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Houston! general advice re public schools

(10 Posts)
ifink Thu 23-Oct-14 01:11:58

Hi Houstoners, looks like we are going to TX next year from Queensland. I am struggling a bit with info as regards public school admissions.
Which year group would my DD and DS would go into? DD turned 7 in August 2014 and is in the last term of year 1 here in QLD - I think that puts her in grade 2 - am i right?

DS will start prep (like reception in the Uk although a little more formal I think) in Jan 2015 aged 5 (turning 6 in Sept 2015) - does that put him currently in Kindergarten or Pre-Kindergarten? If its Pre-K, is this play based/like reception/less full on than reception??

Are there any mumsnetters who have made a similar move?

Also, as in year admissions, are the schools obliged to take you if you live in the zone or can they refuse on the basis of being full?
Thanks for any help!!

HerRoyalNotness Thu 23-Oct-14 03:09:30

My 7yo is in grade 2 and my 4yo is in prek. He will go to kindergarten next year. He turns 5 end of August and I think he makes the cutoff by about 3 days for age.

You get assigned to the school of your catchment, they have to take you. Hence you will see most schools with portacabins on the playing fields to cope as they tend to keep class sizes 20-23 max.

Check out greatschools.org for rankings and you can get an idea of where you will avoid. Also on Facebook is a group called Tanzot - kiwi and Ozzie expat group and also the British and expat group of katy is on there too.

HerRoyalNotness Thu 23-Oct-14 03:13:49

Also when you have an idea of school district you might be in, there are a few, Houston is HISD, we were in west Houston for a bit and it was Alief (AISD) and then Katy has their own also, where we are now, email the district and I'm sure they will help with info. Not sure if your DD will have to go into grade 1 when she gets here to fit with the US school year, she may have to.

Make sure all their vac's are up to date and you have clear records, they won't register without them or you can get the forms for objecting to them and submit.

butterfliesinmytummy Thu 23-Oct-14 03:25:11

We moved to Houston from singapore last year. Can't help with schools as my dd's are at the british school but just wanted to say, yes, it's a daunting move, and yes, living here is fine! It's very cosmopolitan for a U.S. city so easy to settle .... Once you get over the traffic wink

ifink Fri 24-Oct-14 02:37:45

Hi, thanks everyone! I'm kind of excited about moving although its not at all set in stone, just likely at the moment.
I took a look on the Houston ISD website (thanks for the pointer herroyalnotness) and it looks like my son will be in Kindergarten in sep 2015! this is starting formal school quite a lot later which worries me a bit although if anyone has seen a child through Kindergarten I'd be interested to hear what they actually get up to?! I will email the ISD to see if there is any flexibility there as it would be a shame for him to effectively repeat the QLD prep year - I hold out little hope though...

HerRoyalNotness Fri 24-Oct-14 03:02:37

Has your DS been in preschool as well? You may be able to have him assessed to see if he is ready for grade 1 and apply for that so he doesn't do a repeat.

My DS1 spent kindergarten in Canada but in French so I can't really say what they were supposed to achieve. Certainly when he started grade 1 in Houston he was behind in reading by a long way. He got extra support and caught up by the end of the year to be able to pass grade 1. There is a lot of intervention here which is great, and if DC aren't meeting standards they will help them, DS was offered summer school but we didn't take up the offer. He is now a great little reader.

butterfliesinmytummy Sat 25-Oct-14 21:56:39

Afaik there's not a huge amount of difference between kindergarten in the USA and the UK equivalent. Just be aware though that learning to read is pretty different .... The UK system uses phonics and the USA system is sight reading. I can't buy phonics books for my dd2 in shops in the USA, have to order from Amazon and they come from the UK.

butterfliesinmytummy Sat 25-Oct-14 22:03:59

Schools in the Southern Hemisphere start their school year in January rather than September like we do in the north. Any move from one hemisphere to the other means that a child will either repeat 6 months or have 6 months to catch up. Used to live in Asia and there was a huge Aussie / nz community, lots of chat about school years. There is an Australia / nz group in Texas called tanzot, they have a website and fb page, worth looking at for more informed answers!

ifink Thu 30-Oct-14 03:58:36

Thanks Butterfies that's really helpful. We have friends in Houston so it's not quite as daunting as it might otherwise be however none have moved school system from Oz and most won't be coming over to this side of the planet so it's really just the school year and getting back issues etc. Talking with DH and our future as ex pats we think we might have to go for international schools from this point and stick with it for a while so will look up those in Houston too.....oh the research!!!

butterfliesinmytummy Fri 31-Oct-14 03:08:35

We went through the search for international schools in houston last year, ended up at the british school but also considered Awty and the village school. Application process for all is through testing which is pretty rigorous but all are good schools with excellent academic records. Let me know if you have questions about them that you think I can answer!

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