My child spent 1 school yr (10 mos) at PKS, from age 4-5. After 6 mos, she tested fluent in Mandarin by SFUSD K-standards. We speak only English at home, and she had no exposure to the language other than at PKS. Her result may not be typical, however, after leaving the school (not b/c of dissatisfaction), experiencing other educational approaches, etc., I have to say that from a purely oral perspective- this Reggio approach cannot be surpassed. My daughter was not studying Chinese (she laughed when I asked her how she learned it then). She was just having fun, and being allowed to be curious and explore. The teachers have control of the kids (I don't know how), but they also let them be kids and be curious. They guide in the gentlest of ways, such that it never felt like forced learning. They would choose a topic of interest to the kids, make a fun project out of it, & narrate/translate/interact in Chinese for the kids. Next thing I knew, my daughter was speaking back to them in Chinese. Native speakers are FLOORED when they hear her and hear that she spent only 10 mos at PKS. The teachers are so patient, kind, loving, engaged, happy- and the end result is beyond words.
Presidio Knolls is a reggio-emilia inspired Mandarin-immersion school that was started in 2008, but which is growing quickly. It started as a preschool - and is now expanding to K to 8.. As a parent, I like the fact that my children are learning through play - and thus learning that school is a fun place to be. I believe a lifelong love of learning is key for success in life - so I like its approach. Mandarin language is also a potentially valuable skill, so we like that our children are also learning that as a side benefit. All in all an excellent program, good native-speaking teachers, and an excellent parent group.
When moving to San Francisco from Shanghai, we looked for a school that would give our daughter continued exposure to mandarin, but in a less traditional setting. We ve found that at PKS. She and her class mates are exploring different subjects, and mandarin is just the tool of communication. Being from Europe it was important for us to have an international outlook and multicultural environment. In our daughter s class at PKS there are families from Chile, the UK, Russia, Taiwan, China and the US, as well as us from Sweden. Her Chinese speaking teachers are from China, the US and Ireland. We think this adds to her perspective of the world. So, what about her reading and writing in English if she goes to a mandarin immersion school? Even as a non-English speaking parent, I needn t have worried. So far she and the kids in her class are beyond the national reading level standards, they are given tools to compose stories and help in writing their own; we re happy with the English curriculum. The campus has great outdoor space. It s in a sunny part of the city, so they spend PE and breaks outside. It's still new and open to parents' initiatives in forming a great school for the kids.
I think I was going to be a "Tiger Dad", but it had been quite clear for some time that our son was not that kind of boy. The progressive play-based program at PKS has been great, and my fears have all been allayed. Every day when playing at home he is always incorporating the new things he learned at school, both "academic" and other social skills ("wait in line!", etc.). The teachers are very caring, and our son is always excited to go to school. He has been speaking Mandarin Chinese at home, and after one year, his skills in both Chinese (from school) and English (from friends on playground) have grown tremendously. The school experience has been more than we could have hoped for!
Wonderful school! The Chinese immersion is done so well. Great teachers and strong reading program in Kindergarten. Both of our boys went to PKS for Pre-K and now that PKS is expanding to elementary school our younger one is staying there for the older grades. The Reggio approach at this school is great!
We suspected our daughter would enjoy Mandarin immersion, but had no idea how much she'd love PKS. The school's approach--engaging with the children to bring out their creativity, teamwork, and confidence--brings out the best in her. The teachers are so smart and so caring.
We have two sons at Presidio Knolls - one was in the inaugural kindergarten class, and the other is in preschool. Neither knew any Mandarin before this year, and it is truly amazing how quickly they have picked up the language. Moreover, the school fosters a love of learning and stokes children's curiosity through its progressive approach. The teachers are loving, well trained, and indefatigable. Our younger son had some behavior problems at his old school but has really bloomed and is thriving at PKS, and I credit the teachers and the educational approach. PKS has a sunny, urban campus, and although it's an independent school, it does not have a materialistic or snooty vibe at all. We have found the community to be very warm, down-to-earth, and engaged. The head of school, preschool director, founder, and other staff are all wonderful and offer complementary skills for advancing the school as it continues to grow. We could not be happier.
We have 2 children at Presidio Knolls, we could not be happier with the school. It is a rigorous, lively school. (By rigorous here I mean to emphasize that the teaching methods, while oriented towards creative problem solving, and cooperative work, are quite demanding on the kids as people). Respectful, demanding, loving teachers, and a wonderfully practical head of school. The neighborhood (SOMA) is still pretty grubby, but the school is warm and getting warmer. There's a very positive direction to the whole effort.
Presidio Knolls is a very progressive school combining Mandarin-Immersion with a Reggio-Emilia environment. It's an innovative approach and works because of the low student/teacher ratio. My son made lots of great friends and loves going to school. I'm happy because he's learning Mandarin. Being Chinese-American, I wanted to give my child the opportunities that I didn't have. If you are interested in language immersion programs, you should definitely check out PKS. The new headmaster for the K-8 program is very experienced with language immersion and guiding the school on the right path.
We have a 4 year history with PKS and could not be happier with the development of our children as happy, healthy and engaged students. My wife now serves on the Board of Trustees and I am the Head Saturday Soccer coach. Our daughter has now competed 2 years of preschool. It did wonders to give her a strong sense of independence, helping some of the younger children in her class, and now being able to converse in Chinese with her older brother. She has bonded deeply with her teachers and always has a spring in her step on the way to school. Our son has completed 2 years of preschool (then 1 year at the preschool at CAIS), and the inaugural Kindergarten class. His rapid blossoming of both his linguistic and logical abilities has been a wonder to behold. If you want your children to grow up as engaged global citizens with a sense of possibility and the confidence to tackle big problems, then I encourage you to check out PKS for yourself.
We love this school. This is our son's second year and he is in the 3 day 3 year old class. The teachers are amazing and on the days he doesn't go to school he pines for them. Teacher Meiying has a wonderful animated way of engaging, nurturing and teaching our son. The facilities are top notch and the way they embrace technology is fabulous. We get photos throughout the day, weekly newsletters and everyone is so giving of their time. We have been thoroughly impressed with this school. We speak Chinese at home and our son was a late talker but since he's started at Presidio Knolls he has truly found his voice and his Chinese vocabulary is constantly expanding.
Our son has been at PKS for a little over a year, and we love the school. Our son has learned a tremendous amount, including the ability to speak in Mandarin. On top of that, he has established amazing friendships that will last a lifetime. The faculty and staff of PKS strive for excellence in every capacity, and the attention to detail is amazing. The lesson plans, songs, athletic programs, and art lessons are always done with planning and a goal in mind. The students learn the subject matter while participating fully the various activities. We know that this school will profoundly shape our son's life in a positive way and can't recommend it enough to prospective families.
Our son recently started kindergarten and he has very much enjoyed the experience. The teachers have been very caring and communicative in addition to having a talented and very hands on head of school and administration. We are in the first month and our son has already started to pick up Mandarin, which is a new language for him (we are non Mandarin speaking). He recently started writing down characters and repeating their names. We were amazed this was happening so soon given this was all new for our son. In general, we have noticed a jump in the level of his other languages as well as in his reasoning, confidence and overall maturity. We think he is being challenged and it has affected him more broadly. Most recently, he told is grandmother how much he loved his new school. We get detailed weekly updates from his teachers and they are very accessible. In addition, the teachers share pictures of our children throughout their day. We feel we have a good idea of what goes on in class and how are son is doing. We feel the families and community are very strong and feel fortunate to be part of PKS' first kindergarten class.
Our son has been going to school here since he was 3.5. We are not Mandarin speakers at home and it was amazing to see how quickly he learned Mandarin and became comfortable, first in understanding, and now in speaking. Today he even makes Mandarin jokes with us! He attends full-time and is also enrolled in extended-care activities so we have had a chance to gain a lot of exposure to the school, teachers, and other families. PKS focuses not only on academics and Mandarin immersion, but also in creating a well-rounded child ready for the world we live in. We are continuously impressed in not only the teachers' accurate assessment of our child's strengths and needs, but also ways to challenge him and help him grow. We also enjoy the strength in the parent community and are impressed with how committed everyone is to not only their own child's education, but ways to better the overall school and community. Our son does not want to go home at the end of the day and we are really enjoying the joint play dates and events we have had outside of school. PKS feels like an extension of home for us and in this busy world, it is wonderful to have such a partner to help raise our child.
My 4 year old daughter has been going to Presidio Knolls School (PKS) for 1 1/2 years, and I can't tell you how much she loves it. She transitioned easily into the school despite the fact that she knew no Mandarin at all. Now, she understands most of what the teachers are saying to her and is even conversational in Mandarin. She loves her teachers and they truly are exceptional in every way. They are caring, creative and aware of each individual student's needs - both emotionally and in terms of their language acquisition. When I ask how my daughter is doing in class, I get a very detailed response as to how she is getting along with other children and how her Mandarin is progressing. As a parent, I feel very connected with the daily activities and the ongoing events at the school through weekly classroom newsletters from the teachers and bi-monthly newsletters from the head of school. I never imagined that we could feel so intimately connected in a large school setting. The school is made up a culturally diverse mix of families that share an interest in, not only mandarin immersion, but also providing a progressive and inspiring educational foundation for their children.
My son has been attending the preschool program at Presidio Knolls since August 2011, and the experience has been great! We were initially drawn to PKS because of the mandarin immersion, but we've really been impressed with the progressive Reggio Emilio curriculum. The teachers get to know the kids so well and pay careful attention to all of the aspects of their growth and development. The kids are encouraged to pursue topics and activities that interest them. They are encouraged to be themselves and are allowed to develop at their own pace. This program really does foster a healthy independence, creativity and curiosity. A word on the parent experience-- we love the community! The parents are engaged (in a healthy way) in their kids' lives and are involved in the school. We really enjoy spending time with the other parents in our classroom and the parents we've met volunteering.
Our son is in the inaugural kindergarten class, and while the school year is still young, here's what I love: creative, passionate and highly educated teachers who don't hesitate to have fun with the kids (for example, "dance time" to get the wigglies out before classtime); articulate communications from teachers and Head of School about what's happening each week (including regular photos emailed over the course of the day); diversity of backgrounds / languages / family structures, but strong feeling of shared commitment to global learning.
We are overjoyed to be part of this amazing school and community. Our son (5) started at the preschool in 2009 and now is in the 1st kindergarten class after a year in preschool at CAIS. Our daughter (3) joined preschool in 2011 and now is in her 2nd year. Although our son s experience at CAIS was good, when PKS decided to add an elementary program we were immediately interested because we d had such a magical experience with the preschool and were inspired by the vision for the elementary school and excited about the opportunity to play our part in building a unique school. We are now a few weeks into the school year and the experience has already exceeded expectations. At drop-off, it is a challenge to stop the children from racing from the car into school to see their teachers and friends. On holidays/weekends, it s not unusual for my daughter to demand to be taken to school. When I ask my son how he s spent his day he says something like, I played in the morning then we had lunch and PE then I played until pick up. This doesn't reflect any deficit in the curriculum but rather the school s success at making learning a joyful and fun experience for all its children.
This school is amazing....and very unique. I love the combination of Mandarin immersion coupled with a contemporary child-centered approach to learning. The school follows educational best practices when it comes to early childhood development and language acquisition, and the teachers are constantly working to improve their craft through ongoing feedback and training. My daughter loves going to school, adores her teachers and now regularly does spontaneous pretend pay in Mandarin at home. She enjoys writing letters and chinese characters, and also loves to draw. The program fosters true creative expression which shows in the unique art projects my daughter creates (not the cookie-cutter projects where every kid's artwork looks the same). I also love that the teachers are very attuned to the social and emotional development of the kids...so critically important for young children.The school also provides a nice variety of enrichment and extracurricular activities including soccer, kung fu, gymnastics and calligraphy. Parent community is wonderful -- very diverse, internationally-minded, supportive and highly engaged. Plus, i'm super excited about the K-8 expansion!
We love this school. My wife, my daughter and I love Presidio Knolls School. Our daughter's been attending since the Summer of 2011 and we intend to keep her enrolled through eighth grade. Neither my wife and I speak Chinese or are Chinese by heritage, but we recognize that the most opportune time to become multi-lingual is early. The toddler years are when the language centers of the brain explode, and not only are children more quick to pick up specific languages than adults, doing so at an early age improves their capacity to learn additional languages later in life. That said, what brought us to the school was their values. The school focuses not only on Mandarin but on communication in general, putting as much attention into emotional development as intellectual development. Through my daughter's time at PKS, she's learned to understand her feelings and how she chooses to express them. She's learned to look at learning as an opportunity to make decisions and see the results of the decisions she chooses to make. Her interests are free to guide her and the teachers follow up with relevant information, teaching her independence to pursue knowledge and a love for doing it.
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