Frequently Asked Questions
- What makes Bowman a good school for today’s families?
- How is the Bowman curriculum selected?
- What is the school’s policy on homework?
- 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?
- 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 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 extended care.
Many Bowman families have come to embrace the flexibility inherent in the school’s 12-month schedule. Families can choose the length and timing for vacations based on what best suits their situation. The year-round 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 “How are parents involved with the school?” 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.
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 school.
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 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 genders.
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 optional before school session from 7:30–9:00 AM and the optional Late Day program from 4:00–6:00 PM are available at no extra charge and 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 AM before school starts at 9:00 AM. Children who stay at school past 4:00 PM have additional opportunities for work and play. The Late Day 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 Late Day program hours.
Unlike many public and independent schools, Bowman does not ask parents to commit to a routine schedule for this extended day use, nor do we charge parents additional fees for this service. All daily activities at Bowman are covered through the regular 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 sweltering schoolhouses, Bowman aims to accommodate the diversity and needs of today’s busy families.
To provide families with the greatest flexibility, Bowman is closed approximately 15 days per 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 (Thursday and Friday)
- Christmas Day
- Winter Break (The last week of December)
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Presidents’ Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Staff Development Days (The last 3 days in August, and 2 half-days that happen after each Parent Visiting Day)
Bowman does not require uniforms, but we do have a simple dress code requiring practical, modest clothing. The school asks children to wear sturdy, washable, and easy to manage clothing that will not be a distraction. Bowman students are required to have close-toed shoes and socks for daily physical education.
Students at Bowman are asked to bring nutritional lunches to school each day. Bowman encourages children to pack their own lunches and to make healthy choices that eliminate candy and other foods high in 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. Please contact the office for further details.
The school has a kitchen and three mobile cooking carts. Cooking is part of the curriculum, which provides the children the opportunity to make and taste foods that they might not otherwise experience.
Bowman encourages parent participation while also recognizing the demanding schedules many 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, though none are required.
Parents have the opportunity to lend their talent on special curriculum-related school projects, and they can bring their interests, hobbies, and talents to the students through Bowman Late Day program clubs or short-term classes.
All Bowman parents are automatically members of the Bowman Community Association (BCA) and are invited to attend parent meetings throughout the year. These meetings are intended to address parent concerns, build community, plan educational and school-wide events, and help parents keep abreast of what is happening at the school. Parent input into meeting topics is welcome.
The school holds occasional social events that include all families. Two of our most popular events are Octoberfest in the fall and International Fair 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 gifts are necessary, welcome, and encouraged so that Bowman can continue to deliver its superior curriculum, teacher-student ratios, facilities, and year-round, extended day program. Bowman is a nonprofit school, and all donations to Bowman are fully tax-deductible.
Please contact the Director of Admissions for information regarding the current tuition amount and payment options. Call our office at (650) 813-9131 and ask for Gaggan Bhella (Director of Admissions).
The only additional fee that Bowman has historically charged is for the Middle School field trips. 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 tuition assistance through FACTS. Click here to find out more.
Bowman does not offer sibling discounts.
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 graduates are currently attending Bellarmine, Castilleja, Crystal Springs, Gunn High School, Harker School, Kings Academy, Menlo School, Menlo-Atherton High School, Notre Dame Palo Alto High School, Pinewood, Sacred Heart, Serra High School, and Woodside Priory.
Graduates of self-directed programs are typically well-rounded, self-confident students with 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 effectively and communicate well in both oral and written form. They are well-equipped to handle the freedom and rigor of any high school program, and they have a strong preparatory foundation for continued learning throughout their lives.
In addition to acknowledging their academic strength, faculty from other schools thank us for the real-life skills our students possess, such as time management, confidence, critical thinking, independence, and effective communication.