Advice for Head Royce, Bentley and Redwood Day Elementary Please

Dear BPN,

We are going through the kindergarten application process for our 5yr old, and would love to hear current and recent perspectives for Head Royce, Bentley and Redwood Day.  We have done all the open houses, parent tours, and spoken to folks we know, but it is still difficult for us to feel like we truly know the schools well.  

We have the basic facts of the schools, but don't know what they are really like.  The things that are important to us are (1) an education that focuses on fostering curiosity and skills rather than knowledge acquisition, and is adaptive to the child; (2) preferably no homework for the lower grades; (3) supportive of dual-working parents; and (4) a warm and grounded (rather than entitled) environment for our family to make connections and friends. 

Please share your perspectives on the schools, both good and not so good and/or difficult experiences - we find that we often learn more about the schools through understanding others' struggles.  Thank you!

Seeking Feedback

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We are, and have been, in love with Redwood Day for five years. It meets both of our VERY different children's needs, and our needs as grownups! The community is amazing - kids, parents, faculty, and staff (I've heard from others that the love/care/availability of admin is unique to Redwood Day). It has everything you're looking for except #2. There is homework, but it is very minimal in the lower grades and until 4th is completed on a weekly basis (so you can do it all one night or split it into bits across the week). Also, teachers are very flexible when it comes to homework and the needs of each child. At one point, one of my children wasn't doing any homework and just practicing her reading. I could talk on and on about the school (and really enjoy doing that! :), so feel free to reach out to me through my username. I will leave you what made our decision for us, and what reaffirmed it once we were there. While applying, I could find NO ONE who was unhappy here - NO ONE! After being here for awhile, I realized I also had no complaints. I know that sounds insane, and I could probably come up with some nit picky stuff if I tried, but the school talks the talk and walks the walk like no other institution I know.  It's an incredibly special place. 

I cannot recommend redwood day highly enough. From the teachers to the educational program to the diversity to the wonderful parent community. It’s a fantastic place that fosters learning.    In my opinion it hits all the things you’re looking for. And honestly I can’t think of one negative thing to say... Except maybe the yellow jackets  that sometimes bother the children during lunch :-)

Going by the things that are important to you in a school I would highly recommend Aurora school. It's a K-5 independent school in upper Rockridge. Small class sizes, differentiated learning, mixed grades in the same classroom, k/1, 2/3, 4/5, progressive education philosophy. We are in our 2nd year at Aurora and couldn't be happier with the school. The teachers get to know each child and create a supportive and safe learning environment for everyone. There is no homework in the lower grades and no letter grades given out. Parents get 2 progress reports for the school year and have 2 parent teacher conferences. Applications are due Jan 19th but they have a rolling admissions policy so it's not too late to get in contact with them. 

I recognize that this does not answer your question, but The Renaissance International School does an exceptional job over the pre-school to 4th grade years. It adheres to a Montessori philosophy. So curiousity-driven and no homework are part of the core approach. My children attended through 4th grade and I strongly recommend it for that developmental phase.

If you visit, pay close atttention to the children's activity and developmental accomplishments in the class room. The school philosopy on a tour can seem very rigid, but the teachers are in fact very caring and nurturing.

It also has a relatively long school day (aftercare until 6 pm?), so it acccomodates working parent schedules.

Good Luck finding a school that fits your needs.

It seems to me when you are describing what's important to you about a school, you are describing Aurora School. I strongly suggest you check out Aurora School over the schools you've listed. https://auroraschool.org/

We were in your same situation last year, except we had Aurora School on our short list. I suggest taking a tour and see what it's like in action during a school day. I was floored by the energy level of the kids (and teachers, too!). It is a very joyful place. Our child visited all 4 schools, and her choice hands down was Aurora. Good luck to you!

Given what you've written about what's important to you, please do come check out Aurora School! Our family has been a part of Aurora's community for 7 years now and it really does meet all the criteria that you describe. It's a small school, which makes it a little less well known, but it has been providing a solid progressive education for over 25 years. They are *very* intentional about making learning about *how* to learn, and not about test scores or rote memorization (no homework in lower grades, no formal grading except for narrative progress reports). That said, our family has never felt that Aurora is "soft" in terms of academics -- our oldest daughter has transitioned wonderfully to middle school -- Aurora prides itself on providing rigor in its academics -- believe it, it's true! Also, the community is really amazing -- many families have dual-working parents, and many never imagined that they would send their kids to private school but discovered Aurora because they were looking for a place that deeply cares about its kids in a way that is difficult to do in many other larger schools.