HISD Magnet & Vanguard Programs for 2019-2020 School Year: Overview of the Programs, What You Need to Know & How and When to Apply!

It is NOW time to apply for NEXT school year!

I’ve applied for HoustonISD Magnet Schools (and Vanguard Magnet Schools), 4 times in the last 8 years.  The first time around, I found it very overwhelming… but over the years, I’ve (mostly) figured it out.

In case you are also overwhelmed and confused by the HoustonISD application process, here is a summary of the process, key dates and changes for this year.

For the official information on applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools, go HERE.  And be sure to look at this FAQ page.

(Also, last year there were budget cuts and the magnet school program was under review.  Since then, the bus system has changed some… but it looks like the application process is the same for next year.  If you have any other updates, let us know!)

Key dates for the 2019-2020 School Year:

  • School Choice Fairs (Optional, but very informative)
    • Sept. 29: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Sterling High School
    • Oct. 20: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Washington High School
    • Nov. 10: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Westbury High School
    • Dec. 1: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Milby High School
  • School Choice Thursdays (Optional, but very informative)
    • Thursdays from October 4 through December 6 at all magnet schools.
    • October ( 4, 11, 18, 25), November (1, 8, 15, 29), and December 6.
    • These tours are intended to help parents learn more about Magnet programs to make more informed decisions.
    • Now that Elementary tours are not intended for students.  Middle School and High School tours are for parents and students.
    • Find more details HERE.
  • September 28, 2018 – Applications are open
  • December 7, 2018 – Deadline for Phase I (first round) Magnet applications.
  • December 8, 2018 –  Start of Phase II application window. (Note that the most popular Magnet Schools will fill in Phase 1.  If you are trying to get into one of these schools, you really need to apply for Phase 1 by December 7.  For an idea of the most popular schools, look at this HISD list.)
  • For Kindergarten Vanguard Magnet Programs (Askew, Carrillo, De Zavala, Herod, Oak Forest, River Oaks, Roosevelt, T.H. Rogers, Travis, Windsor Village), you will need to select a test date when you submit your application:
    • (Dates to be added)
  • March 21 2019 – Notification Date
    • The official Phase I notification of a students’ lottery outcome will be viewable within the online application dashboard.
  • April 4, 2019 – Deadline for accepting your seat.
    • Documentation (recent proof of residency and a signed Magnet entrance agreement) must be turned in.
    • Students will remain on the waitlist of all programs which parents ranked higher than the highest program to which a seat is offered.

 

RECENT Changes in the Magnet Application Process & Answers to FAQs:

In case you have not applied in a few years, some things have changed.  We had to start ranking our school choices (and not just apply to 10 schools and pick a favorite after we were accepted).  Also the number of total applications is 5 instead of 10.

  • There are new bus hubs for magnet schools this year.  Besides that, the process looks the same as last year.
  • You can apply online or with paper… but with just one method.  You use the same application for all 5 school choices.
  • It only takes 10 minutes to complete… but deciding on which schools to apply to can take longer.  There are a lot of open houses and school tours that help you decide.
  • Your favorite school is likely the favorite school of hundreds of other families.  To see the popularity of the HISD programs, go HERE.  (This is a very cool resource from last year… and lets you know what to expect.)
  • Parents can ONLY apply to 5 magnet programs.  This is for magnet programs and Vanguard magnet programs.  The G/T test dates are in January and February, so I would not make these all Vanguard schools because if the child does not qualify, they will not be entered into any lotteries.
  • Parents need to rank applications in priority order.  Parents will be able to adjust the order of their choices through the December deadline.
  • In March, when HISD contacts parents of the outcome of the applications, all applications ranked below the top choice will be dropped automatically. Any programs you are wait listed that rank above the highest accepted choice, remain active.
  • Applications for students who live outside the HISD boundaries may be submitted any time after September 28, 2018 but they will not be considered until June.  (See the FAQ for details.)
  • Students must be in attendance on day one of school. Magnet seats are not saved if there are zoned students to fill the spaces.
  • In the 2019-2020 application, this is a new note:Due to large number of applications in Phase I, the following schools will not be accepting any applications after the Phase I deadline of December 7, 2018.Harvard Elementary, Herod Elementary, Kolter Elementary, Lovett Elementary, Oak Forest Elementary, River Oaks Elementary, T.H. Rogers, Travis Elementary, Wilson Montessori, Lanier Middle School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School, Carnegie High School, DeBakey High School, Heights High School, and Lamar High School.
  • New this year: Pre-K Enrollment address exception transfers will not be renewed for students who will be five years of age on or before September 1, 2019. Therefore, any students offered a seat at a magnet campus for prekindergarten grade levels must reapply for a magnet seat to remain at the magnet campus for their kindergarten school year.

So, for entering school in August 2019, you will apply to schools from September 28, 2018-December 7, 2018.  It will look something like this:

  • You apply to up to 5 schools for the 2019-2020 school year by December 7.  These include both Vanguard and Magnet Programs.
  • You will rank you favorite schools… for example: #1 River Oaks Vanguard, #2 Wharton Dual Language, #3 Poe Fine Arts, #4 Wilson Montessori…
  • In January/February, IF you applied to Vanguard schools, your child will take the G/T test.
  • In March, you will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
  • If you got a spot at #2 Wharton, you would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe and #4 Wilson…
  • In April, you must accept your spot at Wharton or you will lose it.  If a spot opened up at River Oaks, you could still accept it.

 

What you need to know about HoustonISD:

ZONED SCHOOL

The school that you are zoned to is your neighborhood school and the one that your child will be automatically accepted into (as long as it is not too full). If you don’t already know which school you are zoned to, go to THIS website, type in your address, and choose the grade level your child will be in for the school year.

If you are happy with your neighborhood school and want your child to go there, you don’t need to worry about the magnet application process*.  (One note is that a few HoustonISD neighborhood schools are over full.  Call your zoned school to see if there is any issue at all with attending your local neighborhood school.)  Contact the school to find out what you need to do to enroll your child and when to do it.

(*One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.)

 

MAGNET FOCUS

If you would like the opportunity for your child to attend a school you are not zoned to, you will have apply for a magnet transfer. THIS  is the part of HISD’s website about the magnet programs.

Each magnet school has a specialized theme that is incorporated into their classes and curriculum. For example, a fine arts magnet school may offer more exposure to music, dance, art and drama than other schools would.

 

APPLICATIONS

You can submit up to 5 magnet school applications, of which 5 can be for Vanguard schools.  Know that magnet schools can be very hard to get in to, so apply to several!  Also, children must quality for Vanguard programs.  In case they do not do well on the test, make sure you have selected some non-Vanguard magnet programs when you apply.

Apply online or print an application HERE.

 

VANGUARD

The Vanguard Magnet schools are different than the other Magnet programs. Vanguard is HISD’s term for G/T or gifted and talented. Students must pass a test in order to be accepted as a transfer student at these schools.

You can apply to up to 5 Vanguard schools and must rank your top choices.  When you apply, you will be directed to contact your zoned school for GT testing.

From the HISD website 9/2018:

The Houston Independent School District has one G/T testing window. Therefore, only those students who are already identified as gifted and talented in HISD may apply for a space available placement at Vanguard Magnet campuses after December 7. If you have any questions, please email the Advanced Academics Team at advancedacademics@houstonisd.org.

Also from the HISD website 9/28:

Please contact the G/T Coordinator at your child’s current HISD school or HISD zoned campus to request testing. The deadline to request G/T testing at your child’s current HISD school or HISD zoned campus is December 8, 2018. Requests for G/T testing received after December 8, 2018 will not be accommodated.

We did the Vanguard test several years ago and this is what we found… tell me if you have a more recent experience!  On test day, parents and children signed in then were directed to a large waiting area. Then students were called out on their own or in small groups while parents waited for them.

Your child probably won’t be called out immediately, so you may want to bring snacks and something quiet for them to do.

Once the students left the waiting area they met individually in a room with the person administering the test. When they finished they were brought back to the room then the parents and students could leave.

If a student passes the test, then he or she is entered into the lottery at the Vanguard schools already chosen on the application. If the student does not pass the test, he or she will not be considered for transfer to a Vanguard school. Children who pass the test but aren’t accepted into one of the Vanguard schools can still be in the Vanguard program at the school they end up attending (if that school has a program).

I always get asked for resources to help prepare kids and parents for testing.  Here is what has been recommended by other parents over the years… but review each to see what is best for you.  And do NOT feel like you MUST prepare. (affiliates)

ABC Mouse (You can get a free month HERE.)
Lollipop Logic
Wiz Kidz
Kindergarten Test Prep Bundle for ITBS

{One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.}

 

LOTTERY

Once the deadline for turning in applications has passed, the schools hold a lottery where they draw the names of the students they’ll accept. Any students who applied but were not chosen are placed on a waiting list in the order their names were drawn.

Many of the schools that you’ll be applying to will probably have long wait lists and you are not guaranteed to be accepted as a transfer student into any of the schools that you’ve applied to. I was waitlisted at around number 320 for one of them, in the 200s for another and actually got in to 1.

So, if you really don’t want your child to attend your zoned school you should to turn in applications to more schools to increase your chance of acceptance.

Status notifications (whether you’ve been accepted or your number on the waitlist) are online and sent through the mail in late March.

If you are on a waitlist you can monitor the changes online through the parent dashboard.

If you are accepted you have until early April to inform the school of your “intent to attend.”

Your place on any higher ranked waitlists will remain the same though, so if you receive a spot at your second choice school, but are waitlisted at your first, accepting the second choice will not affect your chances of getting into your first choice.

 

SIBLINGS

Those of you who have, or who plan to have, additional children may be wondering if you’ll have to go through this whole process again. The answer is yes, but special consideration is currently given to siblings in the lottery.

As of now, up to the 25% of the incoming Kinder (or PreK, if it is a magnet PreK) class is guaranteed to siblings of currently enrolled students. (Same for 6th and 9th entry grades.)  If the number of siblings applying is more than 25% of the entering class, all sibling names are placed in a lottery and those spaces are awarded according to the order the names are drawn.

Any remaining siblings are placed in the general lottery, and if their names still aren’t drawn, they are placed at the beginning of the wait list. So, chances are that if your older child gets a spot at the school you want, your younger one(s) should too… but no guarantee… especially at very popular schools!

For Vanguard schools the younger child(ren) will have to pass the Vanguard test, but as long as they do the above will hold true for them as well.

If two siblings apply for an entry grade‐level program (and do not have another sibling in the program already) they are treated the same as any other applicant. However, if one is offered a place, the other is moved up the wait list, and placed among the other siblings. (Each sibling must have a separate application on file.)

For twins (and all multiples), you can have them treated like all other siblings or opt to have all the children receive one lottery spot.  All will be offered a seat or all placed on
the wait list. If they are on a wait list, they will not be offered seats until there is room for all of them. (Each sibling must have a separate application on file.)

 

MAGNET SCHOOL PRE-K

For elementary magnet programs, the “entry” grade is usually Kindergarten.  For Magnet dual language, Magnet language immersion, and Montessori Magnet programs, the “entry” grade is Pre‐K.

In the application, you can see which schools have PreK magnet programs.

Note that some schools have PreK programs that are NOT magnet programs.  Contact the school for details on applying.

New for this year, Pre-K Enrollment address exception transfers will not be renewed for students who will be five years of age on or before September 1, 2019. Therefore, any students offered a seat at a magnet campus for prekindergarten grade levels must reapply for a magnet seat to remain at the magnet campus for their kindergarten school year.

I reached out to a dual language magnet coordinator and this is what I learned: “This will not affect Pre-Kindergarten students currently enrolled. It will however affect Pre-K students in 2019-2020 school year.”.  So even if you get a Pre-K Magnet spot, you need to reapply for a Kinder Magnet spot the next year.


What to Expect: Applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools for the NEXT 2019-2020 Year

HoustonISD will be accepting 2019-2020 Magnet Applications on September 28, 2018… so if you want to send your kids NEXT year, you need to apply THIS fall!

To get you ready for the process, here are the key points that you need to know.

  • Find the comprehensive “what you need to know” post HERE.
  • Last year there were budget cuts and the magnet school program was under review.  Since then, the bus system has changed some… but it looks like the application process is the same for next year.  (If you have any other updates, let us know!)
  • The 2019–2020 HISD magnet application will be available online or through a paper application on September 28, 2018.  They are accepted until December 7, 2018… and families hear back in March 2019.
  • It only takes 10 minutes to complete… but deciding on which schools to apply to can take longer.
  • There are a lot of open houses and school tours that help you decide: These are October ( 4, 11, 18, 25), November (1, 8, 15, 29), and December 6. Tour any HISD school on the following School Choice Thursdays. Arrive at 9 a.m. for elementary and K-8 schools, and at 1 p.m. for secondary schools: Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25; Nov. 1, 8, 15, 29*; Dec. 6*.  (*All schools will offer 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. tours on these two dates.)
  • Your favorite school is likely the favorite school of hundreds of other families.  To see the popularity of the HISD programs, go HERE.  (This is a very cool resource… and lets you know what to expect.)
  • Chances are, you will not get into many of the schools you apply to.  THIS is why I said it’s okay (after 5 years of being heartbroken by my favorite school).
  • The process and the programs and generally (mostly) the same each year.  Read THIS for an overview of zoned schools, vanguard schools, magnets schools and the process.
  • This is what will happen starting September 28, 2018:
    • You apply to up to 5 schools for the 2019-2020 school year.
    • You will rank you favorite schools… for example: #1 River Oaks Vanguard, #2 Wharton Dual Language, #3 Poe Fine Arts, #4 Wilson Montessori…
    • In March, you will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
    • If you got a spot at #2 Wharton, you would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe and #4 Wilson…
  • The official HoustonISD resources can be found HERE.

For parents that are brand new to HoustonISD, look HERE to learn about zoned schools and your options within the school district.

If you have tips or questions, let us know.  And remember that this is meant to be helpful because I found the process very confusing 8 years ago… and have since been through it 4 times.  This is not the official HoustonISD Magnet resource… that can be found HERE!


Study launched on probiotics to help treat GI issues in autistic children at UTHealth Houston… Participants to enroll now.

From UTHealth:

A small clinical trial underway at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) is testing the hypothesis that probiotics can help improve gastrointestinal symptoms of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). J. Marc Rhoads, M.D., professor and director of the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Pediatrics at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, is leading the study, titled “The Road to Discovery for a Combination Probiotic,” in search of evidence that the treatment is safe and promising.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1 in 59 children in the United States have an ASD.

Probiotics have been known to have anti-inflammatory effects, and at least three systematic reviews published in BMC Gastroenterology, BMJ, and the American Journal of Gastroenterology, strongly suggest their benefit in adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by persistent abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel movements including diarrhea and constipation.

Since about half of children with ASD have abdominal symptoms resembling IBS, Rhoads initiated the first American randomized, placebo-controlled trial approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the safety and efficacy of a probiotic therapy for autistic behaviors, including gastrointestinal symptoms and biomarkers. Once screened and selected, study participants are either administered the combination probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or a placebo capsule once a day for 56 days. The components of the trial medication, lactobacilli and bifidobacilli, have been shown to reduce symptoms in a meta-analysis of treatments for adults with IBS and in babies with colic.

The research is funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, a state agency that oversees public post-secondary education.

“I am honored to be heading up this critical pilot trial,” Rhoads said. “Gastrointestinal problems in an autistic child often cause other behavioral issues they may not be able to verbalize, so being able to resolve those issues could greatly improve their quality of life. If this study yields solid preliminary data, I’d like to implement a future multicenter trial to determine if the probiotic would be a better alternative to other therapies currently used for children with ASD.”

In addition to studying the bacteria present in fecal matter, Rhoads is also examining metabolites, which are biochemicals produced by the bacteria, or by the intestinal or immune cells as they are affected by bacteria.

“These metabolites enter the bloodstream and can affect behavior and even the biological clock,” Rhoads said. “Tracking the metabolites in the blood, in addition to the bacteria in the fecal matter, could lead to insight on how to curb aberrant behaviors, which include irritability, lethargy, stereotypy, hyperactivity and inappropriate speech.”

The trial takes a multi-faceted systems approach and includes experts in the fields of child psychiatry, biostatistics and gastroenterology. The group will measure the impact the probiotic has on autistic behaviors; gastrointestinal symptoms; gut inflammation and permeability; and fecal bacterial composition.

Participants must be between the ages of 4 and 15 with ASD and gastrointestinal symptoms. Over the course of three months, parents are required to monitor the child closely, document four surveys, bring the participant to five scheduled clinic visits and participate in two phone interviews.

Anyone interested in enrolling their child can call 713-500-5669.


Five Tips for Keeping Your Family Safe This Summer from Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital

Ah, summertime is here! This time includes relaxing at backyard cookouts, enjoying longer days with outdoor playtime and celebrating summer holidays with family and friends. Summer’s outdoor activities and celebrations often involve spending more time in the sun and using fireworks.

It is no coincidence that area ERs see an increase in fire and heat-related visits during summer months. Read about 5-year old Shelby’s story and learn some simple tips from the affiliated physicians at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to help your family avoid injuries and beat the heat this summer. Fun-in-the-sun should be just that, fun!

Burn Patient’s Mom Stresses Fireworks Safety

When it comes to celebrating the holidays with fireworks, Casey takes her daughter’s safety very seriously. “As a parent, you try to take every precaution to keep your child safe,” she says, “but unfortunately accidents happen.”

Last Fourth of July, Casey’s 5-year-old daughter, Shelby, was celebrating at home with family and friends when tragedy struck. At nightfall, the group ventured outside to participate in their own firework show. Shelby and her family members sat in the bed of a pickup truck parked a safe distance from the site where the fireworks were being lit. In the uneven field, however, one of the lit fireworks fell over, striking Shelby in the chest and catching on fire the jacket she was wearing. As a result, Shelby suffered second and third degree burns to her right arm, neck, chest, left shoulder and left arm.

Shelby was taken directly to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, where she was treated by affiliated surgeon Todd Huzar, MD, Director of Pediatric Burn Surgery at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Dr. Huzar was able to repair the burns on her chest by performing multiple skin grafts, where healthy skin is transplanted to the affected area.

“Throughout our stay, the nurses, physicians and entire staff took great care of Shelby, working continuously as a team to help her get better,” says Casey. “After going through something traumatic, I was so appreciative of how attentive they were to Shelby and our entire family.”

In December 2017, Casey returned to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to speak about fireworks safety. “Holidays like the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve will always be bittersweet for us,” she says. “But I am grateful for my daughter’s caregivers who continue to care for Shelby. She is now active and plays like a normal kid, despite her injuries.”

Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Tips for Avoiding Burns This Summer

Dr. Huzar says each summer, particularly around the holidays, as the temperatures rise, so do the number of burn cases in the ER. To help keep your child safe, follow these important tips:

  1. Leave fireworks to the professionals. Attend one of the many public fireworks displays around the city instead of hosting your own fireworks show.
  2. Avoid the sparkler temptation. They are pretty and seem harmless, but they are dangerous. Sparks from a sparkler can reach up to 3,000°F, plenty hot enough to cause severe burns or ignite clothing.
  3. Keep kids away from outdoor grills, firepits and campfires. Create a three-foot safe zone around them.
  4. Properly dispose of charcoal or ash from a grill or fire. They can ignite or, if stepped on, burn feet (as can hot pavement – remember to always wear shoes when going outside!).
  5. Limit sun exposure and liberally use sunscreen. Avoid exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and apply – and frequently reapply – at the minimum, SPF 50 sunscreen on all exposed skin.

By following these simple tips, you and your family can enjoy a burn-free summer. If a burn does occur, however, the best thing to do is seek medical assistance. Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, located in the Texas Medical Center, offers the only pediatric burn program in Houston.


H-Town Elite Gymnastics Camps… The Ultimate Flexibility in Camp Offerings!

Do you need camp for 1 day, for half a day, for 1 week or for all summer? H-Town Elite Gymnastics has FLEXIBLE camp class offerings!

Kids ages 3 – 12 will spend the day on the state of the art gymnastics equipment to work on strength, balance and coordination with certified USAG instructors. They will also get to participate in games, arts and crafts to keep them motivated and interested all day long!

You can reserve camps by the day, by the half day and by the week. You can sign up for any combination of days and/or half days. And the more you sign up for during the week, the bigger the discount… and siblings receive a 10% discount off their camp price.

You can register for camp anytime until the camp is full or has ended. Full refunds are available up until close of business the Friday before the camp week begins.

Get ALL the details HERE!


Hundreds of Houstonians are now potential lifesavers… thanks to SAVE A LIFE training from the American Heart Association & Houston Methodist

You can never be ready for cardiac arrest… but you can be prepared.  This is why the American Heart Association and Houston Methodist DeBakey Institute for Cardiovascular Education & Training teamed up to provide FREE CPR training to Houstonians.

Outside of the hospital is where 80 percent of cardiac arrests happen and the chance of survival drops by 10% EVERY minute without immediate bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

David Nuno, from ABC 13, knows first hand about the importance of CPR.  It saved his young daughter’s life when she quietly slipped into the neighbor’s pool.  As you can understand, he is now PASSIONATE about teaching everyone CPR.

And wouldn’t it be amazing is there was someone trained in CPR anywhere you were around Houston?  The participants in this weekend’s Save a Life training are helping to make this a reality.

The hundreds of people that participated in the Infant CPR and choking relief training, Hands-only CPR training and CPR certification training are now potential lifesavers.

Learn about Save a Life HERE or find your own CPR resources HERE!


METdance Girls Dance Camps… for Girls Ages 3 to 7!

Introduce your little dancer to the FUN of dance at a one-week METdance DANCE CAMP!

Excite and capture the imagination of your dancer through these one-week camps.  They include themed dance classes, crafts, stories, glow dance party, selfie station, manners and etiquette lessons and a desert decorating “tea” party everyday!

Get all the details HERE.  Enrollment is limited to 12 campers per class, so sign up soon if you have a little dancer!


A comprehensive, searchable and free directory of all the daycares and preschools in Houston on Winnie

Houston parents, your daycare and preschool search just got a lot easier. Winnie’s new daycare and preschool search helps parents in Houston find quality child care in just a few clicks.

When Anne Halsall, mom of 2, started looking at preschool options for her oldest son, she was at a loss for where to begin. She was new to the area and didn’t know other parents who could give personal recommendations.

“I really had no idea where to begin.” said Anne. “I knew there had to be tons of great preschools all around me, but I just couldn’t find them.” Google was no help, as it only brought up the big, popular schools that had long waitlists.

This experience inspired Anne — a software engineer and one of the co-founders of parenting tech startup Winnie — to make the daycare and preschool search process easier for other parents by bringing it online. “At Winnie, we feel strongly that both children’s and parent’s lives are enriched when they have access to quality childcare and early education opportunities,” said Anne. “We want everyone to be able to find this information. That’s why we are making it accessible and free to use.”

Anne, along with the rest of the team at Winnie, recently launched a comprehensive, searchable and free directory of all the daycares and preschools in Houston. Listings include detailed descriptions, photos, tuition information, availability data and more. And in addition to this wealth of information, Winnie also contains reviews from parents whose children have attended the daycare or preschool. This way even if you don’t know someone directly who sent their kids to a specific daycare or preschool, you can still get the inside scoop.

Sophisticated search

One of the reasons we love Winnie’s new daycare and preschool search is that it is more than just a listing of all the providers — it’s a powerful, fully interactive search tool. You can refine your search with keywords like “montessori” or “bilingual” to find the programs that match exactly what you’re looking for. You can even choose to only see daycares and preschools with 8+ hour days, something that is critical for working parents. We also love the interactive map that allows you to zoom to a very specific neighborhood and find providers close to your home or work.

In addition to all the large daycare and preschool facilities, included in the results are small in-home providers that are otherwise extremely hard to find online. In-home providers are a great option many families don’t know about where children receive highly individualized care in a home setting.

Safety first

One of the most useful features of Winnie’s new tool is the link to the licensing database on a daycare’s Winnie page under the “Contact Information” section. Click on the license number to be taken to a full report from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. All licensed child care providers are inspected regularly and these inspections, along with any complaints filed against the provider, are public information.

What’s next

“We really want to get the word out about Winnie because when you have child care, you have options. Whether you utilize it or not, just knowing what your options are is very powerful,” Anne explained. You can check out the childcare options available to you at https://winnie.com/houston/childcare.


Adventure Kids Playcare Memorial… Guilt Free Childcare when you need it!

At some point, every parent is going to need childcare.

For work, for evenings out, for emergencies or just when the usual care falls through… you need a reliable place for on demand child care, like our sponsor, Adventure Kids Playcare in Memorial.

At Adventure Kids Playcare, they offer guilt free childcare when you need it… daytime, late nights, Saturdays and most holidays.  Kids 6 weeks to 12 years old. can play, explore, and learn while in a safe and secure environment.

Parents have a reliable place for childcare and kids love it.  Here’s what parents say about the Memorial location:

“My son had his first visit last night—he had so much fun and was talking about it all day.”

“My son loves coming to Adventure Kids Playcare. There is a lot to do and it is clear they do lots of singing and playing with the kids because my son always comes home singing new songs and wanting to teach me the new games he played.”

“My 4 year old has declared he wants to live there. So, I guess he loves it. We will be back!”

AND if you want to take your kids, get 1 HOUR FREE at the Adventure Kids Playcare Memorial location with code BKSC1HR!  You can find it at 10403 Katy Fwy, #220, Houston, TX 77024, (713) 838-1414.


Free Summer Camps & Classes for Houston Kids for 2018

Summer camps and activities can be outrageously expensive.  To help you have more fun in Houston, with kids, we have FREE camps and classes listed below.

These camps FILL FAST.  For those not available YET, add them to your “wish list” online and you can see when registration opens for each one.

For more camp recommendations (that are not free), go HERE.

Houston Parks and Recreation Department (H.P.A.R.D.):

  • The city has 60 Community Centers that provide: After-School Enrichment Program, Summer Enrichment Program, After-School Achievement Program (ASAP), Instructional Sports, Nature and Environmental Education and Exploration Programs, Teen Programs, Senior Adult Program, Adult Arts and Specialty Crafts and a host of fitness activities and programs.
  • The Summer Enrichment Program is a ten-week day camp-style program for ages 6 – 13. To apply, go to HERE.

City of Houston Swim Lessons:

  • The City of Houston also offers FREE Swim Lessons.  All of these classes are free and are filled on a “first come, first served” basis during specified registration periods.
  • H2OSAFE LEARN TO SWIM classes are offered at three levels and are designed to teach youth ages 6 – 13 basic swim skills, swim strokes, and water safety skills to help them become proficient at swimming.
  • SwimWise is a series of FREE learn to swim classes offered for all ages and skill levels.

City of Houston Sports Lessons:

  • The city provides year-round programming and recreational sports opportunities for children ages 4 to 18.
  • A variety of free recreational sports are available. Participants receive equipment, uniforms, facility usage and expert coaching free of charge.
  • Learn more HERE.

Houston Public Library Camp STREAM:

  • Camp STREAM is a free week-long summer program that allows students the opportunity to participate in activities relating to each aspect of STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math) each day of the week. K-12.

Vacation Bible Schools:

  • Churches all around Houston have Vacation Bible Schools… often for FREE or for under $50.  Look for a church near your house and check on their programs.
  • Second Baptist has a FREE camp at multiple locations.  Get the details HERE.
  • Southway Community Church has SonWest Round Up Vacation Bible School, July 16-20, 2018, for kids 4-12!  Get the details HERE.
  • Splash Canyon VBS at Abiding Word Lutheran Church. Registration is open for ages 3-12 who will attend VBS from July 23 to July 26, from 9:00am – 11:45am. The cost is $5.  Get the details HERE.