Alternative Schools in Canada--what does it mean? - Mothering Forums
Learning at School > Alternative Schools in Canada--what does it mean?
Sarahtk's Avatar Sarahtk 01:45 PM 12-05-2010

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



Aaronridge's Avatar Aaronridge 03:05 PM 12-05-2010

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


WantRice's Avatar WantRice 09:31 PM 12-05-2010

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. 


Chalex's Avatar Chalex 05:02 PM 12-07-2010
imogenlily's Avatar imogenlily 02:28 PM 12-08-2010

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.


Callimom's Avatar Callimom 07:53 PM 12-08-2010

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


mamatowill's Avatar mamatowill 02:43 AM 12-10-2010

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.


debe's Avatar debe 01:17 AM 02-23-2013

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.
 


greenfamily's Avatar greenfamily 12:11 AM 06-21-2014
Quote:
Originally Posted by debe View Post
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.
 
Dear Debe, our family is thinking about moving to Windsor House school from New Zealand. What you wrote made me think we need to research a little more. can you please tell us about your experiences living in Vancouver and whether you have found any other schools in Canada or not?

TIA x
moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 11:41 AM 06-21-2014
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenfamily View Post
Dear Debe, our family is thinking about moving to Windsor House school from New Zealand. What you wrote made me think we need to research a little more. can you please tell us about your experiences living in Vancouver and whether you have found any other schools in Canada or not?

TIA x
It doesn't look to me like Debe has been on-line in the last year, so I'm not sure you'll get a response. I will say, as someone living in the BC interior who has many friends who live in Vancouver or have moved back and forth, that there is a major housing bubble there with lots of "investment homes" and properties being bought up. New money from East Asia continues to fuel rising prices. My Vancouver friends seem to like the left-leaning moderately-crunchy cultural vibe of the city and I haven't heard any of them complaining about gentrification in other than the real estate sense. And that includes my friends who were part of the unschooling scene, and/or involved in Windsor House, back in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Miranda
debe's Avatar debe 04:17 PM 06-22-2014
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenfamily View Post
Dear Debe, our family is thinking about moving to Windsor House school from New Zealand. What you wrote made me think we need to research a little more. can you please tell us about your experiences living in Vancouver and whether you have found any other schools in Canada or not?

TIA x
Geez I hope this posts this time. I'm finding this forum much more frustrating to use than it used to be, and this is my fourth try...

hi, I tried writing earlier. I had written out a huge long letter and because I couldn't remember my pass word it was lost in the confusion.

I do frequent the site but do not post much as I am fairly busy.

The north shore of vancouver is where I live. And it is definitely gentrifying. The majority of folks do not like what north van city is allowing in regards to high rise and high density building. A major consideration is that the infrastructure was already under what is needed and now there is considerably more weight being supported by that same infrasructure. There is also questionable decision making, but it is convoluted and difficult unless involved in the day to day or week to week happenings. Some good things are not what they seem and some bad things are likewise, not what they seem.

Downtown there is considerable gentrification and has been since at least the last ten years. For more info in that regard, this is a start: http://downtowneast.net/category/gen...-displacement/

Unless you have a substantial income, it is very difficult. Most of the families I know fall into that category. Even home owners have to rent their basements out at 12-1600 dollars a month. Personally, I do not think it is worth that much to live in any basement. I have looked at quite a few. One family of our family friends, live in Hazelton which is around ten hours north eastish of us. They are very well off business owners and they are here as they are selling the business and the transition is taking around a year or so. They have mentioned that there is no way they would ever buy in Vancouver, and that the cost of living is crazy.

All of that said, I would likely live in hell if it meant remaining in the Windsorhouse community. My daughter and I love the people. That does not mean we all agree or even have our kids in the school for the same reasons, but we do seem to all have the ability to respect each other and value each for who we are. That is the main thing that the children grow to learn.

Personally, I would never subject my child to a common public or private school. We are there because I feel inadequate to provide a radical unschooling for my child, and because The growth that I witness and that I experience is priceless. It seems like chaos to some when they come in, because children go where they will, and pee when they need and eat when they choose, without having to ask or sit in desks or adhere to a curriculum, or a set of rules that they do not have a part in making.
Even the youngest of children has a respected voice.
We have a democratically run environment and no set way of working. It is determined as needed. Yet people seem to graduate, and attend university if that is their choice, go on to start businesses and become influential in the community at large. Like any population, some do not feel Windsorhouse works for them. We help them determine what and/or where will do so.

It does not have a cultish feel like some school communities that I have been around.

Here is a video of an interview wth Helen Hughes who started the school: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byV4l4jCItQ
If you have been on the Windsorhouse web page then you have likely seen Megan, who is Helen's daughter (for whom the school was initiated 45-ish odd years ago) and the principle of the school, currently.
star*mora's Avatar star*mora 07:37 PM 07-02-2014
Quote:
Originally Posted by debe View Post
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.
i know this is an old post, but am in ottawa and we live downtown in chinatown where either churchill alternative or lady evelyn are the applicable alternative schools - they are included in your taxes, so any child can go. lady evelyn follows the regular kindergarten curriculum, before moving into the more alternative curriculum. we ended up going with our local early french immersion as i felt that the rather eclectic group of parents (and all of us quite involved with the school) in our downtown school provided enough balance to the provincial curriculum - some very creative work and very collaborative with the teachers.

anyhow, i am only familiar with the downtown schools - we live in chinatown/little italy
lady evelyn - http://ladyevelynalt.ocdsb.ca/index.php?id=71
and school philosophy - http://ladyevelynalt.ocdsb.ca/UserFi...philosophy.pdf

churchill alternative - http://www.churchillalternative.com/
and school philosophy - http://www.churchillalternative.com/...s_2011_v31.pdf

for both schools, the catchments cross pretty much every socio-economic group, and offer a diverse collection of people.
debe's Avatar debe 02:40 AM 07-03-2014
Thanks for the info. I will check it in a bit.


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