Finding the right school for your child

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For most families, 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.

You can choose among the four programs in public schools in Manitoba: 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, do the following:

  1. Make a checklist

    Prioritize what is most important for your child and your family. Weigh your considerations such as essential programs (both for academic, sports, arts and extra-curricular activities), distance, transportation, cost/tuition, and others, 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. Be guided by your checklist of priorities when looking for answers; note them down then evaluate later. Talk 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 their capacity and interest

    You know your children better than anyone so you’re in the best position to judge their abilities. Always take into account their special talents or interests when looking for a school and find opportunities to nurture them. When deciding whether to enroll them in an English, Français, or French Immersion program, consider their age and learning style. Experts say that the younger the child, the better their capacity to learn foreign languages. Read Should my child be in the French Immersion Program to know the benefits of the program. But don’t force it if your feel that it will be too much. 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 be wise to schedule your arrival in Manitoba before the school year starts so that you have time to go around and visit schools. Check the facilities and classrooms and talk to teachers and administrators. Prepare questions beforehand to stay on track.

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

    Always check up on your kids. Observe their mood – are they excited to go to school every day or are they making up excuses to stay home? Allot some time to check on their progress, talk to teachers and attend parent-teacher 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 idea of the school environment.

Have you considered homeschooling?

If your child seems unhappy or troubled, maybe a regular school is not for them. If you have time or resources to hire a tutor, consider homeschooling. The Independent Education Unit of Manitoba Education and Training administers homeschools and supports homeschooling families throughout the province. Learn more about homeschooling from Homeschooling, Manitoba Education and Training or Thinking about homeschooling your child? Here’s what you need to know.

How to enroll your child

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

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

You can bring a friend or relative with you if you need help with English. You can also ask for assistance from appropriate settlement provider organizations.
Article updated August 14, 2020.

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Community Resources

Find out your catchment area’s school from this list: Manitoba School Divisions and Districts Contacts or use Schools in Manitoba Search (K-12). Use the Find A School app if you’re in Winnipeg.

Contact your Settlement Worker in Schools for help if you have questions.

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