"We're known for our constructivist curriculum, farm, and diverse community."
Students enrolled 389
Hours 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM
School leader Molly Huffman
Transportation options None
Before school Yes
After school Yes
Summer program Yes

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Contact this school

333 Dolores Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

School website
(415) 861-5432
(415) 861-5419
Nearby homes for sale
Map of Children's Day School address.

4 stars
Based on 41 ratings

Let others know what you
think about this school

November 18, 2014
Great little school that made an unfortunate hire with current head that has changed the entire tone and feel of the community as CDS attempts to become an enclave for the wealthy. Teaching is wildly inconsistent (terrific in the PK and the upper grades, terrible in the lower grades) and despite years of aggressive fundraising, the facilities are subpar.

- submitted by a parent
November 16, 2014
Our son has attended Children s Day School since preschool and is now in Kindergarten. We are thrilled with the academic program at this school and feel that the teachers at CDS have made our son a better person. Since starting Kindergarten, he has blossomed into a student who is eager to express new ideas about the concepts learned in class. At CDS, learning is made hands-on and thematic. I can tell how much my son benefits from being immersed in curriculum that reflects the concepts he is learning about. At the beginning of the year he was hesitant about letter sounds and names. He is now constantly trying to spell and sound out words. He has become more confident as he attempts to express himself in writing. We feel the same way about the math curriculum where he is involved in real-life problem solving as he continues to make sense of numbers and patterns. We wouldn t want him to learn any other way. We love this school!

- submitted by a parent
October 14, 2014
There are many things to like about CDS, but overall we agree with the critical comments about the direction the school has taken over the past few years and, sadly, we are moving on to another school. Child-centeredness and social emotional learning has taken a back to seat to growth, and the young and inexperienced teachers and junior staff members have not been around the block enough to be proactive in their approach to teaching and to really understand what makes each child tick. With enrollments growing, that will come at a cost to children who have abilities that are different than the average student. So before choosing this school make sure you really understand your child, how he/she learns, and what their social and emotional needs are and ask the school how they deal with problems and/or positive variances in ability. Bottom line a great place for many children. But if your child is not average there are much better options out there.

- submitted by a parent
March 26, 2014
Our son transferred to CDS last year from another independent school in the Bay Area. Our experience has been excellent. He is thriving and growing by leaps and bounds. Every school has their issues, but the intensity at which he is learning is remarkable. As far as the math and reading skills, I have compared both areas to other independent schools in the area, and CDS is right on target. I hate to burst the 1 star reviewers bubble, but EVERY school has their challenges. CDS has the challenge to maintain its 40% tuition assistance while not burning out the 60% full paying parents. But if you ask me, I'd rather our son go to school with an economic diverse population allowing more children to get a great education.

- submitted by a parent
December 13, 2013
I'd like to respond to the recent reviewer who stated that 60% of CDS parents pay full-scale tuition. What this number doesn't state is that over 30% of families pay tuition on a sliding scale, which makes CDS a LEADER in socioeconomic diversity. Most schools do not even come close to this number. Further, as parent of an alumn, and a current student, I know that 94% of CDS students get admitted to their first or second choice high school because they are prepared, articulate, curious and passionate about learning. They are classroom leaders and thrive in high school. You can visit the school's website and read quotes from high school admissions counselors and teachers about why they admit CDS students.(http://www.cds-sf.org/academics/high-school-placement). I couldn't be happier with the education my children have received and are receiving at CDS. They've gained skills that will stay with them well into adulthood.

- submitted by a parent
December 12, 2013
To the parent five-start rating parent who posed the question, "If CDS has lousy academics, how do the majority of their graduating classes continue to get their first choice high schools?" One plausible answer is "Follow the money." 60% of CDS parents pay full-scale $25k/yr tuition and have donated millions in two years for a $6M (real estate only) new middle school. Competitive private high schools prefer to build long-term relationships with their students and families in an increasingly expensive city. Certainly, finances represent only one aspect of competitive high school selection criteria. I'd appreciate anyone else's better informed perspective. As a CDS parent, I support CDS taking action to improve its (perceived) inconsistent academics. My five-star rating is based in part that the one-star criticisms shared here (and parent-to-parent elsewhere) are being openly addressed and remedied by the PTTA and administration.

- submitted by a parent
October 30, 2013
CDS is a wonderful school. The parent community is very strong, teachers seem happy, and the current head of school is exactly the right person for the school's growth plan. The approach to teaching is interdisciplinary (just like everything in life), and every grade has a specific academic curriculum supporting it. In my opinion constructivism is the best way to educate kids for the 21st century. Like any school, there are some teachers who are to be avoided for certain kids, and the school doesn't always communicate changes to the parent community as early or clearly as they should. Those would be my only criticisms. And I have heard similar things about other top private schools in the city and the suburbs. It is not a perfect school, but no school is perfect all the time, nor perfect for every child or family. If the close-knit community, and hands-on, project approach appeals to you then you're a good fit with this school and you will love it.

- submitted by a parent
July 31, 2013
My son attending his second year Pre-School at CDS. What not to like about CDS? As the only school at the heart of San Francisco that has a farm and garden, huge play yard, superb curriculum and projects for preschoolers and much more. The first year my son started at preschool, as many other preschooler had a hard time with separation. Six months after, he doesn't even want to go home. Every pick up time, he will say "Can I stay for just a few more minutes Dad?". I highly recommend CDS for their superb admin, teacher, academic program and their top diversity/sliding scale program.

- submitted by a parent
June 19, 2013
It's unfortunate that unhappy, former parent(s) feel the need to keep posting things about Children s Day School. Perhaps they had a bad experience with the school, but I think the facts speak for themselves. The graduates are accepted regularly into the same high schools that all the other independent middle schools funnel their kids into: University, Lick, Urban, Drew, International, Lowell, SI, Gateway. If the academics were not there, would these schools consistently take CDS kids as they have been for the last 8-9 years? A lot of these are small schools that literally have their pick of students from many schools in the city and beyond. As a parent of a child that graduated within the last two years, I know first hand what the process is like for CDS students and for friends with children at other schools. The high school admission process is extremely competitive and there are many kids in the city that don't get into their first choice school. If CDS has lousy academics, how do the majority of their graduating classes continue to get their first choice high schools? It just doesn t add up. My child was accepted into her first choice school and was well prepared academically.

- submitted by a parent
June 19, 2013
We are heading into our fourth year at CDS (K-3) and we are having an amazing experience. Our son's teachers have been both rigorous academically and nurturing. After each break or holiday, our son is excited to go back to school. CDS is a solid organization and very well run. We will be here through 8th grade.

- submitted by a parent
June 11, 2013
We too pulled our child from CDS after realizing the academics were subpar and inconsistent. It also took us about a year and tutoring for our child to catch up. How refreshing it was at our new school to have a spelled out curriculum for the entire year and an experienced/committed faculty. It is indeed criminal how little they are learning and no wonder there are so many posts on this site about all it is lacking. The schools immediate goal is to raise money for the new building which was hastily purchased 3 years ago. They over enrolled in an effort to raise money for the school before they had a solid plan for space. Currently, one average sized fourth grade classroom is split in two by a wall to accommodate the second fourth grade class (parents were informed of this less than ideal "solution" right before school year began). Next year one class will be housed at the Boys & Girls Club. I agree with previous post, if you are considering CDS do your due diligence. Many parents and teachers who have left all agree-- the education is simply not there. Parents/children are in for a rude awaking when they graduate. I wish them luck.

- submitted by a parent
June 05, 2013
Our children love CDS. Our eldest child each night won't go to bed on time because he reads, and reads, and reads. It is a nice issue to face! Our younger child played piano at the school talent show even though she had just begun lessons. She has the self-confidence to perform and the knowledge that she did so in front of a very supportive community. And the faculty keep winning teaching awards!

- submitted by a parent
February 18, 2013
We pulled our child from CDS after several years of elementary, choosing another independent school that demonstrated solid academics as well as a social emotional learning curriculum that was, unlike CDS, implemented in the manner in which it was described. Once moved, it took our child a full year to recover the ground lost through CDS's inconsistent program. We are pleased that our child is happy and now thrives and would urge anyone considering CDS to do a great deal of due diligence before committing their family. There is a reason why this school experiences the attrition that it does.

- submitted by a parent
February 14, 2013
I find the previous posting odd as that is not our experience at all. My daughter attends one of the top independent schools in the city and she is not struggling at all. In fact, she is thriving! She tested out of Math 1 and is on track to complete Calculus by the end of her senior year, she took a humanities class as a sophomore that is usually offered to juniors, her lab writing skills are excellent - all because of her experience at CDS. My daughter is a smart kid, but not exceptional. She just has really strong academic skills, great work habits and the confidence to know when she needs to get extra help. The top high schools in SF have very challenging curriculums so it is not easy to do well there, but CDS prepares its students with more than just the academic necessities. I know every student has a different experience but it is just false to say that they are unprepared as a whole. Spanish is the only area where she entered at the same level as her peers or perhaps a little below. In everything else she is above grade level and I can't emphasize enough the importance of the other skills CDS teaches - organization, confidence, self advocacy. They are invaluable!

- submitted by a parent
February 07, 2013
My daughter left this school so poorly prepared for high school that it is almost criminal. She was one of the best students at CDS (where she was since Kindergarten) but at her high school (a top independent school) she struggles to keep up. Her teachers have told us that her writing skills and math skills are very weak. The kids who came from other private schools and from public schools were much better prepared than my daughter. We know another CDS family with the same issue in high school -please beware of this school! There is more emphasis on diversity and social awareness than on basic academic skills -and as a result these are not up to par at all.

- submitted by a parent
August 31, 2012
CDS is an amazing school and an incredible community. Our daughter has been going to school there for the past three years (since Kindergarten) and every year we are amazed by the school's approach to teaching and learning. CDS embodies the best of what a 21st century education should be -- immersive and hands-on, committed to diversity, encouraging social and emotional learning, cultivating interdisciplinary and critical thinking. This is a school that isn't interested in teaching kids what to think, but rather, how to think -- and how to be active, creative, and passionate members of a community.

- submitted by a parent
August 30, 2012
this will be our seventh year at CDS. our daughter is entering fourth grade an entusiastic learner, a writer of short stories, a young scientist ready to study electromagnetic fields and astronomy, and a confident member of her community. the faculty and staff know her, her strengths and her weaknesses, and work with us to help her become the best version of herself that she can be. is the school perfect? no, and no school is. but when a budding fourth grader asks to listen to NPR (the republican convention no less) and can offer thoughtful commentary on the news it gives this two dad family confidence that our trust is not misplaced.

- submitted by a parent
August 27, 2012
Both our kids graduated from CDS. One is now in college, the other in high school. Since our eldest was only at CDS for middle school, and lower school has really changed in the last several years , this is primarily a middle school review. When I ask our kids what they liked about middle school, they point to teachers who challenged them and who cared about them. I was also on staff at the school until recently, and felt like the middle school faculty and administration were a good team that worked well to meet our kids needs. Its says a lot that like most of their peers, our kids got into the high school's they most wanted to attend and feel (or felt) well prepared. Incidentally, both kids did very well on the SSATs, which are the tests high schools look at for admission. The school drew us in with its small size and tightly knit community. The school plans to grow in ways that challenge the community to keep small school values in a big school. I think that the vision for how to do that is still evolving--I worry that leadership could spend too little time on that vision in the midst of all the challenges that growth will bring (hence the 3 stars on leadership).

- submitted by a parent
August 13, 2012
The school has always had some weaknesses in academics, especially in its elementary school. Test scores are telling -- despite screening out undesirable students that a district must take, the school struggles to beat national suburban public school norms. The administation is currently weak; head of school seems disengaged in anything other than fundraising. The assistant head of school had 1 year of teaching experience, and it shows. Staff morale is low. The school has taken on a huge cost (~$12 million) to build a new middle school that it may not be able to afford. Core academic skills in writing and reading sometimes take second place to politically correct indoctrination (Steven Colbert used for news!). Kids in middle school lack most basic information about American history, often enter 5th grade unable to write an effective sentence, and struggle with basic math facts. Good drama program, but the art department is weak and music is essentially non-existent. The class sizes are large compared to national norms. Bottom line -- a once sweet second tier school that has gone down hill under an uninspiring school head who has little vision for the future.

- submitted by a parent
May 17, 2012
My criticisms center around two ideas: lack of emphasis on rigorous academic standards and overemphasis on political education of children.Academics.My son arrived at CDS from a great Montessori school enthusiastic about math and a very competent early reader.By christmas both skills had atrophied to the point where he lost everything gained in preschool. When I compare the work saved from preschool to the work brought home from CDS it s genuinely startling. CDS utilizes a Project Based Learning (PBL) approach.One of the more legitimate sounding criticisms of PBL is it s inappropriateness for mathematics instruction. Politics,my son was taught a song which included the lyrics protest, petition, let big business know I m particularly concerned that he learn the skills of protesting and petitioning at 5 especially when he is not mastering the basics. I would prefer something along the lines of innovate, invent, do the hard work I find it telling that this political correctness is taught within the context of a private school with its hand picked diversity. The school has a contingent of true believer parents who undoubtedly disagree with me, but this is my experience.

- submitted by a parent
March 19, 2011
My daughter started at preschool here and is now in kindergarten. She's confident, engaged and curious about everything. The two teachers we have had over the past three years are enthusiastic and passionate about what they do. Learning new things in such a warm and caring environment has set a positive foundation for the future for her. Our son is currently in the preschool and over the first semester we have seen him go from a tentative child to one who loves partaking in the different projects. He loves working in the farm and garden - caring for the chicks and studying plants. Most of all we are really happy with how our kids are turning out. They are respectful of other's feelings and care about the world around them.

- submitted by a parent
March 14, 2011
My daughter completely blossomed at CDS. She has been there four years now and has no interest in any other school. Her grades and test scores are great and she is confident. She feels she has a place at her school and that's a wonderful thing. The approaches to teaching are innovative and effective. We are more than pleased.

- submitted by a parent
January 12, 2011
CDS used to be a fantastic school. My children went there for a few years and then they got a new head of school who's only concern was making the school bigger and bigger and putting lots of cash in the bank, not what's the best educationally for the children. They fired very valuable long term accredited and after school teachers because of low level personality clashes between the office staff. It doesn't matter to the powers that be to have the best teachers for the children if the office staff don't like them? Seems so! I preferred the better teachers. Unless the staff is killing each other, it should have nothing to do with teaching and shouldn't matter more then the children's education. The kids need to come first, they do not. The staffs "friendships" do. Children's Day School does NOT put the children's best interest first so therefore I can no longer recommend the school. Former CDS parent.

- submitted by a parent
December 02, 2010
We've been really disappointed with this school this year. Our son has been at the school for 3 years and we feel his teachers this year are having problems controlling the class. He's doesn't seem to be learning much and his social skills appear to be deteriorating. I tried to bring it up with the teachers but they seem uninterested. The new head of school seems disengaged. We really miss Rick Ackerly. We feel like the school has taken a turn in the wrong direction and we're trying to figure out if we should move him? You'd think everyone would be a bit more interested in our concerns for the amount of money we are paying? We feel like the academics have gotten lost this year.

- submitted by a parent
May 04, 2010
Our daughter is just finishing up her 2nd year of preschool and she loves it here. The teachers are engaged and caring and the rich learning environment stimulates curiousity. The community is warm and welcoming and we are so happy to have met such nice people.

- submitted by a parent
October 28, 2009
My daughter is in her 11th year at CDS, so I have watched the school grow and mature from a small preschool and early elementary school into one whose first 8th grade graduates are now applying to college. CDS is a special place and a special community committed to diversity. Its graduates are wanted by San Francisco's best high schools because they bring not only excellent academic skills but a sense of social justice and responsibility that translates into being valued contributors to their school communities. CDS grows not only smart, engaged learners but children with strong emotional intelligence. Both these abilities will serve them throughout their lifetimes and are known to be critical to adult success. Finally, CDS is a warm and inviting community for both children and their parents.

- submitted by a parent
no rating October 28, 2009
My daughter is enrolled at CDS. There is such a supportive atmosphere between kids, parents, teachers, and administration. There are so many things I like about the school, but the intangible that I keep coming back to is that the kids seem so engaged. They are all active members in the school, as opposed to passive observers.

- submitted by a parent
October 05, 2009
Children's Day School is an amazing school. Strong academics, experienced teachers, and a wonderful diverse community. Students at CDS are excited about learning and loves coming to school every day. Great art, music and farm and garden program. A wonderful school that nurtures the love of learning.

- submitted by a parent
October 04, 2009
I am a parent at CDS. This is my son's 5th year there, and he is thriving. He is excited about school everyday and has not once said that he didn't want to go. Because 1st grade has been a more academic year than he has been used to, he has had some challenges in the classroom. His teachers promptly brought these issues to our attention, gave us suggestions and advice on how to tackle the problem, and have been great on giving him the special support that he needs. We now have a great set of plans of action in place that our son is on board and happy with. Our main concerns are that his gifts not be diminished by his challenges, that he grows and learns from his challenges, and, most importantly, that he keeps the positive self-esteem that CDS has helped him foster through these years.

- submitted by a parent
no rating June 19, 2009
After our initial euphoria at finding what we thought was the 'right' school for our son and our family, we gradually and painfully realized that nothing could have been further from the truth. Serious inadequacies in communication, academic planning and chain-of-command as well as some just plain weak teachers in the middle school make this a truly poor alternative to the San Francisco Public Schools. I am unfortunately not alone in my mistrust of the administration of this school. I have suffered with other friends whose children have 'fallen through the cracks' at great emotional and psychological expense. Though there are many lovely things about the lower school which may beguile you, remember that you child will grow up and that the middle school is not a healthy place for children.

- submitted by a parent
May 21, 2009
wonderful and I know because I go there.

- submitted by a student
March 16, 2009
Originally, so happy for my child to go to this school - they talked a good talk about diversity, inclusion, etc. The reality is CDS iS NOT ABOUT DIVERSITY. It is not about progressiveness in their education. It is not about inclusion of all families. It is about money, getting yours for tuition, & as much as possible through the 11 years you may go there. Recently they sent a letter to all parents 'recognizing the challenge in these economic times' so they did the parent a favor and raised the tuition 5% rather than the customary 10%/yr. So total is 21k/yr or so. Two hours after mentioning our child would not be returning, we were given a 'balance due' for aftercare. We liked the families we met, (and of course the children) the teachers were ok. The school get lots of time off during the yr w/no recognition of working parents

- submitted by a parent
no rating December 21, 2008
My daughter is in her first year at CDS (kindergarten) and we could not be more pleased. The teachers are attentive, creative and caring. My daughter wants to go to school everyday and i love to see what she learns at school put to practical use. She loves the enrichment classes and after care. So much so , she often does not want to go home at pick-up! The parent community is amazing. Very hands on because they want to be. The head of school is so hands on. I see him at every meeting, recital, etc even if he is not necessarily required to attend. The school itself is amazing, with lost of light and of course the amazing play space. While many schools tout diversity, CDS lives it! So far, my expectations of the school have far been exceeded.

- submitted by a parent
no rating August 25, 2008
i am going into 8th grade at cds and have been there since preschool. it is amazing but very sheltered and small. incredible education and environment i believe that by the time i am gone it will be even better!

- submitted by a student
May 10, 2008
I actually attend CDS and I love this school! I'm in the 7th grade there, and I have been there since kindergarden. My best friend in the whole wide world I met at CDS, and I am so thankful that she chose to come to this school. The 7th grade (to me) seems like the closest class. We are like a family and know each other so well, we could take a 20 page test on each other. I just love my teachers as well. They are both fun when its time to joke, but serious when its time to settle down. When I look for high school next year, I will definitely look for schools with a base like CDS has, because I wish I could be with them all the way through college!!!!

- submitted by a student
January 05, 2007
We love CDS. The teachers are incredible, the location is beautiful, and the community is really great. Our child is multi-racial, so we were concerned about diversity as well, but when we started looking around at other private schools, we realized that CDS is better than most on that score. Public schools are more diverse, but we have too many friends who've been tossed around by the SF schools. Almost 40% of CDS kids pay sliding scale tuition, so there really isn't the emphasis on money you see at many private schools. The school needs to do better on diversifying the faculty, but it seems to be improving. At CDS kids learn to be self-motivated, critical thinkers who love to learn. My 4 year old can diagram the life cycle of a plant and mediate a disagreement on the playground. What more can you ask from preschool?

- submitted by a parent
October 09, 2006
Our son attended CDS for preschool for 2 years before moving on to public school Kindegarten. While our son enjoyed it there, we were ultimately dismayed by the lack of diversity and felt like the utopian vision of private school community at the price of their tuition felt forced at best, and provides no better education than what we've found in SF public schools. I'd much rather see people put their resources into schools that are doing a great job teaching rich and poor kids alike. That being said, there are lots of great folks at the school, particularly classroom support staff, that do make this school a good one. But I just don't think their progressive mission can succeed when the students do not come close to representing the ethnic or class diversity of San Francisco.

- submitted by a parent
March 23, 2006
Excellent program from preschool through 8th grade. Great teachers and amazing space--a farm and large yard and playground in the middle of the city! Preschool placement guarantees kindergarten place.

- submitted by a parent
March 01, 2006
Children at this school are real life-long learners. The school inspires a love for learning. The preschool is not that much better than comparative schools, but you have to sign up in preschool to have a good chance of getting in.

- submitted by a parent
December 22, 2005
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
May 31, 2005
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
April 26, 2005
This is the best independent school in San Francisco. It is truely the 'Children's school' and they take responsibility for their community, each other and their education. The school provides a wide range of educational, social, artistic and sports opportunities. It's a very happy place. There is a high level of parent involvement. It's a very fun place to be a parent, too.

- submitted by a parent
April 11, 2005
In the lower grades, the academic program is not rigorous. The school uses a responsive classroom approach to learning, but teachers fail to track student work completion and often do not correct completed work. The Middle School program is exciting. Students are encouraged to be critical thinkers and the low student to teacher ratio and cohesiveness of the cohort group is a real benefit to the students. Art and music are part of the curriculum at all levels, as is Spanish, although the classes are not rigorous but more supplemental. Sports teams are just being formed at this school. Sports are not central to the school's identity. Parents overall appear quite involved in the school. There is little diversity and frequent vacations, staff days, and days off for parent-teacher conferences challenge lower-income families' ability to keep their children at the school. There is no financial assistance for after-school care.

- submitted by a parent
February 25, 2005
We know two families who have children attending this school, have thoroughly researched it and have applied to this school for both our children. We were very impressed by the quality of the academic programs, the inclusion of music, art, and physical activity in the regular curriculum, and the availability of a wide range of other activities in the after school program. We were even more impressed by the attention to psychosocial factors in the development of the students and in the interactions among students and between students and staff/faculty.

- submitted by a parent
November 07, 2004
CDS is a warm and open school environment. The students are continualy challenged to question and discover. The teachers are extremely thoughtful about their work. Much praise especiallly to the outstanding preschool teachers.

- submitted by a parent
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Children's Day School
333 Dolores Street, San Francisco, CA  94110
(415) 861-5432
Last modified Children's Day School is a Private school that serves grades PK-8
Children's Day School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 45 reviews. Top