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Shu Ren International School (Berkeley, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Shu Ren International School

editor note: there is a Chinese language school in Oakland with a similar name: Shouren Chinese School
Dec 2013

Re: Immersion school for gifted kids?
May I make another suggestion to consider? It continues to surprise me that people don't mention Shu Ren International School in the same breath as EB, EBI, & GISSV when discussing private immersion schools, though I guess at 5 1/2 years old they are kind of the new kid on the block! That said, I have my very bright daughter there and have been continually impressed. They are a Mandarin-immersion, official International Baccalaureate (IB) school and extremely committed to inquiry-based learning. It is very child-centered and kids are continually challenged to work at the level most appropriate for them and to engage creatively with their lessons. No rote learning and the projects seem to really engage her. It has also struck us as a very caring, nurturing environment. Just my two cents- something to consider! Happy Parent

April 2013

We start Shu Ren this fall and are so excited! There are 2012 reviews but not so much on the camps. Do you feel they are a good value? Do you feel they learn a lot? For my younger child with lite mandarin experience is the transition extremely difficult? We love the adventure we are about to embark on! We would love to meet some families in the area who will also be attending kindergarten this year! Curious and excited

Welcome to Shu Ren! You and your child are so lucky to be joining this great community. Shu Ren summer camps are fantastic. The kids not only learn a lot of Mandarin, but they explore in depth the themes of each session and go on amazing field trips. Last year they studied the elephant seals of Point Reyes and the geology of Yosemite. The camps are also a great introduction to Shu Ren's inquiry style of teaching. The activities are very hands-on and engaging and the kids all have a blast. I highly recommend it. In fact, I know of a couple of families who went to camp and liked it so much, they decided to enroll their children in Shu Ren full time in the fall. Shu Ren teachers - especially the amazing Kindergarten teacher - are skilled at the transition for students who don't have a Chinese background. So the first couple of months of school might be a bit tough on your child as he or she gets used to the immersion environment and to handling everything in Chinese, but the teachers are very supportive and knowledgeable about how to ease the process. And enrolling your child in camp for at least one or two sessions would definitely help with the transition in the fall. Good luck! Happy Shu Ren parent
Our son is in his first year at Shu Ren in the Pre K 3 class. We are thrilled to have found this wonderful community and our son LOVES school! We are so pleased that we are transferring our daughter from another school into 1st grade at Shu Ren. We will put her in the summer camp as well to help her adapt to the language element and the school overall before fall. The teachers and staff are so passionate, devoted and caring, we are confident that the summer camp will be as great as the school year. We are excited to have both children at Shu Ren in the fall. I'd be happy to answer any questions, have a play date or simply meet you in person or via telephone if you'd like to chat more about our family's experience with the school. Feel free to contact me at Kelly
Welcome to Shu Ren! I would highly recommend the Shu Ren summer camps. Our son took a Shu Ren camp last summer and we were so impressed by the educational philosophy of the school, the teachers, and community that we switched him from his old school to Shu Ren for the regular school year. The summer camps are fun and interesting, even for children with no Mandarin, and a great introduction to both the inquiry-based teaching and to the students and teachers. Our son, who had never spoken a word of Mandarin, felt welcomed and engaged, and also learned a lot! The summer camp helped him feel more comfortable about starting a new school in the fall, too. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk more. Virginia
Jan 2013

Re: Reviews on GMIS and AIMS for a 3 yr old
I went through the process of choosing a Mandarin preschool just last year and, after touring and learning more about all of the choices, we chose Shu Ren International School.

1. 100% Mandarin
2. Warm, caring, gentle teachers
3. Incredible community

After the first 4 days at Shu Ren, my son came home singing songs non-stop in Mandarin. He had only minimal exposure to the language before starting at Shu Ren. A week after his first day, he told me he loved a certain teacher. A month later he became sad on weekends because he couldn't go to school. He LOVES Shu Ren. The transition from home to preschool was seamless. His understanding of Mandarin is now immense. He can understand almost everything his teachers say. That's the benefit of 100% immersion.

As a parent, the teachers keep me updated almost daily on my son's progress. We talk about goals for him and the teachers have even shared their own teaching goals. They're very open and accessible and I can't say enough about how warm and loving they are; all of them.

The administration runs the school very well and keeps parents well informed about anything and everything in the school. They are very accessible as well, always keeping their doors open, literally and metaphorically.

I can't say enough about Shu Ren. I know you asked about GMIS and AIM, but take a look at Shu Ren as well. They're not to be overlooked. nina

Nov 2012

Re: School advice for British/International kids?
I'd like to recommend my children's school, Shu Ren International School. It has many of the characteristics you are looking for: nurturing, structured, with small classes that offer students lots of one-on-one attention and differentiated teaching. It is an IB candidate school so they utilize the IB structure and the curriculum and environment are very globally-focused. It is Mandarin immersion (100% Mandarin in Pre-K, 20% English in kindergarten, reaching 50/50 by 3rd grade) and Spanish is introduced as a third language in 3rd grade. Students who have started with no Mandarin work individually with teachers so they can catch up on the language, while also being supported in the other subjects. They also have a Mandarin immersion summer camp that can help jump start the language exposure. If your children already have some exposure to Mandarin, it would be that much easier for them. It is a wonderful school, both my children are very happy there and my husband and I are thrilled by the depth of their learning and their enthusiasm for school. The teachers and administrators are very talented and responsive, and the parent community is fantastic. shu ren mom

Aug 2012

Re: Shu-Ren Vs. Pacific Rim for Middle School
My son has been at Shu Ren for four years and my daughter will be starting in the fall. We couldn't be happier with the school. We've been consistently impressed with the teachers, the inquiry-based curriculum, and the dedication to true Mandarin immersion. The combination of inquiry learning and language immersion works beautifully to engage the students in the subjects they are learning and to get them excited about it. It also teaches the language much more in-depth than other language classes or immersion schools I have seen. We have been very pleased with the quality of education and students' personal development we have seen over the years at the school, and we feel very lucky to have such a great opportunity for our children in our backyard. Happy Shu Ren parent

Feb 2012

Re: Mandarin-immersion elementary schools
My son attends Shu Ren. When choosing schools, we looked at all the local Mandarin immersion programs and chose Shu Ren for three primary reasons: small class size, the IB curriculum, and the serious dedication to Mandarin immersion. My son was fluent in Mandarin before starting and we have been constantly amazed by his progress since then. He is now in 2nd grade and is writing lengthy essays, reading, and conversing fluently. I don't believe any of the other local schools can offer the high-level of Mandarin instruction that Shu Ren does. The small class size is key as teachers work with each student at their individual level and students have plenty of opportunity to engage and participate in class discussions in Chinese. The inquiry-based curriculum teaches subjects in-depth, so the students learn very sophisticated vocabulary and understanding of the topics in both Mandarin and English.

This year, two new teachers (one who is also the Assistant Head of School) have been brought on board, and the level of teaching, especially in math, has risen to an impressive new level. My son has made amazing progress in math this year. He is doing fractions, decimals, division, multi-digit multiplication, and more with ease and he really enjoys it. The math now combines the best of Chinese teaching (ie drilling of key concepts and facts, like multiplication tables) and American teaching (conceptual, practical skills) and is very effective. English is also taught on a differentiated basis so students progress at their own level and are always challenged. Several students in my son's class are reading and writing a grade level or two above their age. They also have a wonderful Kodaly music program. We have not had to supplement my son's learning at all.

Socially, the small size has been wonderful for my son's social development. The teachers know each student really well and their strengths and weaknesses, and work on building community within their classrooms. While the small class size means students have more limited options for making friends, it helps build important skills as students learn to work out differences and accept differing points of view, rather than just being able to switch to another groups of friends when conflicts arise. The students in my son's class have all become very close and he has made several very good friends. The small size also allows teachers to plan regular field trips, including overnight trips, which have become a key part of the learning process. The trips have also been a lot of fun and helped the students and teachers (and parents) forge close bonds.

In short, we are so happy we chose Shu Ren. The academics have exceeded our expectations but most importantly, our son loves going to school every day and we know he is being well-cared for in a warm, nurturing environment by wonderful teachers. happy Shu Ren parent

I can tell you,my son was at a very reputable and progressive private school here in Berkeley, that turned out to be a very bad fit due to his teacher who just had it in for him....then we found Shu Ren International School here in Berkeley. It was night and day. Shu Ren turned his life around. Before he was crying before school (at the other place), had a LOT of anxiety and depression, but now, he WANTS to go to school. His teachers all adore him and help him succeed ( emotionally and academically). AND did I mention he speaks Chinese now? Yes. That's right, he's been there two years and he writes and speaks Chinese. Mandarin Immersion has been a real gift for him. His classes are stimulating and challenge him, and he is learning an absolutely invaluable tool: fluency in Chinese. I couldn't trust any other school with this. Totally worth the tuition to see him happy, thriving and gaining these life skills. It's a true investment in your child's future. Shu Ren family a true Mandarin Immersion School
I am a very happy Shu Ren parent with a son in the 1st grade. My son started at Shu Ren in kindergarten with no knowledge of Mandarin and has done extremely well in this environment. At Shu Ren I feel like I am getting two things for the price of one - the inquiry method and the Mandarin Immersion.

Firstly - The inquiry based learning method is amazing and my son is thriving on all counts (especially with his awareness of the world he lives in). The children spend a lot time doing hands on learning - while being in a warm and nurturing environment. His teachers have been amazing and always accessible if I need anything (as well as the administration). His math skills in particular are really high and the teacher continually challenges him without it feeling threatening. We do not supplement his education in anyway because what he is learning is already beyond our expectations. And as far as reading in English, he is slightly ahead of the curve despite him only having 20% of his time devoted to English. The English teacher encourages children to go beyond their levels, without putting pressure on them.

Secondly - The Mandarin immersion model. I am envious of all that my son is learning. The inquiry method with the immersion model is a great marriage.

Our son comes from a non- Chinese speaking household and has done exceedingly well with his Chinese and really enjoys learning another language. We have been told by many native speakers at the school that my sons Chinese is very good and he is starting to sound more like a native. He has done well with learning how to write his characters and is working on his reading in Chinese. As far as the immersion model, our son is telling us that his Chinese homework is easier then his English homework.

As far as social skills, he is doing really well. I use to think my son was shy but now see that his social skills are very good. He is in a small class and gets a lot of attention from his teachers and the other students. He has access to kids of all grades and plays well with a multitude of ages. I also have lots of play dates at my house with the kids from school

Additionally, we were accepted into the public Chinese school for 1st grade but were so happy with Shu Ren that we declined the offer. Happy Shu Ren parent

My child goes to Shu Ren International School. Although we have been to a different school you have mentioned in your list, I cannot offer a comparison, since it was preK, and now we are in elementary. However, I can offer my experience with Shu Ren.

My child is in 2nd grade. This year they get a list of 20 Chinese characters that they can practice at home. They can exchange for a new list as soon as they memorized the current list. My child went through 19 lists in the first semester. They also reads and write in Chinese in class. They get reading materials based on their level. Since we have Chinese speaking background, my daughter gets more advanced reading material. She can write in much longer paragraphs than last school year. Her handwriting has improved tremendously.

Her English is also very good. Besides the work they do at school, they also get spelling list, reading list that they do every week at home, they are all self-paced. She is at a very advanced reading level. They also write based on the topic they are learning. And their writing is very organized with a beginning, each paragraph has a central idea, and a summary ending, etc.

Math is another area that I am impressed with. They have a teacher that has taught in a language immersion school in China. In my opinion, she integrated some of the better methods they use in Chinese schools. In 2nd grade, my daughter memorizes times table, she can do multiplications with 2 digits numbers, for example 35 * 24. She can do addition and subtraction even in thousands in her head (without the help of a pen and pencil). Quite a few of her classmates is at the same math level as her. In class they break down the kids into groups based on their level, and teach them new things, and give them practices based on their level of math skills.

So overall, here is what I feel. How much we (both parents and kids) put into, is how much we get out of. And Shu Ren offers the opportunity to let them advance at their own pace, will not slow them down. With a smaller class, they get a lot more personal attention.

Of course it's not all study at school. They have a lot of fun. I have a lot to say about that, but that's not what you were asking a parent

When my child was ready for Kindergarten, I knew that I wanted a bilingual education for him. Even more importantly, it needed to be a school that has an excellent education philosophy, independent of the language immersion. It being where my child spends most of his time, it has to be an environment that I believe in as a whole. We ended up choosing Shu Ren. I was immediately comfortable with the IB curriculum, which is trans-disciplinary, and is gradually being adopted by the top high schools in the US. The students are encouraged to be thinkers and concepts are emphasized as well as concrete skills. Ultimately, I believe that these are invaluable skills that make academics more intuitive and will continue to be used throughout the studentsC",E! lives.

Our experience is that the small classrooms really enable the teachers to provide differentiated teaching for different levels. My child is in second grade and learning in-depth concepts with each unit of inquiry, in English and Chinese. Additionally, he has self-paced work in Math, Chinese and English. He's comfortable with multiplication, division, and fractions. I think that he can read just about any English chapter book put in front of him. He has also been taking home packets of 20 Chinese characters each week and advancing at his own pace. Friends and family have been surprised with the level of thinking and learning that he demonstrates.

It was very difficult to get him to speak Mandarin by the time he was 3 even though it was the language of his primary care taker. He initiates Chinese conversations with Chinese family members now. We've recently texted in Chinese when he was out of town.

Socially, his classmates all know each other well and play together. I've observed that he has been able to make new friends under different circumstances, outside of the classroom. The afterschool programs also bring different kids together from the community.

The one thing that I will say is that the school has focused most of its energy and resources on the quality of its teachers and curriculum, and not as much on making itself known in the community. I hope that this would change because what an incredible opportunity if you can take advantage of it. Happy ShuRen Parent

My children currently attend Shu Ren International School. My youngest started in Pre-K and is now in Kindergarten and the eldest started in Kindergarten and is now in 2nd grade. We love Shu Ren and the IB program works for them. Before Shu Ren, my eldest attended PRINTS for a year and we did not think Montessori reflect her personality. Please note, we were at PRINTS 3 years ago so not sure if it has changed but at the time we went, the Montessori way at PRINTS was too stringent and the children had to follow the school's Montessori guidelines of learning. My daughter was taught to 'follow' rather than allow to express herself as an individual. If she did do something differently she was corrected to follow their routine until she did it their way. My daughter is pretty independent and very expressive so Montessori was pretty stifling for her. We switched to Shu Ren because we felt the IB program works better with our daughter's personality. IB focuses more on experiencial learning so instead of being stuck in a classroom all day long and learning by following a routine, they actually get to 'experience' what they learn in the classroom - Example, subject would be about Lifecycles, this is taught in class first -through books/pictures, discussions with class and teacher, visualization - teacher brought in eggs so kids can experience the process of life cycle by watching how the eggs eventually hatching into chicks, and then write about it allowing them to express themselves, how they feel and what they learned. Then they get to "experience" what they learned in class by going on field trips that pertains to the topic -a few of them are overnight camping trips. My daughter comes home excited about what she learns in school every day and you can tell she is "really" learning cause she would talk or apply what she learn at school wherever she goes on vacation with the family, trip to the market, at a restaurant, etc. And the teachers are very dedicated and passionate about what and how the kids are learning...the number of field trips that the class have for the year are not easy to plan and her teachers attend every single one even the overnight trips despite having young kids themselves. For the Mandarin immersion part, the classes are mainly taught in mandarin. It was a bit of a challenge for my youngest daughter in kindergarten. She comes home telling me she doesn't understand what the teacher is saying. However, the teachers and the administration were very opened to talking to us and in working out a plan that works for my youngest - giving her extra help at school, being flexible and switching to English when only needed and giving recommendations on what we can do at home to help her with her Chinese. We are non- mandarin speaking family but with the help of the school my kids' mandarin has progressed every year. Even my stubborn kindergartener knows how to speak, write and "sing" (cute) in Chinese now and my 2nd grader knows how to write Chinese characters in correct stroke order. As for math, I actually think the math is pretty advanced for their level. They get paper and online math homework every week. The IB program at Shu Ren teaches my kids to be independent learners so it works for my kids' personality. We are very happy with Shu Ren. Good luck with your decision. shurenparent
Nov 2011

Re: Looking for small school, flexibly paced program
Since you mentioned you are open to a bilingual program, I would like to recommend Shu Ren International School. It fits all your criteria perfectly. My child is in the 2nd grade there. Classes are very small (currently 14 students with two teachers, plus additional assistants/volunteers who help out) and learning is differentiated so students are working at very different levels according to their own ability. Much of the day is spent in small groups (2-3 students) according to students' levels in various subjects, especially in English reading where the class includes several different levels. The teachers are skilled at focusing on where individual students need extra support and finding ways to fit it in. It is bilingual Mandarin/English but the curriculum is all integrated so they are learning the same content in both languages. The class has students who are native Mandarin speakers, English language learners, and those who had no prior Mandarin and are just learning, so the materials and curriculum are designed to take different levels into account. It is a very nurturing, supportive environment and I highly recommend it. happy shu ren mom

July 2011

Re: Preschools near a BART station
Shu Ren International school is just a short walk from the N. Berkeley Bart stop. But more importantly is a dynamic and thriving pre-k thru 8 mandarin immersion school right here in Berkeley! The teachers are so very wonderful, and the days are spent not only with creative play (preK), but your child will learn an invaluable life skill of learning Mandarin! We couldn't be happier! Happy Shu Ren family

July 2011

Re: Mandarin Immerson Summer camp
Hi: Regarding the Mandarin immersion camp inquiry... This may not be in time for the current summer, but I wanted to post a message for parents to keep in mind perhaps for next year re: summer camp recommendations. We sent our son to Shu Ren's Mandarin Immersion camp last summer (for many weeks) and can recommend the teachers and staff there as great (smart, patient and hands-on). We had other plans for most weeks this summer but I imagine that the camp is just as good as the summer before. Parent

April 2011

Re: How is Montessori style Mandarin immersion

My children have never been in a Montessori classroom so I can't respond to that part of your question. But we did look extensively at all the Mandarin options, including the local Montessori schools, when choosing a school for my son. We chose Shu Ren for two main reasons: 1. The Mandarin immersion seemed much more intensive there than the other schools, and we had more faith that our son would become truly bilingual. And 2. we think the curriculum developed at Shu Ren (which is aiming to become an International Baccalaureate World School) is quite amazing. It teaches children to become independent and critical thinkers and compassionate human beings, even at preschool age. After three years at the school, we couldn't be happier. It is a warm, nurturing environment with a supportive and enthusiastic parent community and talented, thoughtful teachers and staff. I highly recommend it. happy shu ren mom

I am a Shu Ren parent and cannot speak highly enough of the School and our experience there. We are a transracial family and speak only English within the home. My son has thrived at the school and has done very well with learning Mandarin in his Kindergarten program (a class of 10).

I believe that the school is still accepting applications and I have found the tuition to be right on par with the quality of education. If you do a cost comparison with the Montessori schools, you will find that Shu Ren would be right on target.

The general vibe at Shu Ren is is one of enthusiasm. It's a tight group of parents working together to build something great. The teachers are dedicated, enthusiastic and also very nurturing. The style of learning is focused, but is still really fun for the children. The class sizes are small which allows the teachers to give excellent individual attention and work with individual needs. Additionally, I have found the administration to be very attentive to concerns or questions that arise.

The learning style is based on a very well respected International learning method and is described as inquiry-based. While the teachers provide the structure for learning, they encourage the children to participate and help guide the process. I believe this results in well educated and confident children who learn how to navigate their world early on in life.

I would highly recommend Shu Ren, not just for preschool but also as a consideration for kindergarten and grade school. You'll find that the rates are competitive with other preschool programs, and you get the second language. Shu Ren Parent

My child went to PRINTS Montessori program for one year after we moved to east bay area, then went to Shu Ren International school, this is our second year at Shu Ren.

Shu Ren is IB program which is quite different from Montessori. For my child's personality, already pretty quite, bit on the shy side, Montessori didn't offer the social interaction, and the child like play we needed. After joining Shu Ren, I can tell the difference in my child's behavior within couple months.

The teachers are great, and my child is very happy. So far I am very happy with Shu Ren, both from my child's academic growth and social skills. Happy Parent

Feb 2011

Re: Mandarin Immersion Elementary Schools?
There is currently really only one true Mandarin immersion elementary school in the East Bay: Shu Ren International School. Of the elementary schools with Mandarin offered, it's the only one that uses Mandarin as the main language for teaching most subjects. Last week's newsletter posted several reviews of the school so I don't want to repeat, but the main things we like about it are: small class size and the chance for individualized teaching; full Mandarin immersion taught by talented native speakers; a very strong English program so I never worry my son is behind kids in ''regular'' schools; and the IB curriculum framework. It's a wonderful school and I highly recommend it. mom of shu ren elementary student

Jan 2011

Re: Preschools friendly for kids with nut allergies
My sons' school, Shu Ren international School in Berkeley, is 100% nut free and has a great preschool. It is taught all in Mandarin and is theme-based learning, following the IB curriculum. My children come home with tons of artworks and are very happy there. You should go check them out. They are located at 1333 University Avenue. They will also be at the preschool fair this weekend in Oakland. Happy Shuren Parent

Jan 2011

I have seriously been considering Shu Ren International School for my preschooler based on their preK 100% Mandarin immersion model and the few tours that I have gone to. I like their passion for education and dedication(from what I've seen) to their students and the Inquiry Based Model of Education. I would like to get some feed back from parents that are attending Shu Ren currently. I think that equipping my child with Mandarin is going to be advantageous and just want to hear what other families like about Shu Ren. thanks! anon

We love Shu Ren! My son started in Pre-K and we are thrilled with all the teachers he has had, the dedication and thoughtfulness of the school administration, and the nurturing, creative environment. It is the only school in the area to offer full Mandarin immersion, meaning 100% Mandarin in Pre-K, then one hour of English a day in Kindergarten increasing each year until a 50/50 split is achieved around 3rd grade. The children respond so well and naturally to this environment and even students who do not speak any Chinese at home are now fluent. The teachers are warm and engaging, and they have a wonderful Kodaly music class every week as well as PE and loads of art. The small class size allows each child to work at their own pace and to get a lot of individual attention, which is so important when they all start at different levels of Chinese. In the elementary grades, the school bases its curriculum on the International Baccalaureate system and is planning to apply to become an IB school. The curriculum goes in-depth into the individual subjects and I am constantly amazed by how much my son in learning. But they also track students progress in English and Math according to state standards, and I know many of the students are now reading and doing math above their grade level. We are so pleased to have such a wonderful, caring school where my son can get a challenging, rigorous education that will truly make him bilingual and bicultural, as well as a well-rounded student and a critical and creative thinker. happy shu ren mom
My sons attend Shu Ren currently. The preschool is wonderful this year, filled with music, dancing, and art projects and all taught in Mandarin. If you want your child to learn Mandarin, the earlier you start exposing him/her to the tonal language, the easier it will be for them to pick it up or rather not lose that ability to hear the nuances of the language. We've been very happy with the way the preschool was re-organized this year, bringing in more parental involvement (if desired) and we all enjoy the music recordings the teachers make for us to continue learning/hearing what will be taught that quarter while we are in the car or at home. I highly recommend our pre school to anyone. I'm sure if you want to talk to any parent, go to the school around 8:45 am and see who is hanging out there in front chatting. I'm sure you would get the same perspective from any parent. Parent to 2 happy Shuren Kids
We are a first year family at Shu Ren and come from a non-Chinese speaking family. Our oldest son is in the Kindergarten class and we are so happy with his education and the overall experience with Shu Ren. His Mandarin is amazing for only having four months exposure to it. He speaks with little to no accent and has excellent character recognition. I know immersion programs can worry parents as many fear it will put their child behind other children who are not in immersion programs. We haven't found this to be the case at all. Our son skills are progressing exactly how weC-d hoped they would, in English and Chinese.

The school has far exceeded our expectations on a number of levels. The class size is small and my son gets lots of individualized attention. His kindergarten teacher is amazing and has helped my son feel very comfortable and excel in his learning process. Our son is a little shy, and his teacher has really nurtured him and encouraged him with his Chinese. He is doing so well, that he is now teaching his mother Chinese! The inquiry-based method they use for teaching is excellent. As a matter of fact, the school is striving for accreditation with a very well known International education method and currently uses their system to define the curriculum. We can already see how it has encouraged our son to be an independent thinker and look at the world from a more global view, even at 5!.

Additionally, our son attends the aftercare program for one hour, three times a week. During this time, he is able to work with another great teacher, who assists him with his Chinese homework. Something my wife and are not able to do. The Aftercare teacher is great about helping him with his homework first, with lots of play afterwards. Overall, we have had no issues with the fact that we are unable to help our son with his Chinese homework.

The founder and head of the school, Jie Moore, has done an excellent job of providing a learning environment that is attentive to the emotional well being of the kids while still providing academic excellence. She is attentive to the issues that arise and is truly dedicated to providing the best education for all of the students.

Overall I would rate Shu Ren an A+ and highly recommend this school.

My child has been to two Mandarin/English schools. She is currently enrolled in Shu Ren International School.

I like Shu Ren not just because of the Mandarin and Chinese culture aspect of the education, I also like it because: 1. She gets a lot more personal attention from the teachers. Teachers are very kind. She was very timid at the previous school, but now is much happier and more confident. 2. Besides the recess playground time, they offer PE classes, and Music classes. She was very happy to do yoga, zumba, sing and dance. 3. Shu Ren not just focus on Chinese culture, they also teaches cultures, histories about other regions. So overall, I am very happy with the school, so is my child. Happy Parent

When I was selecting schools for my son, I looked at all of the Mandarin immersion programs in the area, including SF. I wanted a true immersion model, because my research and personal experience tell me that it is most effective way to become fluent in both languages.

In addition, I wanted a nurturing environment, with at small student to teacher ratio, as well as a focus on the whole education, not just on the Mandarin. I found that Shuren is the only one providing a true immersion education. You can find more information on their website about the definition of immersion. (

Moreover, I am very impressed that they have found such qualified teachers. The bios on their website provide some insight into their skills. In addition, they've been extremely open to communication with parents. Finally, the principal and founder is following the International Baccalaureate model, and plans apply for candidacy. It seems to be the model of the future, as most of the top US high schools are IB schools. There is also a lot of focus on enrichment programs. Currently, the students have Kodaly music classes as part of their regular curriculum. It is a growing school and has been open 2 years. I felt comfortable with the school's philosophy and the founder's passions in executing her vision. At the end of the day, I am confident having entrusted my child to them.. Shuren Parent b

Oct 2010

Re: Chinese Immersion for Chinese/African American child
If you are in the East Bay, there is a fantastic Chinese immersion preschool right here in Berkeley, Shu Ren International School. The Pre-K is taught in 100% Mandarin, and the student body is very diverse. Their website is: They will host an open house in mid-November. shu ren parent

June 2010

As the parents of a former student at Shu Ren, we feel obliged, as a service to parents searching for a preschool, to retell our experiences, as they were not positive.

After our interview and initial visits, we were incredibly high on Shu Ren. We liked the layout of the school and the seeming professionalism and commitment of all there. We were indifferent to the IB program they're intent on running, but we figured that, for a preschool, the Mandarin immersion would be perfect. When we arrived in the fall, however, cracks in that image began to appear. We were sold on a small class (around 8 students) of one age group with a high degree of supervision. What we found in the fall was a class of 24 students ranging from 2.5 to 5 years old packed into the same room that previously housed 8. We were told that extra staff would be brought in to deal with the influx, and they were, but the calm environment we'd seen the year before was never to be had. In our estimation, the teachers were overwhelmed by this large a group of students and virtually everything that one would expect from a school suffered because of it.

The kind of attention to one's child that one would expect from a small class environment was non-existent. Teachers were too busy trying to manage crises to guide and develop each child to the fullest of their potential. On top of that, the level of communication between teachers and parents left much to be desired. When incidents happened, we were either told about them in only the most cursory way, or weren't told about them at all until weeks or months later. As if that wasn't bad enough, knowing the kind of stresses this many children was placing on the teachers and the students, the management of Shu Ren continued to take in yet more students as the year went on.

In sum, we regret being swayed by the surface attractiviness of Shu Ren (and this includes the Mandarin immersion aspect) and not paying closer attention to what truly mattered to our child: a calm and nurturing environment. Concerned

I am writing in response to the review of Shu Ren posted in the last newsletter. I am sorry to hear that parent had a negative experience there, but as a Shu Ren parent for two years, I wanted to offer another perspective. My son was in the Pre-K class last year (with the same main teacher as this year) and we were very happy with the class, the teacher, the curriculum, and, overall, the environment of the school. The teacher, while young, was warm, enthusiastic, and energetic. This year, the school did grow significantly (as one would expect of any successful school in its second year) and in some ways the administration and teachers were unprepared for the sudden increase in class size. Yet the administration has been very responsive to parent feedback and open to acknowledging what did not work well, and has presented specific plans to deal with those issues. Among those changes, a new, more experienced Pre-K teacher will be brought in to work with the current teacher to better manage a bigger class size.

The sudden growth period is now over for the school, and we expect that from here on out the talented administration will be able to focus on continuing to develop and grow the school in a healthy and consistent way. My son is now finishing his Kindergarten year at Shu Ren, and my husband and I have been truly impressed by the staff's dedication to language immersion, which cannot be matched by any other local school. Even more important that that, however, is the energy, enthusiasm, intelligence, and creativity we have seen consistently from all the staff and teachers. In contrast to the previous reviewer, we have found Shu Ren to provide, above all, a very calm and nurturing environment, which is in fact the most important reason we chose the school. Happy Shu Ren parent

May 2010

Re: Need great preschool three days a week 7:30-5:00
My son currently goes to Shu Ren International School's Preschool program. It is a play-based, theme-oriented program all taught in Mandarin. Even the kids without any Chinese re-inforcement at home are now speaking Mandarin. My son has loved going to school since he started there over a year ago and he will be in their kindergarten class next year. My second son will be in the pre-K program next year too. They are currently located in Berkeley on University, but this fall will be moving to South Berkeley/ North Oakland area. Their schedule runs from 8:30am to 3pm, but they have free care from 7:30-8:30am and they have extended care to 6pm. If you are interested, just give them a call to schedule a tour so you can see for yourself what a great school this is. Their website is And their number is (510) 981-0320. Good luck in your search. I remember how hard it is. Christine, Shu Ren Mom

Feb 2010

Re: Mandarin summer mini-camps for 5 year old
Shu Ren International School in Berkeley offers a Mandarin summer camp in two-week sessions throughout the summer. Our son is in school there and attended the camp last summer and had a lot of fun. The teachers are great and the kids learn a lot of Chinese. Registration forms are available now at:
shu ren mom

Oct 2009

Re: Mandarin Bilingual from K on - which one?
Our son is in Kindergarten at Shu Ren and we love it. It's a warm, nurturing environment with talented and enthusiastic teachers and staff. Our son spoke Chinese before going but most of the children had had little or no exposure before this year, and they are all reading, writing and speaking Chinese already, after just two months. The teacher has done a great job of creating a community feeling among the students, and our son is excited to go to school every day. The workload is intensive but must be in order for them to learn such a difficult language, and my son enjoys the work, loves doing his homework, and they are learning a lot. They also spend a lot of time on art projects, music, and free play outdoors. Because it is 100% Mandarin in Kindergarten, except for an hour a day of English, the children really benefit from an immersion environment. The staff and administrators are very dedicated and smart, enrollment is very stable now, and I'm trusting that the school is here to stay. The school is hosting open houses and tours this month, check out their website for more details: Shu Ren mom

Oct 2009

Re: Mandarin Bilingual from K on - which one?
I usually don't take time out to write letters of recommendation, but I feel strongly enough about a recent poster's inquiry into a good Mandarin bilingual school to reply: In my opinion, Shu Ren International School in Berkeley is the only place to go!!!

I have a long-standing interest in foreign languages, linguistics and bilingual education. When considering the right school for our only child, my husband and I looked at a broad swath of highly recommended schools in the Bay Area. We visited both Spanish and Mandarin language immersion schools; and we even spent a couple of preschool years at a Spanish-English bilingual language school. A number of the other schools we looked at were quite good, but we can state unequivocally that Shu Ren is the absolute best we've seen. I was a little hesitant before starting the year: although I speak three languages fluently, neither my husband nor I have any knowledge of Mandarin (with two busy careers and no nanny, we weren't anticipating a lot of extra time to devote to learning the language). But our Kindergartner is thriving in a warm, loving environment filled with rich learning experiences (academically and socially), a broad-based educational framework, and strong, creative and professional teachers and administrators -- We couldn't be happier and we are so grateful that we found Shu Ren.

Please google it to make sure but in case it's handy, I think their number is 510-981-0291. Best wishes, Happy Parent of a 5-yr Old

Oct 2009

Re: Mandarin Bilingual from K on - which one?
Shuren is the only mandarin-immersion school in the Bay Area that strives to follow the International Baccalaureate Program, an internationally recognized academic program that will help the children become self-inquirers and develop a passion for life-long learning. To that end, Shuren has hired teachers that share this vision and have taught their initial classes of pre-K through 2nd grade kids how to nurture this desire to learn. My son has been going to Shuren since this January as a pre-K student and has truly loved going there. His mandarin improved dramatically within weeks of starting and we truly want to see Shuren succeed in its endeavors to become a K-8 school. Please go visit the school for yourself so you can see what the kindergarten teacher has taught the children. I believe they are still doing tours on Wednesday mornings, but please call the school to check. Their website is Their number is: (510) 981-0320. Good luck in your decision-making. Mom of a Shuren Child

May 2009

Hi -- I'm looking for feedback on Shu Ren's preschool and/or after school program, particularly from parents whose children did not already speak Mandarin upon entering the school. Did your child learn Mandarin within the first year? Are the teacher(s) nurturing and loving? I want my child to learn Mandarin, but I don't want to sacrifice the wonderful, caring environment he currently is in. Thanks! Global Mom

My son has been in the preschool at Shu Ren since the fall and we love it. He's been happy there since the first day and looks forward to going to school every morning. The teachers and staff are all nurturing and loving with the children, and it's a very friendly, warm atmosphere for parents and students. The Pre-K class has seen a lot of changes throughout the year since it has grown from 2 students to almost 20, but despite the constant stream of new students, the teacher has done a great job making everyone feel welcome and comfortable. My son spoke Chinese before he went there, but his comfort level with the language has improved greatly and he now tells me he likes Chinese more than English. I know that the children who didn't speak Chinese when they came have learned quickly, especially those there full-time. The teachers are very good about communicating with parents, and they post photos and updates about what they do in class each week on a blog. It's a wonderful school and we highly recommend it. Happy Shu Ren parent
Neither my wife nor I speak Mandarin and so our duaghter did not know any Mandarin starting school at Shu Ren. Our daughter has been going to their preschool for a little over a month. She is enrolled full time program (7:30AM to 6:00PM). So far we have had very good experience with the school. I think they have amazing teachers. Their main preschool teacher Meng-Pei Chen is wonderful with kids. The school's director Jie Moore is very knowledgeable about education. Their after-school program is also excellent. My daughter always feels happy about going to the school and she always seems very happy when I pick her up in the evening. This means a lot to me. As an added benefit, our daughter likes to try to teach us Mandarin when she comes home. Overall, I feel lucky that such a school exits close to where we live. I would whole heartedly recommend it. Nilabh
We simple love it. My son began without knowing how to speak any Chinese and is now fluent. The transformation has been amazing. The kids are happy and the teachers are passionate and I can tell they care a lot about the kids they teach. There is a regular blog that tells you about their ''inquiry'' for the week with photos of their activies and it helps us feel involved even though we're not there. We feel very fortunate to be a part of a community that is growing beautifully. Shu Ren parent
Hi, My son started at Shuren preschool as a part-time student in January and within 2 days requested that I switch him to full-time there. I think the environment is extremely nurturing as he loves all his teachers, especially the head pre-school teacher Pei Pei, and has made several friends there. Although he did speak Mandarin prior to starting there (solely with me at home), his Mandarin has improved dramatically since starting at Shuren. I really like the constant Mandarin exposure. In addition, there are other children that he speaks Mandarin to as well, so he's not just getting Mandarin strictly from the adults. The times when my son acts up, I have seen the teacher patiently distract and respectfully discuss with him the conflict at hand and then come to a mutual agreement with him. However, what I like most about Shuren is actually how well informed they tend to keep the parents. I never feel like I am not a part of his education. I feel very comfortable and welcome in the classroom which is always full of the children's art projects. Parents get a weekly newsletter from the teacher with pictures of their activities and descriptions of the songs they are learning, etc... In short, I can highly recommend that you give Shuren a try. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to contact me. Sincerely, Christine
Feb 2009

Re: Bilingual/Immersion Preschool that teaches Chinese
I don't know about Starlite, but I can strongly recommend Shu Ren International School, a new Chinese immersion school in Berkeley. My son is in the pre-school (pre-k) there and we have been extremely happy with the teachers, his language development, and the community that is being built up around the school. The pre-k classes are 100% Mandarin; English will be gradually introduced in Kindergarten and higher grades. The teachers are warm, knowledgeable and creative, and it's been a very stimulating and loving environment for our son. Teachers communicate very well with parents and even keep blogs where they update parents every week on what the kids do in the classroom and post photos. Their website is and phone number is: (510) 981-0320. I recommend you check it out. shu ren parent

Oct 2008

We are asking parents' input on Shu Ren International School. We visited the school with our 4-year-old daughter and really liked their environment. But since it's new, we would like to hear from Shu Ren's parents about the teachers and the kind of progress their children are making. We are hoping this would help with our decision making. looking for info

My son has been at Shu Ren in the Pre-K class since it opened in September and we are extremely pleased with the school so far. He has been very happy to go to school every day. Overall, it has been a very creative and stimulating place for him and he has been thriving there.

The curriculum is based on the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, which is centered around themes, and so all the day's activities are interconnected and relate to the particular theme they are working on (right now the theme is My Body and so they learn songs, do art projects, read stories, play games, etc about various parts of their bodies.) The day is quite structured (compared to play-based pre-schools) but they seem to have plenty of time for free play and to play outside. But the best part is the Chinese immersion. Even though my son was fluent in Chinese before entering Shu Ren, he was always more comfortable speaking English in new situations, but his Chinese has really taken off since he's been there. The teachers are warm, thoughtful and making a good effort to create an active and dynamic environment, even with just a few students. They also are great at communicating with parents. Our son's teacher writes up a summary of what they did in the classroom each week and posts it on a blog with photos for parents to see. I've also heard great things about the kindergarten/1st grade teacher.

The one downside is that enrollment is low (there are currently six students in the pre-k class, some of whom are part-time), but that is changing as new students have been enrolling almost every week. I highly recommend Shu Ren to anyone who wants their child to learn Mandarin, or just wants a small, warm, creative environment. shu ren mom

Our son has been attending Shu Ren for about a month and a half now and it has been a remarkable experience. Friends of ours who speak Mandarin are so surpised to hear him speak in beautifully pronounced Mandarin because they know that he didn't speak a word of Chinese just a couple months ago.

He absolutely adores his teacher and comes home singing songs everyday. In fact, he likes the songs so much that he sings to himself while we're in the car or running errands. I have no doubt that he will soon be completely fluent in the language.

Our kindergarten teacher, Kai Yao is amazing and just a natural at teaching. She laughs a lot with the children and seems to enjoy their company as much as they enjoy her's. We are delighted and grateful to have such a supportive and engaging learning environment for our child. Shu Ren Parent

Our daughter started part-time at Shu Ren a few weeks ago, and we have been pleased with her experience so far. The teachers and administration are very committed, smart, and enthusiastic. They have been flexible about enrollment (full-time, part-time, half-days, full days, etc). Class size is small so far. We would love to see more students so the school will be successful and sustainable! camille
Oct 2008

Re: Chinese school in Albany?
There is a new Chinese immersion school in Berkeley, Shu Ren International School, which also has after school Chinese classes that are open to the community. Our son is currently a student there and it is a great school with wonderful teachers and a friendly, warm atmosphere. They are having an open house next Wednesday, October 29. Their website is: and phone number is (510) 981-0320. The address is 1333 University Avenue, Berkeley. Shu Ren parent

If you're interested in a very good Mandarin language program, you may want to check out Shu Ren International School at 1333 University Avenue in Berkeley, which also offers after school classes. My daughter goes there for a beginning Mandarin Chinese class twice a week. Because the school is new, their enrollment is pretty low right now, so it's like getting a private class for the cost of a group class. You can contact them at 510-981-0291 or 510-981-0320. Their website is Amy
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