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Global Montessori International School (Berkeley, CA)
I am leaving a review for a fantastic Mandarin immersion Montessori school in Berkeley named Global Montessori International School (GMIS). This review is completely unsolicited, and I have the freedom of being honest and objective because my child is moving on to another school. My child started at GMIS at the age of 2. I chose GMIS over the other Mandarin immersion programs in the area because of the following reasons: 1) the teachers were experienced, youthful, energetic, loving and kind; 2) the founder of the school, Vivi Teng, is a warm-hearted, honest person with extensive Montessori experience and devotes herself full-time to managing every aspect of the school; 3) a great parent community of highly educated but down-to-earth parents who are very involved and very tuned into the development of young children and their needs; 4) an ethnically diverse student population with over half of the children coming from multiple ethnic backgrounds. I visited and toured all the other schools in the area (PRINTS, AIM, Shu-ren) and came to the conclusion that the biggest hearts were at GMIS and that my toddler would be cared after the way I would expect a large family of kind aunties would provide. After having been at the school for 2 and a half years, my child has been able to recognize many Chinese characters (I would guess at least 50), knows bo-po-mo-fo symbols and is able to use them to read early reader books from Taiwan, is able to converse in Mandarin with proper tone, and is also progressing well in English reading and acquisition of math concepts. Potty training was done by the teachers within 1 year of enrollment and made my life so much easier. Extracurricular activities have included Soccer Shots, Kung-fu, Chinese and Western singing and music, beginning Spanish, and afterschool Chinese class. Other class options include art and dance. He has been exposed to gardening, animal care, trips to the Berkeley Nutcracker and Chabot Science Center. There is a wonderful outdoor garden area with a vermicompost earthworm bin to teach children about the soil lifecycle. The outdoor playspace is clean and has a variety of outdoor toys. In the summer, water play is also available. I have made many friends among the parent group and contributed to the development of the Parent Organization which provides parents with an organized website for information and helps to orchestrate the myriad of volunteer, holiday and cultural events that occur each year. The school's preschool through kindergarten is growing by leaps and bounds. The elementary school is still in development and currently enrolls through second grade. My son will miss GMIS very much and after 2.5 years, I am still certain that I made the right decision for him. I have not seen as many happy kids elsewhere as I have at GMIS, and as many kind teachers. Whether your interest is Montessori, Mandarin, a diverse and global environment for your child, GMIS will fulfill all of the above and more than prepare your child for Yu Ming or any of the other Mandarin immersion programs in SF. Many of the kids who go to Yu Ming from GMIS are quite over-prepared and already know most of the Mandarin and early math covered in public school kindergarten. All in all, a wonderful preschool and kindergarten and you can't go wrong. I expect that with continued development the elementary school will be wonderful, too. Vivian
An update on the new location for GMIS: The school will be relocating to a new address in Berkeley across the street from Ecole Bilingue and near one of the Berkeley Bowl groceries. The move will take place over the summer and be ready to start in September! I encourage all interested parents to look at GMIS and consider enrolling. Vivian
I am thinking about sending my daughter to GMIS (Global Montessori International School) next year but heard that the school may be forced to move/leave the location where they are at today. Does anyone have any information on this? Would love to hear from current GMIS parents. Thanks! Julie
Re: Mandarin afterschool programs in the East Bay
I would recommend the after-school Mandarin program at Global Montessori International School (http://www.gmis-berkeley.com/prog_afterschool.php). Classes meet from 3:30pm to 4:45pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday each week. I'm continually impressed by the Chinese-language artwork and written worksheets that my 3-year-old brings home from these classes. - GMIS parent
Re: Mandarin Immersion Elementary Schools?
My son attends the Elementary program at Global Montessori International School in Berkeley. He enjoyed the warm environment, opened up his shy personality, and made good friends. We like the supportive parent community and receptive school teachers and administrators. I find my son becoming more confident, responsible, thoughtful and inquisitive, since joining the elementary group. The English part of the Montessori program led by the head teacher Ms Nugapitiya is great. In a little over 5 months he went from not able to read by himself to a beginner reader of chapter books, and teaching me stuff he learned from school, e.g. leaning tower of Pisa. I doubt the Chinese part was taught strictly using the traditional Montessori material, as I have seen a 5th grader used the recording feature on IPhone to practice tone pronunciations for a tongue twister. I really like the innovative media introduced by the Chinese teacher Ms Ma, which made it more relevant to the kids and more engaging. The children are naturally more proficient in English and often speak that among the peers so the teachers had introduced show and tell in Chinese, word games... I find it a good mix between Montessori philosophy of C,follow the childC. and willingness to engage kids using effective methods. To me the learning skills and the excitements toward the language and cultures achieved have been invaluable. happy mom
Another reason GMIS is so special is the culture. It is a warm, loving, kind place for the kids that also focuses on their education and making sure they learn. The kids love going to school and you can see what they are learning. And, they all do speak Chinese during the day, to the other kids as well, even those who don't have Mandarin spoken to them at home (like my son).
Additionally, this school is going places and will make a name for itself. Vivi has a tremendous amount of energy and she always has her eye to how to make the program stronger and reaching out to the community to bring resources and relationships to the school. Not only did they improve the art and music education this year (MOCHA comes to the school) she is reaching out to other schools in the area to create relationships for those graduating.
And lastly, but not least, the parent community is strong. there is a lot of parental involvement, which is great for the kids as well as the school.
GMIS was a wonderful decision for us as a family and we couldn't be happier. I hope you find your way to GMIS as well. A Happy Parent
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