Finding the right school for your child

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For most parents, where they take their children to school largely depends on where they live. Children are accepted to public schools based on the “catchment area” or school division/district they belong to. But you do have options.

In Manitoba, you can choose among the four programs in public schools (English, French Immersion, Français or the Technology Education Program for Senior Years). If the program of your choice is not offered in your district, you can enroll your child in a school outside your catchment area (subject to the receiving school’s policies and priorities). You can also opt to place your child in a private school if you feel that this best suits your child’s learning requirements. (To know more about the types of schools in MB, read Elementary and Secondary School Education in MB).

If you are having a hard time deciding, you may consider doing the following:

  1. Make a checklist

    Prioritize what is most important for your child and for your family. These will be considerations such as essential programs (both for academic, sports, arts and extra-curricular activities), distance, transportation, cost/tuition, and other special considerations especially if your child is gifted, differently-abled or has special needs.

  2. Research

    Look for information online, ask around and talk to neighbors and friends. Know all that you can in order to make an informed choice. Be guided by your checklist of priorities when looking for answers, note them down, then evaluate later. Consider talking to graduates of schools you are considering, or better yet, their parents. They will gladly offer insights, especially if their child is doing well after graduation.

  3. Consider your child’s capacity and interest

    You know your child better than anyone, and you’re in the best position to judge his/her abilities. Always take into account her special talents or interests when looking for a school and find opportunities to nurture them. When deciding whether to enroll your child in an English, Français, or French Immersion program, also consider your child’s age and inclination. Experts say that the younger the child, the better his/her capacity to learn foreign languages. Read Should my child be in the French Immersion Program to know the benefits of the program and help quell some your doubts. But don’t force it if your feel that it will be too much for your child. Remember, your child will be handling English, French, and possibly, their native language as well.

  4. Visit the school/s and ask questions

    It would probably be wise to time your arrival in Manitoba before the school year starts so that you have time to go around and visit schools. Check the facilities, the classrooms and talk to teachers and administrators. It will be good prepare questions beforehand to stay on track. Here is a video from Kids in the House.com to give you an idea about the things you should observe during a school tour:

  5. Always talk to your child and be present for him

    When your child is already in school, don’t stop your involvement. Always check up on his day. Observe his general mood – is he excited to go to school every day or is he making up excuses to stay home? Allot some time to check on his progress, talk to his teachers, and attend PTA meetings. A good way to be involved is to volunteer in the school, maybe as a lunch monitor or event coordinator. This will give you an insider’s view of how the school operates and how the people who work there regard students.

Have you considered homeschooling?

If things are not working for your child at a regular school, maybe it’s not for him. If you have time or can designate someone to deliver instruction, you may consider homeschooling. The Independent Education Unit of Manitoba Education and Training administers homeschools and supports homeschooling families throughout the province. But you (or a designated person) will be responsible for getting the resources and materials for the program of study or curriculum you choose. Learn more about homeschooling from Homeschooling, Manitoba Education and Training.

How to enroll your child

Visit the school and talk to the administrator or principal to register your child. You will need to bring:

  • Your child’s birth certificate
  • Permanent Resident Card, Record of Landing (IMM1000) or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM5292)
  • Your child’s vaccination certificate

If you need help with your English, you can bring a friend or relative with you. You can also ask for assistance from appropriate settlement provider organizations.

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Community Resources

If you want a comprehensive list of Schools in Manitoba, you can download this provincial directory of schools, school divisions and districts. Aside from the contact numbers and addresses of the schools, it also lists the number of teachers and students, grade range in each school, and the indication of the programming offered such as English, Francais, French Immersion, and International Languages.

If you want to speak to someone about your options, ask your Neighbourhood Immigrant Settlement Worker for help.

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