We love this school and it has been a phenomenal fit for both my children. Our teachers have been amazing and the cirrculum is very comprehensive and well thought out. We left another highly regarded private school to come here and we can truly say that this is a school that can both accelerate and differentiate - all while taking care of the social emotional needs of the gifted. I think a few years ago the school had a rocky period but it seems on very stable footing these last couple years and has added a fabulous science lab just this year. We highly recommend this school!
Dunham Academy has been an absolute haven for my son. A place where he has been able to learn and grow and bloom. A place where teachers and the parent community understand that academically gifted children learn differently and develop asynchronously. My son's birthday was just a few days past the Kindergarten cut-off date and everyone told me that he was not mature enough for school and he would be better off with another year in preschool. He was an early reader and has a real love for math so another year in preschool would have been a disservice to him. We found the Dunham Academy and a whole new world opened up. In his previous school, when my son talked about the planets and ask questions about them, it was met with "There's a globe over in the library area, why don't you go look at that." Whereas at Dunham Academy, when he showed his excitement about planets, his WONDERFUL WONDERFUL teacher said "Do you want to learn about the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud that is also part of our Solar System?" This school has been a perfect fit...small class sizes, amazing teachers, and classmates/friends who understand each other. We are so lucky to have found the Dunham Academy.
If your child is intensely curious and strongly individualistic, and tests in the gifted range on standardized IQ tests, this is the only school in the Bay Area for her/him! The school walks its talk about individualized education, and clustering with cognitive peers. It allows kids to move at their own pace within curriculum. The teachers "get" asychronicity -- just because an 8 year old kid is gifted in math or in language doesn't mean that they are emotionally or physically precocious as well. The year round program is amazing. It gives the kids a chance to explore deeply for 6-7 weeks, and then take a breather. The head of school understands play -- these are kids albeit with advanced minds, and they need to goof off and have fun too! This school has changed our lives - it's a place where our child is finally understood, well served, and happy.
DA is challenging, but *could* work for the (gifted) child not fitting into normal schools, and that you cannot homeschool (last resort). If your only goal is letting your child heal (traumatic ostracizing) and be among peers this might work for a while, but think twice. No school is perfect, but the historical sky-high exit rates should be reason for concern. Most families leave after a few years from frustration, successfully going to homeschooling, other private or even public schools. Pros: Small (personal) High parent involvement (community) Teachers understand, respect gifted kids (some of them really terrific) Daily foreign language Beautiful setting Gifted peers Cons: Small (many limitations, patchwork, chaotic) Founders left (including founding gifted specialist) Head of school (after founders) leaving High parent involvement necessary (many cooks in kitchen) High drama Very high exit rates Academics could be stronger (very limited science, weak math program etc) Unstable financials Management
We are very pleased with the experience we have had at Dunham Academy over the past 2 years!! Our children are respected for their inquisitive nature and their ability to move through new material quickly. The school challenges (but does not "push") them academically, offering a rich curriculum that includes science, social sciences, art, music, PE and foreign language. The program promotes self-confidence and humility, and an appreciation and understanding of differences among peers. The kids have a fun and caring and supportive community at Dunham - and they are thriving in every way. We cannot say enough positive things about the school!
My daughter has attended Dunham Academy for 1-1/2 years. She started as a Kindergartner. Our family is so grateful for Dunham. The teacher's are excellent, the small classroom size and year-round model make for an efficient and productive environment for their students. We have a wonderful community of parents who share common experiences in having gifted children. If your child needs specialized, gifted education, you should not hesitate in looking into Dunham as the solution to your child's education needs.
I feel so blessed to have found Dunham Academy after years of trying to work with public schools. Dunham Academy is a private year round K-8 school for gifted children in San Rafael. The school exists solely to serve the unique needs of gifted children. Dunham Academy understands gifted kids - that they learn differently, develop asynchronously, can be intense, highly spirited and sensitive. After my sons were tested, accepted and visited Dunham Academy for a day in October of 2008, they never wanted to go back to their old schools and just continued attending! For the first time, my children s teachers appreciate, nurture and challenge my kids. We have been at Dunham Academy for eight months now and I have been so impressed with the school, the other students as well as the wonderful parent community. My kids are happy, have great friends, and as parents we are ecstatic!
I am so pleased with Dunham Academy. My son just transferred from public school in San Francisco. We have seen a huge transformation in our son. His interest in learning has come back and he is much happier in this setting in spite of the long commute. We love it! A gem for gifted children.