Choosing which school your kids should go to comes with a list of questions longer than a spelling bee. There are so many options and schooling methods to consider: Catholic, French Immersion, Christian, Montessori and more. We are very fortunate in Halton as our publicly funded schools have great reputations, undoubtedly fueling the immigration to our region. For example, both Oakville Trafalgar and Abbey Park in Oakville consistently rank in the top 10 schools in the province in the annual Fraser Institute rankings.
Oakville and Burlington’s public and separate schools offer many programs and options, including special education resources. For example, you can elect to take the International Baccalaureate curriculum, or sign up for a variety of extra-curricular, athletic and after school programs. The Thomas Merton Centre for Continuing Education in Oakville offers youth, academic upgrade and language programs that are very economically feasible. Kids from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 can take international language classes in one of more than 15 languages during the school year and in the summer. It is widely accepted that learning multiple languages can enhance cognitive development, promote cultural literacy, and increase employability.
In addition to our strong public schools, the Town of Oakville also boasts one of the highest concentrations of independent schools in North America. Jane Hamilton, Executive Director of Oakville Independent Schools (OIS), explains that these schools provide parents with a choice that they may be looking for based on their child’s talents, passions, needs and their family’s situation. “Just as we have great public schools in the area, we also have exceptional independent schools. It’s up to each individual family and parent as to what they decide is best for their child.” Parents opting to send their kids to an independent school may be attracted by the benefits of special needs classes, smaller class sizes, a focus on the arts, or perhaps the philosophy of Montessori-based education. There are also increased opportunities for children to get involved in charitable work. “Every single one of the OIS member schools is involved in some way with giving back to the community,” Hamilton says.
Two schools, Wildwood Academy and Chisholm Academy, focus on the special needs of children with ADHD, autism or dyslexia. Appleby College offers the option of boarding school for international students and requires all students to board in their final year. “Each school has its own mission and philosophy and is uniquely positioned to address each student’s educational goals and needs. It really comes down to what each family is looking for. Their reasons are often very personal and individual,” says Hamilton.
Private school is not just for the wealthy. Many forms of financial assistance are offered through bursaries, scholarships, and payment plans. “It is a cost and it is an investment. Financing an independent education takes planning and most families look at various options to keep costs within reach. Some families choose to manage with one car or forgo family vacations in order to provide for an investment in private education,” notes Hamilton. If you are thinking that a private school might be an option for your child, this is the time of year for school expos and open houses. You should consider attending the 11th annual Halton-Peel Private School Expo on October 16 at St. Joseph’s Banquet & Conference Centre in Oakville, and the members of OIS participate in a joint open house day on October 22nd where you can visit one or all of the eleven schools in one day.
With so many options available, the decision-making process can feel overwhelming. Of course, this is a good problem to have. Choice is important, and at the end of the day parents simply want to make the best decision for their child and their family. Take the time to explore your options, ask meaningful questions, and compare schools objectively. The best part is: the choice is yours.
Halton District School Board
Halton Catholic District School Board
Oakville Independent Schools
Thomas Merton Centre for Continuing Education
Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools
Our Kids Media