If you live in Toronto you can choose from schools administered by Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, or private schools.
Most children in Toronto attend one of the schools administered by either Toronto District School Board or Toronto Catholic District School Board.
Generally, a child will attend a school, located in the "attendance area" in which the child lives. Attendance areas are administered by the District School Boards, and if parents want to send their child to a school outside their normal attendance area, they must request the local board for permission. Of course no such permission is required to attend a private school, no matter its location.
All schools are different and parents have to understand the differences in order to select a school, which will allow the child to develop to the best of the child's abilities.
Below are some pointers for the parents.
The curriculum policy in Ontario schools is set by The Ministry of Education to ensure a consistent province-wide curriculum. What teachers are required to teach and students are expected to learn in each grade and subject is also defined by the Ministry. However, teaching and assessment strategies are left to the professional judgement of teachers, which, in theory, enables them to address individual student needs and deliver the curriculum in a context that is locally meaningful. In practice, however, addressing individual needs of students is not always possible and depends on many factors, some of which are: class size, teacher's professionalism, and student's ability and willingness to learn.
So, it is up to the parents to determine if the school is the best for their child.
One of the most important questions parents can ask, is how to educate their child. A basic choice is that of public versus private school. Parents want to justify expenses and be sure they will ultimately benefit their child. After all, many public schools do an excellent job of educating students and are free, while cost of tuition in private school in Ontario ranges between $4,000.00 an $26,000.00 a year and this cost is rising year over year. In addition, some private schools require students to purchase textbooks, special computers, uniforms, and other supplies. However, the benefits of a private education can still far outweigh the costs depending on the local options parents may face (and in Toronto, there are a lot of options). Students, who attend private schools, can advance more academically, be exposed to clearer value systems, have greater access to teachers, and may simply feel safer than local public school options. If you do decide to pursue private schooling for your child, start the research process early. Admission to private schools is very competitive, and finding a school that is a perfect fit for your child where the child will also be accepted, may take some time.
Many private (and some public) schools offer an alternative approach to education, whereas majority of public schools are intended to cater to all students. For example, Montessori model focuses on respect for the student and the development of self-confidence, while the Waldorf model emphasizes a holistic approach to learning. Parents can choose a learning philosophy that best meets their child’s educational needs. There are 885 private schools registered with the Ministry of Education in Ontario, so there is plenty of choice.
Most private schools have a stronger commitment to “customer service.” Smaller class sizes, individualized attention, and openness to parental involvement are benefits that tend to come with paying for tuition.
A major advantage of private schools is that your child will, most likely, be challenged to a higher academic standard. Private schools, in general, are more academically rigorous than public schools, and private school students may have to meet more and higher criteria to keep up their grade point averages. Private high schools typically have more demanding graduation requirements than do public high schools. Compared with public schools, private schools require more coursework.
In general. more is expected of private school students in terms of quality of work, course workload, and special requirements, such as community service or Arts participation. In some schools, what would normally be considered extracurricular activities, are prerequisites for graduation, which ultimately round out students’ high school experience. The push to meet this higher standard often results in a greater level of student performance. Students in private schools scored significantly above the national average in grades four, eight, and twelve. In general, a student attending a private school will most likely reach a higher level of academic achievement.
Private schools also tend to control their class sizes. On average, private high schools are less than half the size of public schools. The average size of a private high school is 398 students, compared to 1,083 for a public school. Students of private schools have more opportunities to form relationships with their teachers, which usually lead them to greater academic success. In private schools, student's specific academic problems are resolved quickly and correctly. Once any issues inhibiting a student’s progress have been addressed, the child can go on to higher achievements.
Placing students in small groups fosters close working relationships between teachers and students, enhances learning, particularly among at-risk students and those in the early grades. Small classes allow the teachers to have a better sense of who the child is, and what his or her specific strengths and weaknesses are. Your child has more opportunities to speak up and participate in class discussions. Students are usually offered office hours during which the teacher is available to provide help. Students who work closely with their teachers are less likely to feel intimidated about using such time to actively seek help from their teachers directly.
Smaller classrooms are, by their very nature, easier to control. In addition, most private schools put special emphasis on discipline. Even if your child does not have discipline problems, disruptive peers could take away from your child’s valuable learning time. Private school teachers are more likely, than public school teachers, to say that they had a lot of influence on setting student performance standards (63% versus 38%) and on student discipline policy (48% versus 30%). The discipline in private schools teaches children self control, which is a requirement in University where the student is far more responsible for his or her own attendance, behaviour, and achievement. Stricter disciplinary policies mean that any major problems is handled and eradicated quickly. Typical crimes that plague public schools are less common at private schools. Students in public schools (37.3%) were more apt to see hate-related graffiti at school than their counterparts in private schools (16.8%). According to a recent study by the Fraser Institute, students at private schools experience lower incidences of bullying, fighting, theft, drug use and racism. This may be because private schools get to pick and choose students with entrance exams and interviews, while public schools do not have this option. But these problems exist within private schools also – it comes down in every situation to the individual student and the choices they were taught to make.
Private schools can offer their own curriculum. Although, they must ultimately prepare students with the same basic course as any other school, private schools also have the option to add various elements to their programs. Private schools often develop programs that emphasize the Arts, perhaps more so than local public schooling options. Private schools may choose to produce elaborate plays and musicals, giving students unique opportunities to explore their talents and express themselves.
Government regulations do not allow public schools to spend more than a certain percentage of school funds on the Arts. Private schools are not subject to the same regulations, and they have more freedom to develop and expand these programs as they wish. Some private schools may even offer filmmaking or video production courses which are opportunities normally reserved for University or college students.
The tuition, that parents of students of a private school contribute, often goes toward developing and funding special programs that would be restricted in public schools. Private school may be able to offer other activities, such as special field trips that reinforce the school’s curriculum. Such trips can give your child opportunities to form close friendships and build independence. Private school may have more funds available to provide supplies to student-run clubs and may create programs that better tie the arts or sciences into the overall general curriculum.
Private schools can be more university-oriented than public schools. Many parents will choose a private school based on the acceptance rates and post-secondary destinations of graduating students. As a result, private schools take the university counselling and application process very seriously. Private high schools instill their students with the expectation of attending University. Students, who had attended private school in 8th grade, were twice as likely, as those who had attended public school, to have completed a bachelor’s or higher degree by their mid-20s (52% versus 26%) and far less likely to have had no postsecondary education. With University as a focus, students are more goal oriented, and often elements of the schools curriculum are specifically aimed at preparing your child for University. Many private schools are even referred to as “college preparatory”. Private schools often encourage their students to take an active role in their own University admission process. Students are given more access to information about University options, and they are made more aware of the requirements they must fulfill to qualify for a specific school.
Most private schools tend to offer students a clear value system, which often is missing in the public system. Many private schools pride themselves on shaping students into well-rounded individuals, in addition to ensuring their academic success. Boarding schools in particular are known to develop self-confidence, independence and life-skills in a student. It is possible to find a school that incorporates a great deal of your own values into its everyday curriculum. Private schools often have honor codes and stricter behavioral standards that help students develop into mature adults. Parents are often have greater say in school policies at private schools.
Many private schools require that their students complete a mandatory number of community service hours. This provides the obvious benefit of instilling a sense of respect for the community and the importance of making a contribution to society, and it also happens to be something Universities especially favor. Students may also find possible career options while fulfilling this service requirement, such as political involvement to aid the community, or counseling for endangered teens. Community service experiences teaches students that education goes beyond the walls of the school, and that it sometimes requires action and initiative.
Teachers at private schools are not required to earn the same certifications as public school teachers. Some parents worry that the teachers are not as qualified. This is not necessarily true. Private schools must maintain their reputations and create positive word of mouth to survive. Private schools are generally very selective, and they choose educators with training, specific to the subject they will be teaching. Some teachers in the private school system do not have the provincially required bachelor’s of education, but may hold master’s or PhD degrees in their area of speciality.
When a family decides to enroll a child in a private school, this family becomes part of a network of families with the same goals. Parents at private schools are more involved in the lives of the students and various school events. Parents have the opportunity to connect with other parents to discuss the lives of their children. These relationships allow parents to learn from each other and support each other. The students also benefit from the community atmosphere of private schools. Due to very specific personalities of private schools, students often have a strong sense of pride and loyalty to the school and its community. Students also benefit from affiliation to the school far beyond graduation day. Many private schools have alumni mentoring programs that connect older alumni with newer ones. Recent graduates may find internship opportunities with alumni who have been working in their field of interest.
Despite all of the above, private school is not for every child. Some children would benefit from the diversity of a public school. Some parents would prefer their children to be more focused on the core subjects, rather than the arts and extracurricular interests. And, of course, the cost of a private education is considerable. No student is exactly the same as another, and only parents know what the best option is for their child. Any child, whether in private or public school, will need the active participation of parents in order to achieve true success.
The major advantage of private schooling is choice. Sending your child to a public school limits your choice to schools based on geography. Deciding to send your child to a private school opens up a selection of several schools that may have very different educational styles and emphases. Every private school has a unique personality, and with a little research, certain schools will emerge from the pool as having more features than that will benefit your child.
With the vast variety of private schools available, it is easy to select a school that will help your child to shine and develop the values you find most important.
No choice can guarantee that your child’s formative years will go smoothly. Parents should always be highly active participants in the education of their children. In the interest of giving a student the most advantages and opportunities, private school can possibly be an attractive option. Sending a child to a private school reduces worries about safety, increases a child’s exposure to discipline, offers reduced class sizes, and a good environment for high academic achievement. In many cases, a private school can prove to be much more than that, providing a community environment for your family and special opportunities your child would not have otherwise.
The term “private school” is an umbrella term for any school that charges tuition fees and is operated by individuals and groups outside of the public education system. Many private schools are for-profit organizations.
The term “independent” classifies a private school that is a non-profit organization and is often overseen by a board of trustees. In many provinces, independent schools receive a certain amount of public funding and are accredited either by a government body or an affiliated organization. Accreditation provides a third-party reference that the school meets certain standards.
Some accreditation organizations for independent and private schools include:
- The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), an organization serving boarding schools in the US, Canada, and abroad;
- Standards in Excellence and Learning Canada (SEAL), a national organization of independent schools that combines the former Canadian Association of Independent Schools and the Canadian Educational Standards Institute;
- The Round Square, a worldwide association of more than 70 schools in Canada and abroad with a curriculum emphasis on community service and exchange programs;
- The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA), an organization of Montessori schools across Canada;
- The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), an accrediting organization for Christian schools in Canada, the US, and abroad;
- The Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario (CIS) and the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools (OFIS), two organizations serving independent schools in Ontario.
Below are some questions parents and students should ask when applying to private schools:
- How will the school suit me or my child down the road? When you visit the school, be sure to consider the years ahead. Find the school that is the best fit for the long haul. Your child will grow and develop in the school, and you want to be aware how the school will change over time. Does the school change from a caring, nurturing lower school to a demanding, competitive middle and upper school? Gauge the temperature of all the divisions before selecting a school.
- Is my child a good fit for the school? While you may be tempted to gain admission to the most competitive school possible, be sure that your child is a good fit for the school and that it won’t be too demanding — or too easy — down the road. Don’t try to shoehorn your child into a school that doesn't nurture child's interests and talents.
- Where do the graduates attend University? Schools generally publish a list of where their graduates attend University. While these lists usually cover many years, they will give you an idea of what kinds of Universities the school has connections with and where you can expect your child to go if s/he attends the school. Be sure to consider the full range of schools — not just the most prestigious few.
- What are the classes like? When touring private schools, your child may be allowed to sit in a class and get a sense of the material covered and the tenor of the class discussion. An older child can get a sense of whether the other students seem to be compatible with the child and whether this is the type of environment in which the child will feel comfortable.
- What is the work like? Try to ask your tour guide what the students of your child’s age are working on. That way, you will get a real sense of what the daily academic life is like at the school.
- How will the school work with me and financial aid? Before you sign a contract with a school, it’s worth asking how your financial aid package, if you have one, will work. Don’t be afraid to ask a school to stretch out its payments or to match the financial aid offer of another school.
- Look around. When you are visiting the school, look at the work on the walls and get an idea of what the school values. Be sure to visit classes and try to speak with teachers. Does the school seem to be the kind of place in which your child will thrive? Do the teachers seem capable of bringing out your child's talents? Do they seem committed to helping children learn?
- Read the school newspaper and alumni publications. The school newspaper and alumni publications will acquaint you with the school’s values and key issues. Reading these publications will familiarize you with the concerns and mood of the current student body and administration.
- Listen to the headmaster. The headmaster can set the tone for a private school. Try to attend one of his or her speeches or read his or her publications. This research will acquaint you with the values and mission of the current school. Don’t rely on old assumptions, as schools change a great deal with each administration.
- Shadow a student. Many schools will allow your child to attend classes and even stay overnight if it’s a boarding school. This is an invaluable experience that will help your child understand what life at the school is really like.
- Talk to other parents. If you don’t know another parent whose child attends a school, try asking through friends or ask the school for a reference. Parents will often give you the low-down that the school admissions office won’t.
A common criticism of private schools is that they can be elitist and homogenous. While it was once true that private schools were the exclusive domain of the white and the wealthy, many now have well-funded bursary and scholarship programs to assist families with more moderate incomes. Private schools now host more diverse student populations, including increasing numbers of students from overseas. Some schools, such as Bayview Glen, even boast multiculturalism as one of their founding principles.
It has long been known that girls do better academically in all-girls’ environments, more recent research has shown that boys do even better than girls in single-sex classrooms.
The research is overwhelmingly consistent pointing to the advantages of single-sex schools. For example, a study at Stetson University in Florida showed that among fourth graders at a public elementary school in the state, 37% of boys reached proficiency levels in co-ed classes, while 86% of boys in single-sex classrooms did (the boys in the study were matched so that they were statistically equivalent). While 59% of girls reached a proficient level in co-ed classrooms, 75% did when they were only with girls. This type of research has been carried out and substantiated among students of different economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds in many different industrialized countries around the world.
Part of the magic of single-sex schools is that the teaching methods can be adjusted to the students. Well-trained teachers at girls’ and boys’ single-sex schools can take advantage of the specific ways in which girls and boys learn. For example, boys often need a higher level of activity, while girls might need more reassurance that they have something to offer to the classroom discussion. In a typical co-ed classroom, it is difficult for one teacher to use these specific strategies for all the students. Below are some other advantages of single-sex schools.
Studies show that one-quarter of the female members of U.S. Congress and one-third of the female board members of Fortune 100 companies attended girls’ schools. This statistic might be in part because girls in single-sex schools learn to feel confident about their ideas, and they more readily jump into class discussions when they are not self-conscious. In a girls’ school, students are not worried about what boys will think about them, and they shed the traditional idea that girls should be demure or quiet.
Boys in boys’ schools feel comfortable in areas that they learn to avoid in co-ed schools, such as literature, writing, and foreign languages. Many boys’ schools emphasize these subjects, and the teachers in these schools are able to plan the curriculum so that the themes in the books the boys read are geared towards their concerns and interests, as opposed to the usual “girl-centered” books in many co-ed schools. For example, boys may read stories about boys coming of age, such as Homer’s The Odyssey, and the students’ analyses of these works can be centered on boys’ concerns.
Girls in girls’ schools, on the other hand, tend to feel more comfortable in areas that they traditionally shy away from, such as math and science. In all-female schools, they can have female role models who enjoy these subjects, and they are encouraged to be interested in these areas without competition from boys.
In boys’ schools, boys fill every role — whether it’s a traditional role such as captain of the basketball team or whether it’s an untraditional role such as editor of the yearbook. There are no stereotypes about which types of roles boys should fill. Similarly, in a girls’ school, girls are the head of every sport and organization and can comfortably take on such untraditional roles as head of the student body or head of the physics club. In this way, students in these schools unlearn traditional stereotypes and do not tend to think of roles in terms of gender.
While sometimes all-girls’ and all-boys’ classrooms have a certain relaxed quality born of freedom to express themselves, single-sex classrooms have been shown overall to have fewer discipline problems, particularly for boys. Students are no longer busy impressing or competing against the opposite sex but can get down to the true business of learning.
Many parents who attended co-ed schools may feel uncomfortable at first exploring the single-sex school option for their children, but there is no doubt that many students learn better in these types of schools.
Each student is unique, and all schools, public and private, have unique strengths and offerings. It’s important to explore many options, and to closely examine curriculum, extra-curricular opportunities, career counselling and student body, in order to make the right choice for your child.
There is a greater awareness than ever before of the different ways in which children learn, and the recognition that some children, even those who are very bright, may need different settings than the traditional school in which to learn. Fortunately, special needs schools have cropped up around the country to educate children with developmental, behavioral, psychological, and cognitive needs that are not met in the general-education classroom. These types of needs include, but aren't limited to, the following types of diagnoses or conditions:
· dyslexia, or developmental reading disorder;
· language-based disorders or speech disorders;
· ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder;
· Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorders, including high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome.
If your child has been diagnosed with one of these disorders, you may need to educate him or her outside of the traditional school system, even if he or she is bright. Below are some tips to finding the right school:
Have your child evaluated by a qualified professional to ensure that you have the child had been diagnosed correctly and that you understand everything affecting the child, including emotional, cognitive, developmental, and other factors. Your doctor or school psychologist can recommend a person to evaluate your child.
Sometimes, your local school can offer your child services that may allow the child to stay in the general-education classroom. Staying in the general-education classroom is referred to as "mainstreaming." Your child will be surrounded by typical peers and may be eligible to receive services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, a paraprofessional, and a resource room.
Local organizations often offer workshops for parents that help them understand how to choose a school for their special-needs children. Look for organizations in your community that help parents evaluate and understand how to choose the right schools for their children.
When you visit a special needs school, make sure it is set up to help your child with the child's specific concerns and issues. The other children should be compatible with your child, and the staff should be trained in helping children like yours. The school should communicate with parents regularly about their child's progress. Investigate the school in the same way you would any other school-by talking with the teachers, visiting classes, and speaking with other parents.
Some parents may decide that no school within reasonable distance (or cost, if they are evaluating private schools) are acceptable and may want to school their children at home. In this case, we suggest to study the document at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/131.html/, so that you will act within the law and your child will get the best education possible. There is some support for families that decide to teach their children at home, however, there are, as always, some regulations, that they must follow.
If your child is already in school, and experiencing difficulties, please, do not hesitate to contact us either by phone at 416-727-4220 or 877-320-9357, or by e-mail at email@example.com for help. SMART CHOICE TUTORING™ will work with you, your child, and (with your permission) with your child's teacher(s) to determine the problem, what, if any, help is required, and will enable your child to continue on the road to quality education.