Updated: Apr 17, 2021
Welcome Centre for new students in Ontario
At what age do kids start school?
When do kids start reading and writing?
Schooling in Canada - how does it work?
School lifestyle & adjusting
Support for Special Needs children in mainstream schools
1. WELCOME CENTRE FOR NEW STUDENTS IN ONTARIO
When you arrive in Canada you will start the process of finding a home and schools. Once you know where you are going to live, you will know which region you belong to! Go to your region's website and find the welcome centre. Make an appointment for your children. We found this to be very informative and reduces anxiety levels for sure! I was blown away when we got the the Halton Welcome Centre, a lovely lady came to us and welcomed us in Afrikaans! I nearly cried. This is a great process in assessing your children/s academic level. You can channel all your questions to the staff at the Welcome Centre, they are very helpful. A question we had was whether my daughter would have to take French in Grade 9. In this instance, the school gave her the credit for French since she had Afrikaans as a second language in South Africa. Make sure you check this website to see which documentation to take along with you and what will be covered at that meeting.
DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED FOR THE WELCOME CENTRE MEETING:
Proof of child’s age
Proof of address (two documents required)
Proof of child’s citizenship or immigration status
If you are not the child’s parent, or if you have sole custody, please bring proof of custody (court order)
2. AT WHAT AGE TO KIDS START SCHOOL?
The school year in Canada runs from September to June. The calculation of when your child starts school is calculated within a calendar year, so, January to December. In South Africa, kids start school the year they turn 6. Starting school at 4 means that kids have already adjusted to a more formal school routine and syllabus. If your kids are say 4 or 5 years old when you come to live in Canada, it would be wise to get them up to speed on certain things. I got some really great tips for you from my friends who came over with small kids. Stay tuned!! Please don't panic though, thousands of kids have transitioned into the Canadian school system without a hitch! It is good to have this information and be alerted to these things and prepare your kids so they don't struggle.
3. WHEN DO KIDS START READING AND WRITING?
If you are not living in Canada and this system is new to you, you might be panicking and thinking your child is 4 and definitely does not read! Here are some tips that you could start working towards to help your kids for when they get to Canada and integrate into school. At the age of four you will need to start working on:
Recognising letters, the letter name and the letter sound (phonics)
Basic sight word recognition. A good goal, according to child literacy expert Timothy Shanahan is that children should master 20 sight words by the end of Kindergarten.
Start to put simple words together.
Write or type words on paper of objects around the house, such as TOILET, WALL or DOOR and paste them on the items so that your child can start to recognise the words and associate them with the item (accidental reading). It is also fun. You will not believe how quickly they will pick it up.
Flashcards with sight words.
Start introducing very simple picture books with basic words.
Ask your child to tell you about their drawings/paintings thereafter write their words on the art. This will connect written text to speech.
USEFUL APPS AND DOCUMENTS:
ABC KIDS - Tracing & Phonics (RV AppStudios)
4. SCHOOLING IN CANADA - HOW DOES IT WORK?
TYPES OF SCHOOLING SYSTEMS:
PUBLIC SCHOOLS (INCLUDES CATHOLIC SCHOOLS & FRENCH IMMERSION)
The public schooling system in Canada is rated as top 10 in the world (see www.fixourschools.ca for more info on rankings and rating for all provinces in Canada). We have been blown away by how schooling is done in Canada. My girls have thrived in the public school environment and exceeded their expectations versus their schooling in South Africa. You are not required to wear school uniforms at public schools. Go to this website, Public School Board Directory Ontario, to find the school board in your region.
There are some incredible private schools in Canada. In Oakville I know of a few, Appleby College, Kings Christian Collegiate and Rotherglen Elementary. It really depends on your situation and child. For the list of all private schools in Ontario, search your region's website.
Catholic schools are publicly funded in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Kids are required to wear school uniforms at catholic schools. The Catholic School Board operates independently to the public schools, so that even sporting tournaments are separate from public schools. Go to this website above to find the catholic school board in your area.
Home schooling - perfectly legal, obviously kids must pass the government-mandated exams to have their education officially recognised.
2 STREAMS OF SCHOOLING WITHIN THESE SYSTEMS:
Bonjour!!! This is bilingual education for kids who do not speak French as their first language, instruction is in both French and English. Most boards offer French Immersion from grade 1 and some from senior kindergarten.
Kids will learn French as a second language