As parents we observe each of our children’s milestones with awe and enthusiasm. In a blink of an eye we are saying goodbye to our babies and hello to school age children. The greatest challenge is making sure your child is in the right school and ensuring their development in each school, grade and class that they attend.
We’ll help you navigate the options, resources and give you some inside information from educational consultant Lindsay Wotherspoon to help you make the most of your child’s education.
How do you find a great school?
One of the biggest concerns from home buyers is if that home is in a great school district.
Many people rely on ratings they find online but they don’t reflect everything and shouldn’t be your sole resource for consideration. The best source of information is from people who have actual experience at the school:
– See if you can 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 what they see as the biggest challenges and opportunities ahead.
– Meet a parent from the school’s parent council – they will give you an idea about parent involvement and what the direction is for the future.
– Ask your agent. As neighbourhood experts and supporters of our local schools we have gotten to know many parents and know the various 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 persistence and work, a lot of things simply would not happen.
The good news? Parent council and teachers are always looking for help.
– What’s your strength? Organization, marketing, money, connecting with people…leverage what you know!
– Find out what fundraisers are happening throughout the year and help with collecting donations, setting up, communications or whatever is needed.
– Ask your child’s teachers what help they need. It can be a 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 get some insight into the dynamics of the classroom.
A strong parent-school connection contributes to a successful school year.
– Introduce yourself to the principal, vice principal and front office team at the beginning of the school year. A friendly hello can make all the difference in establishing a healthy relationship with the school.
– Introduce yourself to teachers other than the homeroom teacher. They may be able to give you additional insight and support.
– New parents nights, curriculum evenings and parent council events will all take place in the first few weeks of school. Attending school events will give you a chance to meet other parents and find out how you can contribute to the community.
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 would like to talk about so they have time to prepare related school work and notes.
– Ask your child’s teacher how you can support your child’s struggles.
– Discuss the struggle with your family doctor or pediatrician. They will likely suggest that you have your child’s eyes and ears tested.
– Share the teacher’s observations with your doctor as well.
The Educational Assessment
Your child’s teacher or family doctor may recommend an education assessment by an educational psychologist. It offers insight into how their 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 however many extended health insurance plans do cover some psychological services
Inside Education Tip:
Check out the Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto for a list of education professionals including psychologists, consultants and more resources.
Getting support for your child.
Even if your child does not need an assessment and nightly reading, writing and homework becomes a battle ground, consider seeking outside support.
Most communities will have a learning center such as Sylvan and Oxford. They are great for kids who need more structure around homework and reinforcement in certain subjects. They typically don’t customize the programs dramatically and are usually group settings. You’ll also need to work to their program schedule and of course get your child there and back but they can be a great resource of support.
In-house tutoring companies small group lessons, individual personalized support, remediation and enrichment.
Tutors can deal with a variety of learning disabilities and behavioral and can tailor based on your child’s specific needs. They can also communicate directly with your child’s teacher and coincide with your child’s curriculum.
Whether you choose in-home tutoring or the learning center support model there are some key questions you can ask:
– Do you offer a set program?
– Will you assess my child and how will you assess them?
– Is the assessment included?
– Are there additional upfront costs?
– Are your teachers Ontario College Certified?
– How do I track their progress?
– Will you work with my child’s teacher?
Inside Education Tip:
Resilience is now being identified as a key factor in academic success in children. Encourage your child to take risks, ask questions and collaborate with peers.
Education Options for Your Child
Both within the TDSB and privately, your child has many options.
Don’t forget, living in the catchment of a French Immersion does not guarantee your child a spot.
Early French Immersion (EFI) – Senior Kindergarten
Application opens: Monday, October 30, 2017 – Deadline: Thursday, November 30 2017
Junior Extended French (JEF) – Grade 4
Application opens: Monday, January 8, 2018 – Deadline Thursday, February 8, 2018
Middle Immersion – Grade 4
Applications are made the year your child is in Grade 3 for entry in September of Grade 4.
Intermediate Extended French – Grade 7
Eligible students by home address should complete the application for grade 7-entry Extended French and submit it directly to the Extended French school by February 8, 2018.
Learn more about these programs at: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/french
They 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:
Have an open mind, look for ways to engage with your child’s school, establish strong routines and try to stay organized on the home front (easier said than done!).
Check out our home organization ideas to help make the school year go easier: http://www.pinterest.ca/richardsgroupremax/back-to-school/
If you’re interested in additional support for your child, check out our deal from Prep Academy Tutors!