makes for a wonderful experience as well.
The only difficult thing we have found is that since it's a Montessori
classroom is child-centered and parents are not invited to be in the
with the kids at all. You are welcome to observe anytime, and can also
out outside with the kids, but sometimes it feels a little cold
child at the door- but this is a parent issue- I think the kids are
fine with it.
happy Nia House parent
I've had/have two boys at Nia House, one recently left for first grade,
the other is
still there. It is a full-time program geared toward working/schooling
is a wonderful mix of all different kinds of families from all
My oldest was at Nia House from 18 months through Kindergarten and just
1st grade this academic year. My youngest began in the toddler room at
and just transitioned at the end of last year into the preschool
program. I could
make this email thousands of words long, but the bottom line is that
Nia House is
absolutely FANTASTIC. The directors, the teachers, the program, and the
''work'' and play, everything. The wonderful new play structures and
of the facility are an added bonus. The toddler program (what you
for information on) is spectacular, two wonderful loving teachers, both
have been there for many, many years. Both are so in tune with
toddlers, it is
amazing. They have different personalities which really complement each
sons connected well with both. I still ask the head toddler teacher for
advice and she
always comes up with 2-3 wonderful suggestions. The preschool teachers
wonderful with children and great communicators with parents. I am
amazed at what my children have learned there, how well children
other and their teachers, how well the teachers really know my kids,
and how caring
the other families are. This is a truly special preschool and a place
our family will
always, always remember with great fondness.
Sharon A., Nia House mom
Our daughter is in her kindergarten year at Nia House and
started there in the pre-school program at 2yrs., 9 mos. I
cannot say enough good things about Nia House. The most
important thing to me in choosing Nia House at the beginning was
the diversity of the staff and the kids. It is diverse in every
respect, ethnic, socio-economic and gay/lesbian parent
families. Our daughter has thrived there. The things I like the
best are the staff, the emphasis on good nutrition and the way
they teach conflict resolution. It's also great academically.
Daily, I'm impressed with what my daughter knows and
understands. I wish it went through elementary school. We will
miss it terribly.
Nia House parent
We don't just love Nia House. We LOVE LOVE Nia house. If you're looking
nurturing, supportive, economically and racially diverse program, which
you with all of your parenting challenges, then this is the place for
your child. I
have a 5 year old and a 2-1/2 year old in the program (both of whom
started at 18
months), with very different personalities, and they both thrive here.
(You could not,
in your wildest imagination, dream up a better toddler room teacher).
From an early
age, they've learned to communicate their feelings, resolve social
problems on their
own, and learn ''daily living'' skills. The academics in the older
''explorer'' room are
strong, and the teachers pay close attention to each child's
development in all areas.
You may not receive a daily report on your child, but at the drop of a
hat you can
schedule a one on one conference to speak with your child's teacher, or
come to a
I have heard critiques that Montesorri programs can be tough, rigid and
but this is not one of them. This is a school with deeply experienced
have been there 15-20 years), almost no teacher turnover, and a
community of parents and students. New developments in the last 3
a brand new play structure and new classroom finishes with a focus on
building materials. Come for a visit!
A happy preschool parent
Nia House is an extraordinary place. My son started there at 18 months
Toddler program. He is now doing his kindergarten year there. The
past 4 1/2
years at Nia House have been wonderful. It is a caring and nurturing
The teachers and staff are loving educators who focus on the whole
child and whole
family. Our son has looked forward to going to school every single
day. I urge you
to do a tour and observation there. If Nia House seems like a good fit
for your child,
you will look back on this decision (as I do) as one of the best you've
made in your
I've been a parent at Nia House for 6 years. My youngest will probably
leave to start kindergarten in the fall & it will be very sad to say
goodbye to such a wonderful preschool community. Whether it's the
incredible, diverse, longterm staff, the great kids, the wonderful
families, the play/social/emotional/academic skills the kids acquire or
any other aspect of the school, it's been a rich, warm & most memorable
experience. I'd be happy to talk to anyone who wants to know more.
Bill and Rebecca
My younger son started Nia House at 2 1/2 in the "toddler" room and
is now in his third year of preschool (preschool is separated into
two age groups: approximately 34 1/2 and 4 1/2 to 6, after the 3rd year,
kids are ready for 1st grade) and my older son (now a 5th grader) also
went to Nia House. Nia House is a warm, loving environment with AMAZING staff.
Lee, the Director has been with the school for over 20 years (originally as a
parent), Lisa, the preschool head teacher is "new", about 6 years!!, and two
of the assistant teachers have been there for 12 years and more (Jeannie, the
toddler teacher is one of the founders of the school!). Lisa is just back
from successful breast cancer treatment(had been out for several months) and
while the school managed to do fine in her absence, her return made us all
realize just how much she has become the center of our close knit community.
The school is small (about 36 kids from 17 months to 6yrs old) and has to be
the most ethnic and socioeconomically diverse preschool ever. Half the kids
receive some type of scholarship while higher income families pay a "premium"
to attend(and what's nice you don't usually know which kids are from which
families) and families range from "traditional" same ethnicity/different sex
couples with biological kids to single parents (including grandmas), lesbian
couples, transracial adoption families, and more. The staff reflects this mix:
Lee is an African American man, Lisa an African American woman, Tita and
two assistant teachers) are Cambodian, and Jeannie is a white woman. There is
other staff as well,including a wonderful parttime teacher that does
and gardening with the kids. The school provides every child with the right
academic challenge. My son is reading at 1st2nd grade level and is doing
2nd grade math. But
as this is a Montessori school, the teachers "follow" the interest and
developmental level of each child. The school also stresses individual
responsibility and selfdiscipline
(very Montessori). The school welcomes visitors call and make an appointment,
the school often has a waiting list (ALWAYS for the toddler room) so call soon
for the Fall. Feel free to call me for more: 8416153 (as are most Nia House
I'm FANATICAL about the school). Karen
If you are looking for a high quality, diverse preschool (18mos.6yrs, with
kids graduating ready for 1st grade) I highly suggest Nia House Learning
Center (Montessori) in Berkeley. For Berkeley public school, I recommend
Washington Elementary. I've written about both schools before, so check the
archives, but I'll address the issue about diversity, especially for gay
At Nia House, there IS NO DIVERSITY COMMITTEE, because there is no need.
The school is all about inclusivity, socioeconomic, gay/straight, single
parent/grandparent headed, multi cultural/racial, "mixed" ethnic families
(including by adoption). While I don't remember gay male headed families
specifically, over the past 8 yrs. that I've had kids at Nia House, lesbian
headed families have comprised anywhere from 10% to at least 20% of the
student population (35 kids in the whole school). Nia House's strength to
me is that inclusivity there is like breathing you really don't discuss
what is integral to you that percentage is just based on families that my
kids have socialized with, that I've met in parent meetings/school
gatherings, or know from my kids that "Joey/Jane" has "2 Mommys".
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