List of 8 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 & Garden curriculum, Spanish, community-based learning, in addition to other elective and specialist classes. 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
    • Continuously and increasingly shift from being their child's manager to their child's coach
    • Support the school community in a variety of ways:
  • I would like to tour the school and visit classrooms. Am I able to do that any time?

    We will be hosting in-person tours of our school in the Fall and families can sign up to attend a tour on Ravenna. We have also created a virtual tour and enrollment showcase to give you a sense of our campus and to share our learning beliefs. 
  • 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 September 1 of that year. Kindergartners need to be five years old by September 1.
  • 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 2024, contact CDS in September 2023; if your child is eligible to enter our preschool in September 2023, contact CDS this fall).


List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • 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 that 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.


List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • 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

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • 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 at 8:30 a.m. 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 460 students for the 2023-2024 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.

Glossary of School Terms

Below are some common terms and language used at CDS that we hope will help new families and employees understand and navigate our culture and traditions.

All School

List of 2 items.

  • Logistical

    • 16th Street: This is the three-story building near the exit gate of the parking lot, which houses administrative offices. The 16th Street offices include Admissions, Advancement, Communications, Finance, Technology, Human Resources, P.E. teachers, and the ECP Counselor.
    • 333 / SJH: 333 is short for 333 Dolores Street, the address for the lower school building. It is also called St. Joseph’s Hall (SJH), a name given to the building when it opened in 1925. SJH includes our transitional kindergarten through fourth-grade classes.
    • 601: 601 is short for 601 Dolores Street, the location of our Middle School, grades 5-8.
    • Bid & Bash: Annual fundraising auction and community celebration. The money raised directly supports sliding scale tuition.
    • (The) Bower: Also known as “The Papa Artie Bower.” The area is named after a former CDS student’s grandfather. The shaded area adjacent to the Starfish (preschool) classroom. The treehouse, mud kitchen, and willow hut are located here.
    • Boys & Girls Club / B&G Club: The Columbia Park Boys & Girls Club, adjacent to the east property line of our 333 yard. We are proud of our community partnership with the Boys & Girls Club. In addition to our leased gymnasium space located there, our Community Library and Center for Inquiry also is located in the B&G Club and is the hub of an exciting learning commons for both of our communities.
    • The Coop: Weekly all-school newsletter, sent through ParentSquare on Wednesday afternoons.
    • Divisions: CDS has three main divisions: Early Childhood Program (preschool-transitional kindergarten), Lower School (K-4th grade), and Middle School (5th-8th grade).
    Contacting the divisions:
    Early Childhood Program and Lower School: Call the Front Desk at (415) 861-5432, x310.
    Middle School: Call the MS Front Desk at (415) 861-5432, x450.

    • Double Doors: The two brown wooden doors that open onto the driveway at the west end of St. Joseph’s Hall (SJH). TK-4th grade students are dismissed from these doors each day.
    • Farm & Garden: The space off the main yard at the 333 campus with vegetable gardens, fruit trees, sheep, and chickens.
    • Friday Coffee: Weekly coffee provided in the CDS yard prior to each assembly.
    • Friday Morning Assembly: This is a weekly gathering from 8:30-9:00 a.m. on Fridays, in which the entire CDS community is welcomed to student-led assemblies.
    • Grandparents & Special Friends Day: Annual event taking place before Thanksgiving to which all our grandparents and special friends are invited. Features student performances and classroom visits.
    • Homeroom: A registration website that the Extended Program uses to post and enroll students in enrichment classes, as well as vacation and summer camps.
    • Liaisons: Parents/guardians who act as communicators for upcoming activities or events related to a specific class or grade.
    • Magnus Health: A web-based platform used for medical and health forms.
    • My CDS portal: Our student information system and family resource center, hosted by Blackbaud.
    • NDP: Notre Dame Plaza, a senior citizen residential facility directly west of the Lower School and Preschool campus, with whom we share our driveway.
    • ParentSquare (PSQ): Our school-to-home communication platform. It is also used as a way to communicate regularly with households about class updates and learning activities.
    • SchoolPass: Our attendance and visitor management system.
    • SJH: St. Joseph’s Hall, the historic main school building on the 333 campus.
    • Sliding Scale Tuition (SST): The wide range of tuition offered to make our school accessible and affordable to families from a broad range of economic circumstances. Our sliding scale tuition is strictly need-based and recognizes that each family’s financial situation is unique. This program supports our belief that socioeconomic status is a core aspect of diversity that benefits the learning experience of all children.
    • TK: Transitional kindergarten, also known as the “Alligators.”
    • Wood Chips: The play area in between the Lower School building and Preschool classrooms covered in wood chips, that houses play structures and a sandbox.
  • Educational

    • Affinity Groups: An affinity group provides a “safe space” in which its members can explore issues of shared identity and experience and affirm their emotional and intellectual responses to being part of a distinct subset of the community.
    • All-Community Meetings: Faculty and staff meet together once a month for professional development, to hear speakers, and for other announcements and activities.
    • Buddy Program: Our Buddy Program pairs older classes with younger classes for dedicated time talking, reading, and playing together.
    • CBL: Community Based Learning - programs and units of study that aim to deepen students’ theoretical learning with real-world experiences.
    • Challenges: These are areas for improvement that appear on progress reports or in emails from faculty to families about their child(ren).
    • COID: Committee on Inclusion and Diversity - this group is charged with helping CDS develop strategies to realize our mission that aspires to develop each student’s genius and create an environment where children of all backgrounds feel safe to be themselves. Currently, there are two branches - one comprised of faculty and staff, the other of Board and staff members.
    • Community Partnerships: CDS partners with a variety of community-based organizations, including:
      • Aim High
      • Boys & Girls Club
      • Breakthrough
      • Our Family Coalition
      • SMART Program
    • Essential Questions: Used to promote inquiry and critical thinking, essential questions provide a structure for breaking down big ideas and making them relevant to the lives of our students.
    • MAP: MAP®, or the Measure of Academic Progress, Growth™ test is a computerized adaptive test which measures what students know and what they’re ready to learn next in language, reading and math. By dynamically adjusting to each student’s performance, MAP Growth creates a personalized assessment experience that accurately measures performance—whether a student performs on, above, or below grade level. All CDS students in grades 1-8 take the MAP Growth test two times a year; once in the fall and again in the spring. Additionally, teachers will have the option of administering the test midway through the year (during winter) on an as-needed basis.
    • Parent Education: We strive to provide parents with the chance to learn new skills, try new approaches, and talk with fellow parents about shared experiences. We frequently partner with PEN (Parents Education Network) and SPEAK (Speakers for Parents Educators And Knowledge) to promote lectures and discussion sessions about child-rearing practices.
    • Progress Reports/Narratives: Periodic reports that describe your child’s achievements, challenges, and areas for improvement.
    • Social Justice: An educational approach and core tradition at CDS that aspires to give students the tools and practice to respectfully interact with people from diverse cultures, experiences, family structures, and beliefs.

Division-Specific Language

List of 3 items.

  • Early Childhood Program

    • ECP: The acronym often used for Early Childhood Program.
    • Butterflies: ECP students staying after dismissal are part of the Butterflies after school program.
  • Lower School

    • Responsive Classroom: a way of teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe school community.
    • Rubric: A grid that gives concrete examples of what is and is not expected from student work.
    • The Structure: The climbing structure on the wood chips.
    • The Yard: The general term used for the area inside the black gate at 333 Dolores, in between the Lower School and Preschool.
    • The Blacktop: The asphalt area in between the Lower School and Preschool at 333 Dolores.
    • The EEK (Environmental Education Kitchen): The kitchen next to the wood chips off the yard at 333 Dolores.
  • Middle School

    • Trips:
      • Point Bonita - overnight trip for 5th/6th graders in the spring
      • Ashland - refers to Ashland, Oregon, where we take 7th graders to see Shakespeare plays (among others) in the fall
      • 8th Grade Trip - various locations, in the spring
    • Advisory: groups of 10-12 students that meet during the week to check-in, share updates, and engage in peer discussions.
    • Bulldog Beat: A newsletter with events and updates about Middle School distributed to all CDS Middle School families.
    • Daily Bulletin: An update with Middle School events and news shown to Middle School students each morning, usually during their first class at the Middle School campus.
    • “Do the right thing”: The idea of challenging and empowering students to think critically and contextually about decisions they make, rather than giving them a list of dos and don’ts.
    • FAS: Food and Agricultural Science class.
    • iLab / Maker Space: A space for students to design, brainstorm, build, test, and iterate.
    • MS Assembly: A weekly gathering of all students, faculty, and administrators at the Middle School campus.
    • Navigating Class: A weekly class with a focus that varies by grade. For instance, in fifth grade, Navigating aims to help new students become acculturated to Middle School. In eighth grade, it focuses on helping students navigate the high school application process.
    • Portfolio: This is a collection of student work, tests, and quizzes, used during Student-Led Conferences.
    • SLT (Student Leadership Team): A group that encourages students from every grade to be the voice of their classmates and bring their own ideas about how we can continually make CDS a better place (e.g. spirit, events, fundraisers, service learning, etc.).
    • SLC (Student-Led Conferences): An opportunity for students to practice public speaking skills and field questions as they present examples of their work to their families.
    • SSAT (Secondary Scholastic Aptitude Test): A test given to Middle School students, the score of which is included as a part of the high school application process.
Children's Day School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school.  Learn More