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Alternative Schools in Canada--what does it mean?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

We are in the process of moving from the States to Canada, and we are trying to secure a good school for my kindergardener. The choices between French-immersion, English-only, Alternative, etc. have us overwhelmed!

 

I'm wondering about "alternative" primary schools in Canada. Having done some research, my sense is that they are not for kids with behavioral issues (as the name suggests in the states), but are rather more progressive, non-traditional centers of learning. Am I wrong about this? Could someone comment on the quality/reputation of alternative schooling?

 

Thanks so much!

Sarah

post #2 of 8

It depends on the province.  Which province are you moving to? 

post #3 of 8

Hi there. I'm in BC and I've never heard the term "alternative school" before. We have "Programs of Choice" within the public school system. These include French Immersion, Mandarin Bilingual Program, Mandarin Immersion (possibly starting next September in Vancouver), Montessori, and possibly some others that I can't think of right now. There are also schools that have a specific focus or "flavour". For example, schools with a fine arts focus, or schools with family groupings (multi-aged classes). In high school there are even more choices in some districts like Vancouver where they have "mini schools". These are programs that one must apply to and also have a specific focus such as fine arts, technology, etc. I believe the students move through their high school career as a cohort and take many of their classes together. 

 

Every province is different and so is every school district. Most school districts have decent websites where you can get a good start on your research. 

post #4 of 8
post #5 of 8

I have a friend who teaches Kindergarten in an Alternative school here in Vancouver, and it is not specifically for children with behavioural problems, but instead emphasizes choice and autonomy for the students, is very self directed and self paced, children are involved in decision making at the school, call teachers by their first names to de-emphasize hierarchy, etc.

post #6 of 8

Where I live (in Ontario) the term alternative schools generally means anything from academic/religious private schools to Waldorf/Montessori/free schools.

 

Some boards have alternative schools which which seem to be focused on a certain type of high school educational experience (arts school, experiential etc).  Our board also has a "tech" high school which (when I went to school a century ago) focused more on technical education which might have prepped students for the trades rather than post secondary/university education.

 

hth

Karen

post #7 of 8

In Ottawa, alternative refers to a independent, student centred learning. The students are self directed more while learning and parents play a big role. There has been discussion about whether to keep the alternative schools since "mainstream" classrooms are implementing the same techniques now. Alternative is safe for the moment. Behaviour problems are not really there due to the nature of the school environment.

post #8 of 8

I know this is years old. It is the only reference to Ottawa and alternative schools that resulted from a search... Are there schools of the democratic or free  type in Ottawa? I could find only a couple listed on the AERO site for all of Canada. I thought there must be others flying under the radar...I hoped.

Currently, Daughter is in Windsor House in North Vancouver, BC. We love it. But - Vancouver has lost its gleam through gentrification and greed. I have to get out.
 

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