Many newcomers say that one of the reasons they come to Canada is to give their children a better future. Choosing the right school is the first step here. Get to know the school system in Canada and become aware of the best options for your children.
Ontario has 4 publicly funded school systems, which are managed by district school boards:
- English Public
- English Catholic
- French-language Public
- French-language Catholic
Private or independent schools also offer elementary and secondary education. These schools do not receive government funding, and usually students must pay to attend them.
Homeschooling (teaching your child at home) is also an option to consider.
5 things you must know to help you choose the right school:
1. Newcomer Support
Most school boards have Newcomer Reception and Assessment Centre staff to support you with information, and help you register your kids.
2. Compare Schools
Before enrolling your child, evaluate schools by visiting the Education Quality and Accountability Office website (www.eqao.com). Here you will find the academic performance of the schools you are considering, and can compare them to the other schools in your chosen neighbourhood.
3. Public vs Catholic vs Private
Ontario’s public schools welcome all students living in the Ontario area, but Catholic schools are an option for some. The elementary Catholic schools enrol students who are baptized Roman Catholics or whose parents are Roman Catholic. The Catholic schools offer the same education as the public schools, but they add religious education and include Catholic values in lessons. Aside from the government-funded schools where the education is free, you also have a choice of private schools. The best source for assessing the private schools option is on the website www.ourkids.net.
4. French or English
Since Canada recognizes both French and English as official languages, your children can learn in the language that is most comfortable for them and for you. If your child is learning a new language, teachers will support their learning with lessons that encourage language development as they learn content. French Immersion is an optional program in which students study in French for most of the school day, usually starting in senior kindergarten. Parents do not have to speak French in order to enrol their children in a French Immersion program.
5. Starting Grade
Schools in Canada decide starting grade by age until students reach age 11 or grade 6. This helps your child adapt to the new environment by making them part of a group with similar abilities and interests. From grade 7 onward, your children may need to take a test to determine class placement.
The Canadian school system is a vibrant place in which your children will learn and grow. Be sure to encourage their school activities through parent support.