“My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams… but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity, through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual”. (Dr. Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence,p. 1).

Welcome to our Elementary Program


Our Elementary program is for students from 1st grade through 3rd grade (what we call “Lower Elementary”), and from 4th grade through 6th grade (referred to as “Upper Elementary”).

Each of our Lower Elementary classrooms has three teachers and about 25 students. Our Upper Elementary classroom has four teachers and 25 students. Our low ratios help maintain our ability to ensure each student has an individualized learning plan based upon their unique strengths and challenges.

Our course of study encompasses the full substance of the traditional curriculum, and goes beyond to teach students how to think clearly, do their own research, express themselves well in writing and speech, and to put their knowledge to practical application.

We have organized our course of study as an inclined spiral plane of integrated studies, rather than a traditional model, in which the curriculum is compartmentalized into separate subjects with given topics considered only once at a given grade level. In Montessori, lessons are introduced simply and concretely in the early years, and are reintroduced several times over the years at increasing degrees of abstraction and complexity.

: French-​Spanish-​English in Every Classroom


At the Ele­men­tary level, our goal is for each stu­dent to con­tinue devel­op­ing con­ver­sa­tional skills, to learn to read and write in each lan­guage, and to con­tinue deep­en­ing his appre­ci­a­tion for other cul­tures. Any stu­dent who enters our school envi­ron­ment at an ele­men­tary age will be afforded the oppor­tu­nity to learn and acquire the lan­guages in a func­tional man­ner, and at his or her own pace.

Eng­lish, French and Spanish-​speaking teach­ers are present in all of the classrooms.

There is an atmos­phere of mul­ti­lin­gual­ism and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism at The Renais­sance Inter­na­tional School. Our stu­dents enjoy learn­ing mul­ti­ple lan­guages, and this is accom­pa­nied by a yearn­ing to con­tinue their study of his­tory and cul­tural geog­ra­phy, pro­mot­ing an inter­na­tional under­stand­ing and a sense of world cit­i­zen­ship. At this level as well, the stu­dents are pro­vided an oppor­tu­nity to extend their cul­tural lit­er­acy out­side of the school envi­ron­ment through inter­na­tional travel.



In Montes­sori, we use hands-​on learn­ing mate­ri­als that make abstract con­cepts clear and con­crete. Stu­dents can lit­er­ally see and explore what is going on. Our approach to teach­ing math­e­mat­ics is based on the research of Drs. Maria Montes­sori and Jean Piaget. It offers a clear and log­i­cal strat­egy for help­ing stu­dents both under­stand and develop a sound foun­da­tion in math­e­mat­ics and geometry.

The study of vol­ume, area, and pre­cise mea­sure­ment in every­day appli­ca­tions around the school is intro­duced in the early years and con­tin­u­ally rein­forced and expanded.

Montes­sori math­e­mat­ics climbs in sophis­ti­ca­tion through the higher lev­els. It includes a care­ful study of the prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion of math­e­mat­ics in every­day life, such as mea­sure­ment, han­dling finances, mak­ing eco­nomic com­par­isons, or in gath­er­ing data and sta­tis­ti­cal analysis.

Ele­men­tary level stu­dents con­tinue to gain hands-​on expe­ri­ence by apply­ing math in a wide range of projects, activ­i­ties and chal­lenges. They pre­pare scale draw­ings, cal­cu­late area and vol­ume, con­struct three-​dimensional geo­met­ric mod­els, and build scale mod­els of his­tor­i­cal devices and structures.

Pre­cise mea­sure­ment and com­par­i­son is a cru­cial appli­ca­tion of math­e­mat­ics, and our math stu­dents engage in all sorts of cal­cu­la­tions: deter­min­ing the amount of gas used by the fam­ily car, the elec­tric­ity burned when our lights are left on overnight and the perime­ter of buildings.

Language and Literature


We begin to teach the func­tion of words to stu­dents as young as kinder­garten­ers, just as they are first learn­ing how to put words together in writ­ing to express them­selves. This leads them to mas­ter these vital skills dur­ing a time in their lives when it is a delight, rather than a chore. Before long, they learn to write nat­u­rally and well.

Dur­ing the ele­men­tary years, we increas­ingly focus on the devel­op­ment of research and com­po­si­tion skills. Our stu­dents write every day, learn­ing to orga­nize increas­ingly com­plex ideas and infor­ma­tion into well-​written sto­ries, poems, reports, plays, and stu­dent publications.

Finally, and most impor­tantly, the key to our lan­guage arts cur­ricu­lum is the qual­ity of the things we give our chil­dren to read. We intro­duce them from an early age to first-​rate children’s books and fas­ci­nat­ing works on sci­ence, his­tory, geog­ra­phy, and the arts. Stu­dents begin the Junior Great Books pro­gram at the first grade level. Lit­er­ary stud­ies con­tinue every year there­after through graduation.

Come Alive


Our goal is to develop a global per­spec­tive, and the study of his­tory and world cul­tures forms the cor­ner­stone of our cur­ricu­lum. We teach his­tory and world cul­tures from age three through mid­dle school graduation.

At the ele­men­tary level, stu­dents study world cul­tures in greater depth: the cus­toms, hous­ing, diet, gov­ern­ment, indus­try, the arts, his­tory, and dress. Keep in mind that our stu­dents go to school and grow up with chil­dren and teach­ers from all over the world. They learn to trea­sure the rich­ness of their own cul­tural her­itage and those of their friends

We try to present a sense of liv­ing his­tory at every level through direct, hands-​on expe­ri­ence. We build mod­els of ancient tools and struc­tures, pre­pare our own man­u­scripts, make cer­e­mo­nial masks, and recre­ate all sorts of arti­facts of the every­day life of a his­tor­i­cal era. Stu­dents learn how to build shel­ters, cook over an open fire, or camp out in a log cabin. Expe­ri­ences such as these make it much eas­ier for our chil­dren to appre­ci­ate history.

Prac­ti­cal eco­nom­ics is another impor­tant ele­ment in our cur­ricu­lum. One of our early lessons is how to use money and cal­cu­late change in a store. Stu­dents learn to rec­og­nize the value of a dol­lar: how long it takes to earn it and what it can buy.

As they grow older, stu­dents learn how to com­pute the cost of a meal for their fam­ily, plan a weekly bud­get, main­tain a check­book, pre­pare a basic tax return, and under­stand how to use a credit card wisely. We encour­age our stu­dents to explore the world of work with their par­ents, rel­a­tives and fam­ily friends


Dr. Montes­sori passed a deep love for the world of nature on to thou­sands of stu­dents through a pro­gram of out­door edu­ca­tion, gar­den­ing, and camp­ing expe­ri­ences. We see this as the foun­da­tion of a life­long inter­est in the sci­ences. The scope of our sci­ence cur­ricu­lum includes a sound intro­duc­tion to botany, zool­ogy, ecol­ogy, chem­istry, physics, geol­ogy, and astronomy.

Sci­ence is an inte­gral ele­ment of our cur­ricu­lum. Among other things, it rep­re­sents a way of life: a clear think­ing approach to gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion and prob­lem solving.

Our pro­gram is designed to cul­ti­vate our stu­dents’ curios­ity and deter­mi­na­tion to dis­cover the truth own their own. They learn how to observe patiently, ana­lyze, and work at each prob­lem. They eagerly engage in field trips and exper­i­ments, and respond with delight to the pre­ci­sion of mea­sure­ment, gath­er­ing data, clas­si­fi­ca­tion, and prediction.

Our cam­pus is nes­tled against Dimond Park in Oakland-​an ideal lab­o­ra­tory for first-​hand nature study. Our stu­dents reg­u­larly visit Sausal Creek to study the creek itself and the ecol­ogy of the area. The Renais­sance Inter­na­tional School has adopted a part of the creek, giv­ing our stu­dents first­hand expe­ri­ence in the mon­i­tor­ing and revi­tal­iz­ing of an urban creek. Our stu­dents study the water, the native flora and fauna, and help main­tain a healthy and clean envi­ron­ment in the area. It is also an oppor­tu­nity for our stu­dents to learn how they can enjoy and con­tribute to the preser­va­tion of our planet.

Our finest classes are taught out­doors in the fields and forests. Our ele­men­tary stu­dents often head for the moun­tains or seashore for sev­eral days of camp­ing, hik­ing, kayak­ing, fos­sil dig­ging, and eco­log­i­cal stud­ies. Every year, The Renais­sance Inter­na­tional School spon­sors a week-​long envi­ron­men­tal study trip at the ele­men­tary level. Our stu­dents spend four or five days explor­ing other areas of our state. Such out­ings have, for exam­ple, led us to Mono Lake to study its very unique ecol­ogy and geol­ogy. Another favorite is a trip to the coastal area between Santa Cruz and San Fran­cisco for the study of marine biol­ogy. Ele­phant seals, tide pool­ing, and the rich marshes of the area pro­vide an unfor­get­table expe­ri­ence in one of the best class­rooms avail­able to us.


Ever since the first human made a mark, visual expres­sion has existed. A strong visual art edu­ca­tion offers many extra­or­di­nary ben­e­fits to chil­dren. Improve­ment in crit­i­cal think­ing, prob­lem solv­ing, flex­i­bil­ity, coor­di­na­tion, cre­ativ­ity, self-​direction, per­sonal expres­sion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion are all con­tained in the goals of the stu­dio art pro­gram at The Renais­sance Inter­na­tional School.

The art­work that comes out of the stu­dio is a beau­ti­ful dis­play of every child’s artis­tic accom­plish­ments as well as the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the Montes­sori phi­los­o­phy. We believe in every child’s abil­ity, care­ful guid­ance, fos­ter­ing indi­vid­ual intel­li­gence and cre­ativ­ity; in edu­cat­ing of the whole child.

The ele­men­tary art pro­gram is aligned with the Montes­sori class­room as stu­dents spend unin­ter­rupted work peri­ods divided into three parts:

  • Les­son work
  • Inde­pen­dent projects
  • Art his­tory

Draw­ing is the foun­da­tion of the les­son work as stu­dents are asked to draw what they see, increas­ing their hand-​eye coor­di­na­tion and con­trol over their materials.

Foun­da­tion lessons are also given in line, shape, value, tex­ture, com­po­si­tion, color and con­tent in a vari­ety of media. Stu­dents also spend time work­ing on inde­pen­dent projects of their choice. It is here that they explore their own ideas and put to use their skills and under­stand­ing. The stu­dents are also exposed to the art of many cul­tures, the work of indi­vid­ual artists and defined peri­ods in art his­tory. They are also invited to take field trips to muse­ums, con­tem­po­rary art exhi­bi­tions and artist studios.

The ele­men­tary age child is gen­er­ally more crit­i­cal of their work than is the pri­mary child. The work becomes more detailed, and their need for cor­rect pro­por­tion and spa­tial rela­tion­ships increase. These stu­dents make enor­mous progress when given instruc­tion, guid­ance and encour­age­ment. They are con­tin­u­ally strength­en­ing their under­stand­ing of visual design and cre­ate works where inten­tion, con­tent and the devel­op­ment of ideas are more fully dis­cussed. The gen­er­ous, non-​judgmental voice of the teacher helps to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment where the chil­dren are free to fol­low through on their per­sonal, artis­tic visions and develop skills.

The ele­men­tary art stu­dio is com­monly known to the chil­dren as a place where solu­tions are found for even the most impos­si­ble of idea

offers a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gram that addresses the musi­cal needs of chil­dren begin­ning in early child­hood. The pro­gram is based upon the Kodály Method of teach­ing, founded in Hun­gary by Zoltán Kodály.


The phi­los­o­phy behind our music pro­gram is to fos­ter the child’s edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence through sound abil­ity, to uti­lize and con­trol the first musi­cal instru­ment known to mankind, the voice, and to develop a basis to stim­u­late and enhance learn­ing in aca­d­e­mics.

As the chil­dren develop their abil­i­ties, they advance to The Renais­sance Inter­na­tional School’s var­i­ous ensem­bles, pri­vate lessons, and sub­jects within our music pro­gram. The cur­rent music pro­gram com­prises sev­eral facets:

  • Intro­duc­tory small group lessons using the Kodály method
  • Intro­duc­tory choral ensem­ble for chil­dren who have learned to repro­duce and iden­tify notes with clar­ity and precision
  • Intro­duc­tion to per­for­mance etiquette
  • Sec­ond level choral ensem­ble for those chil­dren who are ready to sing two-​part music
  • Third level choral ensem­ble for those chil­dren who are ready to sing multiple-​part music
  • Intro­duc­tion to per­for­mance with non-​parent audiences
  • Pri­vate instru­men­tal lessons includ­ing the piano and the recorder, to be fol­lowed by the flute, the vio­lin and the clas­si­cal guitar
  • Music appre­ci­a­tion and music history.