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Finding the Best Educational Fit for Your Child

HAPPIFAMLI

Finding the Best Educational Fit for Your Child 

HappiFamli, Senior Education Correspondent

December 02, 2019

There are lots of good public, private and charter schools to choose from, but which one is right for your child depends on what your child needs, what your family needs, and what is important to you. Well before your child enters the school system, you need to start asking questions and gathering information.  The first step is to look inward and think about your child’s individual needs and the needs of your family.  The following questions can help you explore those needs.

Step One: Consider Your Child and Family

  • Does your child have any special language or educational needs?
  • In addition to the fundamentals, what do you want your child to learn, i.e. learning a second language as a core part of the curriculum, obtaining an education through a religious lens, a focus on social/emotional learning?
  • How does your child learn best?
  • Does he/she need more structured environment or less structure?
  • Is the location of the school important to you?  How far are you willing to have your child bused?  How far are you willing to drive your child to school? 
  • Does your family need before and after school care?
  • Can you afford to pay tuition for private school?

Step Two:  Gather School Data

The second step is to search outward, gain information about possible school options and discover your child’s school match. There are several ways to gather information and address your questions. School websites are often full of information about the school and give you a good feel for the school’s values and level of  parent/family engagement.  Talking with current and past students and parents is helpful. Students and parents can speak to the quality of education offered at a school, parent involvement and how responsive teachers, staff and administration are to needs and concerns. Taking a scheduled tour of school during school hours is also valuable.  This experience can give you a feel for the culture of the school; you can see first hand how students behave, how the front office staff treats parents and gage the helpfulness and attitude of teachers. Good schools will also make time for prospective parents to meet with the principal or assistant principal and be forthcoming with information about the school’s strengths and areas for growth. Lastly, attending a PTA meeting is an excellent way to gain information, assess how parents and the school work together and learn about the school communities’ priorities.  PTA meetings are usually available to all parents at the school, as well as the general public, so a prospective parent’s’ presence should be welcome. 

If you would like to learn more about Public, Private and Charter Schools, please see our e-guide at: https://happifamli.com/product/choosing-the-best-school/

It has additional information including:

  • Overview of Public, Private & Charter Schools
  • A Comparison of Each Type of School: cost/funding, governance, teacher certification, special needs, state testing and enrollment
  • Twenty-Five Questions Designed to Help you Identify What if Important To You
  • What Makes a Good School
  • Timing on Applications

Public, Charter, and Private Schools: How They Compare

HAPPIFAMLI

Public, Charter, and Private Schools: How They Compare

HappiFamli, Senior School Correspondents

October 5, 2019

Choices in schools have certainly changed a lot in the last generation or two.  Today education is a complex topic with questions about school quality, accountability, curriculum, and teacher training.  What this means for you, as you try to decide on the best school for your child, is that you have to educate yourself on all the choices available.  Unfortunately, doing that is no longer as straightforward as it once was.

To help you make your decision, here is a general description of and comparison between public, charter, and private schools.

Public schools are schools that are maintained at public expense for the education of the children of a community or district. They are part of a free public education system receiving tax dollars.  

Charter schools are public schools that are independent of school districts through contracts with state or local boards.  They are independently operated public schools started by parents, teachers, community organizations, and for-profit companies. These schools receive tax dollars, but the sponsoring group may also come up with private funding.  Charter schools usually challenge standard education practices and sometimes specialize in a particular area, such as technology, the arts, gifted or high-risk children, or adopt a basic core-subjects approach. 

Private schools are non-governmental schools that are not administered by local, state, or national governments. Because they do not accept public funding of any kind and instead use tuition charged to students as their source of funding as well as grants, donations & endowments.  Private schools are autonomous at the federal level but must adhere to basic state guidelines (such as agreeing to teach reading and math and adhering to building codes). 

When it comes to private versus public/charter schools, there isn’t a right answer to the question, “Which is better?” But given the different qualities of each type of school, there is a right answer to which one is the best fit for your child.

School and Child Care Philosophy Overview

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School and Child Care Philosophy Overview

HappiFamli, Senior School and Child Care Correspondents

October 4, 2019

Once you see the amount of options for preschool and childcare options available, you may want to determine what type of school is best for your child based on your priorities for your children.  Below is a high-level overview of the types of educational philosophies included.

  • Cooperative:
    • Parents who know their own children’s needs can best guide a preschool toward excellence and integrate home and preschool life through significant, required parent participation in the preschool
    • Can follow any preschool philosophy or a combination
  • Emergent:
    • This philosophy prioritizes active participation, relationship building, flexible and adaptable methods, inquiry, and play-based learning. 
    • Curriculum is child-initiated, collaborative and responsive to the children’s needs.
  • International:
    • Most are dual-language programs.
    • Focus on development of critical thinking skills.
    • Can follow any preschool philosophy or a combination
  • Language Immersion:
    • All or most of classes are conducted entirely in the new language.  
    • Can follow any preschool philosophy or a combination
  • Montessori
    • Based on underlying idea that children are individual learners with teachers as guides.
    • Fosters personal responsibility by encouraging children to take care of their own personal needs & belongings.
    • It stresses the importance of adapting the child’s learning environment to his or her developmental level, and of the role of physical activity in absorbing academic concepts & practical skills
  • Reggio Emilia
    • Based on several principles:
      • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning
      • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing 
      • Children have endless ways & opportunities to express themselves
    • Emergent curriculum content and activities developed collaboratively by teachers and children 
    • Children expected to learn through mistakes as they are considered equal learners
    • Emphasizes creativity & artistic representation
  • Waldorf
    • In the Waldorf method, learning is interdisciplinary, integrates practical, artistic, and intellectual elements, and is coordinated with “natural rhythms of everyday life.” 
    • Goal of system is to develop the child emotionally and physically as well as intellectually
    • Emphasizes creative learning
  • Play-Based:
    • Primary principle is to promote participation in age-appropriate activities 
    • Children can develop full complement of cognitive, social, emotional & physical skills best when most of the day involves free play with material that can be used individually or by small groups.

5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity This School Year

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5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity This School Year

Laura Standefer, Senior School Readiness Correspondent

August 12, 2019

As the new school year approaches, many of us set goals to get off to a great start. But how do we make sure that we stay calm and prepared throughout the school year? Creating habits and routines can allow us to stay organized and avoid future frustrations. Here are five tips for maintaining your sanity throughout the school year. 

1. Prepare as Much as Possible the Night Before 

Mornings can be so unexpected. The kid that’s usually an early riser decides he’s going not going to get out of bed unless he is dragged out. It takes you longer than normal to find everyone’s shoes. Then, all of a sudden, there’s construction on your commute. By the time you drop off the kids at school, everyone is tense and stressed and the day hasn’t even started. Packing lunches and backpacks the night before can help you get out the door quicker and make mornings a lot less hectic, because who knows what’s going to come up?  

2. Visit the Classroom or School’s Website Regularly

Fortunately, we no longer have to completely rely on our children to tell us when a project is due or when a special event is coming up. Sure, they should carry most of that responsibility, but let’s face it: kids are bad at remembering things. Visiting the classroom website regularly can help parents prepare for projects or special events and allow them to prepare ahead of time, which means less stress for everyone.

3. Amazon Prime

Is there anything that Amazon Prime can’t do? We already use it for everything from birthday presents to toilet paper, why not use it for your school year needs as well? As soon as you get word of an upcoming project, order the necessary materials and supplies off of prime ASAP. It will be at your door the next day and you get get started without running around town shopping for glue sticks and pompoms. 

“Creating habits and routines can allow us to stay organized and avoid future frustrations.”

4. Keep a Calendar on the Fridge

Sure, there are several apps and features on our phones and laptops that help us with reminders, but try keeping a good old-fashioned calendar on the fridge. This way you and your children can get a visual representation of what is due and how many days are left until the deadline. Organization and scheduling can provide kids and parents a clearer path to accomplishing tasks and, therefore, reduces stress and chaos in the future. 

5. Set up a Carpool

Multiple kids means multiple start times for school and multiple extra curricular activities. Even if you have just one kid, transportation can conflict with schedules and eventually becomes a struggle. That being said, why not find someone that you trust to help with pick ups and drop offs? If your kid’s friend’s mom can drive them to soccer after school, that’s one thing off your plate! You can also offer to pick up after practice is over, that way you’re helping another parent out as well. Setting up a good carpool plan can be beneficial for everyone involved. 

Comparing Public, Charter, and Private Schools.

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Comparing Public, Charter, and Private Schools.

Chad Bookidis, Co-Founder, Dad

January 7, 2019

If you’re like my family, thinking about school in the fall is usually not the top of my priority list at the beginning of the new year. Unless you’re forced to.

Last year around this time, we were exploring school options for our soon-to-be 6th grader. We live in AISD, where 5th graders have the option to either go to their feeder school or an in-district magnet school. We were “recruited” by private schools, charter schools, and yes, even public schools. On top of feeling like I was living the movie Johnny be Good, it was an eye opening experience I wasn’t prepared for.

This is when I could pull out my “grumpy old man” impression and use phrases like, “Back in my day…” But I’ll spare you.

But I’ll spare you. Suffice to say that times have changed. There was a lot to digest. Like essays & application deadlines and what felt like some big choices to be made.

Education is a complex topic: rankings, quality, accountability, curriculum, and philosophy can all come into play when deciding on the best school for your child. The best way to get to your right answer is to educate yourself on all the choices available.

Now is the perfect time to think about your options. Application deadlines for private schools (and some charter schools) are due in January and February. To aid in the process, we put together a comparison and general descriptions of public, charter and private schools.

Public schools are schools that are maintained at public expense for the education of the children of a community or district.

They are part of a free public education system receiving tax dollars.

Charter schools are public schools that are independent of school districts through contracts with state or local boards.

They are independently operated public schools started by parents, teachers, community organizations, and for-profit companies. These schools receive tax dollars, but the sponsoring group may also come up with private funding.  Charter schools usually challenge standard education practices and sometimes specialize in a particular area, such as technology, the arts, gifted or high-risk children, or adopt a basic core-subjects approach.

Private schools are non-governmental schools that are not administered by local, state, or national governments. 

Because they do not accept public funding of any kind and instead use tuition charged to students as their source of funding as well as grants, donations & endowments.  Private schools are autonomous at the federal level but must adhere to basic state guidelines (such as agreeing to teach reading and math and adhering to building codes).

Cute 1st Day of School Pictures

HAPPIFAMLI

Cute 1st Day of School Pictures

HappiFamli, Senior School Correspondent

August 14, 2018

 Do you take pictures of your kids on the first day of school? We have a couple of cute ideas for you to try.

Do you take pictures of your kids on the first day of school? There are a lot of cute signs out there that you can print out that says “First Day of _____” (insert the new grade). We have a couple more cute ideas for you to try as well!

Get your child a tee shirt in an adult size (like adult medium or large) that says the year the will graduate from high school (example: Class of 2030). You can find them on Amazon or Etsy. Take a picture of them wearing it (it will be hilariously huge on them at first) every year on the first day of school through their senior year of high school. It will be so fun to look back over the years and see how much bigger they get. Hopefully the shirt fits them by the time they graduate!

Get a chalkboard and write down some of your child’s favorite things (their favorite meal or friends or hobbies). Also write the date and what grade they are entering and photograph them next to the chalk board.

One more cute idea is to have them hold up their favorite book in the picture. It will be fun to remember what they were reading each year and see how well their reading progresses.

We hope you have a great school year!