What I Learned on My Kindergarten Tour: A Guest Post

I can hardly believe it even as I type it, but my oldest child will be attending kindergarten in the fall. Like any parent, I want a secure school with caring teachers, safe classrooms, good discipline, and an environment that will encourage my daughter to grow emotionally, socially, and academically. Living in Pinellas County, we have many options. There are public schools (they don’t rate very highly, and recently some “A” schools fell to “C” status… so that’s not for us). There are charter schools (while many are good schools, they aren’t required to meet all the standards public schools do, and I’m not comfortable with that). There are private schools (some aren’t accredited, meaning their teachers aren’t required to have degrees, for one thing- I don’t like that; the other problem is they are MUCH too expensive for our budget). I had done my research and I knew what was important for us:

  1. A private school that teaches biblical principles, that hires believing educators. This is the kind of environment for my child. No school can control what the students inside believe and therefore how they behave, but they CAN control what is taught and how situations are handled. I want a school that handles issues biblically. I don’t need to shelter my child from the world. She’s growing up in it and and I want her to know how to handle whatever she may encounter in a godly way. Christian educators who teach God’s Word is the best way to do that outside the home, in my opinion.
  2. An accredited school that is held to high standards on all fronts. I don’t want any balls dropped- safety, standards, education, qualifications, etc. This is important to me, as I don’t want my child receiving a sub-par education and not realizing it until it really matters, like applying to colleges and not being prepared.
  3. A classroom that will propel my daughter forward, regardless of the other levels of ability in the class. My daughter is bright and needs to be challenged. I don’t want her held back by those in her class who are struggling to stay afloat, but I also think the diversity of abilities is good for her to experience. I’d like a school that can push her ahead without putting her in a class only for the advanced.

With these points in mind, we took a tour of Lakeside Christian School. This school has been open since 1975, located in the heart of Clearwater, though well- hidden behind Lakeside Community Chapel, on Sunset Point Road. It’s safely tucked on the back of the property, and while the facilities aren’t brand new or fancy, they are clean, bright, and cheery. Walking the halls, I heard little, as classes were in progress and quietly staying on task. As I spoke in the hallway with the Administrator, Jim Jensen, two small children headed to the office from the playground. One had his hand gently on the other’s back as he helped his injured friend  get some ice. I was struck by the kindness in that act, for such small children.

Mr. Jensen first had us sit down in his office and allowed my husband and myself to ask any and all questions we had. We had many! Here are the key points of what we discussed:

  • class size is 15-16 in kindergarten, with one teacher.
  • unique to the school is their 3-tiered lesson system: whole group lessons, then small group lessons, and finally individualized lessons. The students are tested every couple of weeks, and the data targets the small group lessons to either bring the student to grade level, push them above grade level, or beyond. The individualized lessons use intuitive adaptive software technology to deliver unique responses to what they haven’t learned yet. Each lesson is different, like a fingerprint. I found this to be fascinating. This allows children in a wide range of abilities to learn the same concepts at their own level, and pushes them forward. The data from this system was impressive to me. Coming into their grade level, about 50% test on grade level, while 50% have forgotten a lot of information over the summer. By the end of the year, 85% are at or above grade level! This is done for reading and math.
  • The children are allowed to move often in the classroom and aren’t expected to sit still all day. They get a half hour of outside recess.
  • Weekly art projects are integrated into either Bible or social studies lessons.
  • The curriculum (Lead 21 for language arts and Math in Focus for math- the US version of Singapore Math, which is the #1 curriculum in the world) is impressive. The LA curriculum integrates science and social studies, critical thinking and writing. It teaches them to apply what they learn, and the books are broken down into four differentiated readers for four different ability levels. This allows for equity in the classroom: all the students, regardless of ability, is able to access the same materials and grow to the same reading ability. The software used is MindPlay. Math is taught at a visual, conceptual level for kindergarten. Starting in 3rd grade there is a writing software as well.
  • Bible is taught four days a week and one day is chapel. The curriculum was written by two pastors’ wives, and all the staff are believers, and teach biblical principles and integration in their lessons.
  • They are accredited!
  • The discipline system is common: the colored plate system. It’s visual and built around self-regulation, which helps students choose what is right. There are only three rules to follow, and when broken, the teacher will move their clip for the verbal warning, written warning, and refocus time. They start all over after lunch, which is good for littles who are trying so hard to control themselves (certainly not MY child!).
  • The teacher sends home a weekly newsletter along with a packet a work packet and schedule for the upcoming week, and possible individual notes for each child.
  • Sports are offered for kindergarten students! There are five per year, and it’s only $25/sport.
  • The school appears to be safe and secure. The classroom was quiet and under control when we visited, with students actively working on a project while individuals met with the teacher. It looked like a great learning environment.

I was impressed with what I learned and what I saw. I left feeling that my daughter could thrive at Lakeside Christian School, and all my important points were met. I should also add that while most private schools in the area are far outside our price range, Mr. Jensen was willing to work with our budget and help us find a way to afford to send our daughter. Scholarships are available, and we will be applying through Step Up for Students.

If your important points looks similar to mine, I suggest you take a personal tour with Mr. Jensen as well. Call him soon– enrollment has begun! I think you’ll find that this hidden away school might just be a perfect fit for your kindergarten student!

Mike The Tech Genius, Part 1: Monitoring Your Kids’ Internet Usage

Hi. I’m Mike, the IT guy for LCS. It’s no secret that the Internet is a scary place when it comes to your children. Responsible parents are always trying to stay one step ahead of their kids. It may seem impossible to do so, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Here are some great tools to keep tabs on your kids and their interaction with the Internet.

  1. Circle with Disney: for $99 and 5 minutes setup time, you can keep track of all the devices in your home, and track usage, time, and monitor and filter content. Filters can be customized for each member of the family. Circle Go is a $10/month subscription for up to 10 devices at one time. This allows you to keep tabs on your child’s cellphone usage, wherever they go. Get more information here: https://www.disneystore.com/circle-with-disney/mn/1026902/
  2. Norton Family Premier: This is a yearly subscription of $50 for up to 10 devices at one time. This monitors time, usage, filters content, and helps to teach kids about appropriate Internet sharing. They’ve won multiple awards for their parental control. One word of caution: this works best for Android. It works for iPhone, but not as well. Check it out here: https://us.norton.com/norton-family-premier
  3. My Mobile Watchdog: Monitor and access your child’s apps, texts, websites, time usage, messages, and more. Block apps and set up time limits. It’s $100 a year, up to 5 devices at once. Get more information here: https://www.mymobilewatchdog.com/

There are a lot of options out there, but these are three good choices. More important than any app, however, is establishing open communication and a bond of trust with your children. They need to know you’re keeping tabs on them, rather than being sneaky.  They need to be able to come to you with questions and struggles, without fear of judgment and humiliation. Teaching your children wisdom and discretion in general but specifically regarding Internet usage, is invaluable. They must learn that their reputation can be ruined by one mistake, and that anything posted to the Internet, though deleted, could still exist. Teach your children to err on the side of caution, and to not hide behind the anonymity of the Internet in order to write or say things they wouldn’t say in person.

An additional practical tip is:

  1. Have a charging station in a central location of the house, not in your child’s bedroom.

These recommendations are no replacement for a relationship with your child, as you must know. But hopefully, they’ll give you peace of mind and allow you to be one step ahead. Do you have any tips that have worked for your family? Share!

Lastly, if you have a child who is especially sneaky and seems to be able to circumvent all these precautions, contact us and I’ll see if I have any ideas for you!

Autism Awareness Month

“When it comes to people with mental or physical disabilities, we need to help them to achieve what kind of dreams they want,” he added.  “And when it comes to autism, we always have one goal and that is to thrive.  We need to thrive.”

This quote comes from Parker Neilson, as quoted by Fox 31 news in an article you can find here. If you watch the video and read the article, you’ll find that Parker is a senior at Lakeside Christian School, and has been diagnosed with autism. He now gives back to the community that has helped him grow and thrive.

It’s inspiring, to say the least.

It’s Autism Awareness Month, and we wanted to share Parker’s story here in order to encourage families that also have children with autism. Lakeside Christian School does not specialize in teaching students with special needs, but we do strive to include students with many different abilities (including those with autism) like Parker. We believe that every student is made in God’s image and we’d like everyone to take a look at LCS to see if their child could benefit from our program.

Parker began attending LCS in 3rd grade, where he received the foundation he needed to find success in high school. Parker now attends part time and is also home schooled, but both Parker and his parents credit LCS with helping to prepare him to “thrive,” as he said.

Your child will fit perfectly somewhere. Why not take a look at Lakeside Christian School and see if that somewhere is with us. Call us and schedule your personal tour today!

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Send Us Your Questions!

We’re going to be rolling out a new blog post series called “Mike the Tech Genius.” Our IT guy, Mike, will be answering questions and discussing topics related to technology that you want to know about. To get started, we’d love to hear from you. Please tell us what you’d like to see Mike write about- maybe regarding internet safety, or common tech problems. Whatever it may be, let us know how we can help you with your tech issues!

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In Memory of Our Friend, Joseph Smith

We will miss Joseph Smith. He was a wonderful husband, father, brother, teacher, and was a Christ-like example to all he met. In his life and his death, Joseph honored Jesus.

Joseph knew long before he found out about his cancer that he was called to die daily to self (1 Cor 15:31; Luke 9:23). Because he treasured Christ above all else, he knew his treasure was in heaven and that one day he would receive the greatest gain above all this life can offer.

We appreciate that he gave up his few years of retirement to serve at Lakeside Christian School. We will miss his many jokes, too.  Anyone Joseph found at LCS wearing the color orange would certainly hear him say, “well, orange you fabulous.” There were a 100 more like that one flowing constantly from his great sense of humor.

A memorial service for Joseph will be held at Lakeside Community Chapel on Feb 18th at 2 PM. All of his friends are invited.

— Jim Jensen

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Meet Our Friends, the Rokoszes

Lakeside Christian School benefits from the time and talents of ROKOSZ Media Studios. They are responsible for most of the interesting, fun, and well-crafted videos on our Facebook page! We wanted to take a moment to highlight their business. Maybe your small business could benefit too!

In their words, “ROKOSZ Studios provides multimedia, marketing, and production solutions to small businesses. That means we create compelling videos for companies to use on Facebook.”

ROKOSZ Studios is a husband-and-wife team. Chris and Carrie began their business venture when Rokosz Media Entertainment, Inc. was founded in 2005. They decided to give up their careers in broadcasting and management, and started their business in a closet, producing commercials, DVDs, and videos for websites. In 2007, they began producing “how-to” videos that they posted to the Internet. Over time, they produced more than 40,000 “how-to” videos for brands including Home Depot, Turbo-Tax, and Tyra Banks. 2012 was the year the Rokoszes created the Pocket Producer System. This is a system of production and training that allows anyone with an iPhone to create high-quality videos. Finally, in 2015, they created Constant Content, a Facebook marketing solution that allows businesses to market themselves effectively on Facebook. This particularly is what LCS benefits from.

Quite a journey. All the while, Carrie and Chris continue in their life and business partnership. When asked how they maintain their marriage while working together, they replied, “The key to making them both work is communication, shared values, and vision.” Their business is important to them, but their family is too. Somehow, they find balance. How? “The answer is priorities and values; once they are set firmly in place one cannot help but to find balance.”

Chris and Carrie ooze passion for their craft. Nowhere is this more evident than their Pocket Producer System. Instead of continuing to charge for quality videos, they instead train small businesses how to produce for themselves- business that could otherwise never afford standard video production services. They want to show these owners the power that video can offer their small business! That kind of dedication is admirable. They continue to benefit local businesses through Constant Content. This service, in their words, helps businesses “know what to post when they don’t know what to post.” They help people translate their product or service into the language of Facebook. In order to provide this for their clients, Chris and Carrie constantly keep their work fresh through keeping their minds fresh. They’re always abreast of the most current information and techniques in their industry.

And if you’re an entrepreneur such as the Rokoszes, they have a bit of advice for you: “The three most important areas for any entrepreneur to focus on are: people, product, and process. Hire and work with the best people, deliver a first class product, and have a well-defined process.”

We hope you got to know Chris and Carrie a bit better. Maybe you’ll consider their services for you business. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to take a leap like they did and become your own boss. Regardless, we have to nod our heads in agreement with a bit of parting wisdom from the Chris and Carrie Rokosz of ROKOSZ Studios: “Understanding our values and planning our lives with those priorities in mind has led us to happiness in life and business.”
Find the Rokoszes and “like” them on Facebook, here.
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Mentoring Month

January is Mentoring Month. At Lakeside Christian School, we’re big believers in mentoring. We believe it allows older believers to share wisdom with younger people, which encourages them in their search for or relationship with God. Many of our teachers serve in either the church’s AWANA program or the Lakeside Community Chapel youth group. When students attend these, they have the opportunity for mentoring with one of our teachers. We interviewed our own Mrs. Thayer and the student she mentors- Heather. Read below about how their mentoring relationship has affected them!
Kayla: “I desired to mentor a student because I myself had a mentorship relationship when I was in high school.  However, the relationship with my mentor was nowhere near the depth and regularity that I have with Heather.  I wanted an opportunity to give godly advice to someone in this way because I’ve been in their shoes.  High school can have some real challenges and I felt God leading me this way as a form of ministry.  My relationship with Heather has grown tremendously and much of that comes from consistency and the Lord.  He has helped shape our relationship and has helped me use my own experiences to give sound, godly advice.”
Heather:
“My desire to grow in my relationship with the Lord made me want a mentor. I wanted to have someone that I could meet with on a regular basis who could help keep me accountable. Her mentoring has helped me greatly to grow in my relationship with the Lord. The book we have been going through has been very helpful in learning how to become a more godly woman. Meeting with Kayla on a regular basis has allowed for her help keeping me accountable on things that I need to work on in my life. Her mentoring has also provided a wonderful relationship between us where I know I can go to her with anything and she would be more than willing to provide godly advice.”
At Lakeside Christian School, we believe that mentoring relationships such as these greatly enrich the lives of those involved and impact them for eternity, which is, after all, what we care about most. Please contact us today and set up a tour. Find out why Lakeside Christian School is so different!

SAQs (Should-Ask Questions)

Certainly you’re familiar with the term “FAQs” (Frequently Asked Questions), but have you heard of SAQs? SAQs are “Should-Ask Questions.” What questions should you ask when searching for the perfect school for your child? Try these:

  1. “How can you make this education affordable for me?” Instead of asking how much it costs and writing off a high-ticket education, ask instead how it can be made affordable. Some schools are free… and you get what you pay for. Some educations cost as much as a new car, and they expect you to pay every penny. But some schools, like ours, provide an excellent education that, while expensive, works with every single budget to make it affordable for anyone.
  2. “Are your graduates prepared for college and career?” Don’t merely ask about graduation rates and GPAs. Those are deceptive. Rather, find out if graduates are prepared for life after high school. At LCS, we don’t try to make ourselves look good by handing out as many A grades as possible. Instead, we teach our students what is needed to succeed beyond high school.
  3. “Can you help my child catch up or move ahead?” If your child is in elementary school, you’ll want to know how to either bring your child to grade level or how to help them excel farther. We have documented proof that we have been able to close academic gaps for students who come to us already behind, and many of those who are on grade level are propelling ahead!
  4. “How invested is your staff?” It’s likely that at any school, the teachers will have experience and talent, as ours do. But beyond that, you’ll want to know if the staff is invested in their jobs and if they truly care for their students. Most of our staff attend our church and serve in some way, like AWANA or youth group. This means they choose to not only teach their students throughout the weekdays, but also choose to spend additional time with them some nights, teaching them even more important spiritual truths. Our staff cares not just about each student’s education, but more importantly, their soul.
  5. “Will my child be safe?” There’s no way to guarantee with 100% certainty the safety of anyone. But you’ll want to know if your child will be both physically and emotionally safe, to the best of the school’s ability. At LCS, we do not tolerate bullying, either in school or online between our students. Teachers strive to stay aware of social interactions and the climate of their classrooms in order to keep their students safe.

These five questions will give you a good indication of a school’s heart, and whether or not they’d be a good fit for your child. We encourage you to schedule a personal tour with Lakeside Christian School today and ask these very questions!

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30 Days of Thankfulness

We’re about to enter the month of November, the month containing Thanksgiving. We’ve created two graphics for you to print out and keep handy so you can join us in a spirit of thankfulness throughout the month. Consider taking the time to thank God for the items/people listed, and pray for them, too! We hope you’ll join us.

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“The Best Education”

“I highly recommend LCS to anyone who wants the best education for their child.”

This is a real quote from a real parent of a student at Lakeside Christian School. Is this something you can say about your child’s school? If not, we’d love it if you checked out LCS.

Here are some things you’ll find at LCS:

  1. We offer an incredible education: we’re closing academic gaps and propelling students ahead in both reading and math, starting in kindergarten!
  2. Our environment is safe, secure, and close-knit. We take great care to protect our students and create a place in which they feel comfortable and ready to learn.
  3. A Biblical worldview is our backbone. More than anything, we want our students to know Christ.
  4. It’s affordable. Yes, we’re a private Christian school. Yes, we offer a top-notch education. Yes, we have a close-knit, safe environment. But we also work with every family’s budget in order to make LCS affordable!

Call us today and come for a visit! We’d love to meet you.

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Are you ready to join the Lakeside Christian School community? Contact us, and schedule a tour today.

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