Frequently Asked Questions
- What makes Bowman a good school for today’s families?
- How is Bowman curriculum selected?
- What if my child isn’t a self-directed learner?
- Are there enough students at each age to form an adequate peer group for social development?
- What are the school’s hours?
- Does Bowman offer before and after school care?
- How many vacation days do Bowman students get each year?
- Do students wear uniforms at Bowman?
- What about lunches and snacks?
- How are parents involved with the school?
- What is the tuition?
- What fees, beyond the monthly tuition, does Bowman charge families?
- Does Bowman offer financial assistance?
- Does Bowman offer discounts for siblings?
- What is the school’s policy on homework?
- What makes Bowman an “international school?”
- After Bowman, what next?
First and foremost, families appreciate the superior, individualized and self-directed education that Bowman provides. It is unique on the mid-Peninsula and our students go on to be very successful at the high school, college and career levels. Many logistical features of the Bowman program were originally designed to support two-parent working families, but the school’s unique structure benefits everyone.
Many families take advantage of the school’s flexibility and extended day schedule. Whether families utilize the extended time every day or as needed, they appreciate not having to commit to a routine drop-off or pickup schedule and not having to pay extra money for the extended time.
Many Bowman families have come to embrace the flexibility inherent in the school’s twelve month schedule. Families can choose the length and timing for vacations based on what best suits their situation. The full year program allows families to avoid crowds during common school holidays and avoid the expensive “summer shuffle” from summer camp to summer camp. Bowman provides rich educational continuity to children, while providing scheduling flexibility to their families.
Most families appreciate the range of opportunities they have to contribute to the school (see Topic #10 for more detail), based on their time and interests. They also appreciate the school’s sensitivity to their time and the absence of participatory requirements.
The curriculum at Bowman is based on detailed, developmental continuums of knowledge and skills for each academic discipline. These continuums have served as the basis for Montessori school curriculums — in this country and around the world — for years. Bowman has incorporated much of this proven curriculum into its own, a curriculum which has been successful in a variety of environments and with many types of students.
The curriculum at Bowman is not structured into grades like many other public and independent schools. Graded curriculums typically direct teaching at the “average” student in an age group and can limit students who can perform at higher levels. In contrast, Bowman allows students to progress academically on the basis of their ability, rather than age or grade. Since all children have strengths and weaknesses and progress at different rates, the Bowman curriculum supports and works with these differences.
Bowman continually monitors and supplements its curriculum with activities based on educational research and results. In addition, the school keeps abreast of state and local curriculum frameworks and issues.
All children enter the world as self-directed learners. Some children do, however, “unlearn” this skill if they are in environments that fail to support it.
The entire culture of the Bowman School is organized to support self-direction and provide students with lifelong learning skills. The classroom is structured to lead children to different disciplines and materials in ways that foster success and encourage self-direction. Teachers, who are supported by a favorable teacher-student ratio, have the time to observe and draw out a child’s natural curiosity and encourage self-direction. Other students model self-directed behaviors and help classmates who initially find it difficult.
Bowman is a community. As in all communities, relationships among students develop for different reasons. Some students share interests or similar abilities. Some students forge relationships by helping one another. Still other students work together in the classroom or play together on the soccer field. Just like the “real world”, age has little to do with relationships at Bowman.
Consequently, social development at Bowman is not a product of a child’s age or peer group. It is the product of a rich web of relationships among students who interact daily in their multi-age classes. Through this interaction, students make friends and learn to value and work with other students of different personalities, abilities, ages, and gender.
Bowman is open between 7:30 AM and 6:00 PM daily. The classrooms are open to students from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, while the formal academic hours are from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The before school session from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM and the After School Program from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM are optional and available at no extra charge, without advanced reservations.
Bowman provides an “extended school day”, that is more flexible and enriching than many “before and after school care programs”, at other schools. Children can arrive at Bowman as early as 7:30 in the morning before school starts at 9:00. Children who stay at school past 4:00 PM have additional opportunities for work and play. The After School Program is staffed by regular members of Bowman staff and offers planned curricular and enrichment activities until 6:00 PM. In addition, many parents lead clubs or short-term instruction on a wide variety of subjects during the After School Program hours.
Unlike many public and independent schools, Bowman does not ask parents to commit to a routine schedule for this extended day use or charge parents additional fees for this service. All daily activities at Bowman are covered through the monthly tuition. This can save families thousands of dollars a year in childcare fees.
In many schools, the number of days the school is closed each year equates to the number of vacation days available to its students. Bowman is different. Recognizing that long summer vacations were a 19th century solution for farming families, Bowman aims to accommodate the diversity in today’s busy families.
To provide families with the greatest flexibility, Bowman is closed approximately 15 days a year. This allows families to schedule vacations for their children when it best serves family needs and for as long as they find appropriate. Bowman families take vacations when they want to, not when they are dictated to by a school calendar. Because the majority of instruction at Bowman is individualized, vacationing students do not fall behind when they are absent. Formal Bowman vacation days include:
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving (2 days)
- Christmas Day
- Winter Break (last week of December)
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- President’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Staff Development Days (last two days in August and half-days that happen after each of the two “Family Visiting Days”)
Bowman does not require uniforms, but does have a simple dress code requiring practical, modest clothing. The school asks children to wear sturdy, washable and easy to manage clothing. Bowman students are required to have sneakers and socks for daily physical education.
Students at Bowman are asked to bring nutritional lunches to school each day. Bowman encourages the children to pack their own lunches and make choices that eliminate candy and other foods containing large amounts of sugar, fat, additives or preservatives. Children are allowed ample time each day to eat lunch between their morning and afternoon activities.
A hot lunch program is offered through School Foodies. Contact the office for further details.
The school has a kitchen and 3 mobile cooking carts. Cooking is part of the curriculum, which provides the children the opportunity to make and try foods they might not otherwise experience.
Bowman encourages parent participation and also recognizes the demanding schedules many of its parents face day-to-day. Consequently, the school invites parents to share their talents in ways that fit best with their lives. There are many different opportunities for involvement.
Parents have the opportunity to lend their talent on special curriculum-related school projects and/or bring their interests, hobbies, and talents to the students through Bowman After School Program clubs or short-term classes.
All Bowman parents are automatically members of the Bowman Parent Association (BPA) and are invited to attend parent meetings throughout the year. These meetings are intended to help parents keep abreast of what is happening at the school, address parent concerns, build community, and plan educational and school-wide events. Parent input into meeting topics is welcome.
The school holds occasional work parties and social events that include all families. Two of our most popular events are Octoberfest in the fall and Founder’s Day in the spring.
Bowman conducts an annual fundraising campaign. Unlike many independent schools, Bowman parents are not formally obligated to contribute annually to the school’s fundraising efforts. However, personal donations and individual, corporate or foundation grants, are necessary, welcome, and encouraged so Bowman can continue to deliver its superior curriculum, teacher-student ratios, facilities, and year-round, full-day program. Bowman is a nonprofit school and all donations to Bowman are fully tax-deductible.
Please contact the school for the current tuition amount and payment options. Call (650) 813-9131 and ask for the Admissions Director – Gaggan Bhella.
The only additional fee that Bowman has historically charged is for the Middle School field trips to Boston, Europe, or Japan. Bowman does not assess additional fees for books, materials, field trips, snacks, or the extended day schedule. The school’s tuition is set to cover all recurring educational costs.
Bowman offers an extended payment plan, allowing families the option to pay tuition over nine months. It does not currently offer financial aid or scholarships.
Bowman does not offer sibling discounts.
Because Bowman students are expected to organize and manage their time to complete their daily assignments, the need for traditional homework is eliminated. This is particularly true since many of the school’s students stay until later in the day and take advantage of the school’s extended day schedule. However, periodically, “homework” might refer to work that can only be done at home, e.g. charting the path of the moon’s eclipse or watching a Presidential speech. There are occasions when this type of work is required.
Bowman parents are encouraged to be involved with their children in other advantageous activities in their evening hours, e.g. reading, playing games and puzzles, listening to music, doing crafts, participating in family discussions and activities, and supervising their children’s “real homework”, tasks assigned by parents in the home that contribute to the family’s well-being.
In the middle school years, some traditional homework may be assigned to prepare students for their transition to high school. Even then, however, students who come from self-directed programs are often very proficient in managing their time during the day to complete their homework before leaving the school.
Bowman is an “international school” because of the commitment to integrate a global perspective throughout its curriculum and daily routine. From the meeting each morning in which students discuss world news, events and holidays, to their foreign language instruction, international cookery, art, field trips, computer research, special guests, parade of costumes and school parties, an international theme is ever present.
Enhancing the school’s global commitment is the fact that many Bowman families bring different cultural experiences to the school because they originated from other countries, have lived in other countries, or have traveled extensively. Bowman students currently represent more than 30 different countries. In addition, all Bowman families, regardless of their international exposure, recognize the need for a global education. They support and encourage their children’s curiosity and sensitivity about people and places around the world.
Bowman hosts an annual International Fair each spring where families set up numerous stations of food, crafts and music specific to a certain country, most often their own. Bowman families then spend the day learning about each other’s cultures, trying new foods and games.
Graduates of self-directed programs in areas like Palo Alto are typically evenly divided in their choice of high schools. Approximately 50% go on to other independent schools and the other 50% enter local high schools. The good news – students are equally successful with either choice and there are many options in this region. Bowman currently has graduates at Gunn High School, Palo Alto High School, Menlo-Atherton High School, Sacred Heart, Menlo School, Harker School, Castilleja, Pinewood, Woodside Priory, Crystal Springs, Bellermine, Serra High School, Notre Dame, and Kings Academy.
Graduates of self-directed programs are typically well-rounded, self-confident students who have strong academic capabilities. They are able to manage choice and independence, seek and find information, and think critically. They apply imagination and creativity to problems, work beyond set limits, and seek real understanding of subjects. Self-directed students are often organized learners who manage their time well and communicate well, in oral and written form. They are well equipped to handle the freedom and rigor of any high school program. They have a strong preparatory foundation for continued learning throughout their lives.
In addition to their academic strength, faculty from other schools thank us for the real life skills our students posses such as time management, confidence, critical thinking, independence and effective communication.