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Redwood Day School (Oakland, CA)
RE: Finding a school that is a good match
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
Re: Schools that offer 3-D printing classes
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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: 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
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.
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