In Ontario, there are multiple school board options available to families registering for kindergarten, including public, Catholic, French public, French Catholic, and private school boards. There are also private schools and some public schools that start specialized education streaming early, such as French Immersion. When considering where to enroll your child, it's essential to evaluate the schools or school boards to find the best fit for your little one and your family.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. What Values and Beliefs Are Important to Our Family?
Consider what is important from a cultural, linguistic, and religious perspective for your family.
Look into the school's philosophy, values, and curriculum to ensure they resonate with your family's beliefs and expectations for your child's education.
2. Think about how your family can support your child’s education journey if you are considering French language instruction.
If you are exploring French language instruction, there are often two options available: French School and French Immersion.
French Schools in Ontario primarily focus on delivering the curriculum in French. These schools follow the provincial curriculum set by the Ontario Ministry of Education but deliver it entirely in French, including subjects like Math, Science, and History. It is expected that at least one parent at home is fluent in French in order to be able to support their child’s school progress.
French Immersion programs are designed for students who primarily speak English at home. The goal is to immerse students in the French language gradually. Typically, students start with a high percentage of instruction in French (often around 90%) in early grades and gradually shift to a balance between French and English as they progress.
3. If you are looking into private options, consider which educational approach matches your child's learning style.
Explore different teaching methods (e.g., Montessori, Reggio- Emelia, play-based, traditional, etc.) and consider which aligns best with your child's learning style and personality.
4. If your child has additional needs or developmental concerns, what support systems does the school offer?
Inquire about support for children with diverse learning needs and the school's approach to fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment.
Reach out to local families to hear the experiences they’ve had in having their diverse learner’s needs met within that school.
5. Consider everyday life factors and future factors:
How accessible are the different school options with regards to location? Will your child have a potentially long commute? Is the commute sustainable for your family?
If you are going with French Immersion, how does your board place students? Is it a lottery system? Will you be placed in a school close to your home?
If you have multiple children, how likely is it that they will be able to attend the same school if you select French Immersion or a specialized private school option? How would it impact your daily lives to have children in multiple schools if this is a possibility?
6. Additional school factors to consider:
Reputation and Review: Tap into the experiences of other parents and gather feedback about prospective kindergartens. Online reviews, word of mouth, and testimonials can offer valuable insights into the school's reputation, teaching quality, and overall satisfaction of parents and students.
Class Size and Teacher-Student Ratio: Smaller class sizes and lower teacher-student ratios often lead to more individualized attention for your child. This can be crucial in the early years when children are forming their foundational skills and developing socially. A classroom with a balanced number of students allows for more personalized interactions and a better understanding of each child's unique needs. This being said, it is important to recognize that for many school boards in Ontario the class sizes have a high student to teacher ratio.
Attend the Open House Visits: When you are exploring your options, inquire about school open houses. Visit the schools and speak with the principals, school staff, and other families that attend the school. A safe and stimulating environment is essential for your child's physical and emotional well-being.
Kindergarten can feel like a big step, but you are not alone! If you are wanting to understand more about your child’s readiness for kindergarten check out WonderTree’s school readiness assessment :
If you are looking for information about how to prepare your child for kindergarten, we have you covered! Check out our blog post: