My school is Park Day, and it is fabulous. My son has gone there from BK (no longer in the curricula) and is now in third grade. All the promises the school made to us on day one have been fulfilled. My son is growing as a full person and learning as a whole human being and a member of the community. Not only is he learning facts, how to read, write (cursive!), add, subtract, multiply and divide. He is also learning how to do his own research on the topics that interest him; he is learning to stand up for himself or for any inequity he observes. When he is roughhousing it with friends, he does not hesitate to stop the game when appropriate and ask a friend if they have been hurt. He has been empowered by his teachers to hold his own thoughts, feelings - and his mistakes. That was a hard one and is "still under construction." But I think he's hardly the only person who struggles with that. He has the confidence to solve the problems he thinks he can solve on his own, and the confidence to ask for help if that's what he thinks he needs. And he's a happy go lucky dude. I attribute this in great part to the education he is receiving from Park Day School.
Park Day School is extraordinary. My husband is a Physicist; my degrees are in Math and Physics. My post is about math It s crucial to us, and a common concern. These are examples of our son living math at Park: at the end of BK, he took photos on campus of some of the geometric forms he d learned about circles, straight & parallel lines, . . . at 5 y/o he was able to transition from the concrete to the abstract and back. In K, if he was done with his classwork early, his teacher had additional math challenges for him at 6 y/o he loved Sudoku. In 1st grade he developed ad hoc ways of solving multiplication problems when he didn t know the answer: he knew a close result, and then finished up by adding or subtracting. Now, in 2nd grade, he is grappling with base ten. For years he s been estimating quantities e.g. we had just celebrated the 100th day of school, so it must have been November. I could go on. I firmly believe my son, as all other kids at Park, will continue to learn and love math throughout their lives, thanks to the education they are receiving. An education that takes root in each individual s curiosity, and then carefully nurtures and challenges it.
This school is amazing!!! Having been in public school since kindergarten, my child entered Park as an 8th grader. He was embraced by his classmates. After a while at Park he stated that he considered every 8th grader and 7th his "friend". At Park grades 8 and 7 have some classes together. Electives are not an option at Park, but part of the core curriculum. All student take Spanish, drama, art, music, technology, woodworking. In the fall the students study and perform Shakespeare; in the spring they stage a festival of one act plays. My son would never have taken music or drama had it not been required. He discovered that he actually enjoyed both. I now believe that performing arts should be part ot the core curriculum. Last year the 8th graders took a life changing trip to Costa Rica where they participated in community service. My son looked forward to school each day and enjoyed being in an environment where learning was celebrated and kindness was practiced!!!
I have 2 children who attend/ed PDS and I highly recommend it. The strength of the school is its ability to focus on building and maintaining a love of learning. Both my girls have developed the ability to advocate for what they need academically. My oldest left PDS to attend a public school where she was far ahead of her peers in terms of being able to learn quickly, to ask for help when she didn't understand something, and see the process of learning as a holistic experience. The school quickly saw her advanced skills and created an accelerated math course for some kids, including another PDS child. In her English courses, she conquered the basics and beyond while at PDS and was far ahead of her peers in her ability to think critically and express herself through writing. While at PDS we were worried that she wasn't getting the same academic education as her peers in public schools, we quickly discovered that PDS provided much more than pure memorization and rote learning. Her love of learning, built at PDS, provided her the longer term investment that we had hoped she would get. If you want your children to be life long learners, this is the place for your family.
Like some other reviewers, we have had a very so-so experience with Park. While the atmosphere is truly warm and the grounds are beautiful, in hindsight our two children came out of Park woefully under prepared for high school. The individuals who make up the Park community are all wonderful people but the curriculum and pace of learning is lacking. My son and daughter attend different high schools and they both have had similar experiences in feeling lost in a more advanced environment. I liked Park well enough while the kids were there but I had no idea how far behind they were falling. We have relocated to a suburb outside of New York where I find the public high school my son attends to be rigorous, inspiring and enlightened. No, its not as warm an environment as Park but I want him to be prepared for the real world. My daughter opted to attend a private high school which does have a warm vibe but is also far more rigorous than Park. Their freshman years were brutal adjusting to the academic pace of high school in New York after being, I feel, coddled at Park.
Our three children go to Park Day School in Oakland. We have a 6th grader and twins in 1st grade. The school combines an amazing academic experience bottled up and delivered as pure fun for kids. The combination of great teachers, small class sizes, and a creative intellectual approach to learning, allows children to enjoy math, science, and writing, and unknowingly absorb difficult concepts with ease. We have had a truly amazing at Park and have watched as our school continues to expand in many ways. We go from bridge K through 8th grade. Have a beautiful six acre campus. And the school has recently added a hot lunch program (causing our picky slender 6th grader to put on 5 pounds). The school's lesser known brainy side, combined with its known warmth and heart, has created the perfect environment for kids to thrive. Another writer mentions feeling like she won the Willy Wonka golden tickets upon finding out her child got into Park, I couldn't agree more.
I have always said that having the opportunity for our child to attend Park Day School was like receiving Willy Wonka s golden ticket. I chose Park Day because of the depth and sophistication of their progressive curriculum and the amazing tales I d heard time and time again from area high school teachers about Park kids. Park kids are known for, "leaning into the learning," an earnest desire to dig for understanding. Park kids are known to have a strong sense of self and a genuine regard for others which enables them to be both comfortable with and respectful of others. Having been a Park family now for 6 years, I know this to be true. As a career educator myself, I consistently stand in awe of the work the Park teachers and administration. And as good as it is, every year it truly gets even better. I recall picking my daughter up from school the first week back at school in September, hearing her unsolicited comments, "I love school! I m not just happy, I m grateful. What more need be said? I cannot think of a better investment in our children s development than sending them to Park Day School.
Park Day is an outstanding school with a thriving intellectual culture, committed and innovative teachers and a progressive administration. My child receives personalized instruction every day. She is engaged and challenged and the results are obvious. Awesome school.
I am dismayed reading some of the negative reviews for Park, but I suppose every child and family are different. What I can say is this--I have two children who started at Park in kindergarten and have loved school since the beginning. They are happy. They love to learn. And my son, having graduated from Park last year, is now happily at one of the area's best private high schools, his first choice. For those that say Park does not prepare kids in math, I will say, just because it doesn't look like what you are used to seeing (as is the case with a lot of the learning that happens at Park), don't assume that learning is not happening. My son scored in the 98th percentile on the high school placement exam, and received and A in math and an A+ in physics during his recent midterm grading period. He is more than prepared and competitive in every subject in high school. I will also add that in my opinion, many of the families that seem unhappy tend to fall into the serial school-hopping category-these are people/kids that for whatever reason are going to find a problem anywhere. If it's your 3rd school in 5 years, maybe it's not the school.
I have 3 kids at Park Day. It is an extraordinary place for learning. The program addresses the whole picture-with tremendous attention to the academic, social and emotional growth of each of our 3 children. I would recommend PDS to anyone who wants a rich learning environment where teachers are both wise and energetic, administrators are attentive to all opportunities for children and families to learn and children learn the standard r's and so much more. I've spoken to educational pros and child psychologists from outside Park Day, and to the parents of Park Day kids who are off at high schools around the area from Head Royce to Berkeley High to Oakland Tech, and to a person, they've said that Park Day kids are beautifully prepared academically, emotionally and socially for high school and beyond. And I believe this completely myself.
We have two children at Park Day in 1st and 3rd grades. Our experience has been rich, wonderful and rewarding for the whole family. It is a 300 student BK - 8th grade school rooted in progressive education; the teachers are of the highest quality, the administration is as hard working and caring as any you will find and the campus is vibrant and beautiful. Our children are learning everything every other child learns in elementary school AND they are benefitting enormously from the social justice curriculum that runs through all academic areas. They are learning to be active and engaged members of their school and their broader communtity. Year after year kids from this school go on to the high schools of their choice - elite or public - and transition seamlessly. The school is not perfect - none is. What is important is that the Administration and staff are open to feedback and communication and willing to work hard to make every student's experience a great one. They are always striving to improve. This is a great school - check it out !
Park Day School has been a wonderful educational experience for my two children, one now in the 8th grade there, the other now a junior at Berkeley High School. There's no doubt it's a warm, nurturing environment, but what's less appreciated is the strong academic foundation and passion for learning that it instills in its students. Park Day doesn't do this through testing, pressure and ever greater loads of homework. If that's what you're looking form it won't be a good fit. Instead there's an emphasis on developing deep learning skills, creative approaches to problems and critical thinking. My older son has thrived in honors math and IB (equivalent of AP) courses at Berkeley High, partly because of the great foundations he received from Park Day. The school rightly prides itself on a superb teaching staff, many of whom have been at the school for decades. There have been some sub-par teachers, but they don't last long. It really is an impressive cohort of teachers who do their jobs with character and passion.
Our daughter is in her second year at Park Day and we couldn't be more impressed by the school. I am a career independent school teacher/administrator myself and chose Park Day for our children because of the extremely high quality of teaching, better than anywhere else I've seen. The academics are outstanding --- with highly engaging, challenging, thoughtfully crafted curricula across the grades. Tom Little is a prominent leader in the field of progressive education and an extraordinary head of school. I'm quite surprised to read that any family was concerned with bullying at the school --- Park responds strongly and immediately to social and emotional issues and the faculty is extremely skilled in this area. The school's social justice program allows for genuine interaction with the world (from local to global) in a very thoughtful and powerful way. The parent community is amazing --- warm, welcoming, highly capable, and generous with time and creativity. We are grateful to be at Park Day knowing that our daughter is in such good hands each day.
Park Day School has a very nurturing, close, somewhat isolated learning environment that may be good for some kids but not others. In the year that my child was there, I met many parents that seemed to have a fear or distrust of the public school system and preferred their children were educated in a more controlled, "idyllic" environment. I agree with previous reviewers that there is too much of an emphasis on social justice than on academics. There is also an unwavering emphasis on donating extra money and time to the school, which I find extremely distasteful (especially the repeated requests for donations for the overpriced renovation of one of the school buildings). If your child has special needs (ADHD or gender identity issues) this school would be a better option than the typical public school, however it is very insular and lacks ties to the outside world (for example the entire campus is like a gated Eden). I would be concerned about my child's transition into middle school or high school after attending Park Day... and to the real world in general.
My child was badly bullied -- hit, bitten and kicked -- throughout the year he spent at Park. The administration kept saying it would get better, but it was still going on in May. There are a lot of spirited kids there whose parents may be attracted by the freedom the school offers. But the school does not have the resources or structure to handle them. The decision that we made to stay at Park through the year because Tom (the director) swore to us in October that they would get on top of the situation was the worst decision we have ever made as parents. My kid will never be the same. Academically -- my son did NO math at Park -- the teacher read the kids math stories, that was it. We are still trying to make up for that -- the math specialist at his current school said three years after that she could tell that he missed out on the development of math sense that one year. All decisions among teachers and administration must be made by consensus, which sounds great but was utterly dysfunctional in the above contexts -- no one had authority over our v.chaotic teacher. Many of the teachers are very experienced and gifted, but when that isn't so, there is no bottom.
Park Day School was a borderline terrible experience for me, my husband, and our two sons. The school lacks in providing the basics to any child. My eldest son attended from 1st to 5th grade (I have no idea why I let it go on for that long). He lacked very basic math and writing skills. He did not even know what times tables were, and could barely punctuate(We've since improved this with a school switch and much tutoring). The school seemed to have more of an emphasis on teaching, or rather indoctrinating children on some sort of strange cultish societal vision. I am not even sure why this school is considered a school, it is more reminiscent of a Communist/Fascist propoganda station. Not only is the school unsatisfactory on the inside, but the surrounding area is lamentable. Located right off Broadway, it was not uncommon to get strong whiffs of smog while in the school. Park Day also shares a block with Oakland Technical Highschool, this school seems to do a superb job of attracting some unsavory characters that I would NOT want anywhere near my children. I would strongly advise against sending your child to park day.
My child has ADHD and I have been asked to pay, out of pocket, nearly triple the cost of tuition for private tutors and a "shadow" teacher. Only after I lost my job and underwent the IEP process in preparation to move my son to public school did I learn my child could have received assisted services, for FREE, what I have paid thousands of dollars out of pocket. Park Day should have informed me of this.
I have had two children attend Park and the experience has been quite regrettable. I could give many reasons but it boils down to one, most important: after leaving Park and entering high school both of my sons found they had not been adequately prepared academically or psychologically for "the real world."
While Park Day has some of the most impressive teachers I have ever encountered, I deeply regret my children attended this school. The school prides itself on what they call the community." In fact, the school almost felt like a cult. They do not educate. They indoctrinate. They taught my children about gender dysphoria but neither of my children learned basic mathematics. They teach the children about racism by instilling guilt rather than exposing the children to the real world. Additionally, it seemed like every year the best teachers would leave. After graduating from Park Day, both my children had difficulty in high school.
Park Day seeks to inspire a passion for learning through a progressive approach to education that values intellectual pursuit and critical thinking, creative expression, self-discovery and a commitment to social justice. Park Day School adheres to a progressive educational philosophy. Over a century of professional practice and research shape the progressive view that each child learns not by passively consuming knowledge, but by actively constructing his or her own understanding of material based on prior knowledge, skills, and experience. In progressive education, the child plays a more active role in his or her own learning, so teachers focus as much on the characteristics of each learner as they do on the academic content itself. Children leave Park Day School well on their way to being caring, constructive, open-minded members of the adult world.
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