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Check out some of our Reviews/Comments

I have two children enrolled in Shining Star Children's House and I can't begin to express how happy I am with their education!
Risa has the ability to look at each child individually and encourages their emotional, social, physical and intellectual growth and development! 
As a parent, I've always appreciated the astounding communication and partnership I have with Risa. She knows my children and they have thrived in this unique enviroment.

-Ann G

Two of my children have attended Shining Star Children's House. We have followed this school through its moves to different locations over the years. I have about 5 years experience dealing with this wonderful school, run by Risa, the headmistress.  My children are very different from each other and were equally successful in the Montessori environment. As many other parents said, Risa designs each child's curriculum independently suited to their own needs and challenges them in the areas where they excel.  

Risa has a way with the children that is just amazing to witness. They adore her! She commands their respect and receives it in return in large part because she treats them with equal respect.  Traditional and core values of community, ethics, trust, respect, fairness, and empathy are fostered and emphasized in addition to the normal school curriculum.  Because there are many different ages in the same setting, it gives each child the chance to be a teacher in their own way. They are encouraged to help, teach and mentor their fellow younger students which is of paramount importance to their sense of self.  

It sounds so cliché, but Risa truly helps the children to live up to their full potential by her gentle yet firm guidance.  She supports them in being capable little beings, and they are!  It is amazing the results when as a parent you switch your mind-set in this simple way.  Children are very capable to do many things. They ARE more capable than we adults give them credit for. They CAN get their own water, clean up their own messes. They CAN be polite and respectful to themselves and each other.  Risa works well with parents and helps us think about different approaches we can use to be better parents to our children. I have found her to be a great resource. She is flexible and fair, without modifying her expectations of the parents or the children.

The headmistress is very active in all aspects of the local community. She goes to city council meetings, monitors police activity, and is very aware of legalities surrounding her rights to run the school.  While the neighborhood doesn't "look" as nice as some of the other locations it has been housed, I am confident that she did her research on the neighborhood.

If you are considering an alternative school, I highly recommend Shining Star Children's House! --Renee A.


My daughter is in her second year at Shining Star. She started when she was 3 1/2, and has benefited greatly from her time here. The school is small--usually only 12 students enrolled at a time--and only one pre-k child per school year--but this allows Risa, owner and primary educator, the chance to work with each student individually and help them identify and develop both strengths and weaknesses. My daughter is very precocious, and the mixed age environment allows her to challenge herself with the big kids when she wants to, but also offers the safety and security of little kid play when she just needs to be a normal 4 year old. 

At 4, she's learning kindergarten level reading, writing and math, as well as Spanish. She also gets ample opportunity to develop her creative skills. The outside play facilities are just a simple yard with no equipment, but the school only recently moved to this location and has not yet installed outside play equiPment (only reason i gave 4 stars instead of 5). They do play outside, though, with lots of games encouraging teamwork and good sportsmanship. Additionally,civil behavior is very strongly emphasized, and all the kids who attend here develop excellent manners and social skills. Helping out is part of the curriculum and children are taught to help out with 'household' skills, including tidying, cooking, and watching out for younger students--very much in the spirit of helping out, not child labor. ;)

Risa is very capable at discerning and working with children at their individual capabilities and excels at developing them to their potentials.  She also is sensitive to the needs of her existing student body and will be selective of new enrollees by how they affect the group dynamic (ie, she will not accept a new child who is disruptive to the kids who are there already).
I highly recommend this school.

-Beth E.

When we began the hunt for schools we walked into one chaotic location after another.  At Shining Star we observed a diverse group of children who were calm, respectful, and well mannered.  There are about twelve kids (4 y/o to 7th grade) working in a cooperative learning environment, and also with individualized curriculum.  The teacher, Risa, has been involved in education for many years.

Our first child started at Shining Star three years ago.  We've now have two children enrolled.  They have extremely different personalities and both are thriving.  Risa knows how to earn and keep the kids' respect and they perform well for her.  She is also excellent communicating with parents and working with us to develop strategies to help our children succeed.    

If we could change one thing it would be the school's freeway proximity.  It is a little out of the way, but well worth the trip.  

We highly recommend both Risa and this school if you are looking for a great, individualized education for your children.

-Katy A


I became a Shining Star Children's House parent when my daughter was accepted as a pre-K student 10 years ago.  I recognized early that Risa McFarland, the owner and head teacher of SSCH, genuinely cared for her students, and that her priority was the growth of the children under her tutelage - a quality that I have not seen change or diminish over the years.  Shining Star Children's House is a school where the curricula for personal development and individual education of each child are tailor-made depending on the needs and abilities of the child - you will not find a "cookie-cutter" approach to teaching at this school.  Class size is kept intentionally small, every child gets personal attention from Risa, and this educational environment is truly one where, "no child (is) left behind."
During my daughter's time at SSCH, I have seen her grow into her own person, her confidence swell, and her academic accomplishments exceed the "standards" set forth for our kids today.  I am extremely grateful for the experience my daughter has had at this school, and while she will be leaving at the end of this, her 7th grade year, my son, who is also enrolled at SSCH in the 1st grade - will continue his education with Risa.
  Thumbs up!!
-Jesse F