How Can You Make Sure Your Child is in the Right School and Thriving?
We share the advice from seasoned educational consultant, Lindsay Wotherspoon, to help you navigate your options and resources to make the most of your child’s education.
How Do You Find a Great School?
One of the biggest concerns for home buyers is if their home is located in a great school district. Many people rely on ratings they find online, but they don’t always reflect everything you need to know.
Your best source are the people who have experience at the school:
• Connect with current parents at the school.
• Meet the principal – they are a huge part of the tone, attitude and progress of the school.
• Meet the teachers – they can share their approach and the biggest challenges and opportunities.
• Meet the parent council – they will give you an idea about parent involvement and the school’s future direction.
• Ask your agent. As neighbourhood experts and supporters of local schools we have gotten to know the nuances of each school.
How Can You Make the Most of the School You’re In?
Connect and Get Involved
Many of the resources, programs and extra curriculars your child benefits from are because of parent volunteers. We’ve gotten to know many of the volunteer parents in our community and if not for their hard work, many things would not happen at schools. The good news? Parent council and teachers are always looking for help…
• Share your skills! Organization, marketing, project planning, fundraising, are all skills that help – even just showing up!
• Ask your child’s teachers what they need. It can be as simple as reading to the class, or helping pull off a major art project. Volunteering in the classroom early on is a great way to establish a strong relationship with your child’s teacher and gain insight into the classroom.
• A strong parent-school connection contributes to a successful school year. Introduce yourself to the principal, vice principal and front office team. A friendly hello can make all the difference in your relationship with the school.
• Meet teachers other than the homeroom teacher. They can give you additional insight and support.
• New parent nights, curriculum evenings and parent council events usually take place in the first few weeks of school. Attending school events allow you to meet other parents to find out how you can become involved.
When Your Child Needs Help
It may be a poor report card, a subtle shift in your child’s confidence or avoidance of homework. Trouble at school can manifest as anxiety and social troubles. If you sense that something isn’t working trust your instincts and ask for help.
• Ask your child’s teacher for a meeting outside of pick up and drop off.
• Let them know what you want to discuss so they have time to prepare related school work and notes.
• Ask your child’s teacher how you can support your child’s
• See your family doctor or pediatrician to rule out physical challenges such hearing and visual issues.
• Share the teacher’s observations with your doctor.
The Educational Assessment
Your teacher or family doctor may recommend an assessment by an educational psychologist. It offers insight into how your child gathers, organizes and synthesizes information and will result in a list of recommendations and strategies that can be applied in the classroom and an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
The cost of an educational assessment ranges but is typically around $2,000. It is not covered by OHIP, but many extended health insurance plans do cover some psychological services.
If reading, writing and homework become a battle ground, consider seeking outside support.
Centers such as Sylvan and Oxford are great for kids who need more structure and reinforcement for homework. Learning centers are great for helping your child learn a standardized teaching plan – they typically don’t customize a great deal, and lessons are usually taught in group settings.
In-house tutoring companies offer small group lessons, individualized support, remediation and enrichment. Tutors can also deal with learning disabilities, behavioral challenges, communicate with your child’s teacher and coordinate with the curriculum.
What to ask tutors and learning centers:
• Will you assess my child and how?
• Are there additional upfront costs?
• Are your tutors Ontario College Certified?
• How do I track their progress?
• Will you work with my child’s teacher?
Options for Your Child
Living in the catchment of a French Immersion does not guarantee your child a spot. Don’t miss the deadline to apply! Learn more at: www.tdsb.on.ca/french
Early French Immersion (EFI) – Senior Kindergarten
Deadline: November 30, 2018
Junior Extended French (JEF) – Grade 4
Deadline Early February, 2019
Middle Immersion – Grade 4
Apply in Grade 3 for entry in September of Grade 4.
Intermediate Extended French – Grade 7
Deadline: Early February, 2019
Alternative schools typically feature small student populations, a commitment to innovative programs, and significant community involvement. Their learning environments are flexible and meet the needs of individual students.
Does your child have a passion for sports or music? If so, Elementary Academies can allow them to explore their individuality and creativity within the TDSB.
Private schools can offer an incredible environment and small classroom settings. Learn more about private schools and your options in Toronto: www.ourkids.net/toronto-privateschools.php
Inside Education Tip:
The Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto has a list of professionals, psychologists, consultants & resources.