Redwood Day SchoolCommunity Subscriber
We are so grateful to have found Redwood Day. Our son is thriving in Kindergarten. The faculty and staff are incredibly smart, skillful and wise. We particularly appreciate the diversity of the faculty and staff as well as the core values of the school that includes a celebration of differences. The grounds are large and lovely and our son sits under huge Redwood trees for lunch!! We receive 1-3 communications from the school each week so we feel like we are closely involved in our sons education and we can support his learning from home. We can easily contact the very special teachers and the awesome head of the lower school anytime. Every day is varied: some time in his home-room and then 1-3 specialist classes which include science, Spanish, art, library, Design/Innovate/Build, music and PE. Soon they will start Mandarin classes too. Afterschool care is guaranteed and is superb (our kid does not EVER want to leave!). We commute from Berkeley. We quickly figured out that google maps was taking us a round about route--there's a much more direct route by taking the Park Blvd exit. It's very manageable even with 2 parents who work more than 40 hours/week. The school established a contact list of all the incoming Kindergarten families in May. We had many fun gatherings as a community over the summer and we have became friends with this awesome group of parents. I am just sharing incase helpful to other parents who are searching!
We send our child to Redwood Day and absolutely love it. We've found it to offer a thoughtful balance of academics, enrichment opportunities, and social emotional education. Teachers really get to know each kid and support them. We haven't found it to be overly traditional, certainly not when compared to other local schools (like BUSD, the IB language schools like EBI, Head-Royce, etc.). At Redwood Day, younger elementary kids take Spanish a few times each week for one semester, and mandarin the other semester. They choose to specialize in one language after a few years of trying both.
In terms of whether Redwood Day would be a good fit for a child with ADHD, the particulars matter - how severe is the ADHD, is the child able to sit and participate reasonably well, etc. I think that goes for any school environment, though some schools have a reputation for supporting neurodivergent kids more than others. Park Day has a reputation being more welcoming towards kids who need a little more support, which has upsides and downsides. Same with Head-Royce, which has more resources to support kids who fall outside of the norm. No private school is required to provide services to kids who need it, unlike public schools. So, any significant need at a private school is likely to require outside support.
We've heard about kids with ADHD who have thrived at Redwood Day, and some who have not and ended up switching schools. I think it comes down to ADHD severity, what the parents expected from the school in terms of support for the ADHD, and how much families accessed support outside of school.
We had a child attend Redwood Day lower school and I would strongly recommend you look at EBI or Park Day School instead. Redwood Day is about as traditional as they come. It's definitely more rigid and inflexible than either of those other schools (I'm familiar with all three). There are a lot of worksheets assigned for homework and the teachers and administrators were not very flexible, supportive or accommodating for our student with learning differences. You are so smart to think of these things now and save your family a lot of stress and grief down the road. Best of luck to you and your son.
You might want to look at the Redwood Day School in Oakland. In addition to great academics, it has art, drama and tech/innovation lab as part of the regular curriculum in MS. On a less regular schedule, it also offers cooking and gardening (more regular in lower school
It also offers “activities” as a class which changes each trimester. The “activities” classes can be and have been almost anything from floorball to cooking to mochas & math. The teachers (and done students) teach something they love and the kids get to pick which one they want to take.
Sounds like it might be a fit?
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 :-)
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.
We have two boys at Redwood Day and couldn't be happier. We left a good public school with our oldest in 3rd grade because we'd had a run of not great teachers and we felt our younger (more shy) son would have a hard time in the large classroom. RDS has exceeded our expectations. The teachers are SO invested in every child and they work hard to make sure every child thrives. The assistant teachers are phenomenal, the head of school is very accessible and the entire support staff from the front desk to the library to the PE teacher are top notch. The community is lovely and my kids enjoy the integrated curriculum, are comfortable speaking publicly and are very happy socially. The new STEM building is just frosting on a terrific hybrid academic/progressive school.
As for Redwood Day, you'll probably find more racial diversity than you expect. I have friends at Montclair and Chabot who both say my kids' classes have WAY more racial diversity than their kids' classes. As for socio-econonomic, you'll find a lot of upper class and upper middle class families, and a fair number of middle class families. There are also a few lower middle class families (by Bay Area standards, at least!) and a number of single parent families (who, by default, end up with less money than dual income families). I think the reason there aren't more lower middle/lower class families isn't because the aid isn't available, but because private school is not on their radar. If it's on your radar and you have the money to contribute to schooling (although not to pay for it entirely), I think you'll feel just fine - mostly because this is us! And a number of families I know! Yes, there are people who do to Hawaii,skiing, etc for every break, but there are PLENTY of us who don't. I don't know anyone coming from Hayward, but at Redwood Day most families are from Oakland, and then some from Alameda, Berkeley, San Leandro, Castro Valley, and Walnut Creek. AND, most importantly, Redwood Day is just an AMAZING school. We could NOT be happier. Social/emotional is fantastic, as is academic, and most importantly, my kids love school and love to learn! There are plenty of families who would be happy to talk to you about all of the above if you contact Katrina in admissions. They are so good at honestly and directly answering questions just like this.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Oh gosh. That sounds extreme. I would be very upset with this kind of discipline, and can absolutely say that this is not acceptable at our school (Redwood Day). If private school is an option (and there is a good deal of financial aid available), I would highly encourage you to look at Redwood Day and some of the other progressive private schools. Redwood Day really focuses on both academics and social emotional development - it's actually quite inspiring to watch how confident, kind, generous, and excited about learning the kids are. I absolutely understand the constraints public schools have with limited staff and a huge student body, but if it's an option for you, there are amazing private school options out there that very fortunately are able to use positive discipline and exciting curriculum. RDS Parent
When we were starting to look at schools for our son, one of his preschool teachers suggested that we look into private schools for him. We, as a family, are strong believers in public education, and we were hesitant to even think about private schools.
As it turns out, various events occurred that allowed us to send our child to Redwood Day School (RDS), and I cannot stress strongly enough what a fantastic decision it has been for not only our son, but for our family. RDS has turned out to be the most ideal school community that we could have asked for. In nearly every regard, it is an ideal environment for our son:
- The academic program is rigorous without being overwhelming. The teachers are remarkably competent and dedicated. Teachers are given specific training in the various parts of the curriculum, which is being honed and perfected on a constant basis. For instance, multiple teachers were sent to New York last summer to attend a week-long seminar on the writing curriculum that the students are learning.
- The management of the school is unflaggingly professional, yet approachable and engaging. The administration is completely dedicated in their commitment to the students. RDS constantly seeks to improve the campus programs and curriculum.
- There are multiple resource educators for science, Spanish, PE, music, etc. It's astounding to me that the school has dedicated specialists in areas that have been phased out of public schools over the past generation. Seriously. They have a full-time nature/gardening teacher.
- The student population is diverse. Families are of all colors, backgrounds, sexual orientations, economic profiles, etc.
- The school is small enough that it seems everyone knows almost everyone else. My Kindergartener knows pretty much all the kids and teachers in the lower grades. He feels confident and happy when he walks through the yard and is recognized by the ''big kids.'' It's just cool.
- The teacher-student ratio is amazing. In Kindergarten, there are 15-16 students per class with a full-time teacher and a full-time assistant. Add to this the multiple specialist teachers mentioned above, and it's amazing how much attention the kids get.
In the end, though, the most amazing thing about RDS is the sense of community that encompasses the entire campus. The head of school is friendly and approachable. There is a parent coffee hour every Friday. The PTA is active and involved, without being demanding and overbearing. The parents tend to be very friendly, easy-going, and down-to-earth.
Naturally, RDS would not be the perfect place for every child:
- As a private school, there is a cost associated with attending, although there is a financial aid program that assists many families who are unable to pay the full amount.
- The language program is limited to Spanish, and while that is plenty for us, some parents have expressed a desire for at least one additional language to be taught.
I cannot stress how glad I am that we bit the bullet and went on the tour. Sending our son to RDS has turned out to be the best decision we could have made for him, and we look forward to the next 8 years there.
Definitely look at Redwood Day School. There is a strong blend of academics and social/emotional. There are plenty of kids playing on the playground (soccer, kickball, basketball, man hunt and more at recess and lunch) as well as kids who'd prefer to spend time quietly reading or doing something arty on their breaks. In addition to strong traditional academics, the kids also have gardening, art, PE, Spanish (taught in a very progressive manner K-3 and more traditionally starting in 4), cooking, computers and more. Most of these topics are intertwined and taught as various types of projects.
The academics are strong and taught at developmentally appropriate times and in a variety of modes. The social emotional is important and focused on. There is plenty of playing and even tree climbing. The parent community is active and inclusive! It't not just the same 10 people doing everything it is truly remarkable how many people get involved in so many different ways.
If you can't tell, we LOVE Redwood Day. Come for a visit and hopefully, you will love it too! A school that could be your match
Redwood Day School, an independent school in Oakland, is doing a FABULOUS job implementing a STEAM-based curriculum and will be erecting a new building (to be opened by Fall 2016) that will house an innovation lab in between new science labs and an art room. Right now RDS offers two after-school courses: one in 3D printing (and lots of girls take the class) and one about building machines that foster creativity. My 5th-grade son is taking the latter class now and they are building a 3D printer that they will then use. He is very excited. If your child is approaching middle school and you would consider a private school, please check out RDS (www.rdschool.org). My son is a TOTAL engineering/technically-oriented child and I am so excited for the opportunities he will have at RDS. Liz O.
I have an 8-year-old daughter at Redwood Day School who is starting her second year of 3D printing in Redwood's after school program. The Director of After-School Programs and the Director of Technology put together what I think is a world-class technology program for our students that includes 3D printing, Minecraft and robotics. Our students have access to multiple 3D printers and the newest Structure Sensor - a 3D scanner that automatically captures 3D models of everyday objects and will allow students to take their 3D designs to the next level. Redwood Day School strives to make these classes equally attractive to boys and girls and the current boy-girl ratio is pretty balanced.
The more traditional classes like Cartooning & Drawing and Carpentry are still a central part of the after school curriculum, but the school has been forward thinking to incorporate technologies, just as they have for the arts. It is pretty amazing to see all students thrive in this environment, boys and girls alike.
Since you did ask about the school's focus on STEAM, Redwood Day School's head of school, John Loeser, has a definitive vision for technology and engineering and has spearheaded a very successful campaign to build an innovation center which is currently under construction. Upon completion, it will rival a facility in the Silicon Valley. In addition to hiring an innovation coach, a dedicated K-5 science teacher is on staff to teach in the new lower school science lab that has just been completed. Redwood Day School Parent
Re: looking for a private kindergarten
Hi, I hope you will come and visit Redwood Day if you haven't already!
My family is a bit unique because we left RDS and then returned. We left because we moved to Hong Kong for 3 1/2 school years. While in Hong Kong we were able to compare RDS to the other schools my children attended (including two kindergartens) and to some extent many other international schools in Hong Kong as well. And I have to tell you that RDS really looked great! When we decided to return to Oakland, we didn't have to think twice about returning to RDS. The care that RDS takes for each individual child's social, emotional and academic development is truly wonderful. Because of the diverse environment that my children were used to, they had no difficulty making friends in Hong Kong with children from all over the world. And they were very well prepared academically for their IB (International Baccalaureate) school (a highly regard program that is both progressive and demanding).
And now that my older child is in high school and I compare notes with other parents, I am even more grateful for the preparation that RDS gave her. She has done extremely well both academically and socially and is a well-rounded child with many interests.
Re: Compare Beacon, Bentley and Park for Alameda family
I suggest you add Redwood Day School for consideration as we have many happy parents from Alameda.
We looked at many schools in the East Bay when we did our research. I have no doubt that our daughter would have received a fine education from any one of them.
It is a tremendously challenging process to evaluate schools as there are numerous factors, many of which are nuanced. I'll not provide any reasons why the other schools didn't make our number one selection as you should draw your own conclusions and every family is different. That said, Redwood Day School was the winner by a considerable margin for my family.
My daughter has many interests outside of pure academics and ALL are important to us in terms of developing, encouraging and forming a complete, rounded person. The RDS approach to wherever possible/practical adapt the curriculum to an individual students learning style or needs is a winning approach. We have experienced our daughter grow academically, emotionally and socially directly because of the teaching style and overall programs at RDS.
The RDS approach (taken from http://www.rdschool.org/about-rds) is ''We live by our mission daily as our diverse, inclusive learning community engages, prepares, and inspires students to thrive academically, contribute to society, and lead healthy, meaningful lives.''
All true and something we experience daily - to our great joy. The tight-knit group of parents further extends the amazing RDS community.
I encourage you all to spend some time reviewing the Website -http://www.rdschool.org - then make an appointment to visit the amazing RDS staff. Mark W
I want to recommend an independent school located near Fruitvale in the Dimond District of Oakland. I know your post particularly wanted comparisons of Bentley, Park and Beacon. However, I would be remised as a parent if I did not mention our small independent K-8 gem. When I was searching 9 years ago for a great independent school, one of my must haves was convenient location and proximity to work. I live in Oakland, and work in Alameda. Redwood Day School (RDS), is accredited by the (California Association of Independent Schools, (CAIS), National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and Western Association of Schools (WASC). I work on the Bay Farm Island end of Alameda, and have been able to volunteer in the classroom, attend school events on campus, schedule parent-teacher conferences, return to RDS to drop off items left in the car after a morning drop off - ALL this and not having to worry about traffic, delays or completing a 40hr work week for the last 9 years makes RDS a very good location. Ah - location, location - is important!!! Aside from location, another appeal for our family is the space and facilities of RDS. Outdoor Space was/is extremely important, as I wanted my kindergartener to run free - climb trees, jump in puddles, experience a sandbox, explore the day to day life of a live chicken, and play safely in a confined area. As a middle school student, space was/is even more important, I want my middle school kid to be able to still swing if she desires, play a game of tag on the turf, or play a pick up basketball game on the blacktop. RDS has a very large Gym and other common areas, where the entire school community gathers for assemblies, holiday celebrations, book fairs, parent speaker series, Art and Music nights, and sporting events. The facilities are GREEN and Eco-friendly, especially the middle school - Oh, and the library is fabulous parents and guardians can even check out books. I think what I am most proud of, and what the school does exceptionally well is - RDS ! attracts and maintains staff that is passionate and meets a student at their level. Throughout, the 9 years, there have been a handful (maybe 2or3 handfuls) of times where my kid was either behind in a class or ahead of a class. The teachers help students through the learning process and give extra attention to keep the learner engaged. You are right there are so many choices. Good luck and consider taking a closer look at RDS, which is very near Alameda. Proud RDS Parent, Class of 2014 Sherri
Have you considered Redwood Day School? RDS is a wonderfully diverse community of administrators, educators and approximately 350 students. Redwood is an accredited school (CAIS, NAIS, and WASC), has a well-thought playground, resides on a lovely, secure campus in a safe neighborhood, has a full-size gymnasium that can accommodate hundreds (and a bonus smaller gymnasium), a beautiful library, a fabulous garden, chickens(!), a modern, clean kitchen for cooking classes, state of the art computer technology and a choice of nearly 20 different after-school enrichment classes.
There is such a strong infrastructure in place at Redwood Day School that when the former head of school moved on to a school in LA three years ago, the trustees wasted no time in finding a stellar successor immediately, as opposed to filling it with temporary personnel for a couple of years. There is huge alumni support and an incredibly active parents & guardians association and that is an important part of ensuring the school's financial future.
Our family lives in Alameda and we spent five years at Beacon before transferring to Redwood Day School. I was a little concerned about a few things by transferring to RDS: the length of the commute, homework and the traditional school year, but these are all non-issues.
The commute from Alameda is a breeze -- I take 23rd avenue every day and it is a consistent 18 minutes there, and sometimes it's quicker returning to Alameda. An added bonus is that the entrance to 580 is just down the street. I was concerned about the introduction of homework after not having any at Beacon, but it is just a part of my child's day. Homework not only reinforces what is learned, but it teaches the skill of time management.
I cannot say enough amazing things about Redwood's after school enrichment program. Your child can complete their homework during the after school study hall, but RDS offers an array of classes every day. Just this school year, my child has taken cartooning and drawing, carpentry, Minecraft, Legos, Mad Science, Chorus, Violin, 3D printing and Girl's Club.
Redwood Day has a wonderful library. Having a traditional library space, dedicated to quiet study and contemplation is effective in teaching respect for books, along with the responsibility and accountability of returning them on time. Two librarians are a wonderful bonus as they know your child's reading level and can help them find appropriate books to assist them in a lifelong love of reading. It is a special part of a child's school experience.
The Redwood Day School playground already has everything you could think of -- swings, slide, play structure, and it's not just limited to the smaller children. There are lots of redwood trees, tables with benches and structures integrated into the nature of the campus. ''The Back 40'' is a grassy knoll for soccer and football, and there are plenty of places to make mud concoctions and get dirty. There are also the harder surface areas to play basketball and volleyball and four square.
Redwood Day has a tremendous foundation in place for school-wide allies, buddies, and zero-tolerance for name-calling and bullying. I never fear for my child's safety or security and know that respect is being incorporated every day in the curriculum, not waiting for a crisis to begin implementation. Even with an amazing technology curriculum, it is reassuring to know that RDS also emphasizes interpersonal communications (e.g., the importance of looking people in the eye when you speak to them, confidently making introductions, etc.).
Independent school is expensive and it is also a clear financial investment in my child's education. I know Redwood Day School also offers financial aid to families who qualify for assistance.
I believe that I have become a better parent by having my child at Redwood Day School. I think this is due in part to the leadership of the school. The trustees are not only experienced and from a variety of backgrounds, they are dedicated and have the time to devote to significant issues in a timely manner, while keeping the school true to its original mission. The Parents & Guardians Association ignites enthusiasm by offering a myriad of ways to participate and for parent education. The teachers and administration truly are a team, and the educators have the confidence and autonomy to make decisions.
Although we had mixed emotions about leaving Beacon because of treasured friendships, along with some truly gifted educators, we were prepared to try something new and do not regret our decision. When I drop my child off at Redwood Day School each morning, I am certain that she is in the most capable hands. Just a few weeks after starting Redwood Day School, my child said: ''I think I'm learning more.''
Best of luck with your decision and feel free to contact me via the moderator if I can offer any other information. RDS Parent
Re: Former Green School family seeking similarly outdoorsy school
You should definitely look at the Redwood Day School in Oakland. My boys are in 2nd and 4th and started in K there. They love everything about school, including gardening ''class'' where they garden, build whatever needs to be built and care for the chickens. They also have Spanish, cooking, computers, PE, Art, music and much more...all tied tightly to the curriculum. The parent community is fabulous too! Oh and the playground! They get to climb trees, build mid rivers when it rains and generally be kids. Good luck! Very happy at RDS
Re: Any feedback on The Berkeley School Middle School?
It looks as if you're looking for schools that are challenging, nurturing, balanced-- but academically rigorous-- and which will recognize and welcome your child as a whole person. I have 3 words for you: Redwood Day School (okay, I have a few more words here). Please check it out-- I believe there are few more orientation/tour opportunities on the calendar still if you hurry. It is not far from Head Royce, if geography is an issue (and easier to get to from 580, actually). We've been parents at RDS for 9 years now, and our oldest is an 8th grader. There is a lot to say about this jewel of a school-- starting with the community of educators, staff, families and kids. There is collegiality, respect, engagement and kindness at every turn. DIversity is valued, both in terms of ''optics'' and, more meaningfully, in welcoming a range of experiences, ideas and world views and, in your words, likes and dislikes. Academics are rigorous and challenging and state of the art, yet there is a lot of project-based, inter-disciplinary learning. I can say with confidence, as we are in the midst of visiting academically respected local high schools, that our child will be well prepared for any of those settings. RDS kids learn to take responsibility for themselves, organize their approach to complex projects, to keep track of fluctuating schedules, due dates and obligations, to work on teams and on their own, and also to form relationships with their teachers which allow them to comfortably self advocate when support is needed outside the classroom. Thoughtful discussion in class is encouraged; challenging topics are explored, creativity is channeled as a learning tool. Our middle schooler is surrounded by teachers who really know him and guide him with affection and, when required in his particular case, with gentle firmness. His development in MS has been remarkable as a result. As a parent of 3 RDS kids, all of whom are very different in learning style, the school has done a wonderful job of meeting each of them where they are academically and developmentally. So it isn't a school that only ''gets'' one type of student. Socially, beyond diversity, I see in the MS a group of kids who are profoundly caring about each other. They see their peers as each having special, distinct talents and genuinely celebrate each others' successes. The administration is superb. The head of school is phenomenal and his vision and leadership are spot-on. He seems to really listen to the teachers, kids and parents and the school has evolved in ever positive ways as a result. The head of the middle school is a gem-- sharp, insightful and profoundly caring about the kids. He really takes the time to get to know them personally and has been extremely available to us as parents as a fabulous resource. For example, he met with every entering 8th grade family over the summer with a thoughtfully prepared list of HS suggestions for where he thought the student would be the most happy, challenged and successful. MS is a critical time, and RDS ''does'' MS really, really well. Happy RDS Mom
Re: Entering 8th & 5th Grade from overseas
Come to Redwood Day School! My family spent 3 1/2 school years living in Hong Kong. While this is obviously not the same as 20 years (wow!), I have had some experience with international schools and a diverse, international culture. When we returned to Oakland, my children, then in 4th and 7th grades, entered Redwood Day School. My daughter had spent 3 1/2 years there before going overseas, but my son had only been there a few months before we left and when we returned really only knew one child at RDS. The whole community was extremely welcoming and made it easy for us to return. I was very pleased with how the school handled the transition, especially in middle school. The advisory program is excellent, and a lot of attention is paid to social and emotional development (which, I believe, is crucial at that age if children are to be successful). While not internationally diverse, the school is diverse in almost every other way, and in a way in which differences are truly valued. The school is progressive in other ways as well, especially in terms of group, project-based, and hands-on learning, and in a differentiated approach that supports a wide variety of learning styles. (We had a hard time finding a balance between strong academics and whole child/progressive outlook in Hong Kong, but that is another story.) RDS also has a strong service learning component, much of which is done in ''buddy groups'' with children of different ages working together. My daughter begins high school in a few weeks and we feel she is very well prepared. I really could go on and on - feel free to email me directly if you have any questions! Stephanie
Re: Prospect Sierra, Bentley, or Redwood Day?
I am the parent of a Kindergarten boy and a 4th grade girl at Redwood Day School. I feel that RDS is excellent at helping boys reach their potential. One feature of the school that is so good for boys is the large outside play space. There are three recesses a day, two of which the little kids have the play yard all to themselves. The huge space enables the boys to run, play ball, play tag, climb trees, dig dirt and sand, run through the redwood trees, swing, or use the play structure. All this physical activity helps my son be more focused during classroom time. In the classroom, the differentiated instruction that RDS uses also helps boys reach their potential. Every child at RDS is given the tools or adjustments to instruction that they need to succeed and this is certainly employed in the learning differences between boys and girls. The teachers are very conscious of nurturing and supporting boy energy, skills and interests while still helping them stay focused and on task. Also, there is a lot of respect in how the teacher's communicate with the children and I feel this helps build my son's confidence regardless of what is being addressed. A third area that helps boys is having breaks throughout the day and week to go to the 5 different specialist classes. Most of the specialist classes are taught with a balance of activities that would appeal to both boys and girls. The varied activities and teaching methods throughout the week really appeal to my son and contribute to his overall excitement for learning at Redwood Day School. He is so excited to go to school every day! Anon
My sons both attend Redwood Day School (1st and 4th grade) and we chose the school for its broad focus on academics and social/emotional development. For us, the result has been two enthusiastic learners who can't wait to go to school each day. RDS' teachers, specialists, and xcare staff work together as a community, getting to know each child as unique individuals and helping them recognize their potential. During our kindergarten search, it was RDS' academics, its focus on ''the whole picture,'' strong sense of community, and the enthusiasm shown by students on campus that convinced us it was the best school choice. We continue to be extremely pleased. Laura
I can only speak of Redwood Day b/c our two sons are there in elementary school and thriving. They are very different boys -one very social and sporty at his core as well as a fine student while the other is more heady, introverted and creative. In an old-fashioned set of categories or at a more traditional school, they'd be classified and take on the characteristics of jock and geek. Happily, RDS brings out ALL of who they both are and allows them to stretch their strengths and nudges head on any challenges. For example, the now 4th grader had trouble picking up reading in his earlier grades and his teacher wouldn't let this struggle become who he was. She saw his strength in math and his enthusiasm for drawing and brought along all of it in tandem. He's now strong in everything, fed advanced math problems, runs a little business, in the performances and challenged in spelling. Most importantly, he's curious and happy. Most everything comes easily to his younger brother -too easily. It's easy for him to be bored or socially distracted so his teachers give him unique tasks to keep him on his toes. Most importantly, they don't let him slack by pushing the importance of details in his work. RDS also provides a perfect balance of individual vs project-based team work, and stillness vs moving around -something my boys really like. The Redwood Day teachers have all been solid, insightful and tuned into each of our sons. I'd imagine this high caliber of teachers is hard to beat -90% so far for us being stellar and 10% being 'just' very good. It's so hard to choose a school when you're children are so young when they evolve so much in even just a couple years. My advice with this huge choice is to stay very focused on the quality of the teachers as well as the work products, character and cadre of middle schoolers. See beyond Kindergarten, the websites, the school leadership and admissions staff. Your students are in the 'classroom' and while all the rest of it matters, what matters most is all about what happe! ns where the students are. Heather
I have two children at Redwood Day School (RDS) and I just love the school, the environment, the community, the dedication... My kids love going to school and get to experience phenomenal opportunities inside and outside the classrooms.
My son (2nd grade) has grown so much socially. He was so insecure in Kindergarten and struggled with some sensory issues and positive ways to vent his frustration. His K teacher was phenomenal. Patient and loving, yet firm. She really stuck with him and helped him blossom into this amazing kid he now is in 2nd grade. The school provides so many opportunities for the kids to branch out of 'their box' in a safe, supportive environment and I have seen the results. My son is so much more confident.
My daughter is in Kindergarten this year and just LOVES going to school. She is incredibly confident and really loves her fellow classmates and teachers. She always has an exciting story to tell me each day when I pick her up :o) -Happy Parent
Re: Berkeley School or Redwood Day?
Hi there, Sorry I don't have experience with Berkeley School, only with the Redwood Day School. My older child is in their 4th year at RDS (K-3) and my younger one is in their 2nd (K&1). We have really liked it all along and our children love it. We are especially happy now with our new Head of School who is in his 2nd year. He is bringing great vision and change to the school in areas that will really support the kids and he curriculum. He has been empowering the faculty along the way as well, so they seem even more committed than before. We are particularly happy with the expansion of the middle school starting in the Fall and the strong emphasis on S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as well as the addition of another language. I don't know anything about the Berkeley School, but given the great choices we have here in the East Bay for independent schools, I am sure that whatever choice you make will be a good one. Happy RDS parent
My daughter attends Redwood Day and I'd like to share some thoughts on the ''concrete'' differences you might be looking for. Redwood Day is a beautiful school- it has 3.5 acres of space that the school owns outright for the children to use every day. The outdoor space allows for a lot of free and imaginative, cooperative play for the kids. The facilities themselves are top notch- beautiful lower and upper school music rooms, gyms, computer labs and library as well as other specialists class spaces. The fact that RDS owns its land and facilities outright provides a great deal of stability for the community. I think we are the only independent school in the east bay that has a specialist in the field of differentiated instruction who works directly with our teachers to enhance kids learning regardless of what level they are at at any given time. The school really prides itself on differentiation, and the staff is responsive if parents have concerns about needs being met. The school is fully accredited by all the essential independent school associations (WASC, CAIS, NAIS). What I love the most is that the staff know ALL of the kids, will help your kid out for any reason, and build trust with the kids so that they feel confident and protected at the same time. All the events are run like well-oiled machine- they are well put together and meaningful community gatherings. Their after care program (x-care) is top notch, and the kids LOVE going there after school. It's a really close-knit, very diverse community that makes your child feel special every single day. Redwood Day Parent
My son attended The Berkeley School (then Berkeley Montessori) from preschool through fifth grade, but thought when he was entering sixth grade that he'd like a larger social cohort, so we moved him to Redwood Day School. RDS is also an excellent school, but he wound up deciding to return to TBS for 7th and 8th grades, mostly because he found that he missed the sense of community and close friendships, particularly with his teachers. We were always really impressed by how well known each TBS child is by the faculty and staff at TBS, and how the teachers nurtured children's comfort with reaching out for academic or social help. I also feel that TBS has a stronger sense of community and diversity.
In response to the answer last week from an RDS parent, you should know that TBS does have a Differentiated Instruction Specialist who's doing amazing work with the teachers. It's also provisionally accredited by CAIS and NAIS, with permanent accreditation due soon. I'm not sure what the responder meant about land ownership, but TBS owns both its campuses. Both schools are excellent; it's really all about the fit. I advise you to choose the school where your child and your family feel most at home. Alumni TBS Parent
I would like to recommend Redwood Day School for families that are looking for a balanced, inclusive, and community-minded education for their child. We thought we would have our child in a public school through fifth grade, but between the class size and our daughter slipping through the cracks because she was ''bright'' and would ''be fine'', we realized that we needed to find a good alternative for her. Luckily for us, we were able to find a great fit with Redwood Day; it challenged all of our assumptions about independent schools, and has brought our daughter such joy as a learner. We were worried that an independent school would feel exclusive and insular, and that our child would be in a bubble, and we wouldn't feel like we ''fit in'' as a family. We have been proved wrong! Redwood Day is very inclusive and diverse, and has a very down-to-earth community feel to it. The school is very plugged into the larger community, and has a very strong service learning program where kids are paired with older ''buddies'' to work on year-long projects such as hunger in Oakland, or water quality, etc. Redwood Day is very diverse, and goes beyond a numbers approach to diversity. Diversity is reflected in the student body, staff, curriculum, professional development opportunities, affinity groups, and community events. The kids have meaningful interactions with one another that allow for a true diverse learning environment to flourish. Redwood Day is unique in its balanced approach to education- challenging academics and attention to social emotional development, and this is what appealed to us the most. Our daughter is capable of doing high-level work, but she needs guidance in learning how to navigate the world and relationships too, and we felt Redwood Day offered the best balance. We have seen our daughter take on ownership of her learning as well as her social relationships, and it is very rewarding to see her empowered in that way. Redwood Day prides itself on differentiated instruction, and offers a tailored approach to education. They try to serve each child's needs as best they can, and have invested in professional resources to ensure that can take place. The community is great- very nice families, all working hard to have their kids at Redwood Day, and finding the time to connect with one another. If you want a diverse, balanced education that can meet your child's specific needs, I highly recommend Redwood Day. Signed: Happy Redwood Day Parent
Our family could not be more pleased with our experience at Redwood Day School (RDS). From the school's dedication to diversity, including their generous support and contributions to financial aid to the community support, to the education, and friendships formed - our family is truly blessed. As a parent, I can not imagine a greater investment to make in my child's life, than to give the opportunity of education and community. Teacher Emily (KB) has been a huge part of our son's success in Kindergarten this year. I've watched, admirably, as she teaches and guides her class with a firm, but very loving hand! There are so many aspects in which the strong family/school partnership is apparent.
If you're looking for a K-8 private school, I could not more highly recommend RDS! Please feel free to contact me with any questions. My older son is currently in Kindergarten at RDS.
Redwood Day School is an independent, diverse K-8 coed school that combines challenging academics, differentiated instruction, and a keen awareness of children's social and emotional development. Their intimate learning community of 350 students sits in the heart of Oakland, California, and encourages students to discover and nurture their strengths as individual learners who thrive academically, contribute to society, and lead healthy, meaningful lives. (http://www.rdschool.org/about-rds) Julie
We have been at RDS for over six years (we have a 6th grader and a 2nd grader; both started in Kindergarten) and it has been a terrific fit for our family. Our children (who have very different temperaments) are thriving both academically and emotionally. RDS does a terrific job of striking a healthy balance between strong academics (wonderful and dynamic teachers and specialists, project based learning, differentiated instruction, challenging and engaging curriculum) and the students' social and emotional growth. The strong sense of community, warmth and encouragement my kids have received so far at RDS has given them such a strong foundation and love of learning! The size and thoughtful structure of the classes at RDS has also been a positive for us - it is large enough for there to be diversity of learning styles, backgrounds, personalities, etc. in each grade, but intimate enough that the teachers, specialists and administrators have really connected with both of our children. We are very grateful to be a part of such a special school. Happy RDS Parent
My children have thrived at Redwood Day School! They are constantly stimulated and challenged by the strong, yet progressive academic program. Rather than simply listening to lectures, taking tests and reading textbooks, Redwood students are engaged in projects that excite their curiosity and their interest in learning. We love the beautiful redwood grove and the outdoor learning that takes place there, and in the school garden (with chickens!). It is great seeing how the children treat each other with respect in environments like the weekly all-school assemblies where the eighth graders quietly listen as kindergarteners stand up and ''honor'' their friends. I have an eighth grader (and a fifth grader) and looking for a high school has been bittersweet since it will be hard to match the experience we've had so far. And not just for the kids, but for the parents as well. The RDS community is a wonderful supportive and diverse group of families who really care about the school and the children there. I highly recommend Redwood Day School! Stephanie
Re: Good middle school for boys
Look at the Redwood Day School. I have two boys at RDS and specifically chose the school after doing a lot of reading about how far schools have tilted towards grils over the past 30 years (which frankly, they needed to do...though now that I am the mother of two boys, I can see how they have over tilted). Mom of 2 smart boys
I have a 6 year old son entering 1st grade in the fall. We are considering Redwood Day (and Park Day). My son is socially awkward (trouble reading social cues, ect) and quite gifted in math, science and music. We are wondering whether he would be able to find other ''math geek'' types at Redwood Day with whom he might form friendships. We are also wondering if the school in general would be a good fit for our son. Any thoughts would be much appreciated! anonymous
My son started elementary school at Redwood Day School. When he was finishing kindergarten, he tested in math at the middle of first grade.
When he completed first grade (which was a hellish year for him), we had him tested for all sorts of things, including math. Again, he tested at the middle of first grade. That's right, in a year, he had not progressed at all in math.
Different school, within a few months he'd caught up to where he should be in math, and now that he's in the fourth grade, he's testing at the 7th grade level for both math and reading (and is a much happier kid to boot!).
We have been so happy with our experience at Redwood Day School. The philosophy of the school - Engaged, Prepared, Inspired - is fully realized in our experience. My son is in the first grade, and loves RDS. He looks forward to homework (!), and is so engaged with each topic the class studies. At the moment, he has been teaching me all about spiders. The class recently made altars for Dia De Los Muertos, which was a wonderful chance for us to share memories of his Grandfather, and for him to work creatively. The school is a warm, supportive community, and the staff is excellent. It is so terrific when I ask my son how school was today, and he says, ''Great!'' Mary W
Re: What are some progressive schools in Berkeley/Oakland?
My children have been going to Redwood Day School in Oakland for 6 years. They adopt the ''One Mind at a Time'' approach. We love our school. It's definitely worth taking a look. We felt immediately that this was the school for us, not only for our children but for our entire family. We love the teachers too. an RDS family
Re: In 5th grade and still loving your school?
I have a 6th grader and a 4th grader at Redwood Day School (both have been there since kindergarten), and, yes, we still love our school! The school's motto is 'engaged, prepared, inspired' and every day I see those words in action. The academics are good -- my kids have learned to read and write and do math problems and score well on standardized tests. More importantly, they are learning how to think, how to analyze, how to understand. There is depth and breadth to their education. The school also has a great community -- terrific kids, terrific parents, terrific teachers and staff. We couldn't imagine being at a different school.
Re: OUSD kindergarten not a good fit--what to do now?!
I am not sure which schools have openings, but I would definitely look quickly at Redwood Day School to see if they do. It is a WONDERFUL school and if they have space, I think they will add to Kindergarten classes until about Thanksgiving. Happy parent of 2
Our son is in Kindergarten at RDS and we couldn't be happier with our experience so far. His class has 18 students with two full time teachers. He also has ''specialist'' teachers for PE., Art, Music, Spanish, Computers, Cooking, Handwriting and Gardening. Once a week there is an all school assembly as well as a buddy program that forges friendships between the lower and upper school students. RDS does an exceptional job at creating community and my son LOVES his school. He comes home from school bubbling with curiosity and a true passion for learning. RDS offers an exceptional experience both academically and socially. I simply can not recommend this school enough. RDS Parent
There was a lot of hoopla on the creation of a Redwood Day High School at the old catholic seminary off HWY 580. They hired a high school director, took out ads on buses, and were supposed to open in the Fall of 2009. There was a big fund raising effort from the parents. Now I read, according to their web newsletter, that most the administration has left. I called the school and left a message for more information. No return call. Is the school still open? A prospective HS parent
One word. Recession. That is what happened to RDS HS. It is hard to raise money in a recession.
Our HS director has taken a position at another school. There has been a new hire for the MS directorship (the amazing ex-director has moved back to his home state of North Carolina) who seems fabulous. The RDS LS and MS are thriving and offer an extremely balanced yet rigorous curriculum. RDS parent of 2
As I understand it, creating a high school has been a dream for a long time at Redwood and came very close to happening two years ago. When the economy fell apart, however, so too did the dream ... at least for the time being. What I do know for sure is that Redwood is alive and well as a K-8. My second child just graduated from 8th grade there and I can't say enough about the tremendous experience she and her older brother had in the middle school. The faculty, most of whom have been hired over the course of the last three years, are absolutely terrific and have prepared them wonderfully well for high school while caring about them and really ''getting them'' as kids. The departure of the middle school head is definitely a loss for the school but they've hired someone with lots of experience to replace him who no doubt will hit the ground running. Hope that helps ... Happy Mom of RDS graduates
The recession happened to the high school. Redwood Day was very close to securing a site for a high school, but when the recession hit, they just couldn't secure the funding. My understanding is that the idea is not dead, just back-burnered until the economy improves. It's a shame since Redwood Day is such a great school with a really unique approach. The Oakland community would benefit greatly from a RDS High School.
Also, not sure what you mean by ''most of the administration has left'' since by my count most of the administration remains. mom to 2 happy RDS kids
Yes, the K-8 program at RDS is alive and doing extremely well. There have been a few losses in the administration this year - purely coincidental - but they have all been replaced with a solid new staff. I'm sure if you called the school again, you would find more information on the future high school. I look forward to the beginning of next year at the lower school (as do my children.) Good luck in your search for a high school. lower school parent
Re: Challenging Progressive School?
We have a daughter in 8th grade at Redwood Day School, who entered in 6th grade after attending Chabot Elementary. She is very bright, an especially high achiever in math, but also has a wide range of interests. In choosing a middle school, our main concern was that she would be academically challenged. We selected RDS because it seemed to have the best overall balance of academics, arts, athletics, activities, and social development.
RDS has turned out to be an excellent experience for our daughter, and she has been challenged on many levels, including academics. In math, 6th grade was a fair amount of review, but her 7th and 8th grade math teacher has differentiated the instruction to create an accelerated pace for our daughter and a couple of other advanced students, and she has definitely been challenged. In science and Spanish, our daughter feels that the classes are much more rigorous than the curriculum that her friends have at both public schools and the exclusive private schools in the area. And in English and History, she has been very engaged and stimulated by the creative assignments those teachers have provided.
Beyond academics, our daughter has taken up a new sport, played in a string quartet and the lunchtime rock band, and has had a leading role in several school plays. Her class is a tight knit group of kids that all get along and is not at all clique-ish. It may seem like a cliche, but RDS does educate the whole student in both academic and non-academic areas, and they think a lot about how they educate. RDS has an excellent, progressive thinking head of school who provides great leadership. The yearly parents university is a stimulating experience for the parents.
We are now in the process of touring a number of high schools, ranging from Oakland Tech to College Prep, and as our daughter shadow tours their 9th and 10th grade classes, she reports back that she feels totally prepared for the work ahead, and expects to place in any and all of their advanced classes. I guess the best proof of our satisfaction with RDS is that our younger daughter just started 6th grade there, and she is flourishing too. - very satisfied RDS parents
Re: Elementary schools where African American boys thrive
Our African-American son has been at Redwood Day School since kindergarten and is now in the 3rd grade. He LOVES school and is thriving there. He has other African-American kids in his class and last year his teacher was an African-American male and his intern was an African-American female.
Redwood Day School has been a nurturing and supportive environment for him. Every day he enjoys going to school because he feels safe and respected as a whole person. The curriculum at the school works to be very inclusive and diverse. For example, parents are encouraged to come into the class to teach the kids about their heritage and experiences and topics around race are openly discussed with the kids, but in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner.
While I would always love to see more diversity at the school, I will say that my son does not feel isolated because every day he sees kids in all of the grades that look like him as well as teachers, staff and administrators that reflect the diversity of Oakland and the Bay Area. Adrienne
Re: Worried about middle school for homeschooled daughter
Although my children were not homeschooled, I understand your concern about middle school and the attitudes of tweens and teens. It is, in fact, one of the reasons I chose Redwood Day School. In visiting schools for my young children, I would always try and get a sense for the children in the upper grades figuring this would be telling about the attitudes children developed there. I found the children in middle school at RDS to be very aware, smart, and considerate. My kindergarteners had 6th grade buddies who were absolutely lovely kids. There is something unique about the atmosphere at RDS, and I believe it is a mix of the wonderful families it attracts, and the school's constant message about what is acceptable behavior towards one another. The children learn respect early on, hence bullying in the younger grades is basically non-existent and the older siblings of my children's friends are considerate and not materialistic. I wish you luck in your search, and I would highly recommend visitng Redwood Day for this reason. Happy Parent
Re: Independent school leadership/principals
I believe the leadership of the school is one of the most important aspects to look at when considering a school. My son is now in first grade at Redwood Day School, and we arrived at our decision to send him to RDS in large part because of Mike Riera, the head of the school. It was very noticeable in school tours that he was the most visible, involved and enlightened head and we had, and still have, great access to him. We have found that his philosophy and personality very much makes its way into the classrooms, and that it is a very important part of making the school such a special place. I beleive it also makes for inspired and happy teachers which directly affects the students. I don't know how else the personality of a school can be made; without sound direction from the head it is impossible to distinguish - and then maintain - the philosophy of the school. I truly thank our head at Redwood Day School for being so involved and enlightened!
Re: Looking for a good K-8 school
Our two kids are thriving at Redwood Day School. Our son is in second grade and our daughter Kindergarten. Our two children could not be more different in personality and learning style, yet RDS provides them both with the environment (teachers, facilities, programs, activities) to develop their curiosity, academic and social skills, and sense of who they are. The most impressive thing about RDS for our family has been it has been exactly what we thought it would be: A school that achieves academic success through intelligent development of the whole child. The admissions process was very transparent, open, and insightful. RDS strives to let people understand who they are, what they believe it, why they believe it, and then letting people make up their own mind. I highly recommend taking the time to fully evaluate all your options - the right school will be obvious at the end of the process. cb
Our family is a part of the RDS community b/c of a commitment to inspiring,engaging &preparing all kinds of minds.It runs rampant all over campus.As a parent,IT IS A RELIEF just knowing a child is in a safe & nurturing environ during&after school.I remember ask'g my child her likes,in KG,she said,I always have something to do&always someone to do it w/'I can jump rope or try to read if I want, I can help w/snack or make a new friend. 1st grade she said I love it b/c I can play 4-sq swing'I can climb trees&walk in the garden or hmmm maybe go to study hall.Now, as a 2nd grader,the flexibility and variety of XC she appreciates. She takes pride in making choices of what she plans to do on a particulr day.Some days she goes to study hall,some days she in an enrichment class,while others she enjoys just playg in the sandbox w/friends.This prog appeals to all kinds of minds. There are classes such as steel drums,cartooning,yoga,running club,hula,piano,etc.The program is located on campus which is clean&wellmaintained, theres a blacktop for bball,4-sq,swings, playstructures,sandbox,& a # of trees with very wide trunks, that have proved to be perfect hiding spots at evening pick up.The XC prog dir, is also a RDS parent, I believe she has a true understanding that an XC prog needs to be flexible & it can't always be structured nor too unstructured. I value her and her staff greatly. Signed: Sherri L.
I have applied for my son to attend Kindergarten at Redwood Day, St. Paul's and Head Royce. I wondered if parents with experience in these schools' aftercare programs have anything to say about them. Thank you! -prospective mom
Both of my children attend the RDS after care program (x-care) 5 days a week and we've been very pleased with the program this year. There is a new director who has made substantial improvements to the program. The children can choose to participate in free clubs led by the X-care staff such as hip-hop, drama and basketball. There are also classes you can enroll in for a fee which include dance, photography, art, and guitar. There are daily art activities, games and a study-hall option. The children also love to play on the expansive playground and there is always staff to monitor and play with the children. In the past, on a rainy day I'd arrive to find my child watching a movie -- now, on rainy days, the kids are playing organized games or engaged in an art activity. The Director of the program is also very responsive to feedback and concerns and has made a special effort to ensure the youngest children have activities geared to them. The staff seems engaged, enthusiastic and attentive to the needs of the kids. One day I arrived to find my youngest daughter cuddled up in a corner with a staff member who was reading her a story. The biggest indicator that my children are happy at X-care is when I come to pick them up and they donmt want to go home. anon
My son really enjoys the after-school program at Redwood Day School. They provide a safe, fun environment for the kids with numerous activities to choose from such as arts and crafts, running club, cooking class, supervised outdoor play and more. My son particularly loves the enrichment classes (extra fee) that the program offers. He has taken Art, Guitar, Brazilian Dance, Cartooning and would take more if he had time in his schedule. The classes are fun and engaging with a new selection of classes added to the schedule each quarter. My son also raves about the delicious and nutritious snacks served daily during after care. The snacks are cooked with loving care in the kitchen on the premises by the staff and students. Add to this the great staff and the wonderful director, Meredith Spencer, and I can see why my son likes going to the after-school program at Redwood Day School. We are very pleased with the program. a happy RDS parent
I wanted to share my experience with service learning at Redwood Day School.
My daughter is a third grader at the school and is very interested in the ocean. After the Cosco Busan oil spill in November, my daughter wanted to do something to help. Obviously, she is too young for beach clean up duty. She wrote a note to the school proposing a coin-drive, with her plan for the drive. The school's response exceeded our expectations. The school administrators met with my daughter and discussed her plan; they followed up with contacts to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to confirm my duaghter's idea would work. Then they helped her by giving her time at the school-wide assembly to solicit support and even reproduced and distributed the flyer that my daughter made.
The school has really demonstrated a commitment to my duaghter's interest and the flexibility to work with her idea. Last weekend, we delivered boxes of needed supplies to the Oiled Wildlife Care Center in Cordelia. That led to a new project for my daughter as she will be describing her experience at the Center to her classmates through photos she took and a presentation. slw
Re: Seeking Diversity & Top Academics K- 12 Bay Area
Please consider Redwood Day School. The African-American diversity is not as high as 18% but I have found a very nice community of African-American families. My daughter is in kindergarten there and between the two classes, there are 7 African-American students out of 44. (We are an African- American family) Last night we attended the annual winter concert where all of the grades performed and I observed more than a few African-American students in each grade. I'd be happy to share with you my experiences with diversity at Redwood Day. It was a very important factor for me in selecting a private school and I have not been disappointed in the least. As far as the academic portion of your question goes, again, Redwood Day has surpassed my expectations. My daughter is learning and growing in incredible ways and I attribute a large portion of her development and progress to the outstanding faculty and staff at Redwood Day. The school sets high expectations for the students but the teachers instruct in a way that is developmentally appropriate. You should definitely check it out. I have found it to be an extraordinary school and feel fortunate that my daughter is attending. Alicia
Re: Private middle school that will be challenging for daughter
Based on what you've described, you should also check out Redwood Day School. They have a beautiful MS campus and are completing new 6th grade classrooms. Girls are encouraged to be smart and confident. It is probably one of the most diverse student body and faculty of the top private schools in Oakland. RDS sends quite a few kids to Athenian for High School. There seems to be a good philisophical connection between the two schools. I have a 5th grade daughter there now, who has been there since kindergarten. It could be an excellent fit for you. There are numerous open houses and tours this fall. An RDS parent
Re: Private Middle School for Nature Loving 6th Grader???
I live in Montclair and my daughter attended a wonderful private school, Redwood Day School in Oakland, which goes through the 8th grade. Their website address is: rdschool.org It fosters a great sense of community among students and parents, is very good academically, has great values and is one of the most diverse private schools in the area. Check it out--I think it might be the type of school you are looking for. Sandra
Our son is a kindergartner at Redwood Day School. RDS appealed to us for many reasons. One reason was the openness of the admissions process. We had lots of chances to ask questions of administrators and parents, including an open house, a tour and an evening with a few other families with the admissions director and head of school. We observed the weekly, whole- school assembly and another school event. When my son was slow to transition, everyone at the school took an active part in making him feel more comfortable. It took a week, but he now loves school and chatters on each day about everything he's done and the friends he's made. That?s just the kind of experience we were hoping he would have at school. We're thrilled with the enthusiasm of the teachers & administration, the teacher-student ratio (a teacher and an intern/21 children), the depth & breadth of extracurricular activities (Spanish, Music, Art, Computers, PE, Gardening, Cooking, Service Learning) the clean, modern facilities and the running room the school offers. All this, coupled with a committed parent community, made it a great choice for our family
We are considering sending our child to Redwood Day School and our wondering about the academics. We were impressed with the academic curriculum and thought it to be as strong as other private schools (St Paul's, Park Day), but want to get parents' opinions.
Our son attends Redwood Day, and we are very impressed with the school. It has a great academic program, with project based learning. This means they don't sit behind a tradition desk...they get their hands dirty and learn! Our son is thriving there. I am also impressed daily by how well they teach the whole child. There is daily attention to social development; learning right from wrong; being a part of a community. anon
My daughter is in first grade at Redwood Day and we couldn't be happier with the school. I find the overall approach to education to be excellent. Although the school takes a balanced, whole-child approach, the academic standard is very high. The best thing about the way they teach, is that they focus on the different ways children learn -- by listening, doing or seeing, individually or in groups, etc. They engage the students and reinforce lessons by teaching the same topic in different ways, or having a theme that runs through several different types of lessons (reading, math, science, etc.). A great deal of individual attention is given, especially in subjects like reading. We have friends with children in my daughter's grade at Head-Royce, St. Paul and Bentley, and I find my daughter's progress to be comparable to that of the children at other schools. I would be happy to discuss academics, or any other aspect of Redwood Day with any interested parent. Stephanie
Having been through the application process twice, I know how hard this can be and I sympathize. It?s a big decision and at some point, you just have to jump in and hope for the best. Along the way, you can hear good and bad about every school, and clich? as it may sound, you do your research, then you trust your gut on what will be the best fit. That said, here?s what I can offer up in the mix. . .
We have one child currently in 1st grade at Redwood Day School (RDS) and another about to enter Kindergarten. We have been very pleased with the level of academics at RDS but also thrilled with our child?s overall learning experience. We wanted a school that would teach our children what they need to be academically competitive ?quite honestly, not so progressive that they don?t know how to take a test, but not so advanced that we?re looking at colleges in Kindergarten. We feel that it is indeed academically strong, but we?ve also been impressed with the passion and creativity of the teachers and their ability to effectively address kids on both a group and an individual basis. Our daughter is learning all the things we could hope for--reading writing, mathematics, science, Spanish, music, PE, etc, and moreover finds it exciting and fun. It?s hard to specifically address ?grumblings? but I would be happy to speak with you parent-to-parent, and as someone who has been though this god-awful application process, and answer any questions I can or just tell you our experience. Good luck! Leslie
My kids are both at RDS and have been since kindergarten. Starting in the third grade, RDS does independent testing and the results of these tests have been (for us) a clear indicator that the academic work our children are doing is rigorous -- and it's sticking! They have had age-appropriate homework since the first grade and the complexity and volume of that homework has risen steadily. My sixth grader can engage in conversations about world issues and solve nasty math problems. My fourth grader is constantly engaged in experimenting with whatever they are learning about at school. My kids have both learned and learned how they learn. It's fun to be a part of and has pushed both of us parents to learn a bit more about ourselves. jbbh
Re: Oakland Elementary school for possible learning delays
Hi. I am a parent of two Redwood Day School students (fourth and sixth grades) and we have found the school to be very welcoming to children with learning differences. Last week I went to an open seminar on ''All Kinds of Minds'' -- the program based on Dr. Mel Levine's theories about learning. All of the RDS faculty have been through the program and they really work to understand each child's strengths and weaknesses and enable the kids to understand themselves -- and then do something about it. I can't comment about your neighbor's difficulties, but really think you should evaluate this school for YOURSELF and YOUR CHILD and not just base your judgement on one experience. We had big difficulties in kindergarten until we figured out that our sons hyperactivity and behavior was closely tied to some food allergies.&n! bsp; We worked closely with his teachers and administrators and they were understanding and gave him opportunities to burn off steam constructively, which enabled him to fully participate. He's now a happy and well adjusted sixth grader. Please honestly look at this school. jbbh
My 2 children go to Redwood Day School and I have found the teachers and administrators not only to be highly responsive but willing to adapt their teaching styles to individual children's needs. My older child has some learning differences which were first noticed in Kindergarten. Working closely with Redwood Day School teachers and outside support people, I have been able to be very proactive to make sure my child gets the attention he needs both in the classroom and with outside support people. Being a proactive and positive parent makes the path easier--no school can do it alone and expecting any school to do everything on its own is unrealistic. My child is now in the 5th grade, doing beautifully both academically and socially, and has had wonderful support from the school faculty and staff and the kids in t! he classroom as well. That is one of the best things about RDS: there is discussion with the students from Kindergarten on about how everyone is an individual and they should honor and respect people?s differences. In the meantime, my younger child--who is completely different both personally and academically from my older child--is having a great experience and getting what he needs to succeed and enjoy school. I can't say enough about good things about RDS and have been very vocal about how RDS really ?walks their talk? about using the ''All Kinds of Minds'' criteria when teaching. I'd recommend you tour the school and get the full scoop yourself before you discount it all together. RDS Mom
I am a current Redwood Day School parent. I have an ADHD child who has been at RDS for seven years. The faculty and administration have been partnering with us all along to help our child be successful academically and socially. While they have not lowered standards, they have been attuned to his special needs. I could give countless examples of how each teacher has taken extra steps to work with him over the years. Diagnosing ADD/ADHD is tricky business. Five and six year old boys often exhibit behaviors seen in ADHD kids. But our atennae was up since preschool so we asked the school to help us get an evaulation and they did. We stay in the Bay Area, in large part, because of how great Redwood Day School is for our ADHD child. And by the way, we have another child there, without ADHD, and we think it's wonderful for her too. The school is very involved in training their teachers in Mel Levine's program, All Kinds of Minds. They are committed to working with ALL kinds of kids. Good luck to you. I hope you'll check out RDS and see for yourself. T.B.
We are in our sixth year at Redwood Day. I have two sons who attend. I cannot say enough about how much the school does to make sure no student falls through cracks. They have a philosophy that kids learn in numerous ways and they formally train all of the faculty in this philosophy. My sons are very different learners - one, in fact, has special needs. I have been thrilled with how the school taps into their strengths and challenges and how they encourage the former and address the latter. I wholeheartedly recommend Redwood Day! Jill
My child has been at Redwood Day School for several years, and I simply couldn't be more pleased. The school definitely seems to live up to its promise of seeing each child individually and bringing out the best in each one. ''Diversity'' at this school seems to include a diversity of learning styles, and the school delivers on a promise of identifying and developing each child's unique strengths. My child has strengths in the areas of comprehension and analytical thinking, but has struggled since kindergarten with language skills and with staying on track during assigned projects. Every teacher my child has had looked for creative ways of addressing these challenges, and the head of the lower school was always aware and supportive about finding solutions. The school brought out the very best in my child's abilities; I credit them with her transformation from very, very shy to so brightly expressive that another parent recently described her as ''outgoing.'' I often wish that school evaluations had some way of assessing the happiness of the children along with test scores and other criteria. If that were possible, I'm sure Redwood Day would score very highly in ''student enthusiasm.'' Again, we just couldn't be more pleased with the school's commitment to learning, its high standards for developing the uniques abilities of each child, and its community of diversity--including diversity in learning styles.
Happy at RDS
Re: Which private school?
Why not consider Redwood Day School? A mom I know once described it as being the perfect blend of what's good about Head Royce, Park Day, and St Paul's. I'd say that Redwood Day is strong on academics, social responsibility, and personal responsibility, and yet the school sees each child as an individual person and is able to bring out the strengths and interests of all kinds of minds. My observant, shy daughter has blossomed into an engaged, inspired learner at Redwood Day, and in the few years we've been there I've been really impressed by how little bullying there is on the playground or anywhere around the school.! Redwood Day demonstrates deep commitments to diversity and to social learning. The sense of community among families is outstanding. All this, and we get strong academics without the overwhelming pressure to perform I hear about at some schools. Consider Redwood Day School, the perfect blend (in my opinion) of the other schools you mention. www.rdschool.com Happy Parent of a Happy Kid
Re: Gay Friendly Private Schools
My son is a kindergartner at Redwood Day and there seem to be a handful of lesbian/gay parents at the school. When I toured the school last year, the tourguide was a lesbian parent who said one of the reasons she and her partner chose RDS was because of their diversity and welcoming of same-sex parents. I'm sure someone in the admissions office would be happy to put you in touch with a gay parent who could answer your questions directly. FYI, we looked at many of the same schools you are considering, and could not be happier with our decision to attend Redwood Day. My son is absolutely thriving there.
Can any parents from Redwood Day tell about that school's openness to accommodating learning differences? I was surprised and disappointed to hear the head of the lower school say they will not accommodate learning differences, they don't want ld students, and the middle school will not permit accommodations such as reduced homework load. She actually said, ''these students are welcome to earn lower grades here.'' I don't see this approach as state-of-the-art at any independant school, since ld students exist everywhere, agknowledged or not, and this doesn't mesh with Redwood's public face. anonymous
I am a parent at the school and the Lower School Director. I also have a 16 year old daughter who has learning differences and is a graduate of Redwood Day. My name is Kathy Duhl.
Redwood Day School admits all types of learners. Some students are academically gifted, and some have mild to moderate learning differences. In middle school we have a pull-out program for a small group of students who meet four times a week. It is taught by a very talented learning specialist.? she also works with students and teachers to make necessary accommodations in the curriculum. She is a terrific advocate for students and highly respected by the faculty and community at large. But because not all accommodations can happen through one person, all Redwood Day teachers have training in making the curriculum accessible and attainable for a variety of students. We train our teachers in ''School's Attuned,'' a teacher training program developed by Dr. Mel Levine that helps teachers understand developmental and/or learning differences in children, and we will actually become a training site for School's Attuned beginning this summer.
I am quoted as saying, ''these students are welcome to earn lower grades here.'' I am not sure how to respond to this -- I can't imagine what the context could have been. I would never welcome a student to ?earn a lower grade.? I might have said that our curriculum is very challenging and for some students with learning differences it might mean that they don't get straight ''A's''. That is absolutely a possibility. But I must also tell you that with the right guidance, perseverance and support, many students with learning disabilities do earn ''A's'' at Redwood Day. Kids with learning challenges can be very successful in school, they just have to be taught in a way that makes sense to them. Students with learning differences exist everywhere. What is most important is that schools teach students how they learn, and give them tools to work with when assignments are overwhelming or too challenging.
Redwood Day School admits some students with mild to moderate learning difficulties. We provide them a program that is exemplary. We acknowledge and support their strengths and give them tools to help them when they struggle. They leave our school knowing who they are as learners and how to best advocate for themselves in high school and beyond. Kathy Duhl
Re: Private Schools with No Bullying
I'm sorry you had a bad experience in elementary school, and the thought of middle school must be even more daunting -- bigger class sizes and all those adolescent 'issues'. I would think that a private school might be able to handle problems more effectively simply because the classes are smaller. You should take a look at Redwood Day School -- they do a good job of balancing social/behavioral development with good academics. Their new director, Mike Riera, is an expert on adolescent behavior, has written numerous books on the subject and is a regular on CBS and Oprah. Just the guy you want on your side as you deal with adolescence.
Re: Academics and Park Day
I can't speak to your concerns about Park Day, but I can give a whole-hearted recommendation for Redwood Day School. My son started kindergarten there this year, and we all LOVE it. My son went to a developmental (non-academic) pre-school and has really blossomed in the less-than 2 months he's been at Redwood. He's somewhat of a shy, sensitive child and the self-confidence he has gained in kindergarten is amazing. Redwood's motto is ''engaged, inspired, prepared'' and I think they really live up to that motto. They have a good balance of meeting the emotional/social needs of children without slacking on academics. There's also a real sense of community at Redwood - among the students, the teachers and the parents. We are looking forward to the next 9 years at Redwood.
I cannot convince you about Park Day, however I can tell you about Redwood Day School. We went through this process just last year and visited many school and certainly wanted the same info you are looking for. My child is now attending Redwood and we love it, but more importantly, she loves it and is excited to go to school each day and has transitioned very well. The environment and community is very open, welcoming, diverse, progressive, while also being academically inclined and in tune towards the individual needs of each child. I urge you to explore and apply to Redwood Day School but also to do all the leg work and research you can now, then to go with your gut and where you really feel you and your family will be the most comfortable.
Looking back at the exciting and anxiety-laden process of choosing a kindergarten, I agree with you that at a certain point you have to trust intuition and make a leap. That said, we looked at many schools, including all the progressive ones, and when the moment came to trust intuition, we chose Redwood Day. We couldn't be happier, and neither could our child.
Not long after we arrived at Redwood Day, one of the moms I met told me why her family chose the school, and it pretty much summed up what I now believe: that this school is at a perfect midpoint among Park Day's warmth, St. Paul's community service, and Head Royce's academics.
At Redwood Day, our child has grown to love learning, to revel in the school community, to look forward to every day he spends there. The lower school has an especially strong academic curriculum, with project learning stressed as a way to truly own what is learned. I've heard many schools say they saw each child as an individual, but at Redwood Day I see this in practice on a daily basis.
At the surface, I thought at first that Redwood Day looked more conservative than some of the other schools you mention, but having been there for a couple of years now I realize that this is a school that deeply values showing respect for others, living with quiet integrity, and honoring diversity. Community service is an ongoing commitment at Redwood Day -- the kindergarten bags groceries for the homeless, and at every grade level there are activities that express engagement with social and environmental concerns.
Redwood Day does not specifically market itself as a progressive school -- it doesn't claim to land in any particular place on the political spectrum. People at Redwood Day are progressive, moderate, and conservative. The school welcomes a variety of people and teaches values of inclusion, of thinking independently, and of living thoughtfully. What, really, could be more progressive than that? Delighted Redwood Day Parent
Does anyone on the Parents list have kids in the Redwood Day middle school? (There are lots of postings from elementary parents, but not middle school on the website.) If so, what do you think about the school? A friend is considering teaching there next year and is interested in the perspective of the parents. Judy
I have a 7th grader at Redwood Day (as well as a 5th grader). The middle school program is terrific - I recommend it to parents. I think that the administration and the parent's association does a fine job of supporting the staff, and the teachers are great about getting the middle schoolers to search inside themselves (middle school is a great time for this). I'm not sure this is answering any questions of your friend, but feel free to contact me if s/he wants to talk more. Tom
Just wanted to put in a word for Redwood Day School because it was barely on the radar screen last year when we applied (at the last minute). Our son is now a VERY happy RDS kindergartner, and from all I see and experience with parents of older kids, the balance between strong academics and developmental emphasis is just that: balanced. We wanted Spanish, music, art, PE, creative play time and super communication as well as math, reading, etc. I've got a ten-minute ride in the morning on Hwy 13, which is great. If anyone wants to ask specific questions, don't hesitate to contact me. Sooz
Re: Private School for high energy boy (August 2001)
My son is a very high energy child and got in so much trouble for it at his pre-school that I voluntarily got him out before they expelled him. For that reason, I have decided to put him in private school vs. our neighborhood public school. My son attends Redwood Day School in Oakland, where he absolutely loves it. He started in their pre-K program and is now in Kindergarten. In my opinion, their success is based on a healthy balance between a very challenging academics program and a wonderful physical, arts and science program, which includes 3 PE classes a week, music, art, swimming, Spanish, computer classes. I firmly believe that my son would not thrive in an environment where only the basics of education are taught. I would love to give you more specific information, so feel free to call me. Jannette
re: preschool prep for private school
My son is going into 2d grade at Redwood. He was admitted as a K'r. His preschool was a small family day care known as Small Change, in Oakland. Unfortunately, it has closed. He was plenty prepared, as the preschool had a good academic component. As fate would have it, he is a highly focused little kid who loved to work on art projects or letters, so preparation really wasn't an issue. What was key, I think, is that he learned social skills and group dynamics (he's an only child), learned to like learning, and had early training in numbers and letters and shapes and colors and such.
Honestly, I don't think the choice of pre-school is going to make much difference. There's such an oversupply of kids relative to the seats in schools that it's a seller's market. One headmaster told us candidly that after deleting the one third of the applicants they didn't want (not ready, too young, too active, too passive), accepting the few they obviously did (multi-lingual and doing calculus at age four) they really didn't have much basis for selecting amongst the rest. Criteria such as how many from which community, diversity (besides race and gender), parents' backgrounds and other non-academic factors were used.
If you think it matters, tho, just call the admissions folks at the schools and ask them. At Redwood, BTW, they have had a pre-K class that is the feeder for the K class (there were only 3 slots for boys when we applied). But I believe that is being phased out this year or next. You might want to check. James
RE: Alameda County Schools and Diversity issue
Our daughter is in Kindergarten at Redwood Day School, and we are pleased with everything at the school, including their commitment to diversity, which is written into their "Sempervirons" strategic plan. I have been a member of the diversity circle this year, and while there are some reservations about the pace of change, I do see that there is a genuine effort by some very good people to embrace diversity of race, ethnicity, lifestyle, religion, economics, etc. Members of the Board just finished presentations to parents about the school's approach towards academic, social and emotional development, and I came away pleased by the frankness of the conversation. Its true that there are relatively few gay parents, but I know a few who are participating in the diversity efforts. The school is remarkable for the true diversity of the faculty and staff--I believe that 42% of f & s are non-white. I also know of quite a few adopted children, and that a good effort is being made to increase the numbers of "families of color." I don't know whether you are looking into independent schools, but if you are, maybe you should look at Redwood Day to see if it is comfortable for you and a good match for your children. We are very pleased with our daughter's experience. The school starts at JK now, but next year I believe they are introducing an additional kindergarten and eliminating JK. A note re: small size. It seems that many people are starting their kids at age 6 (or almost) in kindergarten, that is fall and winter birthdays are mostly the oldest kids in the class--my daughter has a July birthday and she's the youngest in her class, which really surprised me. I am happy to talk more about RDS--if you'd like more info send mail to me. Laura
Does anyone out there have their kids in Redwood Day School? I am particularly interested in the elementary school (Jr.K on up). Any thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks. Hilary
My son is currently in the Junior Kindergarten class at RDS. I have nothing but positive to say about the school. I would love to be more specific but I don't have the time right now to write a lengthy response and I am not sure if others would benefit. Feel free to call me at home at ---- and I'd be happy to tell you more. I will be on starting Monday for a week. Jannette
Our daughter is in kindergarten at Redwood Day, and so far we are very happy with the school. The kindergarten teacher Mrs. Segal is great, and it has been a good year. We are looking forward to 1st grade and continuing all the way through 8th! Of course, as at any large organization, there are some minor administrative problems and some things we wish could be different, but on the whole, we are happy with the friendly people, inclusive environment and academic goals of the school. At least in the elementary school (I don't know much about the middle school) we have found that teachers and administration have been quick to listen and respond, encouraging of continuing education for teachers, and good at responding to the individual personalities and learning styles of the students. I'd be glad to respond in more detail to anyone who'd like more facts. Laura
My experience with Redwood Day School is as an applicant, not as an admitted student, and as a neighbor of the school. We applied for first grade to Redwood Day School and my son went in for an evaluation. He was not admitted (no surprise, there were only a few spots) and I called the admissions office afterwards to discuss why he wasn't admitted. They were not at all nice about it, which was a bit of a surprise and said that my son developmentally was "only" at 6 years, 5 months (not surprising, since he was six and a half at the time) and all of the children were entering the first grade from their kindergarten were "at least at seven years developementally". So, I guess all of the children there are like the ones in Lake Wobegone,above average.
Additionally, they put me on their fundraising mailing list, which kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I assumed it was a mistake, since I couldn't imagine that they were asking non-admitted families for money, so I called. It wasn't a mistake, they do it for all non-admitted families... The only impression I gained from that was that if I had re-applied the next year and had given them thousands of dollars, they might have made a different decision. Could be wrong, though. As a neighbor, their parking/drop off situation is a total nightmare.