Aurora or Park Day?

Hi BPN!

We are considering Aurora and Park Day schools for our soon-to-be kindergartner.  Both are “progressive” and have some similarities in teaching methods, though there are other differences, particularly in campus size and classroom composition.  We are hoping that we could get some recent perspective from this group on one or both schools based on personal experience.

Our child is academically bright, but socially/emotionally a bit out of the box and can be headstrong.  We are looking for a school that can accept our child as is and provide individualized attention and support to help our child’s development, as opposed to a school that prioritizes discipline and conformity.  So, what is most important to us is to find a school:

  • that actively fosters kindness, and
  • that is more flexible and individualized, with a big enough box and is willing and able to adapt to individual kids and provide added attention/support as needed.

Thanks BPN!

Parent Replies

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RE: Aurora or Park Day? ()

Based on what you value, I would recommend Berkwood Hedge in Berkeley.  they are a small, progressive school that is individualized more than any school we've experienced and have a strong community. Both our boys have thrived there. Please private message if you would like more information. If you have narrowed it down to Aurora or Park Day, I would go with Aurora. I have many friends with kids that have attended and they were all happy.

RE: Aurora or Park Day? ()

My son is a current Kindergartner at Park Day and we have been so happy with his experience thus far! 

With regard to your question about kindness - the school actively fosters an environment of mutual respect and kindness. Some examples: each morning the kindergartners begin their day at circle time by greeting one another by name and saying "good morning", older kids welcome my outgoing 5 year old son into their games on the playground even though it clearly slows down and changes the flow of play, and age-appropriate applications of respect, equity, and restorative justice are incorporated throughout the program. 

With regard to your question about flexibility and individualized attention - the small class sizes and excellent teacher to student ratio lend itself to the teachers knowing your child well and treating them as a unique individual. In addition to the classroom teachers there are also speciality teachers, learning specialists and directors who all get to know the students really well. When I have volunteered in the classroom I've see teachers giving students individualized support so that they can be successful with the given activity or task. I think the breadth of the curriculum - including making tea using herbs grown in the school's garden, germinating acorn seeds found on a  class field trip, building cars out of wood in the innovation workshop, singing songs in spanish, celebrating the chinese new year by learning the dragon dance - provide opportunities for all students to get engaged and excited about learning. The school is also very adept in instruction of all the traditional academic areas - our son learned to write uppercase, lower case, and to read within the first half of the school year. Today was the school's annual read-a-thon (5 hours of reading!) and our son couldn't have been more excited to bring-in his books to school and read stories all day. 

Please feel free to reach out with any more questions and best wishes as you make this decision for your child! 

RE: Aurora or Park Day? ()

Hi- We looked at Aurora and Park Day for kindergartner-to-be two years ago and were also looking for a place where our headstrong, independent thinking kid would thrive. We ended up at Park Day and it is such a great fit! There is a wonderful mix of structure and recognition that all kids are different. The school has helped our kid find freedom of creativity and self and to work well with others who have different ideas and approaches. I am impressed by how much my child is seen and recognized by his teachers and responded to in who he is. I do not see this compromising his experience or that of his classmates. I honestly can't say enough good about how PDS has supported our kid in blossoming socially and in his own confidence. It's really a beautiful learning community. There are indeed more classmates than at Aurora, but to me the class size (16-18 kids I think so far in his classes) creates a vibrancy that is a big part of the specialness of the school. 

Good luck in your decision. I am sure you will make the right choice for your child.

RE: Aurora or Park Day? ()

Hi,  I have three kids and we have experienced 9 East Bay schools - public and private.  Aurora is one of them.  Aurora is a fantastic school.  My child went to Aurora after skipping a grade and her former school having no ideas about what to do with her so they decided to have her be a teachers assistant and focus on helping other students with learning disabilities - this would have been fine had it been in combination with a strategy to also help her with her own growth and learning.  Fast forward to Aurora which my child fondly remembers as the best school she has ever attended.  Aurora integrates art and music into many subject areas.  The work she did at Aurora was open ended so she could take it as far as she wanted without limitations except her own.  I will forever be grateful to Aurora and how inspired my child was there.