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Frequently Asked Questions


What kind of child will thrive at CDS?

The CDS program includes challenging academics enriched by art, music, drama, physical education, a unique farm and garden curriculum, Spanish and community-based learning. There are many transitions throughout the school day. Children who thrive at CDS are comfortable making transitions, can work and learn collaboratively with other students, and are excited about learning. Our students are happy, confident, curious children who are respectful of others and eager to learn.

What do you expect from parents?

CDS seeks to enroll students whose families are eager to make a real commitment to our school, and who will support their children in their quest for increased responsibility. Specifically, we welcome families who will:    

  • Form a partnership with their child's teachers and actively participate on their child's education team by:
    • Sharing any and all useful information about their child       
    • Observing, learning and practicing the CDS values    
  • Set appropriate limits and boundaries for their child    
  • Encourage their children to take on new responsibilities  
  • Each year, increasingly shift from being their child's manager to their child's coach
  • Support the school community in a variety of ways:
Can I put my name on a waiting list? My child will be ready for preschool in two more years.

CDS does not maintain an ongoing waiting list. Please contact CDS in the fall of the year prior to the year when your child would be eligible to enroll to start the admission process (e.g., if your child is eligible to enter our preschool in September 2020, contact CDS in September 2019; if you child is eligible to enter our preschool in September 2019, contact CDS this fall).

I would like to tour the school and visit classrooms. Am I able to do that any time?

The first step of our application process is for parents to contact CDS and schedule a school visit. We ask all prospective parents to visit CDS before submitting an application, as this is the best opportunity to hear about our unique approach to learning and to see our school in action. We apologize, but due to limited tour dates, tours are available for parents of age-eligible children only.

How are admission decisions made?

Children's Day School seeks students and families who are a great fit with the CDS educational philosophy (progressive and constructivist) and its involved, diverse, and inclusive community. While our admission procedures and criteria vary according to the age of the students, the school's main considerations during the admission process are whether the student will thrive in our program and whether the parents/guardians are seeking the type of educational community we have created at CDS. In addition, we keep in mind other factors such as student learning styles, racial/ethnic diversity, socioeconomic diversity, and family structure. The learning and social-emotional needs of current students also are considered.

We view each admission decision as a collective decision, involving input from faculty, learning specialists, division directors, the admission office, and (when needed) the Head of School. When there are more qualified candidates than openings available, the school establishes a wait pool.

CDS is committed to supporting students and families who reflect San Francisco's diverse population. All students are encouraged to apply.

What happens if a child has been placed in the admission waiting pool?

When there are more qualified applicants than openings available, we establish an unranked waiting pool. When an opening occurs, the admission committee decides to which student to offer a space based upon the overall profile of the class and the match with the child and the family.

How are prospective students assessed?

Our application process includes a time for your child to visit the school, and teachers make age-appropriate assessments and observations during those visits. Visits are scheduled during January and February.

  • Preschool applicants: Preschool applicants and their parents visit one of our preschool classrooms and meet our preschool teachers in groups of 6-8 families for 45 minutes on a Saturday. The format of this visit is similar to that of a preschool class at CDS.

  • Transitional Kindergarten applicants: Transitional Kindergarten (TK) applicants visit in our transitional kindergarten classroom and meet our TK teachers in small groups for 45 minutes on a Saturday. The format of the visit is similar to that of a TK class.

  • Kindergarten applicants: Kindergarten applicants visit our kindergarten classroom and meet our kindergarten teachers in groups of 15-20 children for 60 minutes. The format of this visit is similar to that of a kindergarten class at CDS. During the visit your child will participate in CDS kindergarten activities such as a morning meeting, working with math manipulatives, drawing, and singing.

  • Grade 1-4 applicants: Depending on the number of applicants, applicants to grades 1-4 visit individually or in small groups during the school day. The visit for grades 1-4 applicants is an opportunity for our faculty to meet your child and to make sure there is a match between your child's approach to learning and the requirements of the classroom. During the visit your child will be assessed on reading, writing and math skills.

  • Grade 5-8 applicants: Applicants to grades 5 and 6 visit in groups of 15-20 children for approximately one-half day. Applicants to grades 7 and 8 visit in their current grade. The visit for grades 5-8 applicants is an opportunity for our faculty to meet your child to make sure there is a match between your child's approach to learning and the requirements of the classroom. Your child will participate in group activities and also be assessed on reading, writing and math skills.

For all visiting students, we make it a priority to put the children at ease in what is a new and unfamiliar environment.

What is your sibling policy?

While CDS is a family school, we are also committed to making sure CDS is the right school for each child. Therefore, CDS has an early decision process for siblings of currently enrolled CDS students and the children of faculty and staff. Sibling applications are due in mid-October and student visits are scheduled in early-November. Decisions and notifications will be made as soon as possible after the visit; contracts are mailed during the re-enrollment process in February.

How old does my child need to be to be accepted into your preschool or kindergarten?

Our school year begins in late August or early September, depending on the calendar. CDS preschoolers need to be able to use the bathroom on their own before they begin the school year, and children need to be three years old by August 31 of that year. Kindergartners need to be five years old by August 31.


Does CDS support children with learning differences?

At CDS, we know that all children learn differently. We have as many different kinds of learners as we have students, and we teach accordingly. An effective parent-teacher partnership is critical for a child's success, and at CDS teachers and parents meet regularly to monitor each child's education. Our Learning Specialists become involved when an additional point of view or expertise seems necessary to help students fulfill their highest academic and social/emotional potential. Sometimes students require services that are beyond what we can provide in the classroom. When this happens, we refer families to outside services or tutoring. Tutoring and accessing educational specialists is usually arranged at the family's expense. Our Learning Specialists maintain a file of tutors and specialists. We know that we cannot be effective with all children, and when necessary we assist our families in exploring other educational settings that may better serve their child’s learning style.

What sports programs does CDS offer?

Students in grade six and up can participate in the CDS sports program, which currently includes co-ed volleyball, cross-country, girls' and boys' basketball, and co-ed futsal (indoor soccer). CDS students compete in the San Francisco Independent School Athletic League.

How are students evaluated?

Teachers create benchmarks for progress and assemble portfolios of student work in order to provide parents with concrete assessments of their child's progress in each academic domain. Written progress reports are prepared twice a year for preschool-grade 4 and three times a year for grades 5-8. Parent-teacher conferences are also held two or three times a year. The Educational Records Bureau (ERB) standardized test is given to students from fourth through seventh grades.

What foreign languages are offered, and when?

All CDS students learn Spanish, starting in preschool. Each preschool class has one Spanish-speaking teacher, and Spanish is part of the daily routine. Students in transitional kindergarten and in grades K–4 have Spanish class two times a week, and students in grades 5-8 have Spanish class five times a week. Spanish in the elementary and middle school program is taught by specialist teachers.


Will you make an exception on the age requirement for my child for preschool or kindergarten?

No. We’ve learned through years of experience that children need to be grouped according to all of the following maturities: cognitive, social, physical, and emotional. Our experience has shown us that young students placed ahead of their chronological peer group frequently find themselves at a disadvantage later in their development in one way or another. Our academic program recognizes that students acquire academic skills at different rates and in different ways. We’re committed to challenging each child appropriately at all grade levels; we present children with activities and materials that allow a full range of challenges and experiences. When making the important decision of when to enroll a child in kindergarten, we ask parents to think beyond their child's "readiness" for the earliest school years and consider their child's development at all ages, including early adolescence and the teen years leading into college, and the quality of the college experience itself.


Statistics & Logistics

What are the school hours?

Both our main campus at 333 Dolores Street and our middle school campus at 601 Dolores Street open at 8:00 a.m. School starts promptly at 8:15 a.m. for students in grades 2–4, and at 8:30 a.m. for students in preschool, transitional kindergarten, grade 1, and grades 5–8. The end of the school day is staggered between 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic during pick-up. The preschool day ends at 2:15 p.m., transitional kindergarten and kindergarten end at 2:45 p.m., grades 1–2 at 3:00 p.m., and grades 3–4 at 3:15 p.m. Dismissal for preschool-grade 4 is at our main campus at 333 Dolores Street. Dismissal for grades 5–8 is at 3:30 p.m. at our middle school campus at 601 Dolores Street.

Do you offer an Extended Day Program?

We have an excellent before and after school program that runs from 7:30–8 a.m. and from class dismissal until 6 p.m. We also offer a summer program as well as vacation "camps" during our school vacations.

Can students buy lunch at school?

Students need to provide their own lunch. A morning snack is provided in the preschool classrooms and an afternoon snack is provided for all students participating in the after school program. Students bring their lunch or families have the option of participating in a school lunch program operated by School Foodies, an independent company that prepares and delivers affordable, "kid-approved" bag lunches, packed with fun-to-eat nutritious foods.

How many students are enrolled at CDS?

We have 476 students for the 2018–2019 school year.

What is the teacher-to-student ratio?

The teacher-to-student ratio school wide is 1:8, including classroom, specialist, and after-school teachers.

Each preschool section has three classroom teachers for 24 students (teacher-to-student ratio is 1:8). Preschoolers also have specialist teachers in art, music, and farm & garden.

Each Kindergarten section has two classroom teachers for 24 students (teacher-to-student ratio is 1:12) Kindergartners also have specialist teachers in Spanish, art, music, physical education and farm & garden.