A profile of primary education at Canada's private schools

The start of a child’s school career is marked by tremendous growth and self-discovery—and private schools use a variety of approaches to bring out the best in young students. Families making school plans for children at this early stage have many different factors to consider about the philosophies, pedagogical styles and trends of Canada’s private schools. Read more


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List of preschools

 
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Bayview Glen


Toronto, Ontario
Don Mill Rd/York Mills Rd
 
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"Bayview Glen is co-ed, multi-denominational and diverse. Our student, faculty and staff community mirror the diversity of Toronto. Our culture is one of balance and openness, and embraces different perspectives.

  1. 2 years to Grade 12
  2. Enriched academics and individualized curriculum
  3. Advanced Placement programme
  4. Tablet programme

—From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $20,950 to $31,050
  • Day school
  • 1124 students
 
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Bayview Glen 20950 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

"La Citadelle's Excellence in Bilingual Education and academically advanced curriculum develop successful global citizens through IB & AP programs and a holistic approach where students achieve their highest potential.

  1. Advanced University Bound Curriculum
  2. Bilingual Education (French & English)
  3. Development of Global Citizenship
  4. AP Program

—From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $20,700 to $26,150
 
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La Citadelle International Academy of Arts & Science 20700 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

Prestige School - Richmond Hill Campus


Richmond Hill, Ontario
Major MacKenzie Dr. W/Bathurst St.
 
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"Prestige School offers individualized programs from pre-school to grade twelve in Richmond Hill with an average class size of twelve students.

  1. We are ministry inspected and a proud member of the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools.
  2. Our curriculum exceeds Ontario guidelines as a result of our individualized, accelerated learning.
  3. Our code of conduct promotes self-discipline and responsibility.
  4. We provide extracurricular clubs, sports and supervised after school tutorial assistance.

—From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $15,000 to $18,000
 
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Prestige School - Richmond Hill Campus 15000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
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"Balanced Academics, Arts, Athletics & Student Wellness. We value best practices & evidence-based approaches. University preparatory & 21st Century Tech-Rich & Future Proof school. Enriched and rigorous curriculum.

  1. International Baccalaureate PYP/MYP
  2. Co-Educational & Non-Denominational
  3. STE[A]M
  4. Gifted High performance school

—From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $22,600 to $23,600
 
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Delano Academy & Delano High 22600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Coed

Bond Academy


Toronto, Ontario
Ellesmere Rd/Birchmount Rd
 
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"Our Beyond the Books approach provides opportunities for success in class & beyond; nurturing the growth of students' confidence & self-esteem, to take risks when learning, to reach their personal & academic potential.

  1. Character Education
  2. Free Before/After School Program
  3. Weekly Swimming Lessons
  4. Early start French Classes

—From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $7,000 to $16,000
 
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Bond Academy 7000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Coed

Prestige School - Toronto Campus


Toronto, Ontario
Yonge St./Sheppard Ave.
 
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"Prestige School offers programs from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 in Toronto. Its average class size is 10 to 18 students.

  1. Our curriculum exceeds Ontario guidelines as a result of our individualized, accelerated learning.
  2. We are ministry inspected and a proud member of the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools.
  3. 100% university placement rate.
  4. French instruction beginning in junior kindergarten.

—From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $15,000 to $20,000
 
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Prestige School - Toronto Campus 15000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Spadina Ave/College Street
 
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"Authentic, CCMA accredited Montessori Schools located in downtown Toronto, offering programs for Toddlers, Casa, Elementary and Adolescent children in beautiful settings with large and expansive natural playgrounds." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $21,500 to $23,900
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Westside Montessori School 21500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Oakville, Ontario
Winston Churchill/Lakeshore Road East
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $10,250 to $21,000
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Clanmore Montessori School 10250 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Langside St./Westminster Ave.
 
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"Parents trust us to personalize the educational experience of each girl, to care for each girl, to challenge her to grow, to build a supportive community around her, and, most importantly, to prepare her for the future." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $17,850 to $74,650
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Balmoral Hall School 17850 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Bayview/Hwy 407
 
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"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 for life." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $20,850 to $36,770
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TMS 20850 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Oakville, Ontario
Trafalgar Road/Dundas
 
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"TRMS uniquely provides enriched French as a second language (FSL) instruction for all levels from Preschool to Elementary. We give students a head start in their educational journey, instilling a "Love of Learning!"" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 3 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $15,695 to $17,375
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Trafalgar Ridge Montessori School 15695 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Burlington, Ontario
Walkers Line/Fairveiw Street
 
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"Ashwood Glen offers a Montessori program for children aged 18months—6 yrs. The Grades 1—8 Learning Program applies the International Baccalaureate framework to expand on the learning outcomes of the Ontario curriculum." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $14,000 to $20,000
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Ashwood Glen 14000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
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"TFS - Canada's International School offers an exceptional bilingual education from age 2 to Grade 12. Average class size is 12 to 22 students. Entrance Scholarship to Grade 7 is available." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $23,070 to $39,020
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TFS - Canada's International School 23070 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Brampton, Ontario
Sunforest Drive/Bovaird Drive E
 
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"RMS is an award-winning progressive private school. We focus on excellence, participation, leadership, and inclusivity while developing each child’s academic strengths, both in traditional and 21st Century skills." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $16,785 to $17,320
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Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS) 16785 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
York Mills Road/Bayview Avenue
 
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"Junior Academy offers programs for students from Toddler to Grade Eight, in midtown Toronto. The average class size is 10 to 14 students and it caters to many types of students with different learning profiles." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $28,900 to $40,000
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Junior Academy 28900 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Davenport Rd/Spadina Rd
 
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"Waldorf education is 'schooling with heart'. Students and parents love our smaller class sizes, strong teacher relationships, incredible curriculum, unique opportunities and arts-infused academics!" —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Waldorf curriculum
  • $21,700 to $24,700
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Waldorf Academy 21700 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
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"We identify experiences that enhance learning, empowering individuals while fostering a community of collaborative contributors. This is achieved through interdisciplinary projects that are seamlessly integrated." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $9,000 to $16,000
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Westmont Montessori School 9000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Buena Vista Road/Springfield Road
 
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"Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from PreK to Gr. 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $16,970 to $32,800
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Elmwood School 16970 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
Mississauga, Ontario
Mississauga Road/Eglinton Avenue
 
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"Kendellhurst offers students an enriched curriculum blending project-based, traditional and arts-infused curriculum within a seamless technology program. Our school team supports a positive and safe school experience." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $13,500 to $15,950
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Kendellhurst Academy 13500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
York Mills/Leslie
 
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"Hawthorn School is located in Toronto. We offer a co-ed toddler-SK program and an all girls program for grade 1- grade 12. Our unique mentoring program is tailored to help students reach their full potential." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Girls/Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $17,000 to $40,000
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Hawthorn School 17000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Day Girls Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
St. Laurent Blvd./Montreal Rd.
 
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"Our mission is personalized student academic success in a friendly and caring school community, in which all students are emotionally supported and socially welcome." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $12,500 to $18,800
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Académie St-Laurent Academy 12500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
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"Calgary French & International School's immersive language learning environment and enriched curriculum inspires a deep curiosity, respect and exploration of the world for children aged 19 months to 18 years." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $9,200 to $19,600
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Calgary French & International School 9200 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Scarborough, Ontario
Kennedy Road/Progress Avenue
 
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"Enquiring Minds Montessori is a one-of-a-kind Montessori Art School. We have created a unique learning experience that fosters academic and artistic excellence in a nurturing environment while challenging young minds." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $11,158 to $17,500
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Enquiring Minds Montessori 11158 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
 
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"Humberside Montessori School is internationally recognized and accredited by Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Our AMI certified teachers provide an authentic Montessori experience for our students." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $12,500 to $19,900
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Humberside Montessori School 12500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
 
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"At Central Montessori School (CMS), young minds are inspired to be creative, innovative, and inquisitive. We cultivate bright, young leaders and strong communicators ready for the 21st century." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $9,400 to $21,200
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Central Montessori Schools 9400 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Day Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Lakeshore Road/Southdown
 
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"Peel Montessori and Carrington College div. students learn above grade level for subjects of strength. Individualized curriculum, advanced academic strategies, and character development give students a personal edge." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; Montessori
  • $9,500 to $18,500
  • Day school
  • 150 students
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Peel Montessori School 9500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Yonge Street/Silverwood Ave.
 
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"Century Private School in Richmond Hill runs from preschool to grade twelve, with small class ratio to ensure best learning for our students." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $18,500 to $28,500
  • Day school
  • 0 students
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Century Private School 18500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Major Mackenzie/Bayview Avenue
 
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"Richmond Hill Montessori Private School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight. Its average class size is 20 students." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $25,800 to $27,500
  • Day school
  • 600 students
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Richmond Hill Montessori Private School 25800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Burlington, Ontario
North Service Road/King Road
 
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"Fern Hill School provides an engaging & rigorous academic program for children from Preschool to Grade 8. Our traditional and structured approach focuses on developing intellectual curiosity, creativity & confidence." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $24,684 to $26,681
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Fern Hill School - Burlington 24684 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Upper Levels Highway/Cypress Bowl exit
 
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"By inspiring excellence – the continuous pursuit of personal best - in education and life, Mulgrave strives to equip lifelong learners to thrive in a diverse and interdependent world." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $27,870 to $31,450
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Mulgrave School 27870 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Alta Vista Drive/Industrial Road
 
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"OMS Montessori is a non for profit, independent school offering separate French and English programs within a world class Montessori environment." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $9,763 to $17,524
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OMS Montessori 9763 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Oakville, Ontario
Lakeshore Road East/Bel Air Drive
 
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"Offering Montessori programs from Toddler to Grade 8, Dearcroft is accredited by CCMA and staffed by dedicated teachers. We have three campuses in Oakville, delivering exceptional Montessori Programs." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $10,300 to $24,800
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Dearcroft Montessori School 10300 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Dixie Road/South Service Road
 
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"The close-knit community at Star delivers on Learn to Love to Learn™ with project-based, cross-curricular and experiential learning. Our Five Pillars of Child Development guide learning experiences at all grade levels." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $16,500 to $19,500
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Star Academy 16500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
Brimley Road/14th Ave
 
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"Founded in 1990, Yip's Montessori Program caters to children from 1.5 to 5 years old. Yip's campuses are located in Markham and Unionville." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to SK (Coed)
  • Montessori approach
  • $9,480 to $15,420
  • Day school
  • 0 students
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Yip’s Music & Montessori School 9480 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
Kirkland, Quebec
Rue Edmond/Ch Ste-Marie
 
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"Kuper Academy offers programs from pre-school to grade eleven in Kirkland. Its average class size is 22 students." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $2,133 to $18,000
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Kuper Academy 2133 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Belleville, Ontario
 
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"Discover an exceptional education. Albert College is an independent boarding and day school for students in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $21,400 to $85,500
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Albert College 21400 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Bayview Ave/Broadway Ave
 
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"A daily goal is for our children to arrive at school excited for the day ahead. Aside from our excellent academic programs, we plan many fun events for the children to enjoy throughout the school year." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 2 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $8,500 to $24,000
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Children's Garden Nursery School 8500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Brantford, Ontario
Fairview Drive/North Park Street
 
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"Braemar House School is a not-for-profit elementary school that proves each day that children thrive in a nurturing environment." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $15,328
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Braemar House School 15328 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
University Ave./Dundas street
 
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"Cornerstone students love to shape the future. They INSPIRE learning, DISCOVER their potential, EMPOWER themselves to be innovative citizens. Our boundless learning strategies open doors for successful learning." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; Montessori
  • $15,800 to $26,000
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Cornerstone Montessori Prep School 15800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Baseline Rd./Woodroffe Ave.
 
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"Bishop Hamilton Montessori School, a not-for-profit independent school in Ottawa, provides an authentic Christian Montessori approach for children 3 months to 14 years." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $6,183 to $22,970
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Bishop Hamilton Montessori School 6183 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
St. Catharines, Ontario
Ontario St./Welland Ave.
 
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"Heuristic & autodidactic, inspired by Sudbury & democratic models. Students are self-directed, and holistically empowered. Voluntary attendance, year-round calendar, agency, & consent inspire free learning. Also Forest" —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Girls/Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $57 to $10,000
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Agate Private School 57 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day eSchool Homestay Girls Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Erin Mills Pkwy/Millcreek Drive
 
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"Western Heights offers an enriched Montessori program that fosters a love of learning. The school actively engages its close-knit parent community to offer an enriched curriculum that adapts to each student's needs." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 2 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $13,000 to $20,000
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Western Heights Montessori Academy 13000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Whitby, Ontario
Brock Street South/Dundas Streer West
 
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"The Hatch House Montessori School is a very child centered school where each student is respected for their uniqueness and is guided through learning accordingly. Ask about our unique, fully bilingual elementary program." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $12,250 to $15,750
  • Day school
  • 0 students
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Hatch House Montessori School 12250 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Sudbury, Ontario
Attlee Street/Dublin Street
 
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"Total student growth -- academically, athletically, spiritually, and with a heart for community." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $4,950 to $7,950
  • Day school
  • 150 students
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Sudbury Christian Academy 4950 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
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"GIST is the only full-time German school in Toronto offering high-quality education that empowers students to excel as global citizens. Our Charakter framework strengthens and promotes the best in every student." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $12,300 to $22,300
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German International School Toronto 12300 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Bloor/Spadina
 
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"Guidepost Montessori at The Annex, located near downtown Toronto, offers early childhood programs to fuel independence, confidence, and joy from 10 weeks old, as well as preschool, kindergarten, and 1st - 6th grade." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $20,700 to $25,350
  • Day school
  • 100 students
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Guidepost Montessori 20700 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Dufferin/Eglinton
 
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"Infusing the French Ministry of Education's excellence with Toronto's cultural richness, our school cultivates trilingual proficiency, propelling students toward admission to top universities worldwide" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $21,300 to $24,000
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Lycée Français de Toronto 21300 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Duplex Ave/St Clements Ave
 
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"At SCELS we believe giving children an early education will build a solid foundation to prepare them for their next school setting." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 2 (Boys/Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $12,000 to $23,000
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St. Clement's Early Learning School 12000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Day Boys Coed
Oakville, Ontario
Dundas Streeet/Ninth Line
 
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"Fern Hill School is a private school for Preschool through Grade 8 providing enriched learning that is delivered by passionate teachers. Our school is regarded as one of the pre-eminent elementary schools in Canada." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $24,684 to $26,681
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Fern Hill School - Oakville 24684 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Fredericton, New Brunswick
 
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"The main objective of FMA is to provide your child with a planned and stimulating environment in order for them to be able to reach their own individual and highest learning potential while honouring the whole child." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 10 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $9,500 to $14,500
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Fredericton Montessori Academy 9500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Donald St/Frances St
 
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"Promote academic excellence that stimulates the acquisition of language skills, the development of scientific and artistic competencies as well as the formation of a critical mind, in a multicultural environment." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $10,670 to $12,320
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Academie Providence 10670 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
Garrison Blvd SW/33 Ave SW
 
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"The only school in Calgary to teach the French Ministry of Education and Alberta Education curricula. Preschool to Grade 12. All linguistic backgrounds are welcome. Small class sizes. Study abroad network." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $16,150 to $18,310
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Lycée international de Calgary 16150 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Don Mills Rd/York Mills Rd
 
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"Building on internationally acclaimed preschool reading success, SLI has grown into a hub for ground-breaking student achievement in literary, STEM, and artistic achievement across Pre-K - Gr 6 (offered on site/ online)" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 6 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $13,500 to $15,500
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Sidney Ledson Institute 13500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary eSchool Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Prince Edward Dr N/Bloor Street West
 
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"Prince Edward Montessori School offers programs for various grades in Toronto. Its average class size is ten to 16 students. " —From the school

  • Gr. NS to SK (Coed)
  • Montessori approach
  • $7,325 to $14,934
  • Day school
  • 100 students
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Prince Edward Montessori School 7325 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
Thornhill, Ontario
Bathurst St/Rutherford Rd
 
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"Toronto Waldorf School offers a curriculum that integrates academics, arts and movement while addressing the intellectual, physical, emotional and social aspects of child development from preschool to gr. 12." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Waldorf curriculum
  • $18,000 to $21,000
  • Day school
  • 360 students
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Toronto Waldorf School 18000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Port Perry, Ontario
Reach St/Old Simcoe Rd
 
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"CHMS offers authentic supportive, vibrant, child centered AMI Montessori that is perfect for curious, inquisitive students looking to thrive in a social, hands on, collaborative, challenging environment." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $8,000 to $12,000
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The Children's House Montessori School 8000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Glen Erin/Dundas
 
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"Kaban Montessori School is a CCMA accredited school in the west area of Mississauga . Our environments foster each child's interests and abilities while supporting them to achieve their full potential." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $17,000 to $18,000
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Kaban Montessori School 17000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Milton-Campbellville, Ontario
Highway 401/Guelph Line
 
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"At Hitherfield we believe that every child is unique, and has their own strengths and interests.  With individualized programming, Hitherfield continues to nurture growth, success and confidence in all of our students. " —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $14,200 to $16,900
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Hitherfield School 14200 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
Woodbine/16th Avenue
 
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"Trinity Montessori School offers programs from toddler to grade six in Markham, Ontario. Its average class size is nine students." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $12,000 to $14,000
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Trinity Montessori School 12000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $17,975 to $27,300
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Bannockburn 17975 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Kanata, Ontario
Eagleson Road/Stonehaven Drive
 
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"For 50 years, Kanata Montessori has offered excellent learning environments for students to grow emotionally, socially and academically into a positive global citizen." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $16,750 to $22,500
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Kanata Montessori 16750 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Leslie Street/York Mills Road
 
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"The Giles School has small class sizes, leadership programs and intensive STEAM learning that support both immersion and introductory language programming in English, French and Mandarin." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $23,000 to $25,000
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The Giles School 23000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Baie-D'Urfé, Montreal, Quebec
rue Victoria/rue Normandy
 
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"The Alexander von Humboldt German International School Montreal is a multilingual (German, English and French), private, co-educational school serving students from preschool to grade 12." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $9,950 to $12,950
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Alexander von Humboldt German International School 9950 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Keith Rd/Lynnmouth Ave
 
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"Collaborative and engaging, North Star's programs put students at the center of their learning and quest for knowledge." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 7 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $5,800 to $15,840
  • Day school
  • 110 students
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North Star Montessori Elementary School 5800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Oakville, Ontario
QEW/Ford Drive / Ninth Line
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $6,000 to $17,000
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La Villa Montessori School 6000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Etobicoke, Ontario
Lakeshore and/Kipling
 
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"Our approach to learning surpasses traditional education outcomes by interweaving subjects for holistic understanding, fostering essential skills for navigating life challenges in social, emotional and academic contexts." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $17,000 to $21,800
  • Day school
  • 230 students
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Vincent Massey Academy 17000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Hurontario/Queensway
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to SK (Coed)
  • Montessori approach
  • $7,800 to $12,800
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Shepherd Montessori Private Catholic School 7800 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Dufferin St/Lawrence Ave W
 
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"Leonardo Da Vinci Academy provides exceptional schooling for the formative years. Our unique curriculum aims to instil a love of learning and challenges students to develop their full potential." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $10,500 to $18,300
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Leonardo Da Vinci Academy of Arts & Sciences 10500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
14th Ave/Kennedy
 
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"Trillium School is a private school that offers programs from pre-school to grade twelve in Markham with Montessori-based kindergarten." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $8,200 to $41,500
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Trillium School 8200 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Day Coed
Duncan, British Columbia
Brownsey Avenue/Government Street
 
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"Queen Margaret's School is a gender inclusive independent day/boarding university preparatory school in Duncan, BC that focuses on preparing young trailblazers...no two journeys are the same." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $17,500 to $79,230
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Queen Margaret's School 17500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Homestay Boarding Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Yonge/Sheppard
 
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"Wise Owl fosters a safe, enriching environment, celebrating uniqueness, inspiring resilience, emotional well-being, and responsibility, nurturing students into respectful global citizens." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $13,000 to $20,000
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Wise Owl Private School 13000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Unionville, Ontario
Kennedy Road/16th Avenue
 
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"UC offers year-ahead advanced programs from pre-school to Grade 10. We blend high standards for academic success with the social and emotional development of the individual child." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 10 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $10,650 to $19,400
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Unionville College 10650 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
Woodbine/HWY 7
 
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"Wishing Well Schools offers an enriched, academically advanced program spanning from 18 months to Grade 8." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $17,500 to $17,700
  • Day school
  • 427 students
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Wishing Well Schools 17500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Hurontario St/Matheson Blvd E
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 5 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $5,260 to $11,500
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ABC Montessori 5260 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Day Coed
Amaranth, Ontario
 
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"The Maples is an established private IB World School in Orangeville, Ontario providing exemplary education for students (Pre-School to Grade 8). French instruction in PS and Kindergarten with an academic focus." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $10,093 to $11,980
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The Maples Academy 10093 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
 
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"Meadow Green Academy provides a strong Christian education in a nurturing environment. Strong academics combined with sports, enriched music, visual arts, and dramatic arts programs provide a well-rounded experience" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $9,800 to $16,990
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Meadow Green Academy 9800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
W 22nd/Phillip
 
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"As a Reggio Inspired School in North Vancouver, Sunflower engages daily in rigorous reflective practice - collaboratively designing curriculum and environment around the emerging interests and curiosities of the children" —From the school

  • Gr. PS (Coed)
  • Reggio Emilia approach
  • $2,400 to $5,500
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Sunflower Early Learning Society 2400 Preschool Day Coed
Etobicoke, Ontario
Bloor/Shaver
 
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"Kingsley's small classes and personal approach help students reach their unique potential. Each child is seen, heard, and respected. French, music, and phys-ed round out a program which includes plenty of time outdoors." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 5 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $7,500 to $13,000
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Kingsley Primary School 7500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Bathurst St./Eglinton Ave. West
 
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"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! SUMMER CAMP PROGRAMS AVAILABLE!" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum; Waldorf
  • $15,500 to $17,500
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Alive Montessori & Private School 15500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Aurora, Ontario
St. John Sideroad/Yonge St.
 
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"Aurora Montessori offers an enriched Montessori program for students, Toddler to Grade 8, with an option of an OSSD credit in Grade 9 Math. A unique Mindfulness and Technology program develops key 21st-century skills!" —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $14,200 to $23,300
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Aurora Montessori School 14200 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Rigaud, Quebec
Rue Saint-Pierre/Rue Bourget
 
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"Collège Bourget is a day & boarding school located between Montreal and Ottawa. French and English high school programs are offered. Bourget aims to foster personal autonomy, academic development, and perseverance." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $5,165 to $33,180
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College Bourget 5165 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Vaughan Street/Bertrand Street
 
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"Ottawa’s Fern Hill School offers Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary Grades, including Core & Advanced French. Tuition starts at $3,250." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $3,250 to $15,200
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Fern Hill School - Ottawa 3250 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Brantford, Ontario
Charlotte St/Chatham St
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to SK (Coed)
  • Montessori approach
  • $12,000 to $13,000
  • Day school
  • 41 students
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Montessori House of Children 12000 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
St. Catharines, Ontario
Edinburgh Dr/Scott Street
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $7,300 to $15,200
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Wheatley School 7300 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
North York, Ontario
Sheppard Avenue East/Victoria Park Avenue
 
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"Head Start Montessori was founded in 2002, on the premise that children need a warm, loving and authentic Montessori environment for them to grow into well-adjusted and peaceful beings. H.S.M. is a home away from home." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 3 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $14,500 to $18,500
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Head Start Montessori School 14500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Day Coed
Pickering, Ontario
whites/kingston road
 
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"Montessori Learning Centre is a non denominational, inclusive school in operation for 40 years. We acknowledge religious and cultural events supporting our whole life philosophy education." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; Montessori
  • $12,000 to $14,000
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Montessori Learning Centre of Pickering 12000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Edmonton, Alberta
Groat Road/107 Avenue
 
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"Progressive Academy's programs inspire students from preschool to grade 12 in Edmonton, Alberta. Wonderful faculty, wide range of experiential opportunities and high expectations ignite a desire to learn." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $8,700 to $19,500
  • Day school
  • 340 students
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Progressive Academy 8700 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Lawrence Ave./Bathurst St.
 
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"The Clover School's innovative curriculum combines Montessori essentials with heart-centred learning practices designed to nurture the ​mind​, heart, health, and soul of each child." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $15,611 to $25,160
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The Clover School 15611 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
Bowness Rd NW/Bow Crescent NW
 
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"River Valley is a Pre-K to Gr. 6 school bolsters the natural curiosities and wonder of childhood to ensure that every student will flourish academically and socially." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 6 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $9,280 to $17,590
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River Valley School 9280 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Pickering, Ontario
Kingston/Altona
 
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"École Montessori is Durham Region's premier French private school dedicated to transforming your child into a bilingual critical thinker with our enriched curriculum that fosters the genius within each student." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $8,400 to $21,000
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École Montessori 8400 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
McCowan Road/Highway 7
 
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"Wesley Christian Academy offers programs from Toddler to Grade 8 in Markham. As we are a Christian school, we share our beliefs with all our students but we warmly welcome families from ALL faiths and backgrounds!" —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $13,500 to $16,000
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Wesley Christian Academy 13500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Newmarket, Ontario
 
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"LMMH was established in 2003, the school offers a unique French Immersion Program as well as an English Program for children from 2 ½ to 13 years of age. Our students also learn to ski, golf, play tennis and more." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $13,500 to $15,500
  • Day school
  • 120 students
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La Maison Montessori House 13500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
Denison/Warden
 
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"Our curriculum are designed to build essential skills and concepts that help with the cognitive, social, creative, emotional, and physical development of your child with the aim to be a successful learner for life!" —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 3 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $10,500 to $16,500
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Sunrise Montessori School 10500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Burlington, Ontario
Appleby Line/Upper Middle Road
 
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"Halton Waldorf School offers an education that fosters confidence, independence and intelligence. Located on five forested acres, the school has been uniquely designed to support the goals of Waldorf education. Est 1984" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Waldorf curriculum
  • $14,360 to $19,360
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Halton Waldorf School 14360 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Bayview/Eglinton
 
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"Diverse, warm community. Exceptional phonics program to build early literacy. Collaborative, multi-strategy approach to math. Public speaking, the arts, outdoor ed, mindfulness, community engagement." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 3 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $12,500 to $26,400
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CGS (Children's Garden School) 12500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Place Lycée Pl./Ruelle Hinks Lane
 
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"Our goal is to nurture curious spirits, which is why we value a multilingual pedagogy that encourages both French immersion and a wide selection of langage courses. French and excellence are our priorities." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $14,041 to $15,885
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Lycée Claudel 14041 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Oshawa, Ontario
Wilson Road/Adelaide Ave
 
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"At G.B.MS, D.E.P.S and Durham Academy Secondary school focus is on each individual student and helping them meet their unique potential and goals. We believe in excellent customer service and families have a voice. Throughout the year we enhance our programs through program enhancement and enrichment." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; Montessori
  • $10,400 to $14,000
  • Day, Homestay
  • 187 students
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Durham Elementary, Durham Academy and G.B.M.S. 10400 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Homestay Day Coed
Hamilton, Ontario
Garth Street/Fennell Avenue West
 
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"Established in 1901, Hillfield Strathallan College is one of Canada’s leading co-educational independent schools, offering academic programs from Montessori Toddler and Pre-K to Grade 12, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $21,123 to $33,334
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Hillfield Strathallan College 21123 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Tomken Rd./Eglinton Ave. E
 
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"Northstar Montessori offers an accredited Montessori curriculum from Toddler age to Grade 8. Our goal is to develop strong character and contributing citizens who understand that their involvement makes a difference." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $11,100 to $17,400
  • Day school
  • 300 students
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Northstar Montessori Private School 11100 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Cawthra/Lakeshore
 
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"TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) offers the Ontario, France and IB programs from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 7 in Mississauga. We are bilingual, coed, non-denominational and and IB World School." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 7 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $21,620 to $31,390
  • Day school
  • 200 students
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TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) 21620 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Queen Street East/Glen Manor Drive
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $8,240 to $24,000
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Avalon Children's Montessori School 8240 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
North York / Scarborough, Ontario
Victoria Park/Lawrence
 
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"Nurturing innate love for learning, we offer independent educational chances for young children to cultivate lifelong knowledge and self discovery." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to SK (Coed)
  • Montessori approach
  • $8,500 to $13,500
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Curlew Montessori School 8500 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
Kennedy Road/Steeles Avenue
 
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"Located in Markham, Ontario, Town Centre Private Schools is an IB Continuum World School offering a Montessori Pre-School program, IB Elementary School, High School and optional IB Diploma Programme." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $3,690 to $18,950
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Town Centre Private Schools 3690 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Lower Spadina/Bathurst
 
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"At Free Spirit MDT, we are dedicated to creating a nurturing, stimulating and welcoming environment. Learning in a intimate setting, we are able to take into consideration and encourage the free spirit of each child." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to K (Coed)
  • Montessori approach
  • $11,600 to $15,700
  • Day school
  • 16 students
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Free Spirit Montessori Downtown 11600 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
Woodbine Ave/Hooper Rd
 
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"Early Learning Centre to Grade 12. Discipline. Character. Respect. Complete your child's academic and spiritual foundation. Discover why PCA students excel!" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $14,124 to $24,388
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Peoples Christian Academy (PCA) 14124 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

No two private schools are completely alike"

“No two private schools are completely alike,” says Barbara Bierman, executive director of the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools. “There is a wide range of educational philosophies amongst independent schools. OFIS schools, for example, are encouraged to meet or exceed the program and policy requirements outlined by the Ministry of Education, but methodology and curricular content are wide open for innovative delivery.”

When it comes to private primary education, which is generally categorized as junior kindergarten to Grade 3 or, in some systems, roughly ages 3 to 9, here’s what you need to know.

Pedagogical methods

A key element that shapes primary education is the way kids are taught. Primary programs at independent schools may fall into one of two broad pedagogical camps, or somewhere in between:

Traditional education: 

A form of education that has long been in use in Canadian education, traditional or conventional education is what many parents might remember from their own school days. It is a teacher-centred approach that involves delivering a single, unified curriculum through direct instruction. Students usually learn by observing and listening to their teacher, studying facts in textbooks and completing written assignments. It is based on the philosophy of educational essentialism, whose proponents believe in instilling students with the fundamentals of basic subjects. There is a strong emphasis on performing well on tests, achieving high grades and preparing for graduation.

“There are some private schools in Ontario that specialize in what we call ‘classical education’, or what is often called ’conventional education’”, says Bierman. “They are successful because the parents sending their children believe that the public schools have abandoned some of those important education features.”

Inquiry education: 

A progressive and holistic approach to education that’s used at many private schools, inquiry-based learning places children’s interests and ideas at the heart of the learning experience. Inquiry education often involves using an “emergent curriculum”—instead of a “predetermined curriculum”—which features learning activities that are shaped by students’ questions about the world. Teachers provide materials, experiences, tools and resources to help students investigate a topic or issue. Students are encouraged to explore—in the preschool years, this occurs largely through play—reflect on their findings and discuss answers or solutions. They are motivated to learn not only to earn good grades or praise, but because they are intellectually engaged and find the learning interesting, enjoyable and fulfilling.

“We are truly moving away from a curriculum-driven approach to education to one in which children’s natural curiosity guides the way they learn,” says Janette Pelletier, a professor at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study at the Univeristy of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. “When we follow children’s natural questions, it leads them into deeper understanding based on authentic investigation,” says Pelletier, who specializes in early childhood development and education.

Types of schools

Private schools fall into many different categories that vary according to a wide range of criteria that often guide the school’s philosophy or pedagogical methods. For example, a belief of whether kids of the opposite sex will benefit from learning together or separately will impact a school’s philosophy. A family’s belief in this pedagogical approach will help them narrow the type of school they are interested in – an all-girls, all-boys, or co-ed school for their children.

Specialty schools

Some primary schools have a specialty, which can range from arts to sports to science. Specialty schools that focus on the arts may include instruction in music, dance and/or visual arts. At schools where athletics is a focus, students may receive high-calibre training and coaching in a variety of sports and have access to top-notch athletic facilities. Schools located close to nature may incorporate more outdoor activities into their programming. At some schools, the focus is on helping kids build their vocabulary, reading and writing skills in a second language. Still others are geared towards kids with an intellectual or physical disability, such as autism or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

High-tech schools

Many schools today place a particular thrust on using new technological devices and software programs to promote learning.

“Digital games and other technological applications are more and more common in the classroom. They are being used to support students’ learning by helping them practise math, writing, reading and other skills. This is becoming increasingly appealing to parents,” says Elaine Danson, a private school education consultant for families and former principal of Montcrest School in Toronto.

Faith-based schools

At some schools, the philosophy will be affected by a focus on a particular faith. Whether revolving around Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam or something else, faith-based schools integrate specific religious principles and cultural traditions into all aspects of student life. Michelle Masters, a primary education teacher who has taught senior kindergarten at Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto, says even among schools focusing on a particular faith, there will be differences in programming depending on the particular sect or movement of the religion that it follows.

“Associated Hebrew School is more Orthodox than some other Jewish learning environments, and so has a different philosophy to teaching Jewish curriculum and values,” says Masters, who has also taught at Crestwood School and Upper Canada College.

Montessori schools

Another type of school is Montessori, which embraces the idea that students are the masters of their own learning, and teachers are there to help them achieve their full potential. The student-centred philosophy is based on the early 1900s research of Dr. Maria Montessori, who believed that children should be respected as different from adults; develop their identities through purposeful materials; and can learn a lot from their surroundings. Montessori schools feature nurturing, social environments that promote individual growth by encouraging creativity and curiosity. Montessori schools place emphasis on having students use a variety of sensorial materials to refine their five senses and make sense of their world. Students of different ages are grouped together—in the early years, there are typically classrooms for kids ages 3 to 6 and ages 6 to 9.

“The advantage of group learning in this way is that it promotes cooperation, collaboration and communication. Students are able to customize a particular lesson according to where they’re at, but at the same time, they get to learn from and support each other,” says Katherine Poyntz, executive director of the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators.

Waldorf schools

Another major type of independent school is Waldorf, which takes a humanistic approach to education by integrating academic, practical and artistic pursuits and stressing the importance of children’s imagination in learning. The Waldorf format recognizes three broad stages of child development that each lasts seven years, with the early years featuring engaging, hands-on learning activities and environments that promote creative play. Students enjoy ongoing opportunities to complete practical projects, which Waldorf (and Reggio Emilia) proponents say builds self-confidence and provides a greater sense of achievement than good grades and test scores alone.

“Waldorf students also spend an awful lot of time outdoors engaged in free play. When kids have time to relax, socialize and breathe, to run, skip, jump and play sports, they are more ready to learn,” says Ryan Lindsay, board president of the Waldorf School Association of Ontario.

Advanced study schools

Another broad category of school types is advanced study schools, which offer more in-depth programming that build students knowledge and skills in specific areas. A common advanced study program is International Baccalaureate, or IB, which has a robust primary level (ages 3 to 12) program that addresses students’ academic, social and emotional well being; encourages them to become independent learners and develop their value system; and helps them become globally minded.

Learning outcomes

Most independent schools follow and enhance the curricula set out by their provincial ministry of education. At the primary level, learning tends to focus on reading, writing, mathematics, arts, physical development, and health and well being, with different expectations for each grade or age.

“Children are being encouraged to become earlier readers and writers; to be curious about their surroundings and ask questions; to grow in athletic, musical and artistic talent earlier. All of these things are program options being offered in different private schools,” Bierman says.

Masters says that in her teaching experience at Associated Hebrew School, the programming included a focus on “tikkun olam”, a Hebrew term meaning “repairing the world” that focuses on philanthropic activity.

“A lot of the school’s philosophy connects with social justice and how we give back to the community, how we can help in our school, and teaching students to be a good global citizen,” Masters says.

Adds Peletier: “Children are now paying more attention to their environment and stewardship of their own property, their school’s property and their home property. A lot of these things may be outside of the formal learning outcomes. But in paying attention to them, learning outcomes become enhanced and children do better because they are developing a more holistic view.”

“It’s about understanding where each child is in his or her learning from a holistic perspective, in their physical, social and emotional development,” Pelletier says. “Not all kids are going to be at the same place at the same time, they are all going along their own path.”

Much of the teaching at the primary level focuses not only on what to learn, but how to learn, Danson says.

“Primary schools also teach academic behaviour, including how to be a good student, listen and follow in instructions, be independent, and manage themselves in a setting away from their family—those are important skills,” she says.

While assignments and tests are a common method to track the ability of primary students to meet learning objectives, different schools may use a variety of assessment approaches. For instance, Montessori schools do not issue grades to students; rather, teachers keep detailed notes on each child, and provide report cards indicating how a child has progressed on a checklist of key skills while also including anecdotal feedback on their academic, social and emotional development.

For primary children struggling to meet learning milestones, a variety of remedial approaches may be used. The classroom teacher or resource teacher may provide additional help with class work, and provide families with extra worksheets to complete with their child at home. Where available, on-staff specialists such as a speech language pathologist or occupational therapist may offer specialized support. In some cases, the school and family can work together to problem-solve or develop an Individual Education Plan, a written plan outlining special education programs or services for the student. On the flip side gifted students may be encouraged to pursue advanced projects in order to stay engaged in their learning.

“It’s about understanding where each child is in his or her learning from a holistic perspective, in their physical, social and emotional development,” Pelletier says. “Not all kids are going to be at the same place at the same time, they are all going along their own path.”

The future of primary education

The more we understand about the way children learn, the more primary education is evolving to become more holistic. Pelletier sees this trend reflected in the rise of a more integrated approach to education in which learning areas not typically considered core academic subjects are being emphasized to promote overall development.

“Training in music and other forms of artistic expression has been linked to children’s ability to regulate their emotions and behaviours. Physical education is tied to well being and to learning more effectively. Even meditation, martial arts, yoga and those kinds of activities can help children control their behaviour, be more flexible and improve their memory,” Pelletier says. “Some schools are doing these things—it depends on whether individual teachers or administrators want to bring them into their school, but I can really see it trending now.”

Another trend Pelletier has observing in education is epigenetics, which is the study of changes in gene expression, and how our life experiences become embedded in our biology. She says applying the insights of this field could create better understanding how kids learn, and how to best educate each child.

“It has to do with how interactions with the environment can turn on and off switches in children’s genes, and how these changes guide our behaviour and learning,” Pelletier says. “This is hitting education in a big way, and I think we will start hearing more about it in primary education in the next year or two.”

—Sharon Aschaiek

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