Skip to main content

You are here

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 2022, contact CDS in September 2021; if your child is eligible to enter our preschool in September 2021, contact CDS this fall).

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

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we unfortunately cannot host in-person tours during school hours on campus. However, we have created a virtual tour and enrollment showcase to give you a sense of our campus and to share our learning beliefs. We will also have in person Saturday open houses for any adults who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 which you can register for on Ravenna-Hub.

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?

In a typical year, we have prospective students visit in the CDS classrooms and our teachers make age-appropriate assessments and observations during those visits.

This year, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, we will be assessing students as follows:

  • Preschool – We expect to make admission decisions for prospective preschoolers based on the application, the teacher evaluation (if applicable), and a parent/guardian conversation with an admission representative. We are not anticipating requiring any assessment or visit by prospective preschoolers.
  • Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten – We anticipate asking parents/guardians to complete a series of short videos of their children completing a set of assigned tasks; the videos would then be uploaded to our admission platform.
  • Grades 1-8 – We are creating grade-appropriate assessments that can be completed at home, either independently or as part of a Zoom call.

When/if health and safety guidelines permit, we will switch to on-campus, in-person assessments.

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; contracts are emailed 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, co-ed futsal (indoor soccer), ultimate frisbee, and track & field. 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. Parent-teacher conferences are also held two or three times a year.

CDS also uses MAP Growth, an untimed, computer-adaptive standardized test which measures what students know and what they’re ready to learn next in language, reading, and math. All students in grades 1-8 take MAP Growth twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring. This assessment helps us track our students’ growth and progress over time and allows our teachers to set instructional goals for individual students and the class as a whole.

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. In the elementary and middle school programs, Spanish is taught by specialist teachers. In Lower School, Spanish is one of several specialist subjects which rotate on a two-month cycle, with students learning in concentrated blocks of time. Students in grades 5-8 have Spanish class five times a week.


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, 8:25 a.m. for students in kindergarten and grade 1, and 8:30 a.m. for students in preschool, transitional kindergarten, 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?

Yes. In a typical year, our after school program runs 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 475 students for the 2021-2022 school year.

What is the teacher-to-student ratio?

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