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We are considering sending our son (3 years 3 months in the Fall) to Nomura Preschool. We very much liked the facility, the hours, tuition, and musical and cultural enrichment opportunities. However, I was concerned that the upper years have homework. Can anyone share their experience with academics at Nomura? Did it interfere with play and other social learning? What kind of time commitment outside of school did it require? We are also looking at Montessori schools in the area, so I am also curious how the Nomura experience --- particularly in regards to nurturing creativity and open-ended inquiry --- compares to the Montessori programs in El Cerrito and Albany (specifically, we are also looking at Keystone). Thanks! Heading off the preschool
It is one of the more academic preschools, which attracted me. (Ironically both kids were slow to read, like 1st-2nd grade slow...now straight-A's in private school, test above the 95th %ile in verbal...so what they say about kids getting ready to read at their own pace is actually true.) On one level the reading and math at Nomura School were more ambitious than their kindergarten and might have been wasted on my slow-bloomers, but for the kids clearly ready and able to read it was a great program, and they all seemed enthusiastic about doing big kid work. My kids were not stressed by the level of expectation and it probably did help as much as it could in getting them ready for Kindergarten- they might have seemed slower still without it. Compared to other preschools, I felt that despite the the more traditional focus, the social scene was more relaxed for parents and kids- they were socialized to school without people seeming to make a big fuss- I heard about the letters she was confusing but the fact she didn't share particularly well (well, actually she kind of hoarded favorite toys) was normalized. Montessori school has its own kind of serious/ industriousness. I think it depends on your style. former Nomura family
We recently toured Nomura Preschool and were very impressed. We're thinking of sending our 3.5 year old son there, and would like to see some more recent reviews. Our son is VERY active, and I'm wondering if such a structured environment is going to work for him. Any thoughts you have about Nomura would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Future Nomura Mom?
Hi there, I am seeking advice about Nomura preschool in Richmond. My son, nearly 4, needs a school that will offer consistency in rules, experienced teachers, plenty of gross motor and some structure. Will Nomura be a good fit? Any thoughts on the school would be helpful. Thanks anon
Please share your experiences with Pacific Academy Nomura preschool in Richmond Annex. Specifically, we are looking for feedback from parents whose 2 year olds attended the Chickie group. How was your experience? Although, I am quite impressed with the school, the facilities, the academics and the extra-curriculars, I'm concerned that I am putting my child in a "school setting" too early. Will the teachers be nurturing enough? Will my daughter be held, soothed and comforted if she's not feeling well or having a bad day? How did your 2 year old handle the "school" atmosphere? Was there enough ''free play'' and outdoor time for the kids? Thanks so much! JT
Re: Preschool near El Cerrito/Richmond - behavioral issues
You probably want to check out Nomura Preschool on Carlson in Richmond Annex. My child had similar issues at a previous preschool and those problems are long gone. The teachers here are wonderful! Extremely nurturing but EXCELLENT with discipline and consistency. They have a lot of tenure there too, so no turnover. The one thing I noticed right away is that the teachers are very accepting of all types of temperaments and learning styles. The academics are fabulous and they have a number of extra- curriculars as well, incuding karate, gymnastics, art, dance/ballet, and piano. Importance of music in learning is a recurring theme and the students also learn conversational Japanese. Only drawbacks are higher tuition and it's on a busy street. Other than those two, Nomura really is a gem. Good luck!
Nomura preschool has been the best to us. My son was very happy in that preschool. Their curriculum is great, my son was prepared and was welcomed into one of the best schools in bay area, bentley school, thanks to nomura preschool. He was advance in his studies for kindergarten. I recoment nomura preschool to all. Milie
Re: Preschool where my son won't be the token black kid
Have you looked into the Nomura Pacific Academy? They are on Carlson, right on the El Cerrito/Richmond border. We love the school and feel it has a nice mix of ethnicity, not only among their students but with their staff as well. Feel free to contact me if you have questions. www.pacificacademy.com Brandye
Re: Preschool where my son won't be the token black kid
Have you considered Pacific Academy located on Carlson Blvd and Burlingame St. (510.526.7847) The school is wonderfully diverse - over a majority are kids of color and mixed heritages. My son's pre-K class before the June graduation had 5 African American kids incl. mixed out of the total 20 full- time and partime students. Not sure what the diversity is in the younger classes but you should check it out. Email me with any questions. Good luck. Sue
Hi All, We are considering enrolling our two year old son at Pacific Academy - Nomura School in Richmond Annex. I can't find one single review of the place in the BPN archives. Does anyone have any recent experience that they'd like to share? Thanks in advance! Mack's Mom
Re: School for bright 7th grader diagnosed with Selective Mutism
You might check out Pacific Academy in Richmond (near Hilltop Mall). High academic standards, but flexible and small enough for individual attention, which might suit your daughter.
Pacific Academy has two campuses -- one on Carlson in Richmond for K-3 and one in Hilltop for 4-8. I cannot speak to the Hilltop campus, but the Carlson campus is wonderful -- great teachers, great programs, nice/happy kids from different backgrounds and cultures (Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Persian, African-American). The class size is small. There are a lot of activities to choose for the after-school program -- soccer, art, violin, piano, ballet. There is a school assembly (for K-3) every Monday morning to teach kids about the school values (tolerance, respect, courage, responsibility, tec.). I thought that is just so cool. Students come from all over. We know one family from North Berkeley. We are in Kensington. Others are from El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, Hercules.
One other thing I like to point out is the administration. I read other posts about Pacific Academy prior to applying for the school and was somewhat concerned about not-so- positive comments regarding the administrators. Now that my daughter is in the school, I have to admit that I don't see any problems with the administrators at all. The director of the Carlson campus is always around, really nice, and so easy to talk to. Mrs. Nomura is very nice, always around and even teaching my daughter to read whenever she has time. The headmaster is holding a coffee meeting this week to talk to parents about the school directions, etc., and he, too, seems like a nice guy. By the way, our Kindergarten teacher solicited parents' input at the beginning of the school term regarding our kid and our expectation for the classroom. I personally see no problems with the administration whatsoever.
All in all, I think Pacific Academy is a great school and well worth a consideration from parents. I'd happy to share my comments further.
My 4 year old son currently attends Pacific Academy and I think
that it meets all of the criteria you are looking for. It is
definitely racially diverse in both the student body and the
staff and strikes a good balance between academics and 'free
play'. Good Luck with your search.
happy Pacific Academy parent
The school does not fill at the initial application round for various reasons, and essentially is able to take anyone who wants to enroll, unless they feel they aren't ready for Kindergarten. This does allow for a wider range of developmental stages- they don't just skim the cream of their admission pool, and I think the teachers are adept at teaching to the entire range of regular kids.
The small class size in some years just reflects how many families have chosen to enroll. My daughters kindergarten has 19 students, which was fine. Kids and parents adore Mrs. Trotter the kindergarten teacher- very professional, but gentle. A friend in 1st grade likes their smaller class of 12 for lots of individual attention.
The reasons the school does not have competitive admissions like Head-Royce or Bentley or Windrush have to do with it's roots as founded by a Japanese couple. It's a little more traditional with uniforms, etc. (LOVED the uniforms once we found out how much it simplifies things) and kids lining up to walk to next building for a specialty class, like you might imagine at a Japanese school. It doesn't have an upper crust feel or a progressive Bay Area funky feel. People who like it there were looking for structure without elitism.
We loved the ethnic, cultural and economic diversity of the student body, best we've found in the East Bay. We are disappointed that there isn't more community between parents. Most families are not wealthy and lots or working moms with little time to spare. But the administrators of the school are not that warm and welcoming either. On the good side for hardworking families, I never felt social pressure to volunteer time in the classroom and donate money to the school's building fund.
The foreign language programs are very good with choice of Japanese or Spanish starting in K- my daughter has learned alot and rates this as her favorite subject. Art and music are also strong. The arts are a little more structured as opposed to a free expression sort of feel, but lots of art is incorporated into learning. There are several opportunities for little plays throughout the year to work on performing skills.
So why are we not staying for first grade? When co-founder Mr. Nomura passed away a few years ago, Mrs. Nomura stepped down to bring in a new headmaster with skills her husband had possessed. Mr. Munro was headmaster at Bentley for many years, which has very competitive admissions, and he clearly feels that we pay our money and he will deliver a well-taught product, without the need for parental input. As well, the Lower School is managed by an ass't headmaster who really does not have a clue on how to develop relationships with families and cannot articulate any plans or philosophy for the portion of the school supposedly under his direction. For my $10,000/ year investment, I need to feel I can chat about these things. Several parents have left in the last 2 years since the change of the guard. One parents is leaving because she felt the academics were too challenging for her son, but most are happy with the level of expectations. My daughter is very upset about the change and even I have mixed feelings as she has had a great K year. Hope this helps anon
This school offers a very good academic program and small classes, with special emphasis on the arts, particularly music. We have always loved the personal attention to each student, and the rich diversity of the students and respect for many cultural traditions. Students typically perform above grade level, and there are many gifted kids --the school also encourages and supports students who are bright but may have difficulty in some areas. Language and music instruction begin early, even in preschool (instruction is geared to developmental level). Tolerance, respect, constructive problem-solving, creativity, and other terrific values and skills are important to the school community.
I can't describe how lucky we feel that our kids were nvolved with this school for so many years. It's given them a great foundation, academically and as humans. Maybe it's not the place for everyone, but it worked well for us. kathy
A possibility to consider is the Pacific Academy- Nomura School.
I live in N. Berkeley and the preschool is in El Cerrito, and
have both kids there, age 2 and 4. The school was started as
a ''music'' preschool by a Japanese woman who still heads the
school and it is now is a private school up to 8th grade.
1)Very culturally diverse- with significant representation of kids of African-American, Asian, Latino, European and mixed ancestry, no ''majority'' group.(The grade school tends to attract more Asian families because of the neighborhood and the school's cultural roots)
2)Twice weekly art and dance with ''specialist'' teachers
3)Respect, cooperation emphasized
4)Japanese language instruction- very casual word play/ songs in the preschool, but continues on through middle school, not an immersion program (Spanish is added in Kindergarten)
5)Accept non-potty trained 2.5 year olds and help with training, using regular potty times for everyone etc. (my son did better at school than at home)
6)For the 4 year olds, 2 classrooms- one for the kids/parents desirous of an academic Pre-K environment (the Penguin class is felt to be the best by parents), one more Montesorri-like. My daughter is in Pre-K and it has challenged her to learn how to listen and try to figure things out, but she has enjoyed it without feeling pressured, so a good balance.
7)Very competant, warm teachers, kids are watched very closely, and undesirable interactions/ activities are nipped in the bud but in a kind no-nonsense way.
8)Nice outdoor facilities
9)Monthly field trips and ''electives'' for Pre-Ks, outside teachers come in for a fee: ballet, pre-violin, pre-piano, art, soccer- saves running to an outside site if you want that sort of enrichment.
1)This is not a Montessori program or what a would call creative in a free-form way- even the art and music are a little more structured. A little touch of the Japanese influence, my kids are probably the wildest of the bunch and I don't feel it has ''inhibited'' them much- structure seems to help them channel their creativity. (At our former co-op preschool, one director didn't last long in part because she didn't like kids running around barefoot in their underpants, and the parents felt her a bit too rigid. We also used to vote on whether snacks must be organic or not. This is not that kind of place.)
2)I have had one teacher I thought was a little too uptight even for this school, never mean to the kids or anything, just had these little rules in terms of procedure for parents etc.
So worth checking out and either you will like the relatively calm, gentle, organized feel with some palpable learning going on, or you will think it's too structured for preschoolers.
We are staying on for Kindergarten after looking at a lot of private schools, but even with good test scores and reasonable tuition, it's not one of the ''coveted'' K-8 schools in the area, it's a little different.
I'd love to hear other opinions... Kate
They are very stiff but get great results. My daughter enjoyed learning Japenese and loved the fifth grade teacher. However, that teacher is gone. He left three years ago after they built the middle school campus. There was about half the teachers who left due to cut backs in the contracts offered and upsets w/the owners. They do change teachers around from grade to grade depending on class size.
I also felt that their middle school while highly academic was too strick, if you left your shirt untucked you got a pink slip, five of those and you are expelled. So, good luck w/it. The reason I have given so much detial is we had the problem of wanting continuity and it fell through. Hard on the child. Oh, and we stayed for fifth because we knew this teacher good put my child back together again or we would have left.
Re: Violin Lessons
My daughter went to the Nomura pre-school in Richmond. Mrs. Nomura teaches pre-school kids violin for about 15 minutes four days a week, which I think is ideal for youngsters with their limited attention spans. My daughter loved it. I suppose you have to be in the school to sign up for the lessons, but they could probably refer you to a good teacher. For those interested in bilingual ed, by the way, they also teach the kids some Japanese every day. It's in the phone book under "the Pacific Academy". Lynn
The variation in skills in kindergarten is very wide and they work with it. If kids have trouble they make special efforts to make sure that the kid can accomplish things. I never saw anything like what has recently been described here for the Kensington kindergarten and some other places. They do teach reading in Kindergarten. My daughter figured it out in the second semester, and has been doing well with it ever since. One fear on my kid's part: they might be invited to someone's house and have to eat sushi!
I have one friend who says her son was simply too active, couldn't sit still, enough for the nursery school, and I am that you will hear from people who find it too structured. My girls are about as active, funny, and wild as girls get but they respect adults, teachers, and other children, and I am constantly complimented by teachers on how kind and well behaved they are in class. I attribute a lot of this to their experience at the Pacific Academy.
And one other thing! You do have to get your kid to class on time, or you (the parent) have to get a tardy slip! As a teacher weary of students coming to class late myself, I don't think it's a bad idea. After a couple of tardy slips, I figured out how to arrive on time. The point is, though, that they do not blame the student.
On the gay/lesbian family issue, I don't feel it would be a problem, though my knowledge is limited. One of the roots of the school is in the history of predjudice against Eurasian and Japanese-American people. The general approach is of open-mindedness and acceptance of diversity. In fact, a gay friend of mine told me about how the topic of homosexuality came up in her niece's class (maybe 5-6 grade) and the niece was proud to be able to say that she had a gay aunt. Needless to say, this pleased the aunt quite a bit. Lynn
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