We encourage you to learn more about Park Day School before submitting an application. You can gather information about Park Day School through our information packet, by attending an Open House, and by attending an information meeting & school tour.
Choosing The “Right” School
At Park Day School, we believe the key to choosing the “right” school is to remember that there is no one school that is good for everyone. As educators, we believe that the right school is one in which a child is both cherished and challenged, where the educational approach is valued by the family, and where the child and their family feels a sense of belonging. And while that school is going to be different for different families, we believe that the way we combine a progressive approach, academic rigor, expert teachers, a verdant learning environment and an integrated social justice curriculum makes us a great fit for many families around the Bay Area.
As you are choosing a school for your child – and your family – we'd ask you to begin by thinking back. Think of yourself in 2nd or in 5th grade. Think of your teachers, and remember how important they were to you and to who you are now. With any luck, that exercise will put a smile on your face as you remember the people who opened up the world of literature to you, brought you to that "aha moment" on long division, or forever changed the way you view history or race relations or science. Likely, you want that kind of magic to happen for your child; you want to find the school that will provide a great academic foundation, open their mind to new ideas–and put a smile on their face 30 years from now.
There is a lot happening in education right now. We are lucky in the East Bay to have a wealth of schools from which to choose: public, charter, independent, religious and home. And each individual school has its own distinct educational philosophy. Now is your opportunity to investigate as many approaches to education as you can. We look forward to sharing our unique approach with you and your family, and hope that you'll visit our campus and our classrooms to get to know us, our teachers and our students.
Teaching Social Justice
One thing that sets Park Day apart from many schools, even some other progressive schools, is the strong emphasis we place on teaching social justice. One of the most important components of the social justice curriculum is to challenge racial, gender, and other stereotypes. Through the selection of literature, the study of history, and the exploration of scientific discoveries, the voices of under represented people are brought to life. This exposure fosters in students a sense of compassion, fairness, activism and globalism.
This is something you might want to keep in mind as you learn about other schools’ curriculum and philosophies.
Looking at Academic Programs: Engagement and Assessment
We believe a successful child is one who is confident, caring, and creative. We consider success as linked to a student’s ability to define their place in the world, equipped with the intellectual and critical thinking skills needed to confront the challenges of a changing world.
To this end, our teachers design curriculum to engage and challenge each child based on a deep understanding of their developmental needs as well as an accurate assessment of each as a student. We take seriously our responsibility to assess the skills and overall learning needs of our students, and to continually assess their growth in all subject areas.
A component of our work is teaching students to assess themselves. From kindergarten on, children are taught the tools of self-assessment, and work with their teachers in setting a learning path. Our goal is for each student to speak with confidence about his or her individual learning style, learning strengths, and needs.
Our vibrant academic curriculum meets or exceeds state curriculum guidelines. We ensure that our curriculum is broad and explorative rather than limited, with the understanding that facts are truly remembered when learned in a context. Our experiential learning activities cross-pollinate students of many different strengths to enrich the overall experience of each child. In every case, students are encouraged to question, explore and experiment.
Park Day School teachers pass on not just knowledge to the students, but wisdom. The difference, as summed up so well by a former parent in his speech to a graduating class, is that “Knowledge is being able to count the change in your pocket; wisdom is understanding why some pockets have more change in them than others. Knowledge is knowing all the ways people are different from each other: we look different, like different things, we learn in different ways. . . Wisdom is appreciating that.”
Here are some additional questions you may want to consider:
How do you define success for your child? Emotionally? Socially? Academically?
What are your priorities now as you think about the right school for your child and your family? Are these priorities ones that might stay with you over the next three years? . . . five years? . . . ten years?
What role does your sense of the parent community of a school play in your decision-making?
We look forward to our conversations with you.