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I know there are LOTS of general opinions out there about whether to start your child in kindergarten early or late, what the potential consequences are, etc. I am particularly interested, though, in hearing from parents who have put their children in kindergarten at Thornhill School. Our daughter has an early October birthday. She will be turning 5 this coming fall, so she will make the public school kindergarten cutoff even under the new November 1st date. She would not, however, make the cutoff if we were making this decision next year when the cutoff will be October 1. If you had/have a child at Thornhill, did you find that children tended to be older or younger than the cutoff would suggest?
Re: Montclair Elementary Schools
My son is currently in 4th grade at Thornhill elementary, and has been in AT since he started Kindergarten. We love it there, and for my son (with a minor learning disability involving handwriting) it has been far better for us than private school. Great community too.
There is homework starting in Kindergarten, but we've found it pretty reasonable. The K homework is mostly reading -- which we've never thought of as homework. It increases pretty slowly; currently our 4th grade homework each night includes a math sheet, a spelling sheet, writing two paragraphs on a particular topic (an extremely helpful thing for our child!), and practicing his instrument of choice for 10 minutes. Takes a total of 30-40 minutes at most (usually less), including the instrument. Oh, and the ''non-homework'' reading is a bit extra, but our son regards it as pleasurable. There are a couple of larger projects per year starting in 3rd grade (science fair project, writing/research projects).
There is art (I don't know how often exactly, but at least once a week), and PE twice a week with a coach. There is gardening on site. Also weekly music starting in K. AT is great. It's very safe, and our son often asks that we go away and let him play longer! They have sports when its not raining, games, art projects, and so on; or kids can just play as they wish (either indoors with toys and games, or out). They also will have the older kids finish homework there if the parents request. Most of the senior staff has been there since we got there. And you can schedule 5 hours per week or more, as you wish; you're charged hourly per month (must schedule monthly; extra ''late pickup'' hours are a bit more).
There are also enrichment programs after school that you can sign up for (they are paid): Spanish, fitness, martial arts, drama, Lego engineering, Sarah's Science, and more. AT will pick kids up afterwards if you want (and you don't have to pay for AT until the kid gets there, as long as you include this in the schedule). Altogether, we've found it a very positive experience for our family. Karen
Hi there. We may move to Montclair, so our child can be in one of the good elementary schools there. But we've heard mixed things about the schools ... If you have children in either of those elementary schools, what do you think of them? How is the homework? the arts? the PE? I am having a tough time getting adequate info from the schools. Also, what do parents do for middle and high school? I know several families that went private after elementary school, due to poor middle/high options in Montclair area. We both have graduate degrees and were lucky enough to attend some exceptional schools, so education is a HUGE priority for us. We're really interested in your thoughts, your stories. Thanks! sw
Go visit Montera before you totally rule out public middle school in Oakland. You'll be pleasantly surprised. We've been nothing but happy there. Both my kids are engaged and excited about learning - and doing well. Teachers are communicative, open and responsive. API test scores are up. The PTO is organized and very active. And our family is active and involved in the school.
It's not a good fit for everyone, obviously. But if you live in Montclair, go take a look. It's only getting better each year. Lauren
Re: Art programs in Piedmont/Montclair/Rockridge
Thornhill School includes (through the Parent Faculty Club donation drives) music classes during the day; an Orff-trained teacher for the lower grades, and a singing and instrumental teacher at the upper grades. They include art, generally just projects supervised by teachers with parent assistance, also. Again, materials are via donation. Karen
We are in the process of looking at various schools for K. We understand Thornhill is an excellent school with good teachers and great parent volunteers. I would like to find out how parents feel the educational experience compares to local private schools. Many kids enter private schools for middle school. Are they well prepared? Will an advanced child be adequately challenged? Does one see the strain of teaching to test and ''no child left behind'' pressures of public education? neighborhood parents
There are few reviews in the archives about Thornhill Elementary in
Oakland. I have
heard great things about Thornhill, and was hoping some current or
would share their experiences. One thing I am wondering about, is
there a formal
program or ad hoc way that the school teaches kids to include each
other / not
bully? Overall, are the parents and kids friendly to each other? Does
it seem like
most of the kids are enjoying it there?
My son, now in 8th grade elsewhere, went through Thornhill and was very happy there. We participated in the parent organization (I ran one committee for several years) and always felt included, even though I was a working parent. (There is a core group, thank goodness, that is around the playground and in the classrooms to do art, help with fieldtrips etc.) Teachers include some very longtime veterans who are dearly loved and newer teachers that fit in well and are very popular with the kids. (Remember that my perspective is 3 years out of date, of course.)
My son never seemed like a particularly strong student when he
was there, but he was accepted in all 3 of the middle schools to
which he applied. I think that Thornhill's basic preparation of
its students is thorough and as creative as any CA
standards-based education can be. The long tenure teachers manage
to integrate their experience and their favorite teaching topics
into the standards-based curriculum, even with Open Court reading
(if they still use that.)
Hope that helps.
a 6 year Thornhill parent (1998-2004)
I don't believe there's a formal class for inclusion and not bullying, but it certainly appears to be emphasized in general. I've felt pretty much that the community is friendly.
I'm always concerned, however, when people refer to Thornhill as ''the best'' school in Oakland. Yes, it has the highest API scores in Oakland, but those are primarily a function of socioeconomic status and educational level of the parents -- which are very high at Thornhill.
The big downside is Oakland School District. In addition to being broke and paying for nothing (library, music, PE, facilities repairs -- all are funded by the parents through fundraising, not the school district), Oakland forces the use of a simply awful reading curriculum called ''Open Court'' -- the teacher has to follow a script with limited use of his/her own professional judgment, must be on the same page as everyone else in the district regardless of what the students need -- and there are absolutely endless worksheets (and there's a ton of research showing that worksheets are not good for kids). Unfortunately, the math curriculum looks similar.
The teachers and staff do the absolute best they can, the kids are
great, and the
parents are involved. But the school district is enough to make me
the private school question
My daughter will likely attend Thornhill next year but wanted
to hear some recent reviews of the school. Also Is there an
aftercare program?? If so, what is it like and what are the
Feel free to contact me if you want to talk about OUSD and the public
Thornhill has several after school options, including Adventuretime, which is located in a portable classroom onsite. Another option is Jewish Community Services (you do not have to be Jewish to participate). They pick the kids up from campus and take them to a site on Redwood Road. Both are good options and worth checking out. There may be others too that I am not aware of. My son spent some time at both Adventuretime and JCS this year and enjoyed both.
I hope this helps. Good luck with your decision.
Re: transferring into Oakland schools
my son went to thornhill from k-5 and it's a great school...just look at their test scores,,,that say's it all. thier is a great parent participations and the teacher's are wonderful...i have another child and i have no problems sending him back thier..that is the best reccomentdation of all
We're about to move to Montclair and are considering Thornhill School for our soon-to-be first grader. I'd love to hear people's perceptions of it -- the good, the bad, the strong, the worrisome. All are welcome. We plan on visiting the school next month. Thanks so much. Nancy
We tried the afterschool Adventure Time program for a few years at Thornhill Elementary. We ended up pulling my son out because one of the staff members working there, I found to be inappropriate. When she was angry with my son or other children, she would grab his arm very hard and pull him across the room and pinch him hard. Personally, I call that physical abuse. She once left my son in a corner for an hour with nothing to do. No book to read or art work to work on or homework. Once I came in and my son and one of his best friends had gotten into a little tift, as kids do, and rather then doing what she could to create a place of friendship for them to forgive each other within, she was pitting them against each other. She even went as far to call my son a liar, in the way that a child would yell at another child...right in front of me. Several times I have heard her yell at children and make them cry.
We finally just pulled him out to keep him away from this abusive woman. Then a few months later, i walked by the ''special needs'' class at Thornhill Elementary, I could hear inside a woman yelling at a child ''....I dont want to see your NASTY ASS.....''. And to be honest it was not only the words but the angry demeaning voice that was the scariest to be hearing someone yell at a child that I supposed was ''special needs''... As I continued to walk by the classroom i peered in the door and this same woman was still yelling and to my surprise it was this same woman, from Adventure Time after care program. She looked at me and maybe saw the look of shock on my face. I kept walking and saw another parent in the hall. I approached her and whispered ''did you hear that?'' At the same time, she came out of the special needs class and proceed to yell down the hall: ''Dont Listen to that woman she is a liar''. (This action, in itself was inappropriate, but also only served to make her look guilty given the fact that i could possibly have not even heard her yell....and maybe was not even talking about her.... and thus she only incriminated herself by yelling at me like that in front of the other parents.)
I complained to the principle who is supposedly taking some action, tho as far as I can tell she has not been removed from the school. And i have tried twice now to call Adventure Time, however, they have yet to pick up the phone and call me back about my concerns. If this woman is still working at Adventure Time at Thornhill Elementary, i do not reccommed you leave your kids in their care, if you think its important that teachers do NOT talk DEMEANING to children, NOT grab their arms and pull them abusively and pinch them hard, and NOT yell at children and make them cry. J.
Hi there, I'm interested in finding out more about Aftercare at both the Thornhill and Montclair Elementary Schools. Any information you can give is very appreciated. Thanks, Jen :)
My son is starting kindergarten at Thornhill Elementary in the Fall. I'm looking for a good aftercare program. There seem to be three choices: Adventure Care, Smiles Day School, and Jewish Community Services. These three are either on-site or pick up from school. What I've heard is that Adventure Care may be a bit too unstructured for some younger children who are used to a more structured preschool. I like what I've heard about JCS because they offer programs like swimming, gymnastics and piano lessons. I've heard little about Smiles except that it is big and possibly impersonal. Can anyone comment on these or recommend any others? Thanks.
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