Park Day School for active 1st grader?

Hi Parents,

I have a first grader and am considering moving him to Park Day School in the fall.  I love everything I have learned about the school so far and have a feeling it would be a great fit for him and for our family. He's a fabulous kid - sweet, funny, athletic, social, curious, active, and eager to learn and actively engage in everything related to school (and life!).  However, new environments are difficult for him and it takes him time to feel safe/comfortable in an unfamiliar place with people he doesn't know.  The thing that is usually most helpful to him when this challenge arises is having an adult with whom he feels connected.  I'm wondering - does anyone have input about the 2nd grade teachers at Park Day School and their ability to handle this situation skillfully?  Are they open to giving a new student some extra time and attention...perhaps meeting with him during the week before school starts, etc?  And can anyone comment about the current first grade cohort of kids...will they be welcoming?  Are there other active boys who will make it easy for him to integrate socially?  Thanks for any feedback you have!  One other issue - we live in North Berkeley.  Are there other families with children in first grade who live in North Berkeley (or anywhere in Berkeley)?  My partner and I both work so the logistics of getting our son to Park feel a little daunting...a carpool would help.  I'd be very grateful to hear any thoughts folks have to share about Park Day School and the issues I've mentioned.  Thanks!

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Hi there--

I'm a parent of a current first grader at Park Day, and can tell you we'd love to have you! Your description of your son makes him sound a lot like mine-- active, athletic, goofy at times, but also thoughtful and sensitive. I can't speak to the second grade teachers, and hope that someone who can will respond to that question. But based on every other adult I've encountered at PDS, I'm confident in saying that there would be no shortage of adults invested in making him feel welcome and at home. It's a place where kids' emotional well-being is a priority. My son can be shy in new settings too, and the transition to PDS (as a kindergartener) was remarkably easy. One of the things that helped---and that might be relevant to your logistical issues---was having him in the After School program, where it's quite common to find him sweaty and red-faced, playing basketball or gaga ball with a bunch of older kids (and not in any hurry to come home). They also get connected to big kids through class reading buddies and other activities. When he's walking around campus and sees his big kid friends, he shouts hello to them and (instead of dismissing him as some overeager little kid) they reciprocate.  It makes him light up. I think it's contributed a lot to his sense of security and community to have not just adults but also big kids looking out for him. The first grade class this year is full of sweet and curious kids, all with different interests and strengths, but all learning (along with top-notch academics) how to be inclusive, how to be allies, how to use their voices to make their communities better. I'm sure they'd be welcoming. Good luck! 

Parent a Sporty Park Day Kid