Private schools in Toronto, and how to choose the right one for your child. I am going to share my thoughts and my own experience to help you in the process of deciding whether private schooling is right for your child and if yes, what school will maximize your kid’s potential.
Why Send Your Child to Private School
If you consider a private school for your child, you might be interested in why some parents choose private schooling. As one of those parents, I must say that there are basically the same few reasons for all of us. Parents often feel their children need extra attention and a special approach. Another reason is that the classes are small. This gives more time and attention to each kid. Parents also say that their kids are happier, more responsible, more confident, and more open to exploring new opportunities through academic and extracurricular activities.
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Things to Consider When Sending Your Child to Private School
So, what to start with if you have already decided to send your child to a private school?
- First, decide what type of school it should be – single-sex or co-ed.
- Make research to find out the ranking and overall performance of the schools
- Visit open houses for the private schools of your interest and try to understand the difference in programs, approaches, and values.
- Attend annual Private School Expos. You will have a chance to get acquainted with all the schools at the same time. Schools’ representatives will be happy to answer your questions, and you will also receive their introductory packages.
- Ask parents of the private schoolers for their honest opinion and feedback.
- And lastly, check the geographical location of the school of your choice and estimate your commute in the mornings and in the afternoons during rush hours. You might see a lot of reasons to move closer to the school of your choice.
While finding the right house is all about location, location, location, when it comes to private schools, the motto is fit, fit, fit. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your family’s circumstances, the individual strengths and needs of your child, your education philosophy and vision will all contribute to your choice of schools.
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Questions to Ask Private School Admission Officers
Private and independent schools are numerous and diverse. There are schools with excellent academic and athletic programs. Some schools follow a certain education philosophy, such as Montessori, or serve a particular religious community. There are arts-based schools, all-boys schools, boarding schools, special needs, preschools, daycare …and the list goes on.
To see if a school meets your expectations there are 10 the most important questions to ask:
- What’s the maximum number of kids in a class at your school?
- What’s the quality of the teaching staff?
- What is the relationship between students and teachers?
- Where do the students go after graduation and what is the percentage of students accepted to the universities of their first choice?
- Does a school have art, gym, music, extracurriculars, and access to a playing field?
- How diverse the population in this school is? Different outlooks, backgrounds, beliefs, and so on.
- How does a school support students who struggle academically?
- How does a school support students who struggle socially?
- How many recesses do kids have each day and how long are they?
- How does a school deal with bullying?
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Your task is to narrow down the options and select 2-3 schools to focus on. When it is time to apply to schools of your choice, it is better not to limit yourself to submitting an application to just one “perfect” school. Some schools have low acceptance rates, and you might need a backup plan. For example, the University of Toronto Schools and The York School accept only 20% of applicants, Crescent School 25%, Branksome Hall 30%, and so on. Especially, the competition is getting high for grades 9, 10, and 11. While you can apply to any grade, typically the entrance years are Grades 5, 7, and 9. From my experience to make your application stronger, you may consider submitting your papers early. Sometimes an exam and interview are required. Your child might need some preparations even though admission officers warn against being “too” prepared.
I also advise being honest and clear about your child’s needs. The schools are interested in an appropriate fit for your kids as much as you are. They would like to understand if a kid really wants to be in this environment or it is just a parents’ wish, how active a child can be in this community, and what your child’s strengths and challenges are.
Some Final Thoughts on Applying to Toronto Private Schools
So, you’ve submitted your applications and are waiting to be notified about acceptance. Still, there are a few points that every parent should keep in mind:
- There is likely more than one school at which your child would succeed and prosper. Don’t be overly disappointed if your child does not gain admission to one particular school.
- Don’t be crushed by less-than-stellar entrance exam results. Most schools will consider more than just test scores.
- Share true information with the school. The goal is to ensure your child’s needs are well accommodated.
Once you have accepted a school, have confidence in your choice. Make the most of the fact that your family is now part of a unique school environment. Typically, parents are very engaged in everyday life and have lots of meetings, events, and conversations going on.
I hope I was able to share some insights about choosing a private school in Toronto. These thoughts are based on my own experience as a parent of three kids who went through different systems of education in Canada.
Are You Thinking About Buying a New Home in Toronto?
I would like to remind you here that choosing a school often results in buying a new home. I offer my clients both my experience with schools and my professional knowledge of the Toronto real estate market. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact us by texting, or emailing. We are actively using WhatsApp, Viber, and WeChat for your convenience.