Our preschooler really flourished at PKS. The teachers are wonderful and warm. They really do care about the kids, and it shows! The student-teacher ratio is fabulous so there's always an adult there when needed, or simply just to do a project with. The teachers really follow the Reggio-Emilia approach, which is really very different than traditional Chinese/Taiwanese methods of teaching. However they do it quite well, in Mandarin, I may add, which I attribute to their dedication as well as the time the school also puts into teacher development. It really is a treasure of a school because I don't know any other place that could pull that off. The English level of the teachers is good, so you shouldn't have a problem communicating with them. The preschool director and the head of school are also quite excellent and professional. The most wonderful thing about the school is the parent community. The parents are very involved in many aspects of the school. The administration embraces this very warmly.
I have a child in first grade and in pre-k, and they are thriving. Neither of my kids had any background in Mandarin before starting but have adjusted beautifully. My first grader's Mandarin has taken off, and she can carry a conversation in Mandarin exclusively. My preschooler is not at that level, but he seems to understand everything that his teachers say. The teachers are all very loving and nurturing, and both my kids are happy to go to school each morning. The school encourages inclusion and social learning just as much as academic learning. I love the project based lessons and the focus on promoting intrinsic motivation and independence in elementary school.
Both my daughters have been attending PKS for the past 2 years. We are knowing in our 3rd year and are greatly satisfied with the education experience my daughters have received. The philosophy at PKS aligns with my personal belief of what education should be-Child Centered. Besides being child centered, another positive attribute of PKS is its commitment to be diverse. As a Chinese Immersion school it is rare to find a diverse community as one can find at PKS. My oldest daughters rates PKS as the "best school ever." She enjoys playing with her friends, learning from her teachers, participating in inquiry projects, and being herself.
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.