The government of Canada does not require children under the age of 6 to attend formal schooling, however, it is mandatory for children to attend school starting in Grade 1 whether that be at home through homeschool learning, private learning, or government funded schools.
Many parents don’t know what options they have for when their child completes preschool.
For starters, it’s important to consider classroom sizes, teacher qualifications and curriculum used, and the school’s philosophy.
In this blog, we’ll be sharing 4 options you have and a few advantages and disadvantages of each:
1. Public school
Public Schools are most common, most likely due to how easily accessible they are for families. There are many locations across the city, making it easy for you to find a school nearby. Public schools are also government funded so it is accessible to all.
2. Catholic school
The main difference in Catholic schools is the incorporation of religion in their programs. Catholic schools emphasize the Christian values while also learning about the other religions in the world. If your family is one that values moral teaching and a faith in God, then the Catholic School option may be best for you. Catholic schools are moving towards becoming more inclusive so that their curriculum is not too different from Toronto District School Boards. A downside of government-funded schools are the large classroom sizes, but depending on where you are in the city, this may be quite different.
3. Private school
There are many advantages and few disadvantages of private school. Starting with the disadvantages, private schools are typically inaccessible for those who aren't able to afford it. The cost for private schools in Toronto, Ontario can range from $9,000-20,000, depending on area and credibility of the school. There is also less accountability within the school as they don’t have the same standards and expectations of the government-run schools.
Moving on to the benefits, private schools offer smaller class sizes, a focused curriculum, and typically are more focused on a specific subject area. For example, a school of arts or a school focused on sports. The smaller class sizes are relevant to note especially today as class sizes in the public sector continue to rise. One of the reasons why teachers recently wanted to go on strike was because they didn't agree with the leader's decision to increase class size capacities. Right now, there are many schools that allow class sizes for up to 30 children with one teacher. This number is too high for teachers to truly focus on the individual child and their needs.
In private schools, class sizes can range from 3 to 20 students with an average of around 10 students per class. This allows the teacher to truly focus on the child, get to know their needs, and work at the child's level. Private schools can allow you to focus on specific curriculums, values, or subject areas that you would like your child to excel in. For example, if you have a strong desire that your child focuses on reading and writing, more academic schools may be more beneficial to enhance your child's learning.
Homeschooling also comes with a few advantages and disadvantages. This option is truly dependent on whether caregivers are willing, able, and have a desire to educate their child from home. Not many parents have this option as it requires them to be at home with the child, but the benefits are worth considering if this is possible for you.
Homeschooling your child from home may seem daunting, but there are many resources and a whole community of homeschool parents who can be found easily on the internet. Homeschooling gives you options of what to focus and emphasize in your child's learning. With homeschooling, the class hours can be flexible. Formal schooling typically takes two to three hours a day and increases as your child gets older. Instead of spending the whole day at school, your child can get through the formal learning and have other opportunities to learn in the real world by integrating them into your schedule or taking them out on trips.
For example if you need to cook lunch and dinner at home your child can help you plan and grocery shop. If there are any other errands that you need to run, they can take part. In doing so, your child builds confidence in house management while you don't sacrifice the tasks that you need to do.
Much learning can emerge from these daily experiences such as critical thinking, language development, real world experience, math and budgeting, and physical exercise. The possibilities are truly endless for a child's learning through day to day life in addition to their formal school work required by the Ontario education ministry.
In our opinion, because education in children under the age of 6 is still heavily learned through play, there is much that could be done at home without the formal education system.
Children need adults who will believe in their capability to learn without limits. Children need to feel safe, nurtured, and loved. Young children especially will need to build trust with adults and the world around them in order to safely and confidently navigate this world throughout their lives.
If you're still finding it difficult to decide which avenue to put your child in, reach out to us and we'd be more than happy to walk you through your options!