Peninsula is a unique co educational school with 252 children from nursery through eighth grades. Class sizes average 18 children. In addition to a head teacher, all classes have one or more assistants who share teaching responsibility, making the teacher to student ratio one of the lowest on the Peninsula. Additional teachers provide special instruction in areas such as music, library, physical education, science, art, weaving, clay, woodshop and drama.
Peninsula School creates a space where children thrive and develop their full potential as confident contributors to the world. Here they learn about themselves and others, discovering their passions and growing intellectually in an inclusive environment rich with choice, exploration and play.
What Makes Us Unique?
Several aspects make Peninsula unique among independent schools.
Accessibility and Inclusion
13% of tuition is allocated to make Peninsula School more affordable to a diverse range of families. In the 2016–17 school year, 25% of families enrolled at a reduced tuition rate.
Half-Day Nursery: $15,830
Half-Day Kindergarten: $18,770
Full-Day Kindergarten through 8th Grade: $20,780
The School is located on six acres of wooded land in Menlo Park, California. With its Victorian "Big Building," many large oaks, and natural setting, the school provides a sense of seclusion, safety, and timelessness that is cherished by the children, parents and teachers who make up its community.
Our graduates attend a variety of local independent high schools and public high schools. Virtually all high schools report that they find Peninsula alumni to be intellectually curious, intrinsically motivated, and community minded.
Peninsula School is a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity governed by a Board of Directors. The School is graced with a dedicated group of 18 members of the Board of Directors who take their responsibilities seriously. The Board has five appointed members and 13 members elected by the school community.
How Do We Do It?
Teachers — The Core of Our School
Having an excellent teacher to student ratio is the only way our emphasis on deep and authentic academic, social and emotional learning is possible. Peninsula's approach to progressive education requires rigorous intellectual questioning, analysis and thinking from teachers, students and even parents. Our teachers are dedicated to the development of each child and are skillful practitioners of progressive education.
The Process is the Product
Pursuits in academic arenas are strong at Peninsula because we make the time to explore subjects and topics with intention and depth, focusing on the process of learning. Classes are ungraded, low pressure, cooperative and experiential.
Play is key to igniting the fire of lifelong intellectual curiosity. From the earliest years right up through the 8th grade, students are provided with abundant time for play which is seen as serious intellectual work as well as a break from intellectual work.
The Power of Choice and Responsibility
To make learning truly experiential and authentic, children need to be empowered with making their own choices. At Peninsula, children make myriad choices throughout their day based on their affinities and learn about taking responsibility for their choices. In this process, children are active participants in their learning and discover passions and interests that last a lifetime.
Social and emotional skills are as important as academic skills. Learning to be a strong individual while honoring the strength of diversity and community are essential lessons at Peninsula. The close relationship between teachers and students is the foundation of our approach and allows for deep and enriching conversations and lasting life lessons to develop.
Beginning in Kindergarten, students participate in one of the most important components of the school day — class meetings. Class meetings, held every day, may appear simple, but a close study reveals children engaging in social democracy, finding their voice, learning how to resolve conflicts, and experiencing viscerally the balance of individuality, diversity and community. It is here that children learn to be confident contributors, ethical leaders and compassionate citizens.
As students grow older, the importance of camping trips grows with them. Throughout the year, but particularly during camping trips when students are with their peers for extended periods of time, teachers help students appreciate the power of listening and reflection to understand the perspective of others, and to understand the depth of their feelings and the feelings of others. They help students understand the value of being a strong individual yet also the importance of interdependence in communities.
The Beginnings of Progressive Education on the Peninsula: The school was founded in 1925 by a group of parents (including the noted educator, Josephine Duveneck) who sought an environment in which learning was joyful and exciting, where children were challenged to learn by doing, and where both independence and group cooperation were highly valued. Unable to find a school that met those criteria, they pooled their resources and started "The Peninsula School for Creative Education," a cooperative, nonprofit organization.
The philosophy of the school was based on the ideals of John Dewey, Francis Parker, and Maria Montessori who advocated for education rooted in experience and discovery, educating the whole child (social, emotional, physical, cognitive), learning to live and work in a democratic community, and schools that model real life.
Peninsula School has grown and changed, but its commitment to those early goals has remained constant. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and the emphasis is as much on play and fellowship as it is on academic growth.