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Frequently Asked Questions

Elementary students walking outside

 

General FAQs

How old is Almaden Country Day School?

ACDS was founded in 1982 and is thriving in its fifth decade of discovering the gifts in every child.

Is ACDS accredited?

ACDS is fully accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). In 2015, ACDS was awarded a seven year accreditation term, the longest conferred by CAIS.

What is a "Country Day School"?

Country Day Schools are located across the United States, concentrated mostly in the East, Midwest, and South. While they are not affiliated in any way, Country Day Schools share defining characteristics that are shaped by their historical roots. Country Day Schools were among America’s first private schools, established at the turn of the century when parents who could afford private schools sought options for their children outside the industrialized, polluted, and increasingly unsafe cities. Country Day Schools were established in spacious, clean, safe “country” locations, and offered all the amenities of boarding schools (sports, art, music, outdoor learning, and character education) in a day school setting, with the goal of shaping ethical, balanced, and wholesome children. ACDS shares these goals and the other defining aspects of the Country Day School movement. 

What is the teacher/student ratio?

  • In our Pre-Kindergarten classes, the ratio is approximately 1:6. As students age they are able to work more independently, and thus the ratio changes.
  • Our Kindergarten ratio is approximately 1:12 with elementary and middle school class sizes averaging 1:18. There are typically two or three Kindergarten classes to maintain a small class size for the children's first year of pre-academic work.
  • In our Elementary and Middle School programs there are two classes per grade level.
  • Our Middle School math and science courses are limited to 10-15 students to support individualized learning in these subjects.

Does ACDS have any religious affiliation?

No. ACDS is a non-sectarian, non-denominational school and is not affiliated with any religion. We accept applicants without regard to race, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or religion.

Non-Discrimination Policy

Almaden Country 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. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

 

Academic FAQs

Do you emphasize academics or the creative arts?

Both! At ACDS, we believe in a balanced approach to cultivating the whole child. In the Elementary grades, in addition to their homeroom subjects (reading, writing, mathematics, social studies), ACDS students enjoy our visual arts program (including pottery), as well as drama and music enrichment classes, all taught by experienced, specialist teachers.

Beyond the arts, our students enjoy an array of other enrichment classes: hands-on and activity-based science, foreign languages, technology and our Imaginarium maker space, and physical education. In the Middle School, our students pursue their core subjects and also choose from more than 50 elective classes, including visual and performing arts, but also STEM and programming, creative writing, history, sports, and much more. This wide selection of electives enables all of our middle schoolers to experience new learning and pursue their interests.

Our expansive, balanced curriculum across the grade levels results in engaged, joyful students and true interdisciplinary study, where concepts learned in one subject area are connected across the curriculum with others. Our graduates emerge from ACDS as confident, curious learners who enjoy school, know how to think critically and creatively, and advance with confidence toward high school and beyond.

Does ACDS administer standardized testing?

Yes, ACDS students take a standardized test once per year in grades 4 to 8. Test data is used primarily to help the administration identify any curriculum trends that show strengths or areas for improvement in our programs.

What is the homework policy?

At ACDS we strive to provide a balance between schoolwork, family life, and after-school activities, enabling students to pursue their interests and enjoy being children while managing a moderate load of meaningful homework. We align the amount of homework with the ability and developmental readiness of students, assigning small amounts of homework starting in Kindergarten, and increasing the duration and complexity of homework with each increase in grade. Students can anticipate about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. For example, 1st graders have 10 minutes per night, 2nd graders have about 20 minutes, 3rd graders have approximately 30 minutes, and so on. Middle school students generally have between an hour and 90 minutes of homework per night. While students sometimes work on projects or assignments on the weekend, ACDS faculty do not assign homework that's due on Mondays, or during holiday breaks. Our homework practice for four decades was affirmed by this 2012 research study conducted by Stanford University.

How are grades monitored?

We assess a student’s learning against growth toward subject-specific grade level standards. Formal grade reports supplement active, ongoing communication between parents and teachers. From our Pre-Kindergarten program through 5th grade, students receive assessment statements with narrative comments rather than grades. Students in 6th through 8th grade receive conventional letter grades, in addition to their personal assessments. Parents and students in Middle School have online access through our student information system (SIS) allowing them to monitor their grades, check homework, communicate with teachers and peers, and more.

School Life FAQs

What is the ACDS approach to discipline?

Our approach to managing student behavior starts with the premise that all children can learn and grow from misbehavior (a "growth mindset" based on the work of Stanford University's Dr. Carol Dweck and guided across all grade levels by our social-emotional learning program, Positive Discipline. ACDS is deeply committed to providing a physically and emotionally safe and affirming campus -- it is part of our mission -- and our approach is informed by abundant research on the limited value of "punishment" as well as the tremendous benefit of helping children become agents of their own behavior. 

From an early age, ACDS students are encouraged to make choices based on mutual respect, in an atmosphere of caring, with the knowledge that their actions will have consequences for themselves and others, and to take responsibility for their behaviors when things don't go well. 

At ACDS, when children experience conflicts with peers, we see opportunities for young people to develop integrity, empathy, self-confidence, and agency. We practice Positive Discipline with students, helping students make things right when they misstep. For four decades, our approach has shaped a school climate and culture acclaimed by our families and staff as safe, loving, caring, and kind. 

Of course, children will make mistakes, upsets, disagreements and frustrations; but we don't view children as villains and victims. Children are trying to figure out how the world works; at ACDS, we help them become agents of their own conduct, and teach the conflict resolution skills that they'll use for the rest of their lives. We do this in a respectful, firm, and very discreet way, and it works.

Is there a uniform or dress code policy?

Yes. ACDS has a uniform dress code for all grades. Uniform dress creates a sense of unity and belonging and shifts students’ focus toward learning and away from superficial comparisons. Uniforms reduce peer pressure, enhance classroom discipline, and contribute to a positive learning environment. (They also simplify the morning routine for ACDS parents!) Our Middle School students are allowed free dress every Friday.

Is there a school lunch program?

ACDS students may bring their lunch to school, or they may opt for a hot lunch option. ACDS partners with The Pasta Market. The Pasta Market offers a variety of options for a good value, all freshly made at the Pasta Market catering facility and brought directly to our campus. Multiple vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are offered each day.

Does Almaden Country Day School offer before- and after-school child care?

Absolutely! Complimentary before-school care starts at 7:15 a.m. for all ages, and our after-school care programs are divided by grade level into pre-kindergarten, elementary and middle school, each with age-appropriate activities. After-school care is provided the end of school to 5:30 p.m. ACDS also offers after school athletics, clubs, speech and debate, sports camps and clinics, and art and drama camps after school or during school holidays.

Are parents involved in the school?

Very much so! Our parents understand that they are part of a learning partnership. The school relies heavily on parent volunteers to help support the elementary drama program, our many all-school events like Pumpkin Carving and the Thanksgiving Feast, our spring talent exhibition, faculty lunches, and more. Parents work at every level of our school to create a vibrant sense of community and a strong culture of learning. Through our Parent Service Auxiliary (PSA), volunteers work as room parents, plan social events, raise funds for the school community and serve on key school-wide committees. There are volunteer opportunities to accommodate busy parent schedules, including many outside of school hours. On average, while volunteering is not required, about 75% of our parents contribute their time to support the school and get involved in the ACDS community.

Do you offer tuition support?

Yes, tuition support is offered on an annual basis to help families who qualify. ACDS partners with FAST (Financial Aid for School Tuition) to establish a family's eligibility for financial aid. See the Tuition Support page for more details.

How can I learn more about ACDS?

There are three ways to become better acquainted with Almaden Country Day School:

A Personal Tour

Tours offer families not only a chance to see our campus but also opportunities to learn more about the history and philosophy of ACDS, our balanced approach to education, and how your child will benefit from the ACDS experience. To schedule an on-campus tour, please complete the Online Inquiry Form. The Inquiry Form will offer you a chance to register for a tour as well as a virtual group chat or a call during admissions office hours.

Schedule a Tour

An Open House Visit

You may also attend a pre-scheduled Saturday or weekday Open House. One of our own Middle School students will lead a campus tour for you. Teachers will be available to answer your specific questions and introduce you to the curriculum. Our open houses are a great way to connect with our teachers, administrators, and current students and parents, and get an insider view of our programs. 

Register for Open House

Two-Day Student Shadow

At ACDS we also give prospective students the opportunity to “shadow” for two days on campus. He or she will be paired with a current student in the class for which you're applying. After your application is submitted, a shadow visit will enable your child to learn firsthand what the school is like while giving ACDS a chance to understand your child’s academic and interpersonal capabilities.

Shadowing at ACDS

For additional information, please contact our Admissions Office at admissions@almadencountryday.org or by calling (408) 997-0424.