This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Park Day School5
Posted September 24, 2013
- a parent
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.