Meet Blue Leaf Preschool, A Special Place in the Berkeley Hills

This article is sponsored by our friends at Blue Leaf School.

Dedicated to nurturing children towards independence and self-confidence, Blue Leaf School in the Berkeley Hills was founded on the principles of the RIE philosophy (Resources for Infant Educarers). All staff members are well-trained in this specific method of caregiving which emphasizes the importance of respecting children as individuals and fostering their natural curiosity and love of learning. Read on to learn more about this special place!

Toddlers at Blue Leaf Preschool in the Berkeley Hills
Exploring the light table at Blue Leaf School | Photo Credit: Mirah Mirzazadeh

What is RIE?

Resources for Infant Educarers provides adults with a blueprint for how to communicate with children in a way that affirms their feelings, their autonomy, and their capabilities. Learn more about this approach by contacting Blue Leaf School to arrange a visit.

Berkeley Preschool Classrom
Blue Leaf Winter Classroom | Photo Credit: Gabriel Schwartz

What does an RIE preschool look like?

RIE assumes that children have the ability to direct their own learning and that teachers and caregivers should support this process by creating a nurturing and stimulating environment that encourages exploration and experimentation. Owner and teacher Cassandra Ford has created an environment that provides children access to real materials and authentic experiences, both indoors and outside.

Berkeley Hills DayCare - Blue Leaf
Blue Leaf children preparing for fall planting | Photo Credit: Mirah Mirzazadeh

Fast Facts About Blue Leaf School

  • Founded in 2019
  • For children 6 months through toddlerhood
  • Healthy vegetarian organic snacks and lunch are included
  • Children are assigned a primary caregiver who allows for healthy attachment and works with each family
  • Hours of operation are 8:30-4:30, with extended care until 5 pm
  • Year-round care with typical holiday breaks
At Blue Leaf School, not only do children have the freedom to explore their environment and engage with the materials available to them, the teacher-to-student ratio is 1 to 2.75, so children have lots of support for however they wish to move around and engage with their surroundings. In the RIE philosophy, this is known as enabling children to (safely) find their “edge”.


The beautiful space of this Berkeley school invites children to participate in hands-on experiences that help them to understand the world around them, such as cooking, gardening, and other practical life activities that allow children to engage with the natural world.

Our daughter thrives in this environment. Blue Leaf’s child-led RIE style is relatively conducive to the way we are raising our children at home, and yet we’re always learning new insights from the staff, and especially from our daughter’s assigned caregiver.
— Mariana Abdala and Alex Bisceglie

Toddlers at Blue Leaf Preschool
Blue Leaf children climbing over the rainbow | Photo Credit: Mirah Mirzazadeh

Our family was drawn to Blue Leaf’s philosophy that relationships with even the youngest of children can be fostered through respect, trust, and independence. Our daughter has flourished at Blue Leaf and we have been so lucky to witness her build friendships with both her classmates and teachers within just a few months. Communication with the teachers about our child at Blue Leaf has been a standout element of our experience – we are able to discuss big milestones and changes and work together to support our child. Finally, both the indoor and outdoor play areas at the school are magical and encourage the children to pursue their own interests.
— Niyati Thompson

To arrange a visit or ask questions about Blue Leaf School, visit their website. Watch some videos of children in the Blue Leaf environment on their Instagram page.