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Alternative schools

Find a list of the top private alternative schools in Canada

Find a list of schools

"Alternative schools" refers to any school that offers a curriculum, learning environment, or philosophical predisposition that diverges markedly from the mainstream. Typical examples of alternative private schools and preschools include Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Arrowsmith. Read more


List of private alternative schools

 
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Type
Grades
 
  • Oakville, Ontario
    Winston Churchill/Lakeshore Road East
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $8,925 to $18,900

Clanmore is one of the few schools offering authentic Montessori programming from Toddler - Middle School. Our culture is warm and inviting and our philosophy empowers us to support each child as a unique individual.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Clanmore Montessori School 8925 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Hurontario/Queensway
  • NS to 1 Coed
  • $7,070 to $11,960

Shepherd Montessori Private Catholic School in Mississauga offers Casa Montessori programs for children a ged 2.5 to 6. Before- and after-school care and summer camps also available.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Shepherd Montessori Private Catholic School 7070 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Erin Mills Parkway/Argentia Rd
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $9,365 to $13,795

St. Jude's Academy is an IB World School that offers programs from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 in Mississauga. A university preparatory school with a focus on student life, average class size is 16 to 18 students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate
St. Jude's Academy 9365 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Buena Vista Road/Springfield Road
  • PS to 12 Girls
  • $14,800 to $28,300

Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from JK to Grade 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Elmwood School 14800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
  • Thornhill, Ontario
    Bathurst St/Rutherford Rd
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $12,470 to $23,400

Toronto Waldorf School offers a curriculum that integrates academics,arts & movement, and addresses the intellectual, physical, emotional & social aspects of child development. Preschool to gr. 12.

  • Day
  • Waldorf
Toronto Waldorf School 12470 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Yonge St./St. Clair Ave.
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $30,000 to $33,000

The York School is a JK to Grade 12 International Baccalaureate school in midtown Toronto. Our mission is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are engaged citizens of the world.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
The York School 30000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $19,700 to $21,900

An authentic, CCMA accredited Montessori School located in downtown Toronto, offering programs for Toddlers, Casa and Elementary children.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Westside Montessori School 19700 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bloor Street East/Mount Pleasant Road
  • JK to 12 Girls
  • $34,650 to $69,850

Branksome Hall is Toronto’s only all-girls, all-years International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.

  • Boarding/Day
  • Liberal Arts
  • International Baccalaureate
Branksome Hall 34650 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
  • Toronto, Ontario
    St Clair Ave W/Avenue Rd
  • SK to 12 Boys
  • $34,135 to $66,835

Located in the heart of Toronto, Upper Canada College is the oldest independent boys' school in Ontario. Our IB graduates are highly regarded by top universities and post-secondary institutions worldwide.

  • Boarding/Day
  • Liberal Arts
  • International Baccalaureate
Upper Canada College 34135 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Boys
  • Markham, Ontario
    Woodbine Ave/Major Mackenzie Dr E
  • NS to 3 Coed
  • $6,800 to $12,900

Royal Cachet has authentic Montessori programs from infants to grade 3 in our healthy & safe environments. We focus on the Language & Math areas of the Montessori Curriculum & encourage our students to grow and succeed.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Royal Cachet Montessori School 6800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Waterloo Region (Breslau), Ontario
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $18,094 to $68,275

St. John's-Kilmarnock School offers enriched educational programming for students from Junior Kindergarten – Grade 12 through its accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Discover the possibilities.

  • Boarding/Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
St. John's-Kilmarnock School 18094 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Davenport Rd/Spadina Rd
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $5,040 to $19,950

Small class sizes combine with a vast classical education to create a diversity of understanding that leads students to build the confidence they need to comfortably go out into the world in their own unique way.

  • Day
  • Waldorf
Waldorf Academy 5040 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Lawrence Ave./Bathurst St.
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $18,810 to $22,100

Our innovative curriculum combines Montessori essentials with heart-centred learning practices designed to nurture the ​mind​, heart, health, and soul of each child.

  • Day
  • Montessori
The Clover School 18810 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed

TMS  

  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
    Bayview/Hwy 407
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $17,485 to $31,350

TMS is a leading, accredited independent school that offers a unique design of Montessori and International Baccalaureate programmes. Our students thrive in academics while building a foundation of Significance.

  • Day
  • Montessori
  • International Baccalaureate
TMS 17485 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $15,470 to $20,600

Lynn-Rose Heights Private School offers challenging academic programming from three years old to grade twelve in Mississauga. Lynn-Rose Heights school is an official International Baccalaureate World School.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Lynn-Rose Schools 15470 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Merton St/Mt Pleasant
  • JK to 6 Coed
  • $27,200

Sunnybrook School offers a fully integrated 1:1 iPad program for all students in JK - Grade 6.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Sunnybrook School 27200 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
    Yonge Street/Silverwood Ave.
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $16,550 to $26,800

Century Private School in Richmond Hill runs from preschool to grade twelve, with small class ratio to ensure best learning for our students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Montessori
Century Private School 16550 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Brampton, Ontario
    Sunforest Drive/Bovaird Drive E
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $7,900 to $14,600

RMS is an award-winning progressive private school. Our structured enriched programme cultivates character, leadership, respect and cultural diversity while developing each child’s 21st century skills and a STEM mindset.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Montessori
Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS) 7900 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Alta Vista Drive/Industrial Road
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $12,864 to $21,384

OMS Montessori is a non for profit, independent school offering separate French and English programs within a world class Montessori environment.

  • Day
  • Montessori
OMS Montessori 12864 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $19,000 to $19,500

Richland Academy is a progressive, innovative Reggio inspired and International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for children from 2.8-years to Grade 8. Voted #1 Private School in Richmond Hill 4 years in a row.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Richland Academy 19000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Kennedy Avenue/Highway 401
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $8,750 to $15,300

Ellington Montessori School offers small class sizes and individualized programs from pre-school to grade eight. Our holistic approach to education helps prepare students for success in today's rapidly changing world.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Ellington Montessori School 8750 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Highway 417/Greenbank
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $16,628 to $18,128

Acadecap International School ( Académie de la Capitale), an IB school, offers bilingual and/or English programmes from Pre-K to Grade 12. Students thrive in a culture of academic excellence and real-life learning.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Académie de la Capitale 16628 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Bank Street/Marché Way
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • $17,208 to $18,840

The Element nurtures focused, engaged and internally motivated students who strive to do their best. The Element High School provides conditions that will put youth ‘in their element,’ in school and beyond.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Montessori
The Element High School 17208 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Sheppard Avenue/Yonge Street
  • NS to 3 Coed
  • $13,500 to $15,400

Pine Lake Montessori School pursues teaching with a one on one method that respects and nurtures children and allows them to achieve their fullest potential.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Pine Lake Montessori School 13500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Maple Ridge, British Columbia
    240th Street/Dewdney Trunk Road
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $23,500 to $33,500

Meadowridge is an IB Continuum World School that supports the development of the whole child in a safe, supportive and challenging environment.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Meadowridge School 23500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Aurora, Ontario
    St. John Sideroad/Yonge St.
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $10,500 to $16,200

Aurora Montessori offers an extensive, enriched program for day students to Grade 8 including an Outdoor Ed. Program, an option of an OSSD credit in Grade 9 Academic Math and a bridge to elite private high schools.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Aurora Montessori School 10500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Glen Erin/Dundas
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $15,000 to $17,000

Kaban Montessori School in west Mississauga/Erin Mills is a CCMA accredited school for children aged 6 months to 12 years. Come for a tour, you'll love it!

  • Day
  • Montessori
Kaban Montessori School 15000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $18,165 to $51,775

GNS, an independent JK-12 International Baccalaureate day-school in Victoria, BC, that challenges and supports each of our students to do their best through truth and courage in learning and in life.

  • Homestay/Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Glenlyon Norfolk School 18165 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Coed
  • Brantford, Ontario
    Charlotte St/Chatham St
  • NS to SK Coed
  • $10,000 to $12,000

Located in Brantford, Ontario, Montessori House of Children (MHC) provides excellent programs for grades Nursery to 3 and helps young children reach their learning potential with both independent and self-directed learning. MHC also offers support for students with learning differences.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Montessori House of Children 10000 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Eglinton Ave E/Laird Dr
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $7,000 to $16,000

Maria Montessori School is one of the longest established AMI accredited Montessori school's in Canada. We offer accredited programs for children 18 months to 12 years and hire only AMI certified teaching staff.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Maria Montessori School 7000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $8,750 to $19,900

CMS' aim is to prepare all children to reach their full potential (academically, artistically, & physically) and to play a responsible role in protecting the global environment and fostering peace and harmony.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Central Montessori Schools - York Mills 8750 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bathurst/Sheppard
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,125 to $18,400

MJDS inspires a lifetime love for learning in a nurturing environment that fosters respect for oneself, the community and the world, guided by the shared values of Judaism and Montessori education.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Montessori Jewish Day School 9125 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Newmarket, Ontario
    Bayview Ave/Newpark Blvd
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $7,600 to $25,900

Situated on seven acres of rolling parkland and gardens, Country Garden Montessori Academy in Newmarket is a co-ed private day school for students in grades PS-12. The school provides a family atmosphere and is committed the intellectual growth and emotional well-being of students.

  • Day/Homestay
  • Montessori
Country Garden Montessori Academy 7600 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Homestay Coed
  • Brampton, Ontario
    Torbram/Clark
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $14,970 to $19,970

Tall Pines School in Brampton provides enhanced Montessori and traditional classes from Infant to Grade Eight, is the longest accredited CCMA Montessori school in Canada, and is a leader in 21st Century education.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Tall Pines School 14970 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • NS to 5 Coed
  • $6,600 to $10,000

ABC Montessori is one of Mississauga's premier private schools. We offers both Montessori and traditional school programs from preschool to Grade 5 with an emphasis on developing literacy, numeracy, sciences, and arts.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Montessori
ABC Montessori 6600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Day Coed
  • Rothesay, New Brunswick
    Rothesay Rd/College Hill Rd
  • 6 to 12 Coed
  • $23,340 to $64,200

Rothesay Netherwood School offers programs for grades 6 to 12 in Rothesay, New Brunswick. Its average class size is 16 students and it is an outstanding engaged and supportive community -'It's our Nature to Nurture'.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Liberal Arts
  • International Baccalaureate
Rothesay Netherwood School 23340 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
  • Woodbridge, Ontario
    Weston Road/Rutherford Road
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $15,598 to $15,998

With 2 Campuses located in Vaughan, King Heights Academy provides a unique educational experience for toddlers to grade 12 which includes the IB Program. Our new Thornhill Campus offers a Sports Program from grades 1-12

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate
King Heights Academy 15598 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • St. Catharines, Ontario
    Edinburgh Dr/Scott Street
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $6,550 to $14,050

We provide students with opportunities to explore real-world concepts and issues, broadening their sense of responsibility, develop their critical thinking skills, and empower them to take action in a global community.

  • Day
  • Montessori
  • International Baccalaureate
Wheatley School 6550 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Markham, Ontario
    14th Ave/Kennedy
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $7,600 to $41,500

Trillium School is a private school that offers programs from pre-school to grade twelve in Markham with Montessori-based kindergarten.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Traditional
  • Montessori
Trillium School 7600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Boarding Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $9,120 to $15,744

Ellesmere Montessori School prepares children for a lifetime of creative and purposeful learning based on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Ellesmere Montessori School 9120 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Nobleton, Ontario
    15th Sideroad/Hwy 27
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $9,000 to $18,000

For over 25 years, the Montessori Country School provides a first-class accredited curriculum for students 12 months through grade 6. The sprawling 10 acre campus offers a unique indoor and outdoor learning experience.

  • Day
  • Montessori
The Montessori Country School - Nobleton Campus 9000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,200 to $15,400

Humberside Montessori Schools a montessori private school in Toronto. It offers programs from nursery to grade eight.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Humberside Montessori School 9200 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Oakville, Ontario
    Lakeshore Road East/Bel Air Drive
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,600 to $23,000

Offering Montessori programs from Toddler to Grade 8, Dearcroft is accredited by CCMA and staffed by dedicated teachers.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Dearcroft Montessori School 9600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $15,900 to $25,600

Bannockburn School leads in Montessori education by offering an exceptional, enriched Montessori curriculum in a nurturing environment carefully prepared to meet the needs of children in the formative years of childhood.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Bannockburn 15900 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Guelph, Ontario
    Suffolk/Dublin
  • JK to 1 Coed
  • $5,750 to $12,500

Montessori School of Wellington in Guelph is the only CCMA accredited school in Guelph and the number one choice for children's education and life skill

  • Day
  • Montessori
Montessori School of Wellington 5750 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $7,800 to $17,900

Rotherglen School - MISSISSAUGA is a montessori school that offers programs from pre-school to grade eight. The average class size is 18 students.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Montessori
Rotherglen School - Mississauga 7800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • North York, Ontario
  • NS to 6 Coed
  • $8,750 to $17,950

CMS' aim is to prepare all children to reach their full potential (academically, artistically, & physically) and to play a responsible role in protecting the global environment and fostering peace and harmony.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Central Montessori School – Maplehurst Campus 8750 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Burlington, Ontario
    Appleby Line/Upper Middle Road
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $9,520 to $16,000

Halton Waldorf school offers an education that fosters confidence, independence and intelligence. Our school is located on five forested acres and has been uniquely designed to support the goals of Waldorf education.

  • Day
  • Waldorf
Halton Waldorf School 9520 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Stouffville, Ontario
    Ninth Line/Main Street
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $7,782 to $15,396

Toronto French Montessori offers French and English programs from pre-school to grade 8 in York Region. Its average class size is 15 students.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Toronto French Montessori 7782 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Queen Street East/Lee Ave.
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $7,115 to $22,275

Our objective is to guide children with respect and understanding, developing in them a love of learning. Our aim is to create a nurturing environment full of intellectual, social and moral learning and development.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Avalon Children's Montessori School 7115 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Montreal, Quebec
    chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine/Avenue Claude Champagne
  • 7 to 11 Girls
  • $4,950 to $15,400

École secondaire francophone privée pour jeunes filles située à Outremont, Qc. Les frais de scolarité sont de 4 500 $ par année. Elle offre les profils Éducation internationale, Danse-études et Musique-études.

  • Boarding/Day
  • Liberal Arts
  • International Baccalaureate
Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie 4950 MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    QEW/Trafalgar Road
  • NS to K Coed
  • $9,000 to $16,350

La Villa Montessori is an AMI recognized School that adheres to Dr. Montessori's principles. We provide a nurturing environment that fulfills the child's emotional, social, physical and intellectual needs.

  • Day
  • Montessori
La Villa Montessori School 9000 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
  • Milton, Ontario
    Tremaine Road/Hwy 401
  • PS to 3 Coed
  • $8,160 to $13,600

Montessori Country School has provided a first-class academic experience to students in an environment that is distinguished by its compassion, integrity and unwavering commitment to the individual child.

  • Day
  • Montessori
The Montessori Country School - Milton Campus 8160 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Pickering, Ontario
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,000 to $13,000

Montessori Learning Centre of Pickering is a non denominational, inclusive school that offers programs from Pre-school to Grade eight. We acknowledge and celebrate religious and cultural events as part of our cultural program.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Montessori Learning Centre of Pickering 9000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Whitby, Ontario
    Brock Street South/Dundas Streer West
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,950 to $14,000

The Hatch House Montessori School is a very child centered school where each student is respected for his/her uniqueness and is taught accordingly. Ask about our unique, fully bilingual elementary program.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Hatch House Montessori School 9950 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Tomken Rd./Eglinton Ave. E
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,800 to $15,400

Northstar Montessori offers an authentic Montessori curriculum for Toddler age to Grade 8. Our goal is to develop strong character and contributing citizens who understand that their involvement makes a difference.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Northstar Montessori Private School 9800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Baseline Rd./Woodroffe Ave.
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $12,575 to $20,215

Bishop Hamilton Montessori School is a Christian Montessori school in Ottawa, Ontario, with classes from Infants to grade eight.

  • Day
  • Montessori
Bishop Hamilton Montessori School 12575 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Oakville, Ontario
  • K to 8 Coed
  • $14,700 to $24,000

Rotherglen School - OAKVILLE offers programs for students age 4 to grade eight. The average class size is 18 students.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Montessori
Rotherglen School - Oakville 14700 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bathurst St./Eglinton Ave. West
  • PS to 6 Coed
  • $15,500 to $17,500

NOW WITH LICENSED DAYCARE! Bring your child for a free trial to let him or her experience the difference. Don't be surprised if he or she doesn't want to go home at the end of the day!

  • Day
  • Montessori
  • Waldorf
Alive Montessori & Private School 15500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Markham, Ontario
    Woodbine/HWY 7
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $13,600 to $14,500

Wishing Well Schools has an academically advanced program from 18 months to Grade 8. Montessori program from 18 months to 6 years old, accelerated academic program from Grade 1 to 8 with 21st c. teaching and learning.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Montessori
Wishing Well Schools 13600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Day Coed

Alternative schools: basic principles

Alternative schools depart from the mainstream. They offer a teaching approach, curriculum, or learning environment that differs from what you’ll find in most schools.

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Some, but not all, alternative schools are part of the progressive movement in education. This movement involves different and sometimes conflicting ideas. Normally, though, it focuses on experiential learning, integrated curricula, personalized and collaborative learning, critical thinking, and problem solving, among other things.

Many private schools in Canada are alternative. These schools employ many, though normally not all, of the following practices:

Kinds of alternative schools

There are several different kinds of private alternative schools in Canada. These schools are especially popular at the preschool and elementary level. They’re also offered in middle and high school, though.

Benefits of alternative private schools

Alternative schools in Canada, like other kinds of private schools, have plenty of perks. For many kids, they can be a better fit than a traditional school. Depending on your child and the type of school you choose, alternative schools can have a number of benefits.

Why parents choose alternative schools

Parents send children to alternative schools for numerous reasons. Classroom structure, educational outlook, and essentially alternative ideas about childhood development are among the most common motivators for sending a child to such a school. Some of these schools test innovative teaching strategies and programs to help them identify how children develop most effectively.

For example, Montessori schools, unlike most other types of private schools, believe that students learn best in large classes where they can educate themselves (i.e., self-exploration) and become mentors for each other. This principle has always distinguished Montessori education from the customary model of teaching.

Arrowsmith Schools focus on helping students with learning disabilities, through intensive and graduated cognitive exercises. The program presupposes the plasticity of the human brain, a concept that has gained much wider acceptance in the broader scientific community and in the public sphere.

Waldorf schools and preschools focus on hands-on activities and the stimulation provided by a more holistic approach that downplays seat work.

Arrowsmith and Montessori (as well as, to a lesser extent, Waldorf) are examples of alternative schools that have seen their curriculum influence public education and become more widely accepted. Both progenitors of these methods (Maria Montessori and Barbara Arrowsmith) used their personal observations to see flaws in and help mold a unique alternative to mainstream schooling. Alternative schools are an important breeding ground for new ideas and approaches, although not all alternatives are as successful as these two examples.

Parents who enroll their sons or daughters in alternative private schools also have more control than they would find elsewhere. Conventional schools have fairly standard curricula and teaching strategies. Being private, alternative schools offer more control.

If your son or daughter has a high aptitude or passion in a certain discipline, some alternative schools can recognize this and help him or her develop that aptitude. Plenty of alternative schools and preschools (and daycares) combine classroom education with a particular specialty. In countless cases, parents prefer alternative schools because they allow their children to unleash their creativity which may have been stifled in another environment.

Selecting a private school usually comes down to finding the right fit. As such, private schools with clear and identifiable educational visions can help you make a choice based on concrete reasons.

Questions to consider before choosing an alternative private school

Prior to making this important decision, consider some, if not all, of these key questions:

For much more detailed information about some excellent alternative private schools, visit one of Our Kids’ annual expos, read our guide to private school questions, or click on any of the links below.

More alternative schools around the world:

Montessori schools in Poland (szkoły Montessori)

Social schools in Poland (szkoły społeczne)

Schools in Warsaw include przedszkola i szkoły Montessori w Warszawie

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