Which school is best for your child?

The 10 ques­tions ev­ery par­ent needs to ask

The Kids Post - - Parenting - By Macken­zie Pat­ter­son

The school your child at­tends will in­still in him or her the core val­ues, habits and be­liefs your child will hold for the rest of his or her life.

Whether your child has spe­cial needs, you’re fed up with the pub­lic school sys­tem or you would sim­ply like to con­sider al­ter­na­tives, your fam­ily’s needs should come first. Ev­ery pri­vate school is unique, and find­ing the right fit is all about ask­ing the right ques­tions.

10. What are the fa­cil­i­ties like?

A wise op­tion would be to tour a few pri­vate schools be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion. Can you see your child ex­celling in the en­vi­ron­ment the school pro­vides? Take note of the con­di­tions of the class­rooms, sports fields, gym and wash­rooms to be sure ev­ery­thing is up to stan­dard.

9. Is the school re­li­gious or sec­u­lar?

Many Toronto pri­vate schools, like De La Salle Col­lege and St. Michael’s Col­lege, were founded with a cer­tain re­li­gion or philo­soph­i­cal stance in mind, so you may want a pri­vate school aligned with your vi­sion.

8. What are the tu­ition fees, and is fi­nan­cial aid avail­able?

Pri­vate schools costs can to­tal well over $30,000, so con­sider your bud­get and in­quire about fi­nan­cial aid. Schools of­ten have funds set aside to as­sist fam­i­lies in need, so don’t rule out pri­vate school as an op­tion be­cause of fi­nan­cial con­cerns.

7. How long is the com­mute?

Drop-off and pickup times can be slow dur­ing rush hour, and if you opt for a down­town school, the com­mute could eat into your child’s home­work or ex­tracur­ric­u­lar time. Don’t for­get to think about trans­porta­tion times and costs.

6. Would my child love board­ing school?

If you’re look­ing for a to­tally im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence for your child, a board­ing school could be the right fit. Your child will ben­e­fit from per­son­al­ized at­ten­tion and will learn to func­tion in­de­pen­dently at a young age, set­ting him or her up for suc­cess later in life.

5. What size is the school?

Pri­vate schools in Toronto vary in size from tiny to large. If your child has spe­cial needs, a small school, like Shoore Cen­tre for learn­ing with only 60 stu­dents, could be a good fit, whereas a more so­cial child could ben­e­fit from a larger school like Toronto French School with 1,230 stu­dents.

4. Will my child wear a uni­form?

Is your child is a non-con­form­ist, not in­ter­ested in wear­ing the same thing as ev­ery­one else? Or maybe your child will love not hav­ing to pick out a new out­fit ev­ery day. Uni­forms are an im­por­tant fac­tor to con­sider when choos­ing a pri­vate school — af­ter all, your child will be wear­ing it ev­ery day.

3. Is the school sin­gle-sex or coed?

Al­though sin­gle-sex schools may of­fer a more fo­cused en­vi­ron­ment with fewer dis­trac­tions, coed pri­vate schools, like the York School or Green­wood Col­lege School, could pro­vide a more di­verse en­vi­ron­ment where your child can build valu­able so­cial skills and learn about gen­der equal­ity.

2. What about the In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate pro­gram (IB) or Round Square?

Of­fered at Toronto pri­vate schools, like Brank­some Hall, the IB pro­gram fo­cuses on de­vel­op­ing the in­tel­lec­tual and so­cial skills re­quired to build a ca­reer through rig­or­ous aca­demic cour­ses. Round Square, which is of­fered at St. Cle­ment’s School and Bayview Glen, pro­vides stu­dents with a more ex­pe­ri­en­tial ed­u­ca­tion.

1. Would a spe­cial­ized stream suit my child?

Is your child ar­tis­ti­cally in­clined, a science whiz or a jock? Your child might ben­e­fit from a spe­cial­ized ed­u­ca­tion in one of th­ese ar­eas. For ex­am­ple, Up­per Canada Col­lege of­fers ex­cel­lent ath­letic pro­grams, and the Bishop Stra­chan School for girls tends to nur­ture the arts.

Con­sider ev­ery­thing from com­mute times to uni­forms and aca­demics when choos­ing a pri­vate school

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