"I never thought I would be a private school mom." So says the Vancouver mother of two, Tracey Axelsson, a public school supporter with her son enrolled in their neighbourhood school and her daughter now established in a private school. But a few years ago, when Tracey's daughter Helen was in grade five at their local public school, Helen was tentatively diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Read about her daughter's story, transcribed here from Tracey's CBC Radio interview and edited for clarity:

"She was being yelled at, you know? The teachers are overwrought, they have 28 or more kids in the classroom and they cannot possibly be on top of everybody at all times and making them do what they need and, you know, I heard later on at the end of grade five that she’s being yelled at, and that’s not on. There was not enough support for a student with her energy level and the contributions she could make."

That's when the Axelsson family decided to enrol their daughter in private school instead, which is when things started to improve with smaller class sizes, one-on-one tutoring, and greater teacher supervision.

"Of course that's $7200 [per year] we didn’t have to put on other things, but I’m really frugal, and certainly I’m a mom; I go without for myself [sic] to let my daughter or son have what they need."

Lindsay Kilum is another B.C. mother with a son enrolled in private school in the sixth grade. Her family also made the switch from the public education system to the private sector, and her son's education has improved ever since. For Lindsay's son, being the youngest in a multiple-grades classroom was creating a barrier to his development:
"So for him, I think academically it made him a bit self conscious because he’s evaluating himself all the time against these kids who are a lot older and ready to take on more challenges than he is... when you're sensitive you're just aware of that all the time and that difference and comparing to other kids, and I think overtime that affects kids' self-esteem."
Lindsay also cites smaller classroom sizes as the major impetus behind her decision to make the switch and enrol her son in private school, because all the other schools had classrooms that were wither two large, already full, or had too many grades assigned to one teacher.
While my above transcripts of CBC Radio serve as anecdotal evidence, there is plenty of empirical data to suggest that small class sizes benefit private school students by providing a more inclusive learning environment, greater teacher supervision, as well as more opportunities for children to receive help from their teachers.

Have a wonderful week everyone!
Carrie Nelson
Vivian Luck. 6 September 2016, "Why two B.C. parents enrolled their kids in private school", CBC Radio: On The Coast, Episode 300261495 http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2694613049/
Last week Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) revealed this year's disappointing test results: half of grade 6 students failed to meet the provincial math standard. This news comes after a five-year trend in declining math performance. Reasons for this development range from criticizing elementary public school teachers for their own personal lack of understanding on the subject, to students' plummeting confidence about their ability to master math. EQAO results for the last five years also reveal that students falling behind in math in grade 3 only have a 13% chance of catching up by grade 6, indicating that students who fall behind in math continue lagging behind their fellow classmates.

Paul Wells from Star Touch, The Star, argues for two things to solve this looming crisis: educate public school teachers on up-to-date global techniques and concepts for teaching math effectively, and provide more practice time with one-on-one instruction for students to fail enough times in class before exams so that they have time to learn from their mistakes. Becoming proficient at math should be considered as learning new skills; it is not something that can be learned by rote memorization and passively staring at the board for an hour of lecturing. Teachers need to break down concepts into their many parts and explain them all individually. Because as soon as a student fails to understand one concept, they are at risk of misunderstanding the entire unit. Math lessons build upon each other, and without a strong understanding of earlier lessons, a student's foundation will crumble in the higher grades.  

It is times like these that make one realize how important private IB schools are. Because of the small class sizes and international, standardized curriculum, IB teachers are not struggling to help students like public school teachers are. Thanks to small class sizes, they have the time to implement the above techniques to help students succeed, and many private schools have a "no child left behind" policy, like at St. Jude's Academy. Their internationally successful IB program with fine-tuned teaching methods has already "solved the issue" while public administrators are still arguing over how to solve math innumeracy in the province (pun intended). If you are interesting in reading more on this topic, please check out Melissa Chin's post.

To all my readers, have yourselves a fantastic week!

Carrie Nelson



Mississauga private schools

Parents considering which Mississauga private school they should enrol their child in may consider their task to be quite daunting. However, with the aid of a few important research questions and pointers, it becomes much easier to narrow down your choices for choosing the best school for your family.

Firstly, once you have a potential private school in mind, it is recommended to analyze their online presence and resources. Does the private school have a credible website? How transparent are they about their program? What kind of information do they provide (i.e. do they provide access to their teachers' profiles)? Is it easy to schedule a campus tour with the school? These attributes will reveal just how invested a private school is with communicating openly with families.

After this rudimentary background research, there a number of key questions you can ask the administration on a school tour:

1. What is the private school's mission statement?
2. What is their affiliation?
3. What is the average classroom size?
4. Which universities does their graduating class get accepted into?
5. What policies are in place to help struggling students, or those with special accommodation needs?
6. What learning methods are used in the curriculum (i.e. concept-based learning or inquiry-based learning)?
7. How does the school promote an education for the "whole child" or well-rounded individual?

Selecting a private school is an important task, the outcome for which usually decides a child's education future. These questions will help you in your journey to select the best Mississauga private school for your child. Good luck!

Mississauga Peel private schools

For better or for worse, summer vacation is winding down and soon families will no longer be able to ignore those back-to-school ads on television. However, there are a few tips and tricks to get children excited for the upcoming school season, and St. Jude's Academy has a number of key events to attend this month in preparation for the return to school!

1. Back-to-school shopping. Children love to receive gifts, so take your kids shopping with you and allow them to pick out their own pencils, erasers, and backpacks. This will help them get excited for the upcoming school season by allowing them to pick customized supplies instead of getting regular business office supplies.

2. Organize a play-date with a fellow student. It may have been difficult for your child to spend time with their school friends during the summer, especially when everyone has different vacation schedules and activities. Arrange for a play-date before the official start of school, so the children can get excited about seeing each other every day in the classroom!

3. Sign your child up for extracurricular activities at the private school. Perhaps your family's schedule may have prevented you from signing up for sports this summer, but with the return to school comes the return of extracurricular activities! Encourage your child to participate in a sports team at your Mississauga private school, or even a lunchtime club. The key is to try to find a positive effect of having to return to school in September.

Starting this Monday August 29, St. Jude's Academy is hosting several orientation nights for various grades. This is a great way for SJA families, both new and returning, to hear important news and updates for the coming private school year.  Families will also have a chance to meet with their child's teacher, and view their child's classroom.

And if you missed out this year, don't forget for next summer that St. Jude's Academy organizes and hosts an 8-week long camp for children in the summer! Each weekday is filled with fun activities like games, crafts, sports, and baking, and special events are planned for the children to embark on, like outings to parks. To learn more, click here.

Mississauga private schools

Ontario's kindergarten classes are still overcrowded after the province instituted all-day kindergarten in 2014. In addition to the new play-based learning model that was implemented, elementary school teachers report an inability to effectively follow the new program of allowing children to move around the classroom freely and participate in low-key "playful" learning activities. This new administrative attitude to learning was expected to result in meaningful childhood development by reducing the time young children spend chained to a desk. However, due to the vastly overcrowded classrooms, kindergarten teachers are struggling to adhere to this new learning model which has great potential. With an inflated child-to-teacher ratio, public school teachers are worried that full-day kindergarten is de-evolving into an unmanageable and chaotic classroom experience. Heavy criticism is also coming from Ontario taxpayers because the shift to all-day kindergarten was a costly expenditure and continues to be a big provincial budget item.

I have said this before, but this is why one of the greatest advantages to enrolling your child in a private school is their small class sizes. The small student-to-teacher ratio prevents your child from having an overwhelming school experience. Instead they benefit from meaningful teacher interaction and a stress-free classroom with more available learning resources they do not have to compete with twenty other students for.


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