Do your homework when it comes to choosing a private school for your child
Parents want the best for their children. And sometimes, parents feel that choosing the private system over the public system is in the best interest of their child. Then the decision becomes what kind of private school to choose. There are numerous private schools in Ottawa, and each is unique with unique considerations.
Brian Lamb is head of school for Joan of Arc Academy. Joan of Arc Academy is an all-girls school and has existed in the community for over 60 years. “Ours is an affordable, fully bilingual school with students from kindergarten to Grade 8,” says Lamb. “As a small all-girls school, we’re proud to offer a supportive environment where teachers have the time and space to work with students on developing a range of skills: academic, musical, artistic and sporting. We encourage leadership experience to help ensure our girls have unlimited expectations of their future.” Being a former mathematics and science teacher, he strongly believes that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is important. “We provide an environment for girls to build confidence, feel empowered and thrive,” says Lamb, “and given today’s social concerns, that’s a very good thing.”
Many parents consider academics important, but feel a more non-traditional approach would better suit their child. Bishop Hamilton Montessori blends high academic expectations with the Montessori method and is a Christian school. “I think one of the things parents consider and what appeals to them about Bishop Hamilton is our sense of community,” says Renette Sasouni, the director of the dchool. “We’re a small school of like-minded families and we really do get to know each other. And sometimes that is a consideration, along with being philosophically aligned while meeting the needs of both the parents and the child.” Sasouni also says that parents expect a stress on academics, but that emotional intelligence, character building and critical thinking are important – especially in today’s world. She believes that the Christian-based Montessori education is often a consideration when parents choose Bishop Hamilton.
If your child would benefit from a consistent environment, St-Laurent Academy offers programs for daycare, elementary school, and high school students – the first Grade 12 class graduates this year. “We offer a more personalized teaching approach to students,” says Andrea Crupi, admissions director at St-Laurent Academy. “We can create individualized academic pathways which support student’s learning profiles.” Crupi says that because of their one-on-one capabilities and smaller classroom ratios, St-Laurent Academy can offer differentiated programs to a variety of learners. “Our smaller class sizes and strong sense of school community is often what parents are looking for,” says Crupi. “But we also offer plenty of specialized activities, like dance, robotics, technology, music, art and daily phys. ed – we believe that learning through experience is important.” Her best advice? Know your child.
If you’re considering a private school for your child – do your homework. Attend the open houses that most schools offer. And if you find a school that might fit your child’s needs and your expectations, ask that your child visit for a day – in many cases, mandatory for admission. Then listen to your child.