This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted October 09, 2013
- a parent
I've been happy with the school so far. My son is a kindergartener. I'm continually impressed by how much the families who have been there love it. We haven't totally "bought in" yet, but I can see the potential.
My daughter was in this school for 6 years, kindergarten through fifth grade. As she grew older, I was increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that I did not know how she was doing considering they do not give grades and do not assign any homework. Only now do I realize the unique means of learning (no textbooks, project based learning) did not work for my child. She is far behind other kids in her middle school, especially in math and science. What a mistake. Now, she has homework and I can interact with her, see if she understands. There was no way to do that before. I know I'm in the minotiry in my opinion, which is why I did not trust my instinct and left my daughter in the school too long.
Wonderful teacher/parent relationship at this school. The teachers are awesome and so dedicated to creating an inspiring, enriching educational atmosphere for the students. The classrooms and structure are very interesting -- classrooms are mixed, with younger and older students learning together. There are no rows of desks. Students sit together in pairs or threesomes at learning tables where they can work independently or collaboratively. Every six to eight weeks, the classes have "culminating events" where parents, grandparents and other family are invited to attend a classroom presentation. Each child gives a short presentation to the group and presents their corresponding artwork. It's a wonderful way for families to participate and see first-hand what their children have learned and created. It's just a wonderful learning environment! We love this school!
I have three children in the school and I do believe there is no other school out there as dedicated to the students as Downtown School is. My children enjoy going there and parents are welcomed to walk in at anytime to visit the school. No appointment needed. The teachers are wonderful and caring. They have more time to work with the students because the class ratio. And the unit studies are a great way for the children to learn.
I followed this school closely prior to having children. The multi-age classrooms, the focus on active learning versus standardized test performance, and the location was very exciting. When our son was in preschool, I considered our neighborhood school and the Downtown School. When our neighborhood school told me they tried not to have more than 25 children per class, I knew that the Downtown School was for us. Our son has really benefited from the small class size (16 students), the extended school year (only 6 weeks off in the summer), and the ability to explore his passions. Volunteer opportunities are readily available and parents are always welcome.
The Downtown School is the premier educational model of the Des Moines School Systems. It does not teach to the test. It teaches children how to learn. The children at the DTS are blessed with small classrooms and hands on learning.