This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Children's Day School5
Posted November 24, 2014
- a parent
Our child is in the 2nd year of preschool having transferred from another preschool. Comparing the two preschools, CDS is a significant step up. The sense of community and associated parental involvement is much stronger. The teachers' level of experience are off the charts. The most junior person in the classroom has a degree in early childhood development and 3 years of experience. The most experienced has been teaching at the school for over 15 years! It is NOT so common to find teachers who are highly experienced and trained and engaged and committed. We don't take it for granted. The preschool curriculum is a healthy balance of 1) play based, pick what you want to do 2) "must do" reading or pre-math exercises and 3) long-running projects that involve the whole classroom. This is rounded out by outdoor play time and weekly PE and music. The school does an annual fund but I haven't felt any big pressure to give big. The biggest part of the new building and the associated renovation is already paid for so I don't perceive the school is in any way overextended. Rather we feel lucky we'll get to take advantage of all of these new resources in future years!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.