Events & Registration

Shady Oak Christian School Registration for 2015-16 School Year begins in February for currently enrolled families, with public (open) registration beginning on March 2.

Are you new to area?  Is your child turning 3 soon? Or you just want to see what Shady Oak Christian School has to offer your family,  call now to make your appointment to see our school.  You can reach Bridget Hilbe, Assistant Director, at 281-341-5001, ext. 1, or ext. 4 to leave her a message.  Friend us on Facebook at 

All interested families are encouraged to call Shady Oak Christian School at 281-341-5001, ext. 1 and set an appointment to visit our Preschool, Bridge and Kindergarten Classrooms.   Appointments to visit our campus can be made with Bridget Hilbe, Assistant Director or Joyce Trigger, Director.   Visits will take approximately 1 hour and are usually conducted in the morning hours while school is in session.  During these visits you will get an opportunity to visit our play-based, hands-on learning environment first hand, learn about our curriculum and ask questions.  Campus tours are a prerequisite to enrollment, and we have found it is the best way to experience Shady Oak Christian School. If you have questions, you can also email Bridget Hilbe at, or call her at 281-341-5001, press 1.

Are you looking for a Bridge Program?  

The Shady Oak Christian School Bridge Program gives children the gift of time.  This program is designed for children that might need an extra year before entering Kindergarten.  Our Bridge Class is play-based in nature and offers children a full day of learning experiences similar to our Pre-K program with the time to go more in depth in all subject areas.  As with all Shady Oak experiences, there is lots of time for outside play and discovery!  This class meets daily from 8:30 to 3:00.  To be eligible to participate in this program in 2015-16 school year, children must have turned 5 on or before September 1, 2015, or have had two years of preschool at Shady Oak.  Please contact us for additional information or to set an appointment to visit our Bridge Class.

Are you looking for a play-based learning experience for your Primary age child? 

Shady Oak Primary School for the 2015-16 School year will have classes for grades 1st  through 5th grade.  The learning environment will be the same hands-on, center based, individualized learning experience parents have come to expect from Shady Oak Christian School. Please email Nancy Wenzel at  to set up an appointment with Debbie Elder, Shady Oak Primary School Director Fall 2015, to tour our Primary School Campus.

Spring Semester 2015 - Important Dates at Shady Oak Christian School

Date Event
Tuesday, January 6 Spring Semester begins for all 5-day & 2-day Preschool, Bridge and Kindergarten classes
Wednesday, January 7 Spring Semester begins for MWF Preschool Classes
Friday, January 9 Spring Semester Supply Fees are due today
Friday, January 9 Parenting Education Classes Resume — Book Study — “Boundaries with Kids” 8:30 am (meets every other Friday – through March)
Tuesday, January 13 Parenting Seminar: Motivation Seminar – “5 Ways to encourage desired behavior”  7:00 p.m. @ 600 Main St., Richmond
Thurs. & Fri., January 15 & 16 “Grandparents and Others who are Grand Day” Special Chapel
Monday, January 19 Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday — No School.
Tuesday, January 27 Early release day at 11:30 a.m. (Staff Meeting)
Wednesday, January 28 Parent / Teacher Conference Day — No school for all students
Thursday, January 29 Parent / Teacher Conference Day — No school for T-Th Readiness & Pre-K Students only.  Classes resume for 5-day Readiness & Pre-k Students, Bridge and Kindergarten Students.
Monday, February 2 Early Registration begins for currently enrolled Shady Oak Families
Tuesday, February 3 School Preview Meeting for 2015-16, 7:00 p.m. in the Shady Oak Christian School Kindergarten Classroom.  Open to Current Shady Oak Families and other Families interested in enrolling their child.
Thurs. & Fri., February 12 & 13 Valentine Exchange & Special Snack Days.
Monday, February 16 Presidents Day Holiday – No School.
Wed. & Thurs., February 18 & 19 Heart Healthy Work-Out Days
Mon. – Fri., Feb. 23 – 27 Shady Oak Legacy Registration.
Friday, February 27 Early Registration for Currently Enrolled Families & Legacy Registration Concludes at Noon.
Monday, March 2 Public Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
Tuesday, March 3 Early release day at 11:30 a.m. (Staff Meeting)
Thursday, March 4 Summer Camp 2015 Registration begins for all Shady Oak Families
Mon. – Fri., March 9 – 13 Spring Break — No School
Friday, March 20 Public Registration Begins for Summer Camp 2015
Wed. & Thurs., April 1 & 2 Easter Egg Hunts & Special Snack Days
Friday, April 3 Good Friday — No School
Monday, April 6 Easter Monday — No School
Saturday, April 11 “Spring Thing” Family Fun Day 8:30 – 2:00
Sun. – Sat., April 12 – 18 National Week of the Young Child
Tues. & Wed., April 14 & 15 “Purple Parade” Days
Tuesday, April 14 Early release day at 11:30 a.m. (Staff Meeting)
Mon. & Tues., April 20 & 21 Group Class Pictures with Steven Leonard Photography
Wed. & Thurs., April 29 & 30 Rehearsal Days for Spring Program
Thursday, April 30 Spring Program  @ 7:00 p.m. — First Baptist Church Sanctuary
Mon. – Thurs., May 4  – 7 Kindergarten Stanford Achievement Testing
Wednesday, May 20 Celebration Chapel & last day of school for MWF Readiness & Pre-K Students
Thursday, May 21 Celebration Chapel & Last Day of School

Recent Article in New York Times Touts Executive Function Skills

A recent article written by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times describes the following skills as necessary to get a job at Google, one of the world’s most successful companies.  The skills are among those listed in an essay written last month by Joyce Trigger on Executive Functions (See article below) that we are seeking to develop in Shady Oak Kids.

The article starts by saying that “GPA’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. …We found that they don’t predict anything,” states Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google. 

Bock says, “There are five hiring attributes we have across the company.  For every job, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not IQ.  It’s learning ability.  It’s the ability to process on the fly.  It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.”  The second, he added, “is leadership—in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership.  …What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead?  And just as critical, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else?  Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”

What else?  Humility and ownership.  “It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in,” he said, to try to solve any problem—and the humility to step back and embrace the better ideas of others.  “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve.  I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”   It is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute.  It’s “intellectual humility.  Without humility, you are unable to learn.”

The least important attribute they look for is “expertise,” said Bock.  To sum up Bock’s approach to hiring:  Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many nontraditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one. 

At Shady Oak, we really agree with looking at nontraditional ways of exhibiting talent.  We believe, in the language of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, that the best question we can ask ourselves and parents about each child is, “How is this child smart?” rather than the traditional question of  “How smart is this child?”

Developing “Executive Function” At Shady Oak

(Who is a “Shady Oak Kid”?)

For more than a quarter of a century, parents, teachers, and others have used the term “Shady Oak Kid to describe a child who has attended Shady Oak Christian School and has benefitted from attending this nationally recognized play-based program.  A “Shady Oak Kid” stands out from his/her peers for being bright, caring, articulate, confident, self-regulated, and respectful of other children and adults and the environment. Research shows that this is not just proud parents or staff of a school describing children they love so much!

Such children have developed traits and skills that now have been researched and named “executive functions.”

Children who regularly engage in plentiful creative, imaginary play excel in the mental skill referred to as “executive functioning”. This functioning involves the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The term “executive function” refers to mental processes through which children learn to regulate and control their own “knee-jerk” impulses and emotional reactions. It means they gradually learn to think and control behavior before they act inappropriately. They gain competence in mentally solving problems so they learn to behave more reliably within acceptable social rules and conduct.

The ability to regulate and control one’s behavior corresponds closely with success in school and adult life. Adele Diamond of the University of British Columbia believes that executive functions predict children’s achievements as well as IQ tests do or even better, because they go beyond what we know and tap our abilities to USE what we know.

Children who are deprived of enough free time, space, and opportunity for creative play are at risk of NOT developing these play outcomes.

  • Abstract and symbolic thinking, decision-making, creative problem solving and goal setting;
  • Complex language development and ability to “self-talk” through learning steps;
  • Emotional awareness and competence, identity and self-image development, ability to maintain self-control through self-regulation, stress management and ability to delay  gratification;
  • Social skills, such as patience, cooperation, negotiation, non-violent conflict resolution, teamwork, sharing, considering other’s point of view; and,
  • Formation of a moral or ethical code that distinguishes right from wrong, respect for others’ rights and ability to work toward the greater good.

Play is an instinctual birthright designed to spur on and sustain human development.  Children rely upon it. We, at Shady Oak Christian School, are advocating for children’s crucial need for authentic play.


Galinsky, Ellen. Mind in the Making. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Print.

Hirsh-Pasek, K., Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Laura E. Berk, Dorothy Singer. A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.


Shady Oak Christian School is a Music Together® School

MusicTogether classes are based on the recognition that all children are musical. All children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat, and participate with confidence in the music of our culture, provided that their early environment supports such learning.  By emphasizing actual music experiences rather than concepts about music, Music Together introduces children to the pleasure of making music instead of passively receiving it from CD’s or TV.  This year as part of our curriculum, all Readiness, Pre-K, Bridge and Kindergarten Students will receive 30 minutes of instruction each week in this program.  Joyce Trigger will be the instructor.  Please visit


Free Parenting Seminar

Please plan on joining us on Tuesday, January 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the Shady Oak Primary School Building (600 Main Street), as Debbie Elder  leads this seminar on how to motivate your child.  This seminar is appropriate for parents of children ages 3 years through college age.  Debbie has created the formula for a happy, motivated, agreeable child.

  • Motivating your child is as easy as pie.  Easy techniques to keep the communication lines open.  Discover the magic of certain words and phrases and how they can help you motivate your child.
  • Learn how to overcome “Entitlementitis”.   “I BREATHE therefore, I DESERVE.”  Successful goal setting and taking ownership for their behavior are covered during this informative seminar.
  • Expand your parenting toolbox.  Most parents think time outs or grounding your child are your only options.  Why would you force yourself to be stuck with a discounted, unhappy child?  Let Debbie teach you 10 proven techniques that work.

Call Nancy Wenzel at 281-344-1291 to reserve you place at this seminar.   Invitation cards are coming home in your child’s bag.  When you bring the card to the seminar you will receive a free copy of “How to Run An Effective Family Meeting”.


School Wide Parent / Teacher Conferences Scheduled for January 

On January 28 and 29, parents of Readiness and Pre-K, will be asked to set aside a time to meet with your child’s teacher for a conference regarding your child’s progress in several areas of development.  Each conference will be approximately 15 minutes.   There will be sign-up sheets posted in each classroom area so that you may choose a time that is convenient for you.  Due to the intimate nature of these conferences and limited time and space available, we discourage the presence of students and/or their siblings.  Please note: There will be NO SCHOOL or after-school care for  Shady Oak students on Wednesday, January 28.  However, on Thursday, January 29, there will be school for all 5-day preschool children, Bridge & Kindergarten Students.  There will also be Lunch Bunch and after school care for 5-day children on Thursday.

Bridge & Kindergarten will be scheduling conference times with parents on Wednesday, January 28th only.  Please check with your  child’s teacher about conference schedule times. 


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Celebrating “Grandparents and Others Who are Grand”!

We love grandparents….every grandparent!  But we especially love the grandparents of the Shady Oak kiddos who visit often or hardly at all.  We know how much these folks l-o-v-e their grandchildren.  And we want to celebrate that love and the love of other special people in the lives of children in January.

We will follow the schedule below as we honor Shady Oak Grandparents and Others Who Are Grand:

Thursday, January 15, T/Th children and 5 day children (or Friday)—visitors arrive at 11:00 a.m. for special Preschool Chapel and lunch;

Friday, January 16, M/W/F and 5 day children, including all Bridge & Kindergarten—visitors arrive at 11:00 for special All School Chapel and lunch.

Please invite grandparents, neighbors, babysitters, or other special friends to come to school on Thursday or Friday, January 15 or 16 (see schedule above).  We will celebrate these “grand” connections and enjoy having the guests for lunch.  Guests may bring lunch for themselves and the child they are accompanying.  Guests are welcome to stay through recess after lunch. 

Please be advised that we will need written authorization from parents if children are to leave with Grandparents on this day. The exception would be if the grandparents are listed as pick-up persons on the emergency card.  Please contact Bridget if you have any question regarding this policy.


School Preview Night Planned for Tuesday, February 3rd! 

All are welcome. Invite a friend.

This valuable information night is open to current and prospective parents.  Come find answers to such questions as:

  • What are the characteristics of “Shady Oak kids”? 
  • What happens during the Readiness Class (3 yr. old) that gives those children social competency skills such as the ability to express wishes and preferences clearly, to assert his/her own rights and needs appropriately, to express frustration and anger effectively and without harming others, him/herself, or property, to enter ongoing discussions and make relevant contributions to ongoing activities? 
  • What do children need to be doing in Pre-K to be prepared for kindergarten?  How much letter work and writing practice should children have each day in that year leading up to kindergarten? Our pre-k program is very hands-on, developmentally appropriate, and play-based.  What does all that mean, and how is it different from other programs in our area? 
  • Who are candidates for the “Bridge Class”?  What is the schedule and curriculum for that class?
  • What is used to measure success in kindergarten and what does kindergarten look like at Shady Oak?
  • What does my child experience at Shady Oak besides an excellent academic opportunity?

This informative meeting will be held in our Kindergarten Class room at 7:00 p.m. Invite your friends and neighbors to join you for this educational evening.

Reserve your spaces at the meeting  via email with Bridget ( ).


 Come Weave your Prayers

It is so good to be part of a supportive community in this journey of parenthood.

 We invite all parents of Shady Oak Christian School and Shady Oak Primary School to come together for an informal time of reflection, laughter, maybe even tears as you drop off your children on Tuesday through Friday, September 2-5, from 8:30 to 9:00. Please stay just a few minutes outside our Main Street gate near the Prayer Garden to write your hopes and prayers for your child on a beautiful piece of dyed fabric that you can weave into a work of “community art” to be part of our school settings.


Parent Education:  Book Study

We are continuing our discussion of the book, Boundaries with Kids, by Cloud and Townsend.

We will meet in the Primary Building at 8:30 a.m. on the Fridays listed below.  No reading is required before the meetings, but we do follow certain chapters, and you are welcome to read ahead.

Discussion is welcomed and desired.  We all seem to benefit from “success” stories, and we are a very encouraging group! Even if you didn’t attend any of our classes in the first semester, this is a new year, and please come join us!

Our first discussion will center around chapter 6: “I Can’t Do It All, But I’m Not Helpless Either.”

Meeting dates:  January 9, 23.  February 6, 20.  March 6, 20.

Free Parenting Book Available to You!

That’s right!  All you have to do is ask Joyce, and you will have the new book entitled, Their Name is Today. Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World by Johann Christoph Arnold. The publishers of this book, from October 2014, are making copies available to us and other parents, students, and policy makers.  They want it to be used to assist folks in making changes needed to help our children.  The title comes from a poem at the beginning of the book from Nobel Laureate, Gabriela Mistral.

“We are guilty of many errors and many faults,

but our worst crime is abandoning the children,

neglecting the fountain of life.

Many things can wait.  Children cannot.

Right now their bones are being formed,

their blood is being made,

and their senses are being developed.

To them we cannot answer, ‘Tomorrow.’

Their name is today.”

See Joyce today to get your copy.  We are looking at a date in February to discuss parts of the book together.

Renewed  Emphasis on Nutrition

     This semester we will be emphasizing nutrition again in a few ways.  Look for helpful articles and suggestions from Brandie Mitchell, our Wellness Consultant, in our newsletters and on our website. While your children are at school, we will continue with many of our healthy practices and be even more purposeful in guiding children toward making healthy dietary choices in developmentally appropriate ways.

 Home and school environments have a significant influence on young children’s dietary habits and choices.  Because young children are strongly influenced by the available food and the messages about food in their immediate surroundings, the early years of school are an ideal time to teach healthy eating.  It is much easier and more effective to teach healthy behaviors about food than to undo unhealthy ones.

Carefully choosing our words guides children in being open-minded about, and accepting of, new foods.  In the nutritionally purposeful classroom, caring adults stimulate interest in a new food by using nonjudgmental, descriptive words.  For example, when we introduce red and green bell peppers to children, we use terms such as crunchy, crisp, slippery, sweet, and smooth and avoid using words that imply strong values, such as the best and the worst.  Posing questions such as “What is inside?” encourages children to make predictions and stimulates scientific exploration.  Children may decide to sample green, yellow, red, and orange bell peppers, and describe each one.  Using descriptive language helps children understand what they see, hear, feel, taste and smell.

 You can also be intentional in the language you use when children are reluctant to try a new food.  A key phrase is “You do not like it yet” or “The next time you try it you might like it.” These phrases let the child know that we understand she does not like the food.  They also plant the idea that she may like it the next time she tries it.

Extraordinary Lives

In The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents, William Martin suggests….

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.

Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples, and pears.

Show them how to cry when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.

The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

Shady Oak Coffee Club

Catch up with your Shady Oak friends and get to know some new ones! Stop in for coffee at Joseph’s Coffee Shop on Morton Street every other Tuesday for some adult conversation and camaraderie — and some crafting if you so choose (just make sure you can fit your craft in your own personal space bubble). Being perky and actually awake is not required…that’s what the coffee is for. Our meetings for January will be on Tuesday, January 13 and 27. Contact Stevie Ballow for more information (


Some Images to Guide Us This Year

 Submitted by: Joyce Trigger, Director of Shady Oak Christian School

There is an amazing, vivid visual of part of Psalm 1 in the Prayer Garden that adjoins our school.

That Psalm says that delighting in the law of God and meditating on Scripture is being like a tree, maybe like an oak tree for which our school is named.  That property belongs to First Baptist Church, with which we partner for some activities and whose space we use for chapel and school programs.  We have enjoyed being in the shade of that tree for 28 years.

We hope you enjoy the Prayer Garden frequently.