How to register your child in school
The first thing to do is choose a school. As of September 2003, students can attend any school in the province where there is space. In practice schools do have boundary restrictions, particularly when they are over-subscribed. So do not assume that you will be able to get into your first choice of school.
All school districts offer some choices and most districts offer a number of choices, such as: traditional and alternative schools, Aboriginal education, French immersion, schools with a fine arts or athletic focus, and distance electronic learning where students can learn at home. That is why it is important to visit schools in the area. You can easily get school contact details from the web, and most schools have their own web pages. However there is no substitute for visiting the school. Call beforehand and make an appointment.
When at the school, you can assess its focus. If you are interested in particular sports or certain subjects, then you can find out about how well they are catered for.
You should check with the school district and specific schools you are considering, but in most cases registration for the next school year must be done by mid June.
Contact the individual schools that you are considering and confirm their registration dates and what documentation they require. You will probably need:
- Student's Birth Certificate (if student is born in Canada).
- Student's Birth Certificate, Canadian Immigration documents and Passport (if student is born overseas).
- Parent's Passports, Diplomatic Visa, Canadian Work Permit, Student Permit or any other Canadian Immigration document.
- Proof of address, to meet any residence requirements.
Do check with the school district and school about school boundaries. Each area differs. Some have open boundaries and others are more restrictive.
The school curriculum is different to the UK and you are advised to bring documentation from the UK to show what your children have done. This is likely to be more important in the higher grades, especially as the system is changing so that from Grade 10 students are earning credits toward graduation.
It is suggested that you bring:
- report cards
- course outlines and summary of topics covered
- school reports
These can be used by the school counselors to assess the child's level and allocate them appropriately. In practice very little interest is shown in what has gone before. Your child is likely to be assigned to classes based on their age alone. Thereafter they may be reassigned to an enriched class (top stream) if they are ahead. On the other hand if they are behind they may be scheduled into a lower grade class for that subject.
There are parent teacher consultations during the year. These are very valuable because you can get an early assessment of how your child is adapting. These consultations can result in adjustments being made to your child's schedule. For example our daughters changed to spanish, where all students were just starting, rather than french, where they were behind their Canadian counterparts.
If you have any concerns about your child's education, then let the teachers, counselors or principal know. Our experience was that little or no allowance is made for the children having a different educational background. Some teachers were even surprised that we'd only just arrived from the UK. Once they know, then they are very helpful.