Independent day schools can be a great option for parents who want their children to have a rich educational experience close to home.
Most independent day schools offer a multitude of extracurricular activities, including robust athletics programs. This means that in many cases, students won't have to sign up for sports leagues outside of school—they can simply stay after school for practice so parents won't have to rush home to drive them to soccer, for instance. "It really saves parents from moving around from place to place," says George Briggs, director of the Conference of Independent Schools (CIS) Ontario.
Briggs says day schools are also advantageous in the sense that they are typically located relatively close to home. "The fact that the day school is often in the community means that kids can maintain the friendships they've developed in earlier years," says Briggs. "There's a strong community connection. Very often there are parent guilds and organizations at day schools."
Students at Kells Academy, an independent day school in Montreal, Quebec, appreciate being able to enjoy everything that Kells has to offer during the day while at the same time being able to go home and unwind in the evening. "It's really important to go home and be with your family at the end of the day," says Haya, who is in Grade 11.
Fellow Grade 11 student Avanti agrees. "It doesn't feel like you're always in a working environment [like a boarding school might]. You can have some leisure time outside of school," she says. Avanti is an honour roll student who participates in several extracurricular activities, including the yearbook committee and student council. "Kells is a really friendly atmosphere. It's been like my second home."
Avanti says she has some friends who are very happy attending boarding schools, but that she personally prefers being at a day school like Kells. "I know boarding schools are very close-knit and familial, but I feel like we have that here, too. Kells is a really small school, so we're very close-knit," she says. Haya agrees. "It's like boarding school without always being here," she says.
Briggs says that both boarding and day schools have their own unique advantages, so when it comes to decision-making time the biggest thing to think about is personal preference. "The most important thing for parents to consider is the best fit for their child," says Briggs. "If they're reluctant to have their child leave home, then day schools are probably the best option.
— Annette Bourdeau