Deciding Which Private School
Select any title to view the full question and replies.
– May 27, 2023(4 replies)
we've run the gamut of exploring schools for neurodiverse and highly gifted kids, and we are leaning toward a 1:1 program for them. A number of professionals, including OUSD special ed, we've encountered have had mixed things to say about Tilden Prep for kids who can be dysregulated by school demands. We've heard enough of this feedback to want to understand it better, but since these were not family perspectives, we'd love some from people who have already exhausted all other options.
we've heard very positive things about Fusion from a family in San Diego, but obviously not the Berkeley location.
thanks in advance!May 27, 2023
– May 5, 2023(1 reply)
Does anyone have children enrolled at Dunn School in Los Olivos? If so, please tell me how you and your child are enjoying it thus far.May 5, 2023
– Apr 17, 2023(4 replies)
My 9th grader is interested in exploring private schools for 10th grade. I know we are late in the game, so I wonder if some private schools are more likely to have a spot for 10th grade than others. I would love to learn of where to look first.Apr 17, 2023
– Mar 17, 2023(9 replies)
We have been offered spots in both school and are looking for some feedback from the community on pros and cons of each. Loved the tours and the mission of both.
Particularly with new leadership for Park Day and new Middle School program in Aurora, how do you evaluate these schools? Would be great if you can share your experience if you have a kid in any of these schools. Thanks for any insight!Mar 17, 2023
– Oct 11, 2022(14 replies)
So... let me begin by saying that my husband and I have had every intention of supporting our local public school, but since our son started there in TK last year we have been so discouraged on so many levels we would like to know what other options might be out there, and if there are any that are remotely affordable. One issue is related to how the school handles aggressive children. We want to make sure our son (a kindergartener now) feels safe at school and has the opportunity to participate in restorative justice type conflict resolution. So far, public school has been a lot of time outs for aggressive kids and other kids getting pushed/hit/kicked/spit on when there aren't adults around to supervise. Another concern is related to technology in the classroom. I was just informed that my son's kindergarten class will be using chromebooks with headphones soon, and had already been told they will be used more in first grade. We have made a concerted effort to limit this kind of technology at home, because kids will be exposed no matter what and I can't see how it's anything more than crowd control at age 6 in a classroom setting. The only private school I am aware of in El Cerrito is Prospect Sierra, which is not really an option at $36K per year... are there any unicorn schools out there that I am not aware of? We would be ok with El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley area. Thank you!Oct 11, 2022
– Apr 22, 2022(7 replies)
My son is 4 years old; will be 5 in January. We're looking at where he should go to school for kindergarten and beyond, but ... the options are a little intimidating. So many great places in the East Bay - I'd love to hear personal recommendations if possible. We're looking for a private school in the east bay; Berkeley/Alameda/Oakland/Albany/Emeryville/El Cerrito? We don't live in a great public school district. About my son... he's a very exuberant and extroverted kid! He's very hungry for knowledge, and can already read but he has a lot of trouble sitting still and being quiet. He's drawn to sports and music, and shows some real natural aptitude there. He likes to get his hands on things and definitely learns by doing; he wants to touch and explore and be outside as much as he can. He loves books and will make up songs and stories. He is fascinated with technology and would spend hours on our phones if he wasn't forbidden to use them. Still, doesn't stop him from asking. He doesn't have a tablet or device of his own, although his dad and I work in gaming and tech so that's a big part of our lives. I want somewhere he won't be chained to a desk; where he'll be able to fidget and touch and learn. Somewhere that can develop his love for music; his dad and I are not musical but come from a family of music and theater people. He's a quick study with languages and went to a Spanish speaking daycare until he started preschool. I'd love him to have a focus on foreign language; I grew up in bay area public school and didn't learn Spanish until I was a teenager which I feel was a huge loss. Not sure what else will be helpful to add; I'd love to hear real personal experiences from people, especially if what I've said about my son resonates with your own childrens' experiences. Thank you.Apr 22, 2022
– Mar 21, 2022(6 replies)
I am deciding between EBI, Park Day and Redwood Day for my soon-to-be Kindergartener. For background, my son's dominant language is Spanish (we speak mostly Spanish at home). Thus, EBI's language immersion would be great to reinforce what he has learned at home, but not essential.
My son is introverted and sensitive. I suspect he might have ADHD, but I am told he is too young to test/diagnose. I don't think he would thrive in an environment that is overly rigid (i.e. a traditional type of teaching environment).
I would love to hear about your experiences at any of these schools. Thank you!Mar 21, 2022
– Mar 20, 2022(7 replies)
We're a family of four moving from the East Coast back to the West Coast, to the Oakland/Berkeley area. As such, we're looking for a strong elementary/middle private or charter school that's *diverse, *progressive and has *strong but not too demanding academics for our almost 10 yr old, who will be entering 5th grade in the fall (I know we're late in terms of application dates, but we just found out we're moving and are letting the kids finish school where we are vs moving them mid-year...we're hoping to get on a wait list, find a school with openings or that takes late applications). Our child has attended a very strong, large diverse public school on the East Coast and in doing so, teachers have very recently recommended that she move to a smaller or private setting as they believe she's being left behind and is falling through the cracks in the larger setting. She's an average learner who works more slowly and needs one-on-one instruction and explanation of concepts (we're currently testing her for a mild case of Dysgraphia). In addition, she's very sensitive and benefits from teachers who are better able to connect with her emotionally. (In contrast, her older sister navigates a large public school very well as she works independently and quickly/easily and as such, will be attending Oakland public schools).
I've looked at Park Day and Redwood schools and while they seem wonderful, they don't seem all that diverse ... we're looking for a school that's more balanced in terms of race and ethnicity, i.e. having as many or almost as many students of color as they do Caucasian students (we're a multiracial family of Caucasian, Black and Latinx descent). Would love any recs that you all might have....thanks so much for reading and for your help!Mar 20, 2022
– Mar 16, 2022(7 replies)
I know that selecting a school is a very personal and child-specific decision-- But does anyone have any major red flags they want to share about The Berkeley School? Golestan? Prospect Sierra?
Admissions decisions come out this week and we need to accept an offer by March 24. Just curious if any parents out there have strong feelings they would want someone to know about any of those schools? I would love to hear any dealbreakers before we commit to a school.
THANK YOU!Mar 16, 2022
– Jan 28, 2022(23 replies)
Any insights on St. Paul’s, Park Day, or Berkwood Hedge? We live in North Oakland and I am currently looking at kindergarten options for my daughter. Would be super helpful to hear about your experience with any of these schools including their Covid protocols, academics, and socio-emotional learning. Thank you!Jan 28, 2022
– Jan 16, 2022(3 replies)
I’m looking at schools for my son who will be entering kindergarten. I would love to hear from parents at any of these schools to get current feedback on academics and teachers but also on Covid protocols. Also curious if they all have air conditioning. How are the communities? Friendly? How is drop off and pick up? How are the kids? Well rounded? Competitive? Thanks!Jan 16, 2022
– Dec 13, 2021(2 replies)
Hi. We are getting ready to move from virtual to in-person and would love to find a private school that has and is planning to continue to have great covid safety measures. For example, an air filtering system, frequent testing, low rates of covid among the students. Geographically between anywhere between Orinda and Concord. We are willing to drive out for the right place. Thank you!Dec 13, 2021
– Sep 23, 2021(1 reply)
Our 10-year-old son is currently in 5th grade at Aurora. He is dyslexic, and we are looking for a middle school that will provide a larger pool of kids and still offer learning support for him. We will look at Raskob, but it's so small (like 15-20 kids per grade) that we're concerned he won't have the same social and athletic opportunities that he might have at a larger school. Does anyone know of other independent schools that offer a balance of these two components? Thanks!Sep 23, 2021
– Mar 9, 2021(1 reply)
Our child will be entering 7th grade this fall and is currently at another private school.
Their current school used to be well known for great academics. But after the head of school changed, the focus has mainly shifted to socio-emotional learning for the past 2 years. This came at the expense of academics and now, during the pandemic, has gotten even worse. As parents we don’t see the point of paying that much money for tuition, if the academics don’t even reach California state standards.
For their next school, we would hope to find a school with: great academics, a welcoming community and a stable administration.
Does anyone have any recent experiences with above mentioned schools? TIA!Mar 9, 2021
– Dec 14, 2020(5 replies)
Anyone recommend a private school close to Berkeley for a third grader who has some social anxiety? I've looked at nearby private schools, but it's hard to tell what they're like until you're in--they all seem nice, but a few I've heard are a bit light on feedback about academic progress. If we're springing for private school (not an easy financial choice for us,) I'd want it to be warm/welcoming and have real academics--not too "fluffy." I also don't want to have to drive too far from Berkeley. Of course we're also late to the touring/application game--both in terms of grade level and the time of year (winter 2020.) And then covid makes it more complicated. If you have recommendations for schools far from Berkeley, that would be great too! We are always talking about moving. Thanks!!!Dec 14, 2020
– Nov 23, 2020(7 replies)
My 5y old is heading to K next year and I am in need of advice on a small size (private) school that has experience with quirky kiddos, that like to do everything on their own pace. My son is still too much interested in playing then on the academics, but seems to be more interested in this if the teacher works more one on one with him. Any leads, advice for a school in the Berkeley/Kensington/El Cerrito area are more than welcome! Thank you.Nov 23, 2020
– Jul 2, 2020(4 replies)
I am looking for a private elementary school (not Spanish Immersion) which offers Spanish classes for all grades, including kindergarten.
Please let me know if you have any recommendations.
CarrieJul 2, 2020
– Jun 5, 2020(1 reply)
There are many glowing reviews of private elementary schools in the Oakland/Berkeley area on BPN, and I’m sure each school has its strengths. I’m interested in hearing from parents who decided to take their kids out of a Berkeley/Oakland private school. What school did your child attend and why did you decide to switch? What didn’t feel like a great fit? Did you feel like there were certain personality or behavior traits of students who did well or didn’t do well there? How does your child’s experience at their prior school differ from their current one (pre-COVID)?Jun 5, 2020
– May 23, 2020(3 replies)
I know most (especially public) elementary schools aren't able to say what the school year will look like this upcoming year, but I was wondering if some of the private schools in the oakland/berkeley area have started to finalize plans? The public schools are likely going to be hybrid this upcoming year, but didn't know if some of the private schools were going to be able to offer more on-site learning because of the inherent reduced teacher-student ratio. If anyone has any insight, please let me know? (and, if able, what school?). Thank-you!!May 23, 2020
– May 1, 2020(7 replies)
We're looking at school options for our 2nd grader. We're currently at a public school. We had seriously considered Crowden, since she loves music--but the small class sizes put us off a bit--and the tuition. Does anyone have any suggestions for elementary schools--public or independent/private--in California or another state? Is that too broad? LoL. As the same for many in the Bay Area, we are always considering a move. But we have family here, etc. The ideal school would be something closer to 10k a year (at the most), one that has a strong music program, and one that helps kids feel confident/interested in learning. Obviously, this school doesn't exist in the Bay Area! Homeschool, maybe? Anyone want similar things and had success homeschooling? We need regular socializing. Signed, Irrationally optimistic:)May 1, 2020
– Mar 11, 2020(2 replies)
My 7-year-old son is in a large OUSD public elementary and it has become pretty clear that he needs a school with more support around social skills. He has always been an introvert and gravitates towards adults. In the 3 years he has been at his school he hasn't made any real friends. The few relationships he has had have all turned negative in some way, i.e. "you can sit with me at lunch" kind of things. The school does a good job of talking about being inclusive and accepting but I find that without caring capable adults on the playground to help guide kids towards those kinds of behaviors, inclusiveness isn't going to happen. We are hoping there is a private school in the area that does a good job of helping young kids with this kind of stuff. Does your private school have caring adults on the playground to help kids navigate tricky social issues? If so, please share your experience. Thanks in advance!Mar 11, 2020
– Mar 8, 2020(4 replies)
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!Mar 8, 2020
– Nov 7, 2019(10 replies)
Hello folks, I'm beginning to think about local K-8 private schools for my daughter and am looking for some recommendations. I'm hoping to find a loving and supportive environment with small class sizes in Oakland or Berkeley. I'd love to hear your experiences. Thanks in advance!Nov 7, 2019
– Aug 6, 2019(13 replies)
We have two children that would thrive in a rigorous academic environment, and can likely afford private schools. We have toured many and the Academy, Bentley, Heads Royce, EBI and EB all looked great and work for us geographically. I've read all the threads for these schools, and seen parents give rave reviews of each school, so I know that we can't really go wrong. But I would love to hear more about some trade-offs, and how parents addressed any limitations of their chosen school. Also, if you're able to answer any part of the questions below, I'd be very grateful.
The Academy: It was intriguing to hear that all kids are given materials one year more advanced than those of California public schools. Do other private schools effectively do the same thing? Or is this unique to the Academy? Also, were you happy with the aftercare/enrichment options at the Academy?
EB/EBI: We are thrilled by the immersion curriculum. But, for families that speak a third language at home, was trilingual education possible? Did you need to supplement language instruction in one or more of the languages, and how did you do this? And did pursuing three languages come at the cost of other academic subjects (e.g., math) or hobbies?
Heads Royce/Bentley: We were very impressed by the facilities and afternoon activity options, especially as we will need to leave our children at school relatively late every day. As these are large schools, was the administration able to accommodate individual requests, e.g., for acceleration in particular subjects, or is this not done?
Thank you for reading through this long post! If you're able to talk about the pros and cons of the school you chose, how you chose this school over other options, and perhaps what you did to address any cons, I'd be most grateful.Aug 6, 2019
– Dec 9, 2018(5 replies)
Our family lives and works around Hercules and have decided we will be sending our kids (going into k and 2nd grade) to private school starting in the summer of 2019. Our challenge is finding a great school that is hopefully under 30 minutes away (tough with Bay Area traffic).
We hope to find a school that can keep our kids engaged and challenged or “coached up” as needed. As an example, our current 1st grader is very strong in math, grade appropriate reader, but shy and “weaker” in writing and our future kindergartner is the opposite (extrovert, advanced (for 4) reader/writer, “weaker” in math). Finding a school that can help our kids be there best is what we’re hoping for.
In general, my wife and I like the idea of a school that is academically strong / rigerous in the traditional sense, with a small class size to allow individualized attention, but still provides a nurturing environment where the kids are comfortable and excited to go to and learn everyday.
A bonus would be a school that has a strong before/after school program and summer time options (camps etc).
My wife and I have just started our “research” by doing tours -we were very impressed with Bentley (seemed like a caring environment, small classes, academically strong) but it’s just too far.
The 3 schools that we’ve learned about from BPN that possibly may be the best fit for our family (considering distance and academics) is Palmer (walnut creek-least expensive, but not many reviews) black pine circle (possibly too far-but we are very intrigued based on the strong BPN recommendations by current families) and prospect Sierra (closest and also well regarded of on BPN, but having some administrative changes we were told) (and please let us know if there’s another recommendation).
Our question to the BPN community is “do you have any guidance for us?” Thanks in advance.Dec 9, 2018
– Oct 4, 2018(6 replies)
We live in Berkeley.
My daughter is in first grade at a private school in Oakland. We love the school and it was great for our first daughter. However, we are finding that the classroom vibe changes year to year depending on who is in the class. And her first grade classroom (as was her K classroom) is a particularly difficult deal of cards. Few girls live near us. None of the other families of girls seem to want to get the girls together for playdates or other opportunities to build friendships. And worse, there are actually some mean girls, who have made things worse. Our girl is exceptionally well socialized in that she is kind, follows rules, does not have off-putting behaviors. And seriously, this is not just coming from her mama. Other adults who observe her behavior around other kids are just wowed at what a dear sweet child she is. And she is funny. And she is creative. She has got it all going on, yet doesn't have a single friend in her class. Meaning a single friend she can play with outside school. So my question is - do you have a first grade girl in a classroom that is a great social environment? A school with parents who want to get the kids together and are active and involved in their kids lives. Public or private, I'm open. I'd like to know. Thanks!Oct 4, 2018
– Apr 28, 2018(17 replies)
Hello! I have just found out that I will be moving to Berkeley or Oakland. What are some schools that I could look into for first grade for this fall? I know the regular admissions cycle has passed, but I am wondering if any schools still have any spaces? Please advise! Thank you :)Apr 28, 2018
– Mar 22, 2018(2 replies)
With only a few hours to go, we are trying to decide between Head Royce, Redwood Day, and Black Pine Circle for our daughter's kindergarten year. We are looking for a good balance between academics and opportunities to express oneself creatively. Also concerned and curious about way down the road--where do these graduates end up for college? She is currently attending a Reggio Emilia based language immersion preschool. I will be grateful for your feedback! Thank you!Mar 22, 2018
– Mar 7, 2018(3 replies)
Hi moms and dads
My son is currently at Montessori preschool and are looking for recommendations/thoughts on private schools for K-8 or k-12, preferred non-religious, mid range tuition, <25000/ per year in the following city:
1. San Leandro
2. Oakland, preferred closed to 580
the list is so overwhelming, any thoughts/ideas are greatly appreciated !
LienMar 7, 2018
– Jan 30, 2018(1 reply)
Hi! We are new to the Bay Area and considering Palmer and Seven Hills for our pre-kindergarten son. Some of the reviews on this site are very dated so would love to hear from anyone attending or has recent experience. Also any other private schools that are worth checking out in Walnut Creek/Lafayette area?Jan 30, 2018
– Jan 15, 2018(4 replies)
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 FeedbackJan 15, 2018
– Dec 9, 2017(4 replies)
We have two high energy and studious boys (5 and 7). We are looking into the 3 schools mentioned in the title to transfer to. We’d love to hear about the following at these schools:
1. Student population diversity
2. How they support high boy energy
3. Community connection (parents and students), examples of activities for community building
4. What areas/aspects of the school need improvement?
Thank you! Any insight is greatly appreciated.Dec 9, 2017
– Nov 30, 2017(3 replies)
We are new to the area, just moved from SF to North Oakland. My daughter is currently enrolled in a progressive charter school in SF (Kinder). I need to transfer her within the next month to an Oakland school. We bought in Bushrod thinking Peralta was our school, but found out we are a block out of the border.
Where else do you suggest for a progressive education? We are not looking to spend too much on a private school. We did tour Walden and I like it. Anyone have thoughts regarding Walden or other suggestions?
thank you in advance!Nov 30, 2017
– Nov 15, 2017(2 replies)
We are looking at schools for our rising 4th grade currently-homeschooled daughter, and in particular want to find schools that will be responsive and supportive in her tendency to be persistent with other kids when she has an idea she is excited about. As an only child, she does not get to practice negotiating with other kids at home. When she is excited about an idea, she tends to persist, and wears out other kids with her persistence, unless they are just as assertive/excited as her, in which case they quickly come to a compromise on their different ideas. While we work on it at home, we want for her to be in a supportive school environment that will help her gain awareness on how to read and respond to more subtle cues from kids who are more laid back, and practice how to let go of whatever it is she is after. This would need to be done by keeping an eye on her and giving her regular feedback, without making her feel too down on herself. (She is trying to work on it, but loses track of her behavior whenever she is excited about some idea she has on how to play).
I guess I'm talking about social emotional education? We are looking at a number of private progressive schools, but do any of you have a daughter like that and have found your school to be helpful in guiding her in this respect? (Strangely, she can also be very inhibited in a new environment, but I'm not worried about that, as I suspect that most schools are helpful in that regard)Nov 15, 2017
– Nov 1, 2017(11 replies)
My 4 year old is currently at a preschool where he has a ton of freedom, and generally uses it to be outside. We are looking into kindergartens for next year, and I am dreading the thought of him doing worksheets, or even doing structured "centers," and only having specific, limited "recess" times to be outside playing or digging. Are there any kindergartens that would give him more freedom to explore the outdoors? (I am aware of Berkeley Forest school.) We are in Berkeley. Thanks, parents!
NLNov 1, 2017
– Mar 20, 2017(1 reply)
My about to be 5 year old son is an outgoing, energetic, curious, talkative and academically strong personality. He is currently attending the Dorris-Eaton Pre-school in Alamo. We live in Walnut Creek and for the kindergarten admission, we applied to Head-Royce, Bentley and Dorris-Eaton. Given that he got admission into all the three schools, our struggle began as to which school would be best fit for him.
Besides the three different philosophies and educational environment of the above three schools, we are also wondering if we should also consider the different neighborhoods to eventually move or would a commute from Walnut Creek for next 6 years is worth with regards to volunteering activities, play-dates etc.
Any recommendations towards our selection process would be much appreciated.
Thanks!Mar 20, 2017
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- How to research schools
- Private elementary schools -- constructive negative feedback?
- How did you narrow down your choices?
- Which private school?
- How to decide on a school
i am starting to look into elementary schools for my son - public, charter, private. i was wondering how one does this...are there websites that compares rates, scores, rankings? google search reveals greatschools.org which i've perused. i've also looked thru BPN, alameda parents network (i live in alameda), and yelp. anywhere else? i have 2 years until he enters kindergarden and would move if necessary/able to. i am looking in alameda, east bay, east of caldecott tunnel. thank you in advance for your recommendations. helen
My first bit of advice is to not overthink it! My second piece of advice is to remember there's no such thing as a perfect school. So unless your child is extremely ''special'' in some way, he/she will very likely do just fine in your local public school, or a charter, or a private school, whether it be in Alameda, Oakland, Orinda, or wherever. I think BPN is a good resource for checking out schools, especially if you have specific questions. I don't necessarily trust GreatSchools and I don't know anybody who reviews schools on Yelp. Word of mouth is probably the best resource available to you. Good luck to you!
Mom of 3 who've been in school for awhile
Hello, We are looking for a private kindergarten in Oakland for our son for the 2015-2016 school year and just starting the touring/application process now. We have had no trouble finding parents with glowing reviews of just about any private school in Oakland and Berkeley. However, I am curious whether there are parents who would be willing to share constructive criticism of their schools or parents who have left certain private schools and would be willing to share reasons why. We are particularly interested in Park Day, Redwood Day, Head Royce and Bentley. I'd really appreciate your insight! Thanks in advance, Potential private school parent
I know you are looking for negatives for the various private elementary schools, but I think that you will need to figure out the negatives for yourself. I don't mean that to be unhelpful, I truly mean that the negatives I found at each school are likely positives for other people. For example: a couple of schools we visited emphasized social-emotional development over academics while others valued academic rigor over social-emotional development. A couple of schools have mixed-age classes while others do not. Depending on what you are looking for and what your child needs, you'll find a good fit. When we were looking for a private kindergarten, we looked at Aurora, Bentley, Head-Royce, Redwood Day, and St. Paul's. I think that they are all excellent schools but we only felt drawn to two of them. I recommend starting at the EBISA fair- i felt like you get a snapshot of each school there. I will say that one admissions director was completely uninterested in talking to me at that event or making me feel welcome, and that feeling continued with other people (teachers, etc) at our school visit. Bottom line, it was just not a fit and we did not apply to that school. I'm sure other people love it there. To each their own, but I think you'll get a good sense of each school on the visits. It all sort of seems whitewashed, but the true character of the schools actually shines through, in my experience. Good luck, former searcher
Having finally completed the Kindergarten application process, we, like many families, are in the waiting stage. Our family applied to four private schools, all of which seem very strong. I'm wondering how we will choose between them if we are lucky enough to get into more than one. Can you share how you narrowed your choices down, especially if you were unsure before getting your acceptances? Or, should I even be worried about this - do most people only get into one school? It's hard to know how much to think about it now before hearing from admissions, though I also don't want to scramble once we get our letters. Thank you! anonymous
When selecting a school, keep in mind that the school's administration probably wants you to talk to families who are happy with the school. To find out if you yourself are likely to be happy with the school, ask how many people (i.e. children and teachers) have left in recent years. A few families leave because they are moving out of town or because they are unusually hard to satisfy. But if more than a few families and/or teachers leave, that could be a red flag.
The school's administration knows how many families are applying elsewhere. So, ask directly: Are the children I saw during my visit going to be there next year? Has the school's size been stable? Have there been changes in staffing? Do you anticipate changes in staffing?
Also keep in mind that unsolicited reviews on BPN can only be positive, as a matter of BPN policy. If you have a question about a particular school, the only way you can find out not-so-positive information is in response to a posted question. And even then, the information isn't going to be free of bias: At my child''s school, parents earn parent participation credit for posting on BPN and for monitoring BPN and responding to any criticism.
Perhaps all the schools where you applied are great and people are happy there. In that case, you can't go wrong and might simply decide on the basis of location or convenience. Cautious
First off, try not to worry. I know that is much easier said than done-- but the likelihood is that everything will work out well. ( Full disclosure, I have a daughter in the midst of the high school application process- and I find myself thinking about it all the time. So do as I say, not as I do! ) For now, relax and enjoy spending a little extra time with your child. Once you know what your choices are, then arrange to take one more look.
It is not unusual to get acceptances to more than one school, so you may find yourself in the happy position of having to choose. From the time the acceptances are mailed until you need to respond is called ''quiet week'' because the schools are not supposed to reach out to you to try and sway your decision. However, you can and should reach out to them, and you should find that they are happy to answer any lingering questions you might have. You might even be able to arrange a time to have one more visit to the school.
Then, I would encourage you listen to your gut. When you close your eyes and picture your child in that school, or with that kindergarten teacher, how do you feel? Comfortable? Safe? Excited? Happy? Anxious? Nervous? Stressed? You know your child better than anyone, and (s)he is most likely to thrive in an environment that has the right mix of nurturing and challenge, stimulation and safety. What is the right mix? The answer varies with every child- and that's where listening to your gut will serve you well. Don't focus on the literature, watch the teachers interacting with the kids. Pay attention to how the Head of School interacts with parents and teachers. I'm sure you will make a great choice. Happy at The Berkeley School
Hi, We are going to start the private school process in September. Our daughter is very smart in a science, math sort of way but socially is very shy and observes rather than joins. She tends to have one or 2 friends but for the most part enjoys being on her own doing things like reading etc... We have heard about all the schools but would love parents opinions. I do believe she needs some structure and fairly strong academics but I don't want a child in 4th grade with 3 hours of homework , but also don't want her to be bored. Please advise if you know anything and share your thoughts. Another alternative is just moving to Piedmont.
I have a daughter who's entering 2nd grade at Park Day ... read this review ...
Why not consider Redwood Day School? read this review ...
Our daughter is going into 2nd grade at Park Day and pretty much fits the description of your soon-to-be kindergartner. read this review ...
As a parent who has had a child in Bentley and in Piedmont (and examined several of the other alternatives you mention), I would emphatically recommend against Piedmont for a gifted child ... (see Moving to Piedmont for the schools and Bentley School
Dear School-Searcher: My advice to you is to visit the schools especially when class is in session. See if you like the energy level and interaction of the classroom. Also look into schools which may not be on your short list. We ended up at a school we didn't even know existed (at the beginning of the process). You'll have a gut-feel about it and you will make a good decision. tli
I have looked at the archives about these three privarte schools but the posts are from 97-99. We are considering these three schools for Kindergarten for 2003. Their websites are vague about tuition costs, scholorship availability, interview process, etc. Most of all we just want to know what worked for you in the decision making process (visiting the school, interviewing the teachers,??) and how you are enjoying your decision. Thanks much for your time. Nilou
Actually, you can find quite detailed information about the Windrush application process on their website. Just click on ''Admissions'' at the top, and then you'll see a sidebar that has lots of links to information about the application process and other FAQs. You won't find information about tuition or scholarships on websites because they usually don't know what the tuition will be until it's decided in the spring. However, Windrush lower (elementary) school tuition is currently around $10,000 and Prospect-Sierra is $12,500. You can expect increases of from 4 to 10% from year to year. To find out more about scholarship availability, you just have to call the admissions office.
As for advice on the decision-making process, you might find helpful two articles that I wrote for the Neighborhood Parents Network, which have been reproduced on their website. One is called ''Sorting Through the Choices'' and the other is called ''Raise Your Hand: Questions to Ask''. You'll find them both at this site: http://www.parentsnet.org/npn_schools.html
I have friends at a dozen different schools, public and private, and everyone has things they love about their school and things they don't. We ended up at Windrush, which felt like the right fit for our family in terms of its educational philosophy, but also because we instantly felt at home there. We liked the teachers, administration and community members, loved the campus, liked the smaller class size, werer impressed by the afterschool program, and liked the relationship between the middle and lower school kids. But we probably would have been happy at Prospect- Sierra, Park Day, Head Royce, Redwood Day, Black Pine Circle, Cragmont or Oxford. There are so many choices. But we chose Windrush, which turned out to be the right place for us (so far)!
Good luck on figuring out what feels right for your family. Natasha B.
Re gathering info about schools: For private schools, write or call the admissions office. Beginning in the fall, there are two types of programs - "tours" and "open houses." The open houses are large meetings for all parents who might be interested in the school. There's a presentation, some opportunity for questions. It's held at the school. "Tours" are daytime tours of the school, while kids are in class. You go with small groups of other parents. You can ask lots of questions and pick up any literature you don't already have, plus the application packet. You see the premises, the teachers, and the kids in action. After a while, I skipped all the open houses and saved a lot of time. I learned all I needed at tours. I also checked out a few schools I knew I wouldn't commute to, just because they were reputedly "good" or had a certain philosophy and I wanted to have a basis for comparison. Most schools also have lists of parents you can call. One piece of advice: when looking for kindergarten, think of the type of school best for YOUR child, and think of the years beyond K. How far does the school go gradewise, will this be a good third-grade place for your child, etc. Linda