We can not control children. We can control our adult actions.

For those that missed the last parent meeting, here is your crash course. 

Well, you missed a skit by Katy Love and Monica Parran. There is no blog that can capture the magic of that. 

Eve also shared some very important parent preparation skills from trusted teachers, Marin Schmidt and Dr. Jane Nelson. 

Maren Schmidt, is a Montessorian who offers sound teaching and parenting advice. She urges adults to Think Before You Talk- a newsletter piece outlined below.   

Dr. Jane Nelsen writes on positive discipline. She poignantly asks, "Do you expect your children to control their behavior when you don't control your own?" In Control Your BehaviorNelsen offers 3 parenting tools to help us feel controlled in challenging situations. 


Kids and Bikes: Advice from The Family Bike Collective

When I was 8 and my brother was 12, my dad took us to a park and rented us bikes to learn to ride on. Both our bikes were bigger than they should have been, but after a few falls, scraped knees, a tumble into a nearby drain, and a few dented trees, we learned to ride.

Back then, balance bikes weren’t a thing. I don’t think my father even knew what a balance bike was. It’s a wonder he hasn’t told me and my husband we’re crazy for setting up the Family Bike Collective, a non-profit bicycle organization teaching children and adults how to ride bicycles.

So, here’s how to help your child learn to ride a bike without falling at all. 

●      Start them off on a balance bike

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Our daughter, Katherine, started riding her balance bike when she was 16 months-old. Two months later, she was a daredevil and we took her mountain biking in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park above Berkeley.

The key is to get your child a bicycle that fits them. If they’re under 3 years old, a lightweight, size-appropriate balance bike will do the trick. But if you’re helping your older child to learn, look for a bicycle that fits them, remove the pedals, and you have a balance bike that fits them.

We’ve taught even adults with trauma to learn to ride this way.

The key lesson that we learn from a balance bike is… balance. Without pedals, our body begins to realize and remember that leaning to each side tilts the bicycle in that direction. This is essential so we don’t “drive” our bicycle by steering the handlebars later on as it is the number two reason we crash.

What’s the number one reason we crash then, you ask? Here it is:

●      Don’t learn on a bicycle without working handbrakes

Many children’s bikes come with coaster brakes. Those are the brakes that work when the rider backpedals.

Our shop works with many cycling teams and mountain biking teams throughout the East Bay, and in many cases, having a coaster brake habit can be trouble. In some cases, bicycle chains can be dislodged when a cyclist back pedals and the cyclist then needs to know how to replace the chain. Our advice to parents: Don’t let your child develop a habit they must later kick.

There are many children’s bikes that come with handbrakes. Pick those. Don’t let your children convince you that handbrakes are too difficult. Our daughter began using handbrakes effectively as she gained speed on her balance bike at 18-months.

Before our daughter could fit on her current bike, we made the mistake of allowing her on a little plastic bike with no handbrakes. We learned from our mistake when she rode the bike down the front steps of our house and scraped her lips and nose. But no worries, she was back on her bike within three minutes, just not down the front steps.

●      But how light is light?

 As a good gauge, a bike should be light enough for your child to be able to pick up if he/she falls on it. The child should not feel helpless because they have to wait for you to run over and help them.

Teaching a child to ride a bike is about empowerment. We want them to experience the freedom and independence they get from being able to ride a bike, as well as from the learning process, which is relatively fast and they can see success quickly (pedaling on a bicycle), unlike other endeavors such as learning a language or sport.

●      So, what bike brands can you recommend?

 Our Family Bike Collective in Berkeley specializes in lightweight, size-appropriate bikes for children. Our aim is to get more children on bikes that fit them.

In store, we carry Woom bikes, Cleary bikes, Frog bikes and Islabikes. When customers come in, our job is to help the child find the bike that they feel most comfortable on, and in many cases, it’s like trying out shoes. We highly recommend that the child get on the bikes and ride rather than stand around and look at them. In most cases, children are quick to express which they prefer.

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Join our Family Biking Demo Day this Sunday: 

February 11th (Sunday)

9.30am - 12pm

King Middle School parking lot (1781 Rose St, Berkeley, CA 94703)

Every second Sunday of the month, we hold a Family Biking Demo Day where we help kids learn to ride. Since we started about three years ago, we’ve taught about 350 kids to ride in Oakland and Berkeley.

On average, about 15 to 20 children and their families show up, and almost all of them learn to ride within the session. Whether you have a toddler who may be ready for a balance bike, or you have a youth cyclist who would enjoy trying out some bikes, join us this Sunday morning!

We recommend that you bring some snacks and drinks for the children as learning to ride can be hard work. There is also a water fountain on site.

If you can’t make it for the class, we also help kids learn right outside our store. Come visit us at 1409 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley. We are open from 11am to 6pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays, or reach out to us at (510) 545-2203/ brian@familybikecollective.org

Alumna, Anise Fernandez, is off to the Dominican Republic!

We have exciting news to share about Nia House alumna, Anise Fernandez. 

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Anise, currently an 11th grader at El Cerrito High School, is going to the Dominican Republic as a member of Global Glimpse, a summer service program. For two weeks, Anise will live and volunteer with the local community of San Juan. Anise shared that she is interested in pursuing sociology or psychology in college. A trip to study abroad will give her the opportunity to experience another culture and interact with new people. 

Anise, Nia House is proud of your adventurous spirit and commitment to volunteerism. We can not wait to hear about your travels! 

Represent Nia House Love


My car bumper is now adorned with a hot new "I Heart NH" sticker! To get this, I am giving $5 monthly to Nia House. As much as I would love to give more, making large donations is never an option for me. Yet, $5 directly withdrawn from my bank account or added to tuition, that is doable. 

As fresh as the sticker is, I do not make this small donation for the sticker. I make a little donation, each month, because I know it can make a difference. Nia House makes quality early childhood education accessible to families of every economic background. I want to give to this. 

My donation will only make a difference if we do this together. Many folks giving just a little bit more can have a big impact. Join in! Get your friends and family to get on board with grassroots giving.  

Ways to give: You can donate monthly online by clicking the button below. You can add $5+ to your tuition. We will also be signing up for "I Heart Nia House" at Farm Burger on Tuesday, February 13th

Festival of Lights

Thank you community for celebrating at the Festival of Lights last Friday night. If you have pictures, please share. 

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I Heart Nia House Love Launch


We hope you can come out and celebrate your Nia House love on the eve of Valentine's Day.

A little from our hosts, Farm Burger.

Our burgers are made from grassfed beef, dry-aged and ground fresh. Our cattle are fattened and finished on sweet grass, never fed antibiotics or growth hormones, and always humanely raised and handled. Our menu is chef-driven, seasonal, and sourced from local farms. Our space is convivial and comfortable – because eating is a celebration to be shared. Our food makes ethical eating easy.

Farm Burger will give 10% of all proceeds from the evening to Nia House. Spread the word! Help raise money for Nia House by eating local, ethically, deliciously, in a kid-friendly environment, and with the best company (us)! 

This event will also launch our I Heart Nia House monthly giving campaign. Stay tuned.  

Check out this new sticker that Jordan designed (Click the sticker to learn how to get yours):

Nia House is a Green Certified Business



We are proud to share that Nia House is now a Bay Area Green Certified Business!

What does is mean to be green certified? Ultimately, it means we are creating an environment that is healthy for children, adults, animals, and the earth. 

These are some of the ways we go green:



  • We purchase paper products with 30-35% post-consumer waste.

  • Though not a part of the certification- Thanks to you, we also use reusable containers in children's lunches!

Recycle & Compost

  • We recycle all paper, glass, metal, cardboard and plastics.

  • We provide recycling and composting containers. 

  •  We comply with state and local requirements by composting all organics, including food discards, compostable paper such as paper towels, and plant debris from landscapes.

Reduce & Reuse

  • We don't use styrofoam or plastic bottles. Children and staff have access to reusable cups, plates, and silverware. 
  • Our copy machine prints on two sides and we use recycled paper. 


  • All our lighting is green approved. (Ex. Replaced incandescent bulbs with efficient compact fluorescents.)
  • We use Use ENERGY STAR® appliances an office equipment and enable energy saving features.


  • Our irrigation is season sensitive and we use drip irrigation, mulch, and have drought tolerant plants.
  • Everything plumbing from water flow at the sinks to water volume in toilet flushing has conservation standards. 


  • We joined the Air Districts Spare the Air program and notify employees and families of Spare the Air days.

  • We encourage biking with ample bike parking and we are an energizer station for Bike to School Day!

Environmental Purchasing

  • We purchase green cleaning supplies and organic, fair trade foods. 


A heartfelt farewell to Steph

Steph made the Nia House gardens grow. She brought tap dancing, story, song, Hamburger, art, the ukulele, deep respect for the children, and an embodiment of Dr. Maria Montessori's teachings. Steph will leave a deep imprint on the Nia House community as the first teacher to many children, a trusted colleague, and a dear friend.  

Today, Steph will share with the children that this Friday, December 22nd will be her last day at Nia House. Steph will read The Invisible String by Patrice Karst. This story reminds us that even when we are not together, a bond, or invisible string keeps us connected in our hearts. 

People who love each other are always connected by a very special String, made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love.

We love you, Steph. We wish you and your family an easy transition into your life's next chapter. All are welcome to join in a Goodbye Circle at this Friday's Birthday Party at 4pm. 

Power: Avoiding Struggles

The Nia House parent and teacher community gathered on Saturday morning to discuss power, empowerment, and different ways to create a family culture that fosters positive communication and peace.  

Seeking power and empowerment, we learned, is a very natural and healthy developmental norm. We all shared some highlights of the power struggles endured in the past week. Perhaps some sound familiar?!

How can we promote empowerment?

  • Approach children and self with a growth mindset. 
    • "Discovered by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, Ph.D., a growth mindset is the belief that we can develop our abilities, including our intelligence, which is our ability to think. It is distinguished from a fixed mindset, which is the belief that abilities can’t change, such as thinking that some people can’t improve in math, creativity, writing, relationship-building, leadership, sports, and the like." (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/smart-parents/growth-mindset-parenting_b_6951252.html)
  • Offer genuine acknowledgement rather than praise. (Link: How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The inverse power of praise.)
    • "Research shows that when we praise children for being smart, they adopt a fixed mindset (i.e. thinking that people are either smart or not), and as a result when things get hard for them they conclude that they are not smart and they experience higher anxiety, lower confidence, and lower performance. They also become less interested in learning, and more interested in showing what they already know how to do. While being told they’re smart may make them feel good in the short term, the deeper lesson they learn is that people are either smart or not, and when things get hard, they feel incapable." (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/smart-parents/growth-mindset-parenting_b_6951252.html)
  • Recognize the developmental appropriateness of seeking power. 
    • 0-2: child forms sense of self, including learning to oppose and separate from caregiver
    • 3: child refines separating strategies, defiance is power
    • All children need to repeat for experimentation and to find emotional safety/consistency
  • Understand underlying mistaken goals of misbehavior that lead to power struggles (Dr. Rudolf Dreikus)
    • Seeking undue attention:
      • "I only have value when I am noticed/center of attention."
    • Seeking undue power
      • "I find satisfaction from the determination and effort to get I want."
    • Seeking revenge
      • "Everyone sees that what I did or do is bad, this gets me attention, so I'll keep doing it."
    • Assuming inadequacy
      • "I usually fail or I'm corrected, so why bother- I'll just wait for someone else to do it or help."

A few practical tactics:

  • Side stepping: not fighting, not hurting, not overpowering, not giving in.
  • Choices: offer 2 very positive options, neither of which is tied to fear or intimidation.
  • Useful empowerment: offer increased responsibility and trust.
  • Surprise!: do something unexpected (funny, fun, or silly).
  • & more... Link: Positive Discipline Resources

Remember always to commit to self care! 

The tale of Thanksgiving told at Nia House


We imagine many of you are busily stocking up on sweet potatoes, apples, squash, turkey, potatoes, garlic, and thyme. Perhaps you will gather around a table on Thursday with friends and family and give thanks for your life’s blessings. We at Nia House share in this reflective season, we offer thanks for community, food, family, and provide the children the opportunity to name their gratitude. We have begun to collect ingredients from the community to make a Thankful Soup that the children will sous chef by chopping vegetables. Our community of children and teachers will enjoy the soup on Wednesday (feel free to pack a regular or lighter lunch). 

Our work as educators, however, does not end with this important lesson of thankfulness. We believe it is our social responsibility to introduce cultural celebrations and history in accurate and age appropriate ways. The tale of Thanksgiving is told in many different ways. Here is a bit of insight into how we tell it here at Nia House. 

Each circle time at Nia House builds upon and adds to the next. History is held in a linear model; stories root in a spiral form as annually we cycle through geography, place, ecology, culture, time and where we as humans fit in this interconnected continuum.  Thus, the tale of Thanksgiving never stands separate from the elements that inform this cultural celebration- history, people, place, culture, and conflict.  

We are keenly aware of the responsibilities to honor indigenous people; to offer children contemporary conceptions of North America’s first people; to provide accurate maps, precise names and locations of Native communities, folklore, and current imagery of indigenous people and life stories through books. The telling of the Thanksgiving does not adhere to a Eurocentric narrative describing the Americas as open land or a place to be discovered. Rather, the fullness of Native American life before the arrival of Europeans is detailed. 

The history of the arrival of Europeans to North America is a violent one. Educators are faced with the task of offering a true story that is developmentally appropriate to preschoolers. Though we do not shy from using the words colonialism and conflict, we are sensitive to our very young audience. Teachers use role play to help children engage and we pause to allow children to share how they would feel and what they might do differently. Here is an example of some of the language used at Nia House to describe American history at the moment of European arrival (see video below):

When the Europeans came there was great conflict, land was wanted and taken from native people; people were very angry, so angry that they shook their fists and were unkind.

Land was taken, people dislocated, and this was a hard time. This is a hard time. As we adults know, the struggle continues. With every social injustice, we remind children that sometimes people are not peaceful and luckily we here at Nia House know to use our words and act with peace. We believe it is important to remember times of unkindness so that we can instill how important it is to be kind and grateful now. 

As early childhood educators, we are graced with the opportunity to introduce the first narratives of history, to empower children with their understanding of peace and conflict resolution, to allow the tale of Thanksgiving to hold complexity, and to honor indigenous people in a socially responsible way.    

Sending everyone in the community wishes for a holiday break that lends time to reflect, be with family, and enjoy the warmth of delicious food shared with loved ones.

(The clip below came after the children acted out Nicole's narration of Native Americans thriving, growing food, having family, making art and then the arrival of Europeans, tired and needing care after a very long journey. At first, the Europeans needed care, but soon sent for more Europeans to come and take the land in a most unkind way.)

Welcome Gabriella to Nia House

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Welcome Gabriella to Nia House's teaching team.

Gabriella (or Gabby) joined Alexis's classroom as an Assistant teacher on October 16, 2017. It has been a joy to observe how quickly Gabriella has formed loving bonds with the children. In Alexis's words, "She is a true Montessorian."

Gabby is a certified Montessori teacher with over a decade of teaching experience.  

I strongly believe in Maria Montessori’s philosophy and believe that the first years in the life of a child are very important. I love children and enjoy seeing them grow and discover the world at their own pace.

We feel very lucky to have her calm presence and wealth of teaching experience in our community. Her love and respect of children is evident. 

Community Auction: Sneak Peek


Our Parents' Night Out Event is around the corner! 

Parents' Night Out: Celebrating Since 1974

Please RSVP today!

Don't miss out on the pre-party hype! The mobile auction is live. 

If you come to the event, you will have access to an exclusive Community Auction. Bidding will be open at the event only, but feel free to scope out the items!

We need everyone to help! Please sign up to volunteer.




An Auction to Applaud!

Musicals, Theater, Ballet, Symphony, Magic and more!

You can be in the audience for elite productions by bidding on our live, mobile auction.

Please share with friends and family. Let them support Nia House and have the chance to experience our Bay Area's amazing arts scene. 






Bid on your dream trip!

Get your sneak peak today and bid tomorrow at 5pm!

You can bid and win remotely.

Download the Handbid application on your smart phone or click on the links below. 


Explore the California coast with a night in your own canvas bungalow at Costanoa!

Is the Caribbean calling you?

Answer- bid on five nights in Cancun.

Seek serenity

at a retreat Airbnb with a hot tub, yoga deck, and meditation room in Nevada City.







Work Week

What, you might wonder, were the Nia Staff up to when the school was closed for a week? Well, there was a bit of slip & sliding. It is true, the Nia House teachers and staff took an afternoon to enjoy a catered lunch (big thanks to the Ikeda-Huang Family), to play, soak in the sunshine, bond, and hopefully, feel appreciated.

When we weren’t being leisurely for an afternoon, we were doing some pretty interesting things that we’d like to share with you.

Breathe California of the Bay Area came to deliver a presentation on how to identify asthma triggers, reduce symptoms, how to implement an asthma action plan, and to administer first aid. This organization offers great community resource and services including low cost health clinic referral and asthma action plan materials. Check them out by clicking here. 

Every two years, the Nia House staff gets CPR and First Aid certified. This time around, Safety Training Seminars came to Nia House and spent the day covering important emergency response and practical care skills. Though we do this recertification every two years, it is always helpful to practice and revisit these important lessons so that we are ready to act with confidence in providing care.

During this time of respite from providing care to children, the teaching staff takes time to reflect and refine teaching skills to better meet the needs of every child. This year, Eve shared a webinar- Preparing the Environment for Children with Sensory-Processing Needs. The introduction of this webinar opened our minds to the uniqueness of each child’s needs, development, and considerations for when sensory-processing is different.  

Work week is an important, productive, and fun-filled time here at Nia House. We hope you return sensing the rejuvenation and preparedness of our amazing teaching team!




Nia House Prepares for the Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21st, North America will experience a solar eclipse. Here at Nia House, we are ready to experience an 80% eclipsed sun. Darlene, from The Center for Science Education at UC Berkeley, presented to the Nia House preschoolers today. She demonstrated, with the help of the children, how an eclipse is possible. According to her, during the time of the eclipse it will feel like the sun is setting, the sky will darken and it will get chilly between 9am-noon. Ask your children to share more, they learned all about it!  

We will be all set to see the 80% eclipsed sun with glasses designed for safe solar viewing. We encourage you to learn more and talk about this exciting event as a family. 

Visit NASA for more information.

Donation Matching- Ask your employer!

Hi Nia House Community. You can possibly double Nia House donations!

Did you know that the company you work for might match donations that you make to Nia House? It is true! Matching gifts are corporate giving programs that reward employees’ charitable donations. Please check with your HR department or employee handbook to find out if your company participates. 

Parents' Night Out, our largest annual fundraiser, is coming up soon- Saturday, September 23rd.

Silent Auction items are rolling in and they are amazing! Items that you bid on and win count as a donation to Nia House and can be matched by your employer. You may be able to multiply the effect your generosity has on Nia House simply with awareness of your employer’s policies.

Here is a link to some common corporations that match. Many many are unlisted so ask to be sure. 

Look into it and let us know! Thank you so much for your support.

Thank you & Good luck, Raul

Nia House thanks Raul for his year of teaching at Nia House. We are so grateful for the humor, calm, and guidance that he has offered the children and his teaching team. Raul will be missed and we wish him only good things.

Raul will be leaving Nia House on Friday, July 21st. We will let the children know on Monday, July 17th. Please join in thanking Raul and wishing him well. 

Here is a note from Raul:

Dear school community, next Friday, July 21st will be my last day working as a full-time Nia House teacher. Thank you for including me in the school community. From my daughter Sofia’s time as a NH student, through my work as a staff person, I have enjoyed working with all of you and especially your children. I am so proud of my personal development here at NH and thank you for the opportunity to grow along side of your children. I am sadly leaving NH for personal reasons, but as alumni family and alumni staff member, I will always keep in touch.