Look on the bright side

Given the right environment, gifted children learn to shine

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Based on his public school record, you never would have guessed the boy was gifted. "This student's academic record was spotty and teachers expressed disappointment with him," says Mark Young, principal of The Abelard School, a gifted school in Toronto, Ontario. The student, now in Grade 11, handed in assignments late, antagonizing his teachers. When the boy switched over to The Abelard School, Young discovered the delays weren't because the student was struggling with the work; rather, they reflected his perfectionism. What he eventually delivers, Young says, is "remarkable."


One of many common misconceptions about gifted students, administrators of such programs say, is they are straight-A students (although many are). "Gifted doesn't mean the ability to absorb a lot of material," Young says. "It is about bringing a unique and important perspective to a subject, whether it is math or history, and combining it with traditional interpretations."

Without academic indicators, educators, let alone parents, find it difficult to determine if a child is gifted. Melissa Volekaert, director of lower school and gifted co-ordinator at Fieldstone School in Toronto, says the only accurate test is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), a roughly two-hour oral exam that evaluates a child's independent and abstract thinking. And Young says tests don't always accurately reflect if a child is gifted.

But gifted kids show certain characteristics that can tip off parents and educators. While bright students tend to be obedient, Volekaert says, gifted students "aren't usually the best behaved." This isn't to say gifted kids are troublemakers, or vice versa, but they tend to be more inquisitive than most and possess unique eccentricities that can frustrate teachers.

"They are very oriented towards justice and fairness," Volekaert says. "If something is not perceived as fair, you will get quite a reaction." If a teacher claims information to be accurate when the student suspects it is not, for example, the student may start an argument or essentially "write the teacher off," which can lead to behaviour issues.

And while bright students perform well in most subjects, Young says gifted students generally excel in certain areas and struggle in others - another reason why gifted students sometimes go undetected. Young remembers a former Grade 9 student studying then-OAC (Grade 13) math, but struggling with reading novels at his own level. An instructor worked one-on-one with the student in Grade 9 English, and teachers in subsequent grades were alerted to the math genius' weakness. "By the time he came through the curriculum, he was very strong all around," Young says.

That's what a good gifted program can do: challenge students' strengths, while addressing their weaknesses. Gifted programs generally follow two models: withdrawal, in which students are periodically removed from regular class to study gifted curricula, and self-contained classrooms, where students only attend classes exclusively for them. Abelard's 50 students are not all gifted, but all are exceptionally bright and highly motivated. "These students are all irrepressible and want to be challenged," Young says. "This way each student's voice is heard."

Three hundred students are enrolled in Fieldstone School's academically challenging program, but just 30 take part in its gifted program. The program removes kids from regular classes three times a week: once to interact with their peer group, and twice to work with students from other grades on specific subjects, such as robotics or cryptography. Volekaert believes it's important for gifted kids to remain in regular classes. "Not everyone is gifted,"she says. "They need to learn to work with the kind of people they will work with when they're finished school."

Of course, not every child is ready to be called gifted. "The label is not always helpful because there are certain expectations brought to bear," Young says. Yet both Young and Volekaert say if your child shows characteristics of being gifted - and seems disengaged from regular school - it may be time to investigate a specialized program. "These kids really march to their own drum," Volekaert says.

Read our advice guide on choosing a school for a gifted child and for kids with other traits. To get school-choice advice customized to your child's unique traits, create a child profile through your user account.

 

Read our advice guide on choosing a school for a gifted child and for kids with other traits. To customize 350+ school profiles with insights unique to your child's traits, create a child profile through your user account.

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List of gifted schools and programs

 
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Fieldstone School


Toronto, Ontario
Dufferin Street/Lawrence Avenue
 
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"As a Cambridge School, we teach a curriculum that sets the global standard for education designed to help students develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning.

  1. The first school in Canada to offer a dual Cambridge-Ontario curriculum
  2. University pathways counselling and one-on-one support
  3. All students starting in Grade One learn how to play the violin, viola, or cello
  4. All students in JK to Grade Twelve learn a Shakespeare Play

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $20,570 to $28,695
 
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Fieldstone School 20570 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day eSchool Coed

Whytecliff Agile Learning Centres


Langley & Burnaby, British Columbia
Glover/Logan
 
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"Whytecliff is a safe, empathetic & supportive place for teens with a diverse range of learning needs / personal challenges. Our positive community & high-growth environment pulls each child up to be their very best!

  1. Safe, empathetic, supportive community for students with a diverse range of learning needs
  2. Low student-to-educator ratio of less than 5:1 lets us really get to know you
  3. Each child gets a personalized program tailored to their unique gifts, strengths, and talents
  4. Dual-accredited as both an independent school and a Positive Youth Development program

—From the school

  • Gr. 8 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $8,900 to $19,500
 
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Whytecliff Agile Learning Centres 8900 HighSchools Day 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

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

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

"Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything.

  1. Signature Programs in Global Citizenship, STEM & Robotics, Active Healthy Living, Arts & Design
  2. Professional Internship Customized for Each Girl (Grade 11)
  3. Focus on whole girl and student wellbeing
  4. Enriched curriculum, Advanced Placement, DELF

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $26,187 to $33,602
 
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St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School 26187 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls

Banbury Crossroads School


Calgary, Alberta
Crowchild Trail/Flanders Ave
 
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"Choose to Succeed, at Banbury Crossroads School. We offer a truly unique learning experience, with self-directed, collaborative, tutorial-style classrooms that average 10:1 students per teacher.

  1. Exceptionally small class sizes averaging 10:1
  2. Learning to mastery
  3. Founded on mutual respect and communication
  4. Individualized instruction based on interest and pace

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate Candidate
  • $16,800 to $18,800
 
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Banbury Crossroads School 16800 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
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
  • 18,540
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Kendellhurst Academy 18540 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Yonge Street/King Road
 
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"Academy for Gifted Children - P.A.C.E. is a private school for intellectually gifted students in Richmond Hill, Ontario, from grades 1 through 8." —From the school

  • Gr. 1 to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $18,500
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Academy for Gifted Children - P.A.C.E. 18500 Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Highway 417/Greenbank
 
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"Acadecap International School (Académie de la Capitale), an IB World School, offers bilingual and/or English programmes from JK to Grade 12. Students thrive in a growth mindset environment and a culture of excellence." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $20,983 to $26,978
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Académie de la Capitale 20983 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
 
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"Our Academy (in-person) and Studio (online) personalized programs are designed for students with a diagnosed learning disability to achieve their potential through outstanding support within and outside the classroom." —From the school

  • Gr. 4 to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $12,100 to $21,400
  • Day, eSchool
  • 325 students
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Rundle Academy & Rundle Studio 12100 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day eSchool Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Iris St/Woodroffe Ave
 
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"Empowering girls from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 through bilingual education." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $17,400
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Academie Jeanne d'Arc 17400 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Girls
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
Toronto, Ontario
Yonge/Eglinton
 
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"We go beyond curriculum expectations to provide opportunities for students to earn admission into their university of choice using our AP accreditation, staff expertise and individualized goals in small classes." —From the school

  • Gr. 9 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $14,500 to $21,500
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Toronto STEM School 14500 HighSchools Homestay 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
Bracebridge, Ontario
 
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"Dewey’s educational goals follow the philosophies of John Dewey, preparing students through “student-centred learning" and "learning by doing", while emphasizing the cultivation of the "three New Liberal Arts"." —From the school

  • Gr. 7 to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $12,500 to $36,950
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Dewey Institute 12500 MiddleSchools HighSchools eSchool Boarding Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Yonge St/Davisville Ave
 
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"2E Learners, differentiated profiles AP, Reach Ahead classes, and enrichment Academic focus on inquiry and critical analysis Collaborative and feedback-rich environment Unique and robust clubs/extra curriculars" —From the school

  • Gr. 3 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $32,000
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The Study Academy 32000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Avenue Road/St. Clair Ave.
 
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"De La Salle College is a Catholic, co-educational, university preparatory school in Toronto from Grade 5 to 12, with an average class size of 20 students and tuition at $16,300 - $16,900." —From the school

  • Gr. 5 to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $17,000 to $19,000
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De La Salle College 17000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Sherbrooke, Quebec
 
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"Bishop's College School is an English boarding and day school for students in grades 7 through 12. Small in size and culturally diverse, BCS is an IB World School offering the IB Diploma Programme and Canadian curricula." —From the school

  • Gr. 7 to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $31,500 to $87,600
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Bishop's College School 31500 MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding 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
Ottawa, Ontario
Conroy Rd/Walkey Rd
 
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"Astolot Educational Centre is a day school with grades 1 to 12 in Ottawa, Ontario. Classroom teacher-student ratios are 1 to 10. Students have the ability to reach their full potential with Astolot programming." —From the school

  • Gr. 1 to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $16,000 to $18,000
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Astolot Educational Centre 16000 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day 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
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
Etobicoke, Ontario
 
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"Oak Learners inspires meaningful learning every day for students in Kindergarten through Grade Eight. Passionate teachers nurture children’s natural curiosity about their world with hands-on experiences." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $16,900 to $19,250
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Oak Learners 16900 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools 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
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
Caledon, Ontario
The Gore Road/Old Church
 
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"The King's College experience develops in students responsibility, accountability, and ownership of their own learning and a passion for making a difference. Students can attend in person or synchronously online." —From the school

  • Gr. 2 to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $19,000 to $19,500
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King's College School for Bright and Gifted Children 19000 MiddleSchools HighSchools eSchool eSchool Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
Woodbine/HWY 7
 
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"Wishing Well Schools offers a comprehensive academic program catering to a wide age range, spanning from 18 months to Grade 8. Our curriculum includes a Montessori program designed for children aged 18 months to 6 years." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $17,500 to $17,700
  • Day school
  • 295 students
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Wishing Well Schools 17500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Day Coed
London, Ontario
Richmond Street/King Street
 
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"A Canadian Private Secondary Boarding school, located in the heart of London, Ontario. LIA is authorized to grant the Ontario Secondary School and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme." —From the school

  • Gr. 9 to 12 (Girls/Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $16,000 to $32,000
  • Boarding
  • 345 students
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London International Academy 16000 HighSchools Boarding Boarding Girls Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
Eglinton Ave W/Ninth Line
 
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"Sherwood Heights School offers Enriched Academic Programmes from Kindergarten to Grade 12, in Mississauga. The Programmes are Enriched and Comprehensive, delivered with Extra Attention and Care." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $13,120 to $16,960
  • Day school
  • 500 students
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Sherwood Heights School 13120 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools 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
Church/Bloor
 
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"Founded in 1997, the Abelard School is a small independent school for grades 7 through 12, located in downtown Toronto. It offers small class sizes and an enriched, integrated curriculum to bright, motivated students." —From the school

  • Gr. 7 to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $22,000 to $27,000
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The Abelard School 22000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
North York, 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
  • $18,000 to $24,000
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Wise Owl Private School 18000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Mississauga, Ontario
 
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"Guiding Light Academy is a Catholic private elementary school in Streetsville, Mississauga. We offer an enriched curriculum for JK, SK and Grades 1 to 8. We are located just minutes away from the Streetsville Go Station." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Montessori
  • $11,000
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Guiding Light Academy 11000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools 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
North York, Ontario
Avenue Road/Lawrence Avenue
 
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"Through our dynamic individual education plans, mentorship, and therapeutic counselling we ensure all students feel comfortable, respected and cared for, so they stay actively engaged in their educational journey." —From the school

  • Gr. 9 to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $18,875 to $24,075
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AVRO Academy 18875 HighSchools Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Kirkwood/Laperriere
 
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"Revel Academy is a learner-driven micro-school that utilizes adaptive and mastery-based technology, Socratic discussions, hands-on projects, and real-world apprenticeships in an innovative, character-forging community." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $15,250
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Revel Academy 15250 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Bloor St. W/Spadina Ave.
 
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"UTS is a hub where the boldest and brightest young minds come together. Rigorous academics are complemented by vibrant co-curriculars including clubs, committees, publications, athletics, and performance groups." —From the school

  • Gr. 7 to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $33,170
  • Day school
  • 675 students
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University of Toronto Schools 33170 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

Series: Gifted Programs


Latest Articles

Gifted kids no longer bored  
(May 23, 2019)

Assessing gifted kids  
Gifted children shine in the right environment (May 1, 2019)

Schools for Gifted Kids  
Gifted Kids (March 11, 2019)

Gifted curriculum alternatives  
How language immersion, IB, AP, and Montessori programs work for gifted kids (January 31, 2017)

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