This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.
EXPLORE Our Programs


What does the best possible teaching and learning look like? This is a particularly pertinent question for an independent TK-8 school that doesn't purchase a lot of established curricula from textbook companies or subscribes to any one specific pedagogical methodology. With our student-centered, eclectic, and ever-evolving curriculum that pulls from best practices across many educational models, it is crucial that each SCDS department continually examine what and how it is teaching, how one grade level flows to the next, and that our program is truly setting our students up for success in high school and beyond.

List of 12 items.

  • Language Arts | TK-3 Literacy

    Literacy is the key to accessing so many other opportunities. Learning to be a fluent reader and a proficient writer allows students to explore their passions and apply themselves fully in other disciplines and outside of the classroom. 

    Our TK-3 Literacy Porgram aims to inspire children to become lifelong readers and writers by engaging them in rich opportunities for learning that promotes individual growth, responsibility, and independence. We foster curiosity and passion as students explore diverse genres of texts and writing that builds awareness and appreciation for themselves, others, and the world beyond. 

    Read More
  • Grades 4-8 Humanities

    Our 4th-8th grade Humanities program cultivates engaged learners who understand and embrace the complexity of the human experience through close examination of literature, history, and current events. We nurture curiosity and critical thinking while teaching students to effectively and confidently communicate their thoughts, opinions, and findings through speaking and writing. 

    • Teachers meet with students regularly
    • Students are offered voice and choice
    • High readiness students are challenged
    • Scaffolding used for assignments
    • Collaboration
    • Student work is shared with the community and published in Out of Ink, our literary arts magazine
    • Multiple reading options
    • Varied reading purposes
    • Writer's Workshop
    • Skill-based rubrics
    • Analytical essays
    • Research papers
    • Personal reflection
    • Creative writing
    • Poetry

    Vocabulary Program
    Our commitment is that every student - at every grade level - is continually building their vocabulary with the understanding that a robust vocabulary expands their love of reading and fuels their ability to articulate and communicate their ideas in their writing and speaking. Students learn vocabulary through:
    • context clues
    • Greek + Latin roots
    • prefixes, suffixes
    • synonyms, antonyms
    • analogies
    • creative games and writing assignments
    Read More
  • Mathematics

    The goal of our math program is to instill in students a confidence and enthusiasm for math. Students engage in exciting, challenging, interactive lessons that contain new topics, exploration, practice, and assessment. Each lesson is connected to prior knowledge and the skills are reviewed constantly as they are spiraled back into the curriculum. Ongoing learning is presented with time provided for practice between each new concept. Students in every grade are engaged in extensive hands-on projects that develop their natural curiosity about mathematical ideas. This brings the use of math into their real-life experience. 

    The core TK-8 math curriculum is built around our core values:
    • Reasoning: Developing problem solving skills, making connections across concepts, connecting math to real life, building conceptual understanding, cultivating diverse and divergent thinking, understanding the path to a meaningful solution.
    • Perseverance: Maintaining a growth mindset, revising answers, working through open-ended or open-middle problems, and having challenge opportunities.
    • Fluency: Number sense (understanding the meaning and relative size of numbers), precision, fact development and connections, ability to apply skills to various contexts.
    • Relationship: Collaborating effectively with peers, communicating with teachers, student advocacy, communicating mathematical ideas to others, Math Specialist teachers in all grades, multi-year programs with consistent teachers (looping).
    • Potential: Inspiring students to reach their full potential as mathematicians, developing self confidence as a mathematician, effective differentiation practices, and appropriate challenge opportunities. 
    In grades 6-8, we offer two different math courses to provide our students appropriate levels of challenge. The two pathways are:

    Math 6 -- Math 7 -- Math 8
    Math 6/7 -- Math 8 (Algebra/Geometry A) -- Math 1 (Algebra/Geometry B)
    Read More
  • Science

    "The goal of scientific exploration is to better understand the world around us. Our department's mission is centered around this concept." - Zack Long, Science Department Chair

    The SCDS science program fosters curiosity and scientific literacy to create informed citizens who are engaged in global challenges and solutions. We provide an environment where students can explore these seven cross-cutting concepts:
    • Patterns
    • Cause and Effect
    • Scale and Proportions
    • Systems and Models
    • Energy and Matter
    • Structure and Function
    • Stability and Change
    Read More
  • History/Social Studies

    Our history/social studies program aims to broaden students' understanding of how they fit into society and how they can contribute to the future success of local and global communities. Students explore ideas and beliefs, identify features of societies, describe the roles of individuals, and recognize how society has shaped the world we live in today. History instruction integrates the process of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in meaningful contexts. Students engage in critical thinking skills early, and our students graduate having already begun to develop an abstract understanding of historical causality.
  • Social and Emotional Learning

    Character education has been one of the core tenets of SCDS since our school was founded in 1983. The social and emotional learning (SEL) program continues this strong tradition and integrates our community code into the curriculum. The common vocabulary of SEL is meant to permeate the school culture in order to enhance both social and emotional awareness. Specific competencies strengthened and developed in this program are: self-awareness, managing emotions, social awareness, relationship management, and decision-making skills. All units include role play, class discussion, reflective writing, reflective drawing, group activities, and team-building games.

    Self-awareness begins with building an emotional vocabulary and an array of techniques for introspection. This creates the foundation for recognizing and effectively working with emotions in a productive way. Social awareness extends the sphere of application to include interactions with others and develops strategies for building healthy relationships as well as dealing with conflict as it arises.

    Recent studies show that in classrooms where SEL is valued, greater academic risk-taking, concept retention, motivation, and trust occur. Our program uses an age appropriate spiraling curriculum to develop these skills according to the needs of each age group.
  • World Languages

    The primary goal of our world language program is to inspire students to become lifelong learners of other languages and cultures. One of the greatest gifts we can give children is the confidence and courage to pursue any language that may cross their paths in future education, employment, travel, or service to their community. SCDS has chosen Spanish and Mandarin Chinese as platforms with which to teach language acquisition because of their global significance and because they offer exposure to two very different language systems and cultures.

    Instruction is delivered using immersion methodology, simulating the way each of us acquired our first language: by associating sounds and written words with objects and ideas. Spanish or Mandarin is used as much as possible and is enhanced by pictures, actions, and other visual cues. This makes learning accessible to students at all levels, even though English translation is minimal.

    We place a high value on the cognitive and social benefits of language acquisition. Learning a second language at an early age has a positive effect on intellectual growth, enriches and enhances children’s mental development, promotes flexibility in thinking, gives students a better ear for listening, improves children’s understanding of their native language, gives students the ability to communicate with people they would otherwise not have the chance to know, opens the door to other cultures, and helps children understand and appreciate people from other backgrounds and countries.     
  • Visual Arts

    The main focus of our visual arts program is to expose students to the process, joys, and freedom of creating art. We foster a studio environment that invites open-ended interpretation, and students excel under the premise that we are all unique in our personal expressions of art.

    From transitional kindergarten to eighth grade, students are taught the fundamentals of art—color, color theory, spatial balance, perspective, form, and design—through a variety of mediums including ceramics, drawing, painting, and sculpture. Art history introduces the concepts that have influenced art from generation to generation; the vocabulary of art builds analytical skills. Our students develop a basic understanding of the place art holds in our world, along with an appreciation for our rich artistic heritage.

    With two fully stocked art studios and an arts courtyard, the visual arts program gives students the opportunity to explore a wide range of media and techniques. Corridors, galleries, and classrooms are alive with students' artistic creations throughout the school year. Each spring we hold a Fine Arts Fair featuring excellent student work.
  • Music: Choral and Orchestral

    Taught by a team of instrumental and vocal specialists, music holds a place of high value at Sonoma Country Day School. Music exalts the human spirit and enhances the quality of life of any community, big or small. Musical potential exists in every human being, and the discipline and development that result from music training help students mature. Our program’s purpose is to awaken and develop the inherent musicality present in every child, not just the talented few.

    During the ten years they spend at Sonoma Country Day School, our students are involved in a variety of musical experiences, such as Orff-Schulwerk activities, Choir, Junior Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, or Musical Theater. Those experiences not only teach musical skills, but also life skills such as cooperation, resilience, perseverance, critical thinking, nonverbal communication, and organization.

    By the time they graduate, our students read music and play a musical instrument. Their technical skills and understanding of the musical language allow them to perform in high school concert bands, jazz bands, orchestras, or choirs. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade benefit from practicing and performing in the 774-seat Jackson Theater.
  • Library and Media

    We want our students to value libraries, love books, and develop the media literacy necessary to effectively engage in the world. Research clearly demonstrates the importance of school libraries to students' academic growth. The SCDS TK-8 library and information literacy program provides a scope and sequence of skills that encourages students to be passionate about reading and to gain understanding, experience, knowledge, and confidence in the access, evaluation, and use of information resources. It draws on California state standards for Library, Language Arts, and Social Studies, as well as the American Library Association standards for the 21st century learner. The library collection, fully catalogued through a software automation system, includes more than 8,000 titles, a print and online collection of circulating magazines, and a research database of full-text journals and newspapers, all available to SCDS families online.
  • Motor Skills and Physical Education

    The goal of our physical education program is to create a nurturing environment that promotes physical well-being and a desire for lifelong fitness. We believe that physical education should leave a lasting, positive impression on every child through the skills and concepts that are taught and the personal influence of their teachers and coaches. Physical education classes are an opportunity for students to learn responsibility, time management, and how to be a contributing member of a team. Lessons incorporate good sportsmanship, ethics, and the components of the SCDS Community Code.
  • Outdoor Education

    The outdoor education program offers fourth through eighth grade students overnight experiences at Fort Ross State Historic Park on the Sonoma County coast, Angel Island State Park in the San Francisco Bay, Salt Point National Park, Ocean Song 4 Winds Ropes Course in Occidental, Annadel and Spring Lake Parks, Point Reyes National Seashore, Emigrant Wilderness near Yosemite in the Stanislaus National Forest, and the American River.

    On these trips students build confidence in caring for themselves and others. They learn to travel, navigate, observe, clean, and sleep in the wilderness without leaving behind any trace of themselves. Students make connections with nature as they engage in science, writing, literature, and math assignments. They disconnect from the “noise” of contemporary life, slow down, observe, and listen to their own ideas and those of their peers. More importantly, authentic challenges unique to nature cultivate our students’ capacities for ethical leadership, self-reliance, decision-making, and trust in their strengths, as well as those of their classmates and teachers. They confront their limitations, secure in the support of friends, teachers and the knowledge that others share similar challenges.

Sonoma Country Day School

4400 Day School Place
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
phone: 707.284.3200
fax: 707.284.3254
Email | Directions

We are…

The premier, fully accredited, independent TK-8 college preparatory school in Sonoma County. Located in northern Santa Rosa and proud home of The Jackson Theater, SCDS offers a challenging academic program rich in fine and performing arts, music, world languages, and social and emotional learning. For more than thirty years SCDS has been the school that brings learning to life.