The academics leave a lot to be desired. Many children have to get tutored to prepare for junior high school. While grades are not the absolute means of judging the academic performance of a child, they do give the student and their parents an idea of how they are doing academically. At Walden, there are no grades. That is all fine and well, however, they fail to show just how well a child is doing. I have no clue where my child stands academically. "Your child is doing great, good, or ok." is not enough. How great, how poorly? I don't know. The teachers show us our child's work. Cool. I did that with her at home. I know what she did and how well it was done, but how does it compare? I don't know. Guess I'll find out later when my child is in a different school. That being said, I think my child is doing fine, I know this only because I am involved making sure that the homework is completed and done well.
It's lacking in substance and quantity. My child completes a weeks worth of math homework in less than an hour, as an example. The writing is too deficient. The quantity and expectations from the students doesn't allow for much practice in both the mechanics of grammar, and comprehension. Science is lacking insofar as there really is no testing of the students understanding. It's more of a watch what happens when....
We have been really happy with our experience at Walden. Our son came from a pre-school where there was little room for him to be himself. He is a kinesthetic learner and needs to move around constantly in order to absorb information. Teachers at Walden recognize students' different learning styles and embrace their student's individual strengths and needs. Our son couldn't be happier at school; the teachers at Walden get him and he feels respected. The balance of a solid academic curriculum and a rich arts program has been perfect for him.
Our family couldn't be happier being part of the Walden community. After having been at Walden, both of our kids went on to private middle schools, then Berkeley High where they thrived. If you are searching for a school that values your child for who he/she is, where your child will know every teacher and student at school, and where your child will learn math, writing and reading, PLUS dance, music, and art, check out Walden. Beyond the arts and academics, the kids learn how to think creatively, work in groups, and respect their classmates. Walden is a wonderful place for all types of families too, as the community is diverse in terms of family structure, socio-economics, and ethnicity. I highly recommend it!
Our experience was awful. We selected Walden because our five-year old had difficulty in our public school, and Walden came up on searches for "spirited", "strong-willed boys". The Lower Grade Teacher determined very early on that our son didn't fit in. We were informed that he required a full-time "shadow" that we would have to pay for. We could not afford someone full-time, but proposed having his former "manny" come in part-time, even as a temporary solution. Walden does not have a school head. Decisions are made by committee. They are bad about communication. And while they gave us a hard deadline for providing the "shadow" (late October), they were lax in responding to our e-mails, all of which served to figure out a solution. In the end, they rejected anything we proposed. Even after having met our son in the interview process, and accepting him, they decided, in under six weeks, that they didn't want him there. Walden claims to support individuality, but if your child is not a cookie-cutter example of what they want, there will be problems. Their lack of compassion and small bureaucracy were disheartening. Only the drama teacher showed flexibility and understanding.