Category Archives for Schools

I could NEVER Homeschool – a Plano Mom’s Story

The answer “We homeschool” is almost always met with, “I could never do that!” The response always makes me pause a second because there is really no good reply. I could mumble something like, “Oh okay.” I can ignore it and just move on in the conversation. Or, what I really want to do sometimes is answer with, “Not with that attitude!”

homeschool plano

It seems that people who aren’t in the homeschooling world truly don’t understand how we “put up” with our children 24/7. I have friends who homeschool and friends who do not homeschool. I do know that the ones who do not homeschool do look forward to school starting again. It’s their routine, it’s what they’re used to, it orders their life. For homeschoolers, we feel the same about keeping our children home to learn. Having them home all the time is our routine. We have found ways to make it ordered. Ways that make us look forward to August for different reasons….

Homeschooling moms aren’t super women. We don’t always have the patience of Job. Honestly, I think a lot of my public school mom friends have way more patience than I do! We are just used to doing things on our terms and at our family’s speed. That is truly the beauty and saving grace of homeschooling. Not answering to a school bell, not having to know the 12’s tables by Friday when your child is stuck on 12×6. Being able to say forget the Romans when your child want to skip ahead and devour books on WW2. Homeschooling doesn’t have the same stress and feel as not homeschooling does.

dfw homeschool resource plano

We do have our own stresses though! For one, our children are home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or at least they could be. I think most of us do put our children in activities whether it be academic or for fun. We are the primary person guiding and directing the education of a person or persons.

It’s a huge responsibility. Sometimes we notice issues like dyslexia a little bit late and then feel all the guilt for not catching it earlier. Sometimes we may be a bit jealous of the 7-8 hours other parents get with a child free home. But the pros have definitely outweighed the cons.

So how do we make it work? How are we able to homeschool when we are just ordinary people? Sheer determination. It’s the daily belief that how we have chosen to educate our child(ren) is the best way for our family. We don’t do it to snub others. We don’t do it to make public school moms feel guilty. We don’t do it so that we can give some sort of snobby response to the “I could never homeschool!” question. We do it for so many reasons that have nothing to do with anyone else.

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I still don’t really have a good answer to “I could never homeschool my children!” I don’t know if I should respond, “I could never send my children to public school!” Or if I should answer, “Not with that attitude!” Or if I should just smile and ask them a question about their life instead. Is there a good answer? Maybe. Maybe not.

I don’t think there needs to be a perfect, one size fits all answer because we all have picked how our children are educated for different reasons. How have you responded when met with, “I could never homeschool!” ??

This post is written by Kristina Roegner, a homeschool mom of 3. She enjoys sharing about homeschooling with others and is always happy to help local homeschoolers connect. Visit her website at www.dfwhomeschoolresource.com to see all DFW has to offer for homeschoolers.

Photo credits: from Kristina’s Facebook page

Why Dara chose a Private School for her Daughter – a Plano Mom’s Story

I feel like if you tell someone in North Texas “My child attends private school at…” people will look at you as if you have spoken a foreign language.

The schools in North Texas are superior for the most part so why on earth would anyone consider anything else? Needless to say I was not interested but my husband felt that we should consider it for various reasons. I can be very stubborn so I got the opinions from those I value most and together we decided to book some school tours.

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I remember saying “This is the dumbest most obnoxious thing we’ve ever done. It’s a complete waste of our time.” When I walked in the school we immediately noticed the security features in place and we were greeted by the most lovely front desk person you could meet.

As we toured the school I began to fall in love, it was how I remembered school and what I wanted for my children. It was warm, friendly, colorful and the kids were excited to learn, very polite and best of all shamelessly loving God.

The very last thing the admissions rep said to us was “I hope you see that our school is diverse, we have a director of diversity here and we work very hard to include all backgrounds.”

This was a big deal for us because because it showed she wasn’t afraid to address the concerns minorities may have. It was a long quiet walk back to the car but when Carl (my husband) asked me how I felt and what my thoughts were I gave him a defeated look and said “I love it”. I cannot believe I had been so naive and so wrong which means others could be too.

Going into this we wanted strong academics, a school that was competitive within TAPPS, PreK – 12th, diversity, not too far from home, parent involvement, a good lunch menu (I have a picky eater) and a school that could help increase our child’s faith.

As we toured other schools I learned that the DFW area has several school options to offer such as parochial, university models, single-sexed, Montessori, private with online options and special needs schools.

dfw private school plano

Our daughter (centered) and two schoolmates

Once we applied and were accepted I did what most moms do these days, I went to Facebook. Only I couldn’t locate a FB group that included DFW families enrolled in private school or seeking info on it, I mostly found school specific groups. I needed to learn more so I created a group called DFW Private School Families for those in private school or considering it. We have managed to build an online community where we can discuss thoughts, concerns, misconceptions and remain supportive of one another as well.

The things things group members often want others to know are not everyone who sends their kid to private school is rich or anti-public school.

Most parents in the group are working two or single parent homes and all are making a sacrifices of some sort daily.

If you were to ask me what to look for here’s what I’d tell you;

  • One of the biggest myths is that private school teachers aren’t accredited but this is not always true. The school itself often cannot receive a lot awards or accreditations if the teachers aren’t.
  • Private schools can offer various financial options to help with affordability.
  • Look for security measures such as lockdowns and definitely bullying prevention.
  • Staff tenure, private educators sometimes make less than public educators so you want a school where the teachers want to stay.
  • There’s no STAAR testing so how do they assess your child’s academic growth?
  • The curriculum in any school you consider should be challenging but homework shouldn’t consume your child’s life.

If you’re truly interested in a school you should attend the schools open house and ALWAYS tour during the school year. This wasn’t the original plan but we like where it’s headed.

This post is written by Dara K. Tilghman, a Mom of 2. She has spent hours researching Private Schools around DFW and has some unique insight to share with Plano Moms. Her Facebook group is DFW Private School Families. Follow Dara on Twitter

For more another guest post about Home Schooling, click here

Tips to Ease Back into School Routines

Now that school is just a few short weeks away it’s time to get your school mind set back. Gone are the lazy summer days of summer. Transitioning can be hard so it’s important to make a slow one back into school, especially for little kids. Here are some ideas and tips to ease back into school routines.

It’s almost time for Back to School! Are you ready? I cannot believe it! I feel like I say this every summer but this summer went by so fast! I cannot believe how fast it went! I am always looking forward to a slow and boring summer and that never seems to happen. Now that school is just a few short weeks away it’s time to get ready. I hope some of these tips will help you ease back into school.

 

Set Alarm Clock

I’d start this ASAP (if you haven’t already) for kids that can handle an alarm clock in their room. We put a clock in my daughter’s room early on but I don’t think she really got the grasp of the time until around 1st/2nd grade. (A digital clock) Start discussing bed times and good wake up times for school and start setting those appropriate times BEFORE School starts so that kids will be ready! Make a time sheet or show the times as numbers for good wake up and bed times so kids can get used to the numbers.

 

Get Clothes/Shoes Organized

Did you score some great back to school deals on shoes and clothes for your kids? Now it’s time to get organized and ready. This is a great time to clean out the closet and get rid of the too short shorts and pants that don’t fit. Go through the new set of clothes and pick out the first week’s outfits and shoes to save time!

Something like this would be easy to set up and great for kids to get involved with helping! They could be independent getting dressed and feel good about themselves!

 

Lunch/Snack Prep Station

Back to school means back to packing snacks and lunches. I don’t know about you, but I have really enjoyed my time off of making school lunches and snacks! It can become a total chore! Yes, my kids can buy school lunch, but we prefer to bring so that means a little more prep work. This year, I’d like to get my kids more involved in this process so that means I’m going to have to set up some sort of stations or areas of grab and go food ideas.

I love something like this from RealSimple.com. It will take a little prep work ahead of time but I think it’s do-able and then my kids (at least the older ones) can help and make own lunches.

 

Trial Run of Walking/Riding

I think this is an important tip! With a new year comes new changes and maybe you are changing the way your kids are getting to and from school. Maybe your kids are going to a new school and you’re not sure how long it will take to get there so do a trial run of getting there. Spend a few mornings walking or driving the route to see just how long it does take. It will be different when there are tons of other cars and school zones but it should help you get a good feel for the timing. There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed or late so it’s best to be prepared!

 

Homework Station

With school comes homework and you will want to be prepared. I can’t tell you how many times we searched our house for a silly pencil before! One year we finally got smart and set up a homework station. This can be a simple $1 store basket or caddy filled with pencils, erasers, markers, and other school supplies your kids might need for homework. Keep it in a centralized location and make sure all supplies gets put back! This will be so helpful when Grandma is over helping or a babysitter is over too.

Luckily, I’ve had lots of teacher and parenting experience with back to school! I’d love to hear your best tips and ideas to help the transition for a new school year. Share them with them in the comments.

Wishing everyone a great Back to School!!

 

How to Choose a Quality Preschool

Choosing a childcare can be an overwhelming process. There are too many options and it is not easy to discern which is the best choice for your child. Thankfully, there are a few resources available that should allow you to see through the true strength of a childcare’s offering.

how to choose a quality preschool in Plano

But first, you must ask yourself what is important to you. Beyond the basics of safety and cleanliness, how important is curriculum to you? And if the curriculum is important, how does the center implement their program. Does the owner decide the curriculum or is there an expert team that designs the curriculum? Does the curriculum have proven results?

The State of Texas has an extensive list of regulations that have been developed over decades of experience. These rules have been developed based on things that went wrong, so those same experiences are not repeated. Unfortunately, not many centers do a great job in following Licensing standards. The good news is that you can search the compliance history of any child care by visiting this link and searching for the Texas child care:  This link will show you any deficiencies the center has had and how serious the deficiencies were.

 

 

Most important though, is the feeling you get when you tour a facility. Here are a few questions to think about when you tour a childcare facility?

  • What did you think about the ownership and management? Are they all about the money or do they have a passion for childcare? What about the teachers?
  • What do online reviews say about the childcare? Are those genuine reviews? Beware of campaigns that artificially boost online reviews.  Ask them about a recent customer who has written a review.
  • Try talking to current customers to get the good and the bad
  • Did the center focus on safety and cleanliness? What processes are used for keeping the center clean? What processes are used for ensuring proper hygiene? What processes are used for changing diapers? Does the center have a safe sleep policy for infants?
  • What processes do they use to drive learning? Is there evidence of learning in the center?
  • Are there any audit processes to keep the center running to some standards?
  • In the prices charged, are there other hidden fees that may not be apparent (supply fee, activity fee, etc.)? Are there any activities that are included in the program (for e.g. dance, music, yoga)?

A thorough process of review should help you separate hype from reality!

 

A great place to consider is The Learning Experience at Plano or Allen for your child’s education. They believe in offering a quality product to their customers. When you come into the center, ask about the specials for Planomoms that they are running. If you register on the same day you tour, they will give you a $50 discount on registration if you print this page and bring to them (offer ends 10/31/17). We would also encourage you to follow this process of selecting a childcare to find one that cares for your little one like you do yourself!

 

8 Ways to Score Back to School Deals!

Moms, it’s nearly August and before long the kiddos will be back at School. What if, just once, we got ahead of ourselves and got those important purchases out of the way early and scored a great deal with Cashback too?

Sounds good, right?

back to school cashback dosh

I recently downloaded a new app, called Dosh. It’s simple. You connect your payment cards (don’t worry about security, your data is safe!) and you can filter through Online offers and buy all those Back to School essentials right within the app.

The pricing is among the best I have seen. For everything I book through the App, I get automatic cash (called Dosh) back on my App which I can redeem whenever I like!

Download Now

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Here are 8 of my favorite stores I choose to buy stuff for my kids (now I can buy and get money back!)

Target 1.4% Dosh Back

Hobby Lobby 3% Dosh Back

Gap and Old Navy 3% Dosh Back

Walmart 3% Dosh Back

Nike 4.5% Dosh Back

Toms Shoes 5.2% Dosh Back

Stride Rite 5.2% Dosh Back

 

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You have to try it. When you download it and connect your cards you start earning Dosh straight away.

And if you refer your friends you’ll get $5 when they get their first Dosh too.

Download Now

How to Transfer Schools in PISD

A common question asked amongst Plano Moms is how to transfer a child to a different school in town. Whatever reason you are wanting a transfer, it is possible, but there is a procedure to follow. Here is how to transfer schools in PISD.

How to Transfer Schools in PISD

  • You need to have all the information on the school you wish to transfer to. PISD does not all transfers to every school. It depends on the size and any other circumstances. For 2017-2018 school year this is what the PISD website says:

Due to building instructional programs and functions, enrollment projections, staff assignments, boundary changes, and/or anticipated construction projects we will NOT be approving requests to transfer for the fall semester of the 2017-18 school year TO the following schools:

Barksdale Elementary        Brinker Elementary         Carlisle Elementary         Gulledge Elementary Haun Elementary              Schell Elementary              Wells Elementary              Renner Middle School Shepton High School  

Transfer requests to all other Plano I.S.D. schools will be considered on space/staff available basis in the particular grade level/classroom. Several grade levels in a building may be closed to transfer students due to staffing and enrollment. Due to enrollment and staffing issues involved with specialized programs no transfers will be granted for pre-kindergarten programs offered at Isaacs, Beaty, and Pearson Early Childhood Schools and Head Start during the 2017-18 school year.

Transfer schools in PISD A non-refundable transfer application fee of $50.00 per request is due at the time of application. This list is subject to change as periodic updates and modifications of actual and projected enrollments, building capacities, staff assignments, and attendance boundary changes are confirmed and when limits are approved and campuses must be closed.

  • You need to fill out this application and pay $50 for the transfer. (non-refundable)

In order to secure your spot, you must do this ASAP! The transfer window started in mid-April. Taken from the PISD website:

Transfers are approved on a first-come first serve basis to available schools and grade levels. Transfer limits apply and when limits are reached grade levels and campuses are closed to transfers.  Transfers requested on June 15 to the first day of class will be considered for children of employees, children who move during the summer, children new to the district, and for students who wish to enroll in a Board approved magnet course not offered at their home school. Transfers are considered before school begins and at mid-term.  We do not move children from one campus to another during the academic semesters.

For more information contact:

Student Administrative Services

5804 Coit Road                      Business Hours 8:00 – 5:00 Monday – Friday
Suite # 102                            469-752-3793 or 469-752-3794
Plano, Texas 75023

Are you new to Plano ISD? Here is more information all about the schools across the district. 

Plano Schools

If you are new to Plano or just have younger kids it’s a good idea to learn a little bit more about Plano schools. Plano schools are structured a little differently from other surrounding school districts. Here is some more info about Plano schools that might help you.

Early Childhood Programs: Plano has a number of options that you might not know about for preschool aged children.

  • There are 3 Early Childhood centers that your child could attend based on where you live around Plano. These are tuition based and are 5 days a week for children of age 4 before September 1st.
  • State and Federal Programs. If you meet the criteria stated, your child could attend one of the early childhood centers for free.
  • Full Day Pre-K: This is for families that live only in the Christie, Huffman, Jackson, Memorial and Thomas elementary schools. If you do not know what school area you live in check this school finder.
  • PreSchool for Children with Disabilities: PPCD is a special education program that serves children 3-5 with disabilities. You have to qualify to attend but some children go for speech and other like social and emotional delays. The cost is free after a child turns 3 years old.
  • Senior High Learning Centers: This is a tuition based preschool for children ages 3-5. The schools are located at each Senior High School and along with teachers, high school students interested in teaching help assist and work there. For more information check out their website. 
  • Plano Family Literacy: This is a full family educational program. It will assist in teaching the adults and children in the family. There are specific requirements for this program including low income and limited English.
  • Head Start: A federally funded program for children ages 3 or 4 and the families that meet low income guidelines.

Elementary: Once your child turns 5 (on or before September 1) they are ready to start Kindergarten and one of the local elementary schools.  These schools will be for grades Kindergarten- 5th grade.

Middle: Middle school serves grades 6-8th.

High School: This is for grades 9-10th only.

Senior HighSenior High Schools serve grades 11-12. Plano has 3.

Academy Programs: In the last few years, Plano has incorporated some academy high schools for some qualifying students. Right now there are 3 academy programs at different locations across Plano.

Finally, there is a program called Special Programs for PISD. Special programs serve students that are referred by an intervention team from their home school, that need some special behavioral training and assistance. For older students, they help with at-risk students that are in danger of dropping out or students that need some accelerated instruction.

 

Self Help Skills to Know Before Kindergarten

When your child is of kindergarten age you might be worried about whether or not they are fully prepared. There can be so many things to do and prepare for this big transition. You will want to make sure your child can do some self-help skills on their own to function for the long day. Here are some self-help skills to make sure your child knows before starting kindergarten.

*Use the Bathroom Independently: Children should know this basic independent skill and this should include wiping and flushing. Most classes allow students to go into the bathroom area on their own so this is an important skill to have.

*Wash Hands: Teachers will not be standing there washing all the hands of every single student! Being able to get soap and wash/dry hands is important.

*Blow Own Nose: This is a skill that can take some time to learn. It can be easier has parents to just grab a tissue and wipe their own nose but teachers will not want to do this for every child. Teach your child how to hold the tissue over their nose and blow! (Then go wash their hands!!)

*Open containers: This is big!! Show your kids and practice before schools starts with opening lunch containers. Some things might be hard and will require teacher assistance but if they can open their own lunches not only will they get to eat faster, but they will have more self-confidence. This should include opening straws and water bottles!

*Put on Coat and Zip: On chilly days going outside will require wearing a jacket. Imagine a teacher having to put on and zip up all 20-24 jackets! That is so time-consuming!! This will require some practice but it will help in the long run.

*Tie Shoes: This might take awhile and not happen before kindergarten but it’s a very important life skill. There are so many videos and cook tricks so start them early on this!

It must be noted that children develop at different times. The above is just a guideline for some ideas of things to work on with your child. You know your child and what they are capable of. Use modifications as needed and these are just some ideas of self-help skills to work on with all children.

 

 

 

 

 

Find the Best School in Plano for Your Kids

Plano is named for being one of the best cities to live in. Not only is the cost of living reasonable, but the schools are rated some of the best in the state. Starting school is a huge milestone for kids. You want to find the right school to serve your child’s needs. Here are some ideas on how to find the best school in Plano for your kids.

If you are just starting your search or new in town it’s important to give yourself some time do some research. Think about your children and what might be best for them individually.  If you are just moving into the city then take some time to learn about the schools zoned in the neighborhoods you are most interested in.

Plano has 72 schools across the town that include early childhood, elementary, middle, high school, and senior high schools. So where to begin?  A good place to start your search is by looking at the district’s website. Here you can find out more information about all the schools. You can also do the school finder to help you find the schools that you are zoned for according to your address.

One of the most important things though is to consider the needs of your child.  When my daughter was about to start her elementary years in Plano,  I wanted small class size. Maybe you have a special needs child or a high achieving student. Every school in Plano has their own page that will give stats and list additional resources and classes offered at that particular campus.

If you are looking to get more into school rankings then consider  School Digger,  Great Schools, and Neighborhood Scout.  Though it’s good to get a variety of input from the community, these sites may not be able to tell you everything that you are looking for. They might not give you real Mom advice, so it’s a good idea to join in on the school talk on Plano Moms Talk!

With over 4000 members, these real Plano Moms will give helpful advice and they love to offer suggestions. Moms on the school hunt or moving into the area are always asking and seeking tips and suggestions. Don’t be afraid to ask.  Plano Moms are so helpful!