For me, my child attending Redeemer Lutheran School comes down to:
- The progress each child showed after each successful year.
- The community of friends I gained.
- The fun my children had in all their classes.
- Joined a church that feels like home where ever I go.
If I were to associate a “catch phrase” with the why, it would be this: We signed up for kinder and joined a family.
We have put two kiddos through the Redeemer Lutheran Kinder program. Ten years ago we signed our daughter up for kinder at Redeemer. We had been pondering that age old question - private or public - for quite awhile. We looked at a lot of schools in the North Austin area. We did a lot of research. Catholic, nondenominational, charter schools, all of them. The more we searched, the more it seemed that private was the way to go. However, how do I choose? We looked into the charter school and were met with really long waiting lists. Plus, it lacked the Christian values (which we felt was an added bonus since we were Christian). This just furthered my belief that private was the way to go. We narrowed it down to two schools, Redeemer and an unnamed catholic school. Redeemer was first on the list to visit. We began the tour and visited the Kinder/First Grade wing of the school. In my heart I was sold at first sight. The site of what was to one day be my daughter’s kinder room looked like so much fun! There was a bunk bed in the room. It was explained that the bed was for reading time and encouraged the kids to be interested in reading. The teacher in that room was so knowledgeable and sweet! She spoke of a typical day in kinder. As she spoke I looked around the room at the phonics sounds she had posted everywhere. The artwork of the Young Rembrandts who got to go to art once a week was endearing and looked fun as well. (I must admit my skepticism was fast fading). The teacher had been there for many years and yet seemed to be filled with such an amazing patience! The kids were busy and happy. Oh, it just kept getting better. Flash forward to one year from that, I was feeling it was the best decision I had made. My daughter was reading, she was writing her name well, and she knew the Lord’s Prayer. The whole prayer. I was thoroughly impressed! She continued to go to private school until this past year when she entered high school.
I have raved about Redeemer’s academics, but let’s talk about the community. Three o’clock may come around, but that is not the end of Redeemer’s love. You see, Redeemer doesn’t just want to teach your kids about math or science or reading, they want the kids AND the parents to be part of their family. I have never felt pressured or forced to join in anything at Redeemer. It is simply that they make it available to you and you can join. Really, no high pressure to attend the church or any goings on at the school. Just a simple invitation. The kids, of all grades, take music. The church LOVES to have the children sing for them so periodically there will be a Sunday service the kids are invited to sing at. You are invited to come but it is NOT a requirement that either of you show up. Simply just an invite. With my daughter, I decided to give it a shot. To my surprise, it was fun! Wait, church can be fun? YES.IT.CAN. The more I came to visit for her singing, the more people I knew. It was like a snowball affect, I just kept collecting Redeemer friends (parents as well as church goers)! It was fantastic! Going on field trips with the kids was so much fun! Not just the places we would go, but also the people. We started becoming good friends, talking outside of the kids, getting to know other kids from other grades. We are still great friends with people only Redeemer could bring into our lives.
We originally were religiously affiliated with the Presbyterian church. A short time after joining kindergarten, we joined Redeemer. It just felt like home and where God wanted us to be. Pure and simple, it was nice to be around people who believed as I did and were looking to be a family no matter what you have going on. Pastors Kevin, Dave, and Landon are a perfect fit. They all three have a sense of humor, humility, and devotion that inspires me/us to be who God intended for us to be, His children. No judgement, no guilt, no fear. Just pure unfailing love that says "Hey, we are broken just like you are, but you know what? You are Redeemed.” In other churches I have been to, it just hasn’t been the same. I liked one pastor more than another or felt lead better than another. These guys are so in tune with the Spirit that Redeemer is not just lead by fun, intelligent men, but the Lord working through them all to charge that spiritual battery that I have. Redeemer also streams its services on the internet (check out the past sermons) which has been such a blessing when kids or parents are sick. My mom was terminally ill this past year and watching Redeemer online while caring for her just helped center my focus back to God's love (and she got to attend church when she couldn't)!
When my son was ready to go to kindergarten we, of course, signed him up for Redeemer. As it turns out, my son attended his kindergarten class in the same room my daughter did (a newer teacher, as the original one had retired)! That same bunk bed was still there and still used as a reading center! Entering kinder, my son knew his ABCs and could write all of his letters. I was curious to see what Redeemer had in store. It had been ten years after all. Due to this being more recent in my mind, let me tell you all the things that impressed me about his kinder year (this past year).
Meet the teacher was great! We actually got to meet all three kindergarten teachers. Stellar meeting, they were all in this together so we met them all together. Loved it! The first six weeks, they explained was a get-to-know-your-child period to assess where they were at in reading, writing, and spelling. They assured me there was nothing to worry about. The first six weeks went by so fast and he continued to look forward to going to school. When those six weeks were up, we met with his teacher (Mrs. Kirkwood). She was really honest with us and told all that he was in for the next six week. She stated he would be getting a bag with color coded sight words in it. The day for the bag arrived, and not only were there sight words, but activities too! Oh my, there was side walk chalk for writing them, paper keyboards for practicing “typing” them, pipe cleaners for “enacting” the words, games and puzzles, just all sorts of things to learn the words and cement their knowledge with fun. Apparently, the system they had in place for learning words was working. The usual was that the kids take the bags home, learn the words for that week, and then they would get new words the next week if they were able to recognize and speak the words on the flash cards. Each week as I saw the kids leaving with the bags I saw they were all making it through the rainbow colors (thus words) quite quickly. I was astounded at how fast we were learning their words! Speaking with other parents they were proud too (and not just in that class, parents from all three were reporting the same). The teacher notified us she would be sending home the rainbow colors again, only this go round was not for sight words, but for spelling. That means before Christmas came around my son knew 60 words by sight AND could spell about half of them! Yes! Other things were coming together for him too. He always knew what day it was. He came home with art, library books, cooking stories from "Fun Friday", the list just keeps going. His kinder year was so effective that he finished out the year reading everything he physically passed by. When we would spell in front of him, he would shortly thereafter speak the word we had spelled. (so much for telling secrets by spelling - ha). Not only did he read, but he also comprehends the material. He reads each night, and then we discuss what he read.
I was overjoyed at what kindergarten was able to teach him so much so I signed him up for first grade. I knew from the first Redeemer experience that the kinder teachers get together and help decide which first grade teacher would be the best fit for my kid. I had no opinion on who she/he should get, I was just impressed that they took the time to pair up the student for the best learning experience. They really want them to succeed and have a great time!
Just as a side note, I feel I have to touch on two things that are taught at Redeemer that are not always emphasized elsewhere - Spanish and science. The work that came home from his Spanish class was amazing as well. They both came home speaking Spanish. Science, oh they both looked forward to science. Every week it was something new, planting seeds in the garden, helping weed the garden, learning about flowers and animals, tending to the baby chicks or rabbits. Hands on science every week! Plus, I have to say they both had the same teachers for these subjects ten years apart. Such a blessing! Truthfully, for both kids it was been worth EVERY penny.
Blessings to you and yours,