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THE OUR KIDS REPORT:
Sunnybrook School

Grades JK TO 6 — Toronto, ON (MAP)

Sunnybrook School:
THE OUR KIDS REPORT
REPORT CONTENTS:

Pages in this report:

  • Grades
    JK — 6
  • Gender
    Coed
  • Class Size
    16 — 20 students
  • Tuition
    $29,750/year
  • Language of instruction
    English
  • Associations
    IB
  • Enrollment
    140 day students
  • Curriculum
    Progressive & International Baccalaureate
  • EBROCHURE
    N/A

School address

  • 469 Merton Street, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 1B4 (MAP)
  • Busing not available

Our Perspective

How we see Sunnybrook School


Our Kids Feature Review

  • Sunnybrook has a personal, involved feel.
  • Its school leadership has been remarkably consistent since its founding and it has a very family-like feel.
  • The IB PYP forms the backbone of its curriculum.

The 50-page review of Sunnybrook School is part of our series of in-depth accounts of Canada's leading private schools. It provides a unique and objective perspective on the school's academics, programs, culture, and community.

Read our in-depth review

Key insights from our research

  • “We’re a big small school,” says Teralee Brunn, who became principal in 2018. Certainly, while there’s a lot to love, Sunnybrook School does not pretend to be anything it is not. Everyone acknowledges that it’s a small school in a fairly unassuming building. That said, for the families that enrol, it offers just what they are looking for: an intimate learning environment geared exclusively to preparing students for success in middle school and beyond. “Compared to larger schools that have to spread their resources across a much larger student body, we have a clear, strong focus on offering the best possible elementary education to our 140-odd students.”
    —From: Sunnybrook School: The Our Kids Review
  • SBS is a coed independent day school in Toronto, Ontario, offering the IB PYP (Primary Years Programme) for Junior Kindergarten through Grade 6. It was established in 1952 and has had remarkably consistent leadership over its long life. The current principal, Teralee Brunn, recently took the reins from Irene Davy, who was director and principal for more than 30 years. There was only one director before Davy—her mother, Irmingard Hoff, who founded SBS as a preschool. While new to her role—Brunn was appointed in 2018— she too has a long history with the school, having been hired as an instructor in 1992. Brunn’s two children are alumni, and she taught multiple grades before serving as vice-principal and director of admissions.
    —From: Sunnybrook School: The Our Kids Review
  • In a very real sense, the school has been a family enterprise for over 65 years, something that continues to this day and remains emblematic of the culture. Davy, remarkably, continues to oversee the life of the school—furthering a dedication to the principles her mother hoped to express when beginning SBS all those years ago. Enrolment sits at 140 students attending annually, which is small for a school in Canada. Brunn sees that as a strength and intends to maintain it. She says, “we’re going to build and improve on the existing strengths of the school, because we already have a great foundation.”
    —From: Sunnybrook School: The Our Kids Review
See all our top insights

School's Perspective

How Sunnybrook School sees itself


The school administration answered our questions

Who are you, as a school?

"Sunnybrook is an IB co-ed school for students from JK to Grade 6. Positive, nurturing relationships at school give our students the confidence to challenge themselves; SBS teachers create a welcoming classroom experience in which all students can reach their potential. Academic learning at SBS is balanced, holistic and engaging; the PYP is enhanced with Singapore Math, Phys Ed, Music and Library, as well as French classes daily. Our strong arts program fosters creativity and self expression."

  • 70 years
  • IB PYP World School
  • JK to Gr 6, coed
  • 1:1 iPads, JK - Gr 6
  • Singapore Math
  • French daily from JK - Gr 6
  • Applications accepted JK - Gr 6
  • Before/After-school care
  • Nutritious, hot lunches included
  • Athletics/Extracurriculars

What do you do differently and uniquely well?

"Sunnybrook is a small school with a strong community that provides a challenging, high quality International Baccalaureate PYP curriculum. Sunnybrook was the first PYP accredited school in English Canada, and our IB students have agency, are critical thinkers, and learn to take action in the world. Sunnybrook School is Coed, inclusive, and serves a diverse community. Our small size means we know each student well and can tailor our curriculum and school experience to their individual needs."

Why do families choose you over schools they compare you to?

"The number one reason parents choose Sunnybrook School is our caring, inclusive community. Our small size and devoted staff mean that students feel a strong sense of belonging. Students love that everyone knows them in the school, and everyone cares about them and their education. Through our IB program, we nurture a love of learning and curiosity about the world. The combination of strong community, high academic and personally differentiated learning makes Sunnybrook a truly special school."

What might families find surprising about your school?

"Our approach to learning constantly engages our students. In their own words, “The learning is fun, challenging, you learn so much, not just lectures, there’s varied learning, it’s collaborative, and you learn from other students, not just teachers.” From junior kindergarten to their graduating year when their learning is showcased in the grade six PYP Exhibition, our students have had the advantage of a rich, engaging curriculum delivered by teachers who know and care about their progress."

What aspect of your school is underappreciated?

"The heart of Sunnybrook School and its outstanding success is our dedicated staff. Because of our low staff turnover, our teachers are known and loved by our students and parents, and often students look forward to each grade level knowing the teacher they will have in upcoming years. In the words of a parent, “You see the individual child and their unique strengths. You nurture that like a flame. I have seen both boys grow in confidence since being at SBS. It has been truly transformational.”"

What five facts about your school tell your story?

"#1 - First IB PYP accredited school in English Canada #2 - Very high success in grade seven school acceptance. #3 - The annual musical includes every child from grade 1 to 6 #4 - SBS has its 70th year anniversary this year, and in that time it has had only three principals #5 - A BIG small school that is a hidden gem"


School Facilities

Photo-tour of facilities


Athletics facilities


Arts facilities


Campus


Classrooms


Instructional resources


Shared spaces


School Videos

Insider Perspectives

How people from the school’s community see Sunnybrook School


Video reviews of Sunnybrook School

Alumnus, Kelly Pinch (2022)

Watch our alum interview with Kelly Pinch to learn about the unique experience of attending Sunnybrook School.

Parent, Pam Panesar (2022)

Watch our parent interview with Pam Panesar to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to have a child attend Sunnybrook School.

Parent, Clark Savolaine (2022)

Watch our parent interview with Clark Savolaine to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to have a child attend Sunnybrook School.
See all video reviews (7 total)

Written reviews of Sunnybrook School

(5)

Parent, Laura Waters (2020)

Our daughter started at Sunnybrook for SK. She immediately felt welcomed into the entire school comm...

(4.9)

Parent, Olivia Kao (2019)

My child recently switched from a Montessori environment to Sunnybrook School this year. Although i...

(4.9)

Parent, Reza Asadikia (2018)

The size of this school is in a way that is not intimidating for younger students, but at the same t...

School leadership

Top-down influence on the school’s direction and tone


Leader profile

Here we give our best insight into the leader of Sunnybrook School Principal Terralee Brunn has made Sunnybrook School her professional home for over 27 years. She started as a teacher in 1992, and in 2018 was appointed principal. Brunn began at Sunnybrook as a Kindergarten teacher, but taught multiple grades before serving as vice-principal and director of admissions. Her two children are also Sunnybrook alumni.&...

Interview with key leadership

Watch our Sunnybrook School leadership interview to learn about the academics, culture, and values of the school.
Watch the interview

Message from school leadership

Teralee Brunn, Principal
BA BED

Sunnybrook invites you to become a part of a very special school. Flexible, dynamic, lively learning to challenge, provoke and engage young minds. At Sunnybrook School we succeed in channeling the energy, enthusiasm and joy of elementary boys and girls into disciplined, thoughtful learning. The small size of our school enables us to know our students and their families, giving greater meaning to the triangle of child, home and school. Our size also enables us to showcase all our students and their work.

With a long, proud history of innovation.  We search the world for excellence in elementary education, bringing world class programs to our school. The IB Primary Years Program (IB PYP) enriches and complements our philosophy, giving us an outstanding framework for assessment and curriculum development. Our qualified teachers have extensive IB training; five members of our staff are on the faculty of IB. The IB Program enables us to give our students the world. In our quest for excellence, we have adopted the Singapore Math Program, an enlightened, engaging and effective approach to mathematics learning.

Sunnybrook has remained small because we believe that small schools are good for both students and teachers. Our graduates benefit from the small school environment by becoming confident, self-assured, inquiring young people, ready for the world of a larger middle school. Our faculty is both the heart and the backbone of our dynamic school. The core of a teacherʼs work is to nurture curiosity and inspire learning. Visit our website to learn more; we encourage you to visit our school to see for yourself what Sunnybrook will offer your child. We forward to meeting you.

Evaluate Sunnybrook School for your child

Answer just to supplement this page with our expert insight into the FIT between Sunnybrook School and your child (BETA).
1. Select category
1. Select category
  • Sociability
  • Mental focus
  • Physical activity level
  • Academic focus
  • Arts-oriented
  • STEM-oriented
  • Gifted
  • Special needs (general)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Social/emotional issues
  • Learning style
  • Learning preference
  • Anxious
  • ADHD
  • Autistic
  • Dyslexic
2. Select child's dominant trait
How outgoing is your child?

3. See personalized insights
How Extroverted kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    If you’re considering a small school for your extroverted child, make sure it offers plenty of social opportunities, including the ability to seek out and interact with different peer groups. Since smaller schools have smaller and less diverse student populations than big schools, it can sometimes be more challenging for your child to find a like-minded group of friends—friends with similar interests, values, etc. 

    “It’s important to look at the social makeup of the school,” says Ruth Rumack of Ruth Rumack's Learning Space. "Is there enough variety that your child will have a group that they feel connected with? Because you want to have friends that are like-minded and you want to be in a social situation where you feel honoured and respected. Variety can also be found in extracurriculars, leadership programs, and sports activities, which tend to have kids with a wide range of personalities.”

    Also, make sure a school’s teaching and learning approach is suitable for your social child. “For instance, a school focusing on individual learning instead of group learning may not play into your child’s strengths,” say Ann and Karen Wolff, Toronto-based education consultants at Wolff Educational Services. “You want to make sure the social, emotional, and academic realities of the classroom are a match for your child’s personality.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum—from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to the Diploma Programme (DP)—the IB offers plenty of group work, projects, and activities, which can be great for extroverts who often enjoy social and collaborative learning. Also, “Since IB schools have a strong emphasis on community service and activism, your child will have great opportunities to harness their outgoing and collaborative personality,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. These schools will also give your child the chance to interact and spend time with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them. 

    However, given the challenging curriculum and heavy workload of the IB, it can sometimes leave less time for socializing. This makes it especially important to ask about social opportunities at the school, including the ability to interact with different peer groups, both in class and out.

How Introverted kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools often have small classrooms and tight-knit communities, which can make it easier for your introverted child to come out of their shell, make friends, and feel like they belong. Since they’re less socially overwhelming, your child should find it easier to navigate their social environment. And since they’re conducive to group work, small classes often have plenty of interaction, which can help your child develop critical interpersonal skills. 

    Of course, small schools normally have a less diverse student population than big schools, which can sometimes make it more challenging to find a group of like-minded peers—peers with similar personalities, interests, values, etc. This makes it especially important to ask a school about its extracurricular programs, which can help your introverted child establish an intimate social circle.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB schools give your child the opportunity to interact and spend time with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them. Due to the IB’s heavy focus on group work, the programme offers a social and collaborative learning environment, which can help your introverted child overcome their shyness and get to know their peers well. This can relieve some of the pressure associated with having to take the initiative outside of class to make friends.

    Just make sure any school you're considering offers enough independent work time for your introverted child—something which can vary widely between IB schools.

Select a trait in Step 2 to receive child-customized insights about this school. Create a child profile to save your child trait selection.
2. Select child's dominant trait
How mentally focused is your child?

3. See personalized insights
How Mentally focused kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classes often provide more individualized learning and one-and-one support, which can bolster your child’s concentration. The structure and intimacy of smaller classes can help your focused child engage more fully with their studies. Since they’re conducive to group work, small classes also often have plenty of interaction, which can help your child develop critical interpersonal skills.

    Just keep in mind the law of diminishing returns regarding class size. While a class of 12 or 15 students can boost engagement, a class of 4 or 5 can reduce it, since there are too few voices and perspectives to generate much meaningful interaction and discussion.

    Finally, “Small schools often have a family-like feeling, because the class sizes are so small,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “They form a sense of community across the grades. You get these cross-grade friendships, relationships, and mentoring if it gives certain kids leadership opportunities, something they would rarely have in a larger school.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB schools focus heavily on group work, and provide plenty of collaborative and social learning, which many mentally focused kids find stimulating. Just make sure this is the right environment for your particular child, since different kids learn in different ways. For instance, if your child prefers individual to group learning, make sure the school provides plenty of opportunities for your child to work on their own. Or, if they’re likely to benefit from personalized teaching and enrichment, make sure these options are available.

How Distractible kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classrooms often provide more personalized attention and one-and-one support, which often helps distractible kids engage with their studies and sustain their focus. Since they’re conducive to group work, they tend to be more interactive, which your child may find invigorating.

    Just keep in mind the law of diminishing returns regarding class size. While a class of 12 or 15 students can boost engagement, a class of 4 or 5 can reduce it, since there are too few voices and perspectives to generate much meaningful interaction and discussion.

    The intimacy of smaller schools and classes can also help your child connect with the student community. “Small schools often have a family-like feeling, because the class sizes are so small,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “They form a sense of community across the grades, with cross-grade friendships, relationships, and often, leadership opportunities.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The IB’s heavy focus on group work, and its highly social and collaborative learning environment, can help your child sustain their focus. That said, some distractible kids may need more individualized learning and one-on-one support than some IB schools offer. “Since different IB schools have different teaching and learning approaches,” says Dona Matthews, Toronto-based education consultant and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Beyond Intelligence, “talk to IB school directors and staff to determine whether your child is a good fit.”

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2. Select child's dominant trait
How physically active is your child?

3. See personalized insights
How Very physically active kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    If you’re considering a small school for your physically active child, ensure it offers plenty of unstructured social time, such as outdoor recess, during which they can let loose. Since some small schools have fewer supplementals, you should also ask about after-school activities like sports and dance, which can give your child more opportunities to channel their energy in useful ways. Since different kids enjoy different physical activities, ask school staff what’s available, what your child is eligible for, and how they can get involved.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum—from the Primary Years Programme to the Diploma Programme—the IB offers plenty of group work, projects, and activities, which can be great for physically active kids, who tend to dislike sitting down at desks all day and often enjoy social and collaborative learning. Given the demanding curriculum and heavy workload of the IB, ensure any prospective school has ample unstructured social time, so your child can get out, stretch their legs, and use their energy in productive ways. Also, ensure there are a wide range of social and physical opportunities at the school, including the ability to interact with different peer groups, both inside of class and out.

How Less physically active kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    If your child is looking to get more physically active, make sure a small school offers plenty of opportunities to do this. This makes it especially important to ask about a school’s extracurriculars—such as team sports—which can improve your child's physical fitness and enable them to broaden their horizons.

    Smaller schools often have small and intimate classrooms, where your less active child can work independently and in small groups, allowing them to focus on academics in a peaceful, structured, and supportive environment. With tight-knit, less intimidating communities, small schools can also help your child come out of their shell.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    If your child is looking to get more physically active, IB schools offer plenty of opportunities to do this. From PYP (Primary Years Programme) to DP (Diploma Programme), the IB offers a robust physical and health education program that promotes physical activity and holistic health, through sports, exploration, interaction, skills, and knowledge. 

    IB schools also give your less active child the opportunity to learn and interact with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them. Due to the IB’s heavy focus on group work, the programme offers a highly social and collaborative learning environment, which can help your child get to know their peers well, interact more, and hone their social skills. Given the IB’s focus on social learning, just make sure your child will get enough time on their own, in and out of class, to replenish their energy.

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2. Select child's dominant trait
How focused is your child on school and academic achievement?

3. See personalized insights
How Intensively academically-focused kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    If you’re considering a small school for your academically-focused child, ensure it offers enough enrichment and acceleration opportunities to challenge them. Make sure it also has plenty of academic diversity in the classroom, where your child can work with, be challenged by, and even measure themself against other academically-focused kids.

    Of course, “Smaller schools give kids opportunities to be the ‘big fish in a small pond,’ where their successes and abilities are truly highlighted,” says Una Malcolm, Director of Bright Light Learners. “Some kids enjoy this, and this can be a valuable opportunity to develop their confidence and self-esteem.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The IB is a demanding programme with advanced learning and rigorous coursework, which provides the right kind of challenge for many intensively academically-focused kids. Students who enjoy subject-specific enrichment will relish the opportunity to take Higher-Level (rather than Standard-Level) courses, which provide more in-depth learning. Ask a school whether it offers these courses.

    That said, since their curriculum is restricted to eight prescribed subject groups, IB schools will offer your academically-focused child fewer specialist courses to choose from than most traditional schools. This can be less than ideal for independent and curious learners, who enjoy carving out their own educational paths and pursuing their own interests in school.

How Less academically-focused kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classrooms often provide more personalized attention and one-and-one support, which often helps less academically-focused kids engage with their work more fully. Since they’re conducive to group work, these classes tend to be more interactive and stimulating.

    Just make sure a school provides your child with plenty of opportunities to pursue their passions outside of class—something not all small schools offer. “Research shows that when students have something to look forward to after school, they’re often more motivated and focused during the day,” says Janyce Lastman, Director of The Tutor Group. “This can really help them renew their energy and recharge their batteries.”

    Also, keep in mind the law of diminishing returns regarding class size. While a class of 12 or 15 students can boost engagement, a class of 4 or 5 can reduce it, since there are too few voices and perspectives to generate much meaningful interaction and discussion.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The IB programme’s high-level academics and heavy workload can be a tall test for less academically-focused kids. Some of these kids may also need more individualized learning and one-on-one support than some IB schools offer. Of course, “Since different IB schools have different teaching and learning approaches,” says Dona Matthews, Toronto-based education consultant and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Beyond Intelligence, “talk to IB school directors and staff to determine whether a particular school offers the right academic setting for your child.”

    That said, many kids, including less academically-focused ones, find the IB’s heavy focus on social and collaborative learning engaging. This can inspire a love of learning and sometimes begin to unleash a child's academic potential. 

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2. Select if applicable
Is your child passionate about the arts?

3. See personalized insights
How Arts-oriented kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Small schools often have smaller classes with plenty of individualized learning and support, which can give your arts-oriented child the freedom to pursue their creative passions with close supervision and guidance. A smaller student community often means more group work and collaboration, which can enhance learning and enliven the creative process. Smaller schools, especially arts-focused ones, are also more likely to integrate the arts into the general curriculum, something many, though not all, artsy kids enjoy.

    Small schools tend to have fewer arts programs, classes, and extracurriculars than bigger schools. Ask what’s available, focusing specifically on your child’s areas of interest and need. For instance, if they’re keen to work on their sculpting skills, find out whether a class is offered during or after school, and whether your child is eligible for it.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum, the IB programme provides plenty of opportunities for your child to pursue their interests in the arts, explore their creative passions, and develop their skills and knowledge. In fact, how we express ourselves is one of the central themes running through the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). And, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) provides a rigorous education in myriad artistic spheres, including visual art, music, dance, and drama.

    That said, “There’s some variation in the way IB programmes are run and what resources they have,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “If you have a child who’s passionate about the arts, make sure, then, to tour the school, and ask about its arts programs (music, visual, and drama) and the resources and time dedicated to them.”

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2. Select if applicable
Is your child passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)?

3. See personalized insights
How STEM-oriented kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Small schools tend to have fewer STEM programs, classes, and extracurriculars than bigger schools. Ask what’s available, focusing specifically on your child’s areas of interest and need. For instance, if they’re keen to work on their computer programming skills, find out whether a coding class is offered during or after school, and whether your child is eligible for it. Also, ask how they teach problem-solving, instill creativity and innovation, and use technology.

    Of course, since small schools often have smaller classes with plenty of individualized learning and support, they can give your child the freedom to pursue their interest in STEM with close supervision. A smaller student community often means more group work and collaboration, which can enhance learning and stimulate intellectual and creative insights. Smaller schools are also more likely to integrate STEM learning into the general curriculum, something many STEM-oriented kids enjoy.

    Just keep in mind the law of diminishing returns regarding class size. While a class of 12 or 15 students can boost engagement, a class of 4 or 5 can reduce it, since there are too few voices and perspectives to generate much meaningful interaction and discussion.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum, the IB programme provides plenty of opportunities for your child to pursue their interests in STEM and develop their skills and knowledge. In fact, how we explore and understand the world is one of the central themes running through the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). And, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) provides a rigorous education in myriad scientific spheres, including physics, biology, and chemistry. Since many students also relish the opportunity to study these subjects in more depth by taking Higher-Level (rather than Standard-Level) IB courses, ask whether a school offers them.

    That said, “Many IB schools are highly academic and can generate significant pressure to excel,” says Una Malcolm, Director of Bright Light Learners. “Some students may find their passion for STEM recede in this setting.”

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2. Select if applicable
Does your child have gifted learning abilities?

3. See personalized insights
How Gifted kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Small schools are sometimes more flexible in meeting gifted learning needs. Make sure a school is willing and able to provide the right learning environment to directly address your child’s learning needs, whether it’s through a segregated gifted class, a part-time withdrawal class, or in-class adaptations such as acceleration or enrichment opportunities.

    If your child enjoys learning and competing with other high-ability learners, confirm this opportunity is available. Also, find out whether a school has extracurricular programs your child will find challenging and stimulating.

    Finally, “Smaller schools give kids opportunities to be the ‘big fish in a small pond,’ where their successes and abilities are truly highlighted,” says Una Malcolm, Director of Bright Light Learners. “Some kids enjoy this, and this can be a valuable opportunity to develop their confidence and self-esteem.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The IB programme is designed to be demanding, well-rounded, and rigorous, and it can provide a great challenge for many high-ability students. Gifted students may also relish the opportunity to take Higher-Level (rather than Standard-Level) courses, which provide more in-depth learning. Ask whether an IB school offers these.

    That said, if your gifted child is an unconventional and independent learner, they may find some IB schools don’t give them enough flexibility to pursue their own interests. “Of course, different IB schools have different teaching and learning approaches,” says Dona Matthews, gifted education expert and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Being Smart about Gifted Education, “meaning you should talk to their directors and staff to determine whether your child is a good fit.”

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2. Select if applicable
Does your child have special needs?

3. See personalized insights
How Special needs (general) kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classes normally provide lots of individualized teaching and learning and one-on-one support, giving them the flexibility to accommodate students with a wide range of special needs. Some also provide learning environments that directly address special learning needs, such as segregated classes, part-time withdrawal classes, and integrated classes.

    However, “Keep in mind that some small schools only provide support for one special need,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Consulting. “Ask which special need(s) a school supports, how it supports it, and whether it has teaching staff with the right training and expertise to provide this support.”

    Finally, since small schools tend to have fewer resources, ensure they have whatever’s needed to foster your child’s academic, social, and emotional development, such as guidance departments, academic and social counsellors, educational assistants, and assistive technologies.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The heavy workload of IB schools can be difficult to manage for some students with special needs. Also, due to their unified curriculum and focus on collaborative learning and group projects, not all IB schools can provide the kind of structure, individualized learning, and one-on-one support many of these kids need.

    That said, the IB organization requires authorized schools to have specially trained staff in both IB education and in meeting the needs of different learners. But, “What this looks like and how students are supported varies between schools,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “Ask what specific programs and policies they have in place to support your child’s learning.”

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2. Select if applicable
Does your child have a learning disability?

3. See personalized insights
How Learning disabilities kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classes normally provide lots of personalized learning and one-on-one teaching. This gives them the flexibility to support students with a wide range of learning disabilities (LDs), and to actively monitor their progress and development. Some also provide learning environments that directly support LDs, such as segregated classes, part-time withdrawal classes, and integrated classes. 

    However, “Keep in mind that some small schools only provide support for one type of learning disability,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Consulting. “For instance, they may only support dyslexia or language-based learning disabilities." Ask which learning disability (or disabilities) a school supports, how exactly it supports it.” Finally, make sure a smaller school has out-of-class resources to support your child’s development. For instance, if they struggle with decoding language, ensure they have a reading intervention specialist on staff. 

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The heavy workload of IB schools can be difficult to manage for some students with learning disabilities (LDs). Also, due to their standardized curriculum and their focus on collaborative learning and group projects, not all IB schools will provide enough one-on-one support for kids with LDs. 

    That said, the IB organization requires authorized schools to have specially trained staff in both IB education and in meeting the needs of different learners. But, “What this looks like and how students are supported varies between schools,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “Ask what specific programs and policies they have in place to support your child’s learning.”

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2. Select if applicable
Does your child have a social, emotional, or behavioural issue?

3. See personalized insights
How Social/emotional issues kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classes normally provide lots of individualized learning and one-on-one support, giving them the flexibility to accommodate students with a range of social issues. Some also offer learning environments that directly address these kinds of special needs, such as segregated classes, part-time withdrawal classes, and breakout support groups. 

    “Students with behaviour/emotional/social issues often thrive in smaller school settings,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Consulting. “These students often feel a sense of comfort and ease in knowing that all of the staff know them and understand their challenges. They can be supported in a trusting environment and have to navigate fewer social relationships, both with their peers and adults.”

    However, keep in mind that some small schools only provide support for one or two social or emotional issues, such as clinical anxiety or depression. Ask which issues a school supports, how it supports them, and whether it has teaching staff with specialized training to provide this support. Finally, since small schools tend to have fewer resources, make sure they have whatever your child needs, such as an on-site psychologist to help them with their impulse control, if this is an issue.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Due to their standardized curriculum and their focus on group learning, not all IB schools can provide the structure, individualized learning, and one-on-one support that many kids with social issues need. Also, the highly academic environment of the IB can add extra pressure, which can be difficult for kids with special needs to manage.

    Of course, “Since IB schools vary in their teaching and learning approaches,” says Dona Matthews, education consultant and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Beyond Intelligence, “make sure you talk to their directors and staff to assess whether your child is a good fit.” For instance, if your child is a hard worker who enjoys high-level academics and group learning (and doesn’t have a severe social or behavioural issue), an IB school may work well.

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How Conventional learner kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Some small schools, especially alternative ones, have smaller classes with a student-centred curriculum and an individualized approach to learning. While this benefits many kids, conventional learners often prefer a more traditional environment, with pre-planned units, teachers who deliver whole-class lectures, and lots of structure.

    That said, many schools with smaller classes, especially those which offer individualized learning, have the flexibility to accommodate a wide range of learning styles. For instance, if your child prefers direct instruction, textbook-based learning, and graded work—as many conventional learners do—a small school may be able to offer these things.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB schools offer a standardized, prescribed curriculum, with clear criteria for assessment, which can be ideal for conventional learners. They also provide a nice balance of group and independent learning, delivered through rigorous courses, which can help conventional (and unconventional) learners really engage with their studies. 

    That said, IB schools tend to have plenty of reflection, exploration, and diverse experiences. They encourage students to look at questions and issues from many viewpoints, and they have long projects and extended essays. Conventional learners who are type-A  students (i.e., who are intensively academically-focused) often prefer to move through the curriculum more quickly, rather than spend so much time reflecting about various sides of an issue.

How Unconventional learner kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Small schools tend to have smaller classes with plenty of individualized learning and independent and small group work. This can enable your unconventional learner to pursue their interests in an engaging and sometimes collaborative environment. It’s also often easier for smaller schools to set up classes of special interest for certain students—such as art history or microbiology—allowing them to pursue unique learning paths.

    Small schools normally have fewer extracurriculars for kids to explore passions and develop skills outside of class. Ask what’s available, focusing specifically on your child’s areas of interest.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB programmes can sometimes be a struggle for students who resist a traditional curriculum. Since they follow standardized course syllabi and use prescribed evaluation schemes, IB schools leave less room for the kind of flexibility unconventional students normally crave. Also, since their curriculum is restricted to eight main subject groups, IB schools offer fewer specialist courses to choose from to explore individual interests. 

    That said, IB schools tend to have plenty of reflection, exploration, and diverse experiences. They encourage students to look at questions and issues from many viewpoints and have long projects and extended essays. Some unconventional learners love this kind of collaborative, open-ended approach to learning.

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How Independent learner kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Small schools often have smaller classes with plenty of individualized learning, which can give independent learners the freedom to pursue their interests and explore their passions. It’s also often easier for smaller schools to set up classes of special interest, such as evolutionary biology or musical theory.

    Small schools tend to have fewer extracurriculars and supplemental learning options than bigger schools. Ask what’s available, focusing specifically on your child’s areas of interest. For instance, if they’re eager to work on their painting skills, find out whether an after school or lunch program is offered and whether your child is eligible for it.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB programmes, from the primary years (PYP) to the high school years (DP), offer lots of group work, projects, and activities. This can be challenging at times for kids who prefer to work independently, completing tasks by themselves or in their own way. On the other hand, “Collaborative endeavours can be valuable learning experiences for kids who might otherwise avoid such tasks,” says Joanne Foster, education consultant and author of ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids. Since different IB schools are run in different ways, talk to school directors and staff to gauge whether your child is likely to be a good fit.

How Collaborative learner kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Small schools with smaller classes offer more opportunities for the kind of group work collaborative learners enjoy. Whether it’s discussion groups, project work, or peer-to-peer teaching, they tend to offer plenty of group activities in an inclusive environment.

    Also, “Small schools often have a family-like feeling, because the class sizes are so small,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “They form a sense of community across the grades. You get these cross-grade friendships, relationships, and mentoring if it gives certain kids leadership opportunities, something they would rarely have in a larger school.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum—from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to the Diploma Programme (DP)—the IB offers plenty of group work, projects, and activities, which collaborative learners tend to love. Also, “Since they have a strong emphasis on community service and activism, your child will have many opportunities to harness their collaborative learning style,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Education. Finally, IB schools give your child the unique opportunity to interact and spend time with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them.

    That said, the IB programme’s high-level academics and heavy workload are demanding. If your child is less academically-focused or needs lots of one-on-one support, they may find it a tall order. Since IB schools are run in different ways, talk to directors and staff to determine whether your child is likely to be a good fit.

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Is your child anxious?

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How Anxious kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Many small schools have smaller classes with lots of one-on-one support and close supervision to support kids with anxiety (and other emotional issues). 

    “Students with anxiety often thrive in smaller school settings,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Consulting. “These students often feel a sense of comfort and ease in knowing that all of the staff know them and understand their challenges. They can be supported in a trusting environment, and they won’t have to navigate as many social relationships with kids and adults.”

    However, some small schools don’t support kids with certain anxiety disorders, especially severe ones. Ask what kinds of anxiety issues a school supports and how it delivers this support. Finally, make sure your child has access to resources they may need in class or out, such as on-site counselling.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Due to their standardized curriculum and focus on group learning, not all IB schools can provide the structure, individualized learning, and one-on-one support many anxious kids need. Also, the highly academic environment of the IB can be a source of intense pressure for kids with anxiety, especially those with severe anxiety.

    Of course, if your child has milder anxiety and is a hard worker who enjoys high-level academics and group learning, the IB Programme can be a nice fit. Speak to school reps about what support systems they have in place before you make your final decision.

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Does your child have ADHD?

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How ADHD kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classes normally provide lots of individualized learning, structure, and one-on-one support, which students with ADHD tend to require. Some also offer learning environments (and special education staff) that directly support ADHD, such as segregated classes, part-time withdrawal classes, and breakout groups. 

    “Students with ADHD often thrive in smaller school settings,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Consulting. “These students may feel a sense of comfort and ease in knowing that all of the staff know them and understand their challenges. They can be supported in a trusting environment, and they won’t have to navigate as many social relationships with their peers and adults.”

    However, keep in mind that some small schools don’t have the resources to accommodate kids with ADHD, especially if it’s severe. Ask what kind of support is available, both in class and out, and how it will be delivered. For instance, “do you have an in-house psychologist to work with my child on their focus and organization?”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Due to their standardized curriculum and focus on group learning, not all IB schools can provide the individualized learning and one-on-one support many kids with ADHD need. Also, the highly academic environment of the IB can add extra pressure, which can be daunting for some kids with ADHD.

    Thus, “It’s important that a child in an IB school stay organized and engaged with the content, especially with independent work and homework,” says Una Malcolm, director of Bright Light Learners. “With both the depth and breadth of IB-level coursework, it’s important that students have developed the self-regulation and self-monitoring skills necessary to focus in class to avoid falling behind.”

    On the upside: “Many IB schools, especially at the primary and middle school level, offer a fair amount of experiential, inquiry-based learning, where students develop creative and critical thinking skills through real-life, hands-on experiences,” says Stacey Jacobs, director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “This type of learning can sometimes be a great way to engage kids with ADHD.”

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Is your child autistic?

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How Autistic kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classes normally provide lots of individualized learning, structure, and one-on-one support, which students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often need. Some also offer learning environments (and special education staff) that directly support autism, such as dedicated classes, part-time withdrawal classes, and classes with breakout groups. 

    “Students with autism tend to do well in smaller school settings,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Consulting. “These students may feel a sense of comfort and ease in knowing that all of the staff know them and understand their challenges. They can be supported in a trusting environment, and they won’t have to navigate as many social relationships with their peers and adults.”

    However, keep in mind that some small schools won’t be able to accommodate kids with autism, especially if a child is on the higher end of the spectrum. Ask what kind of support is available, both in class and out, and how it will be delivered. For instance, “do you have an in-house psychologist to work with my child on their communication and interaction skills?”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Due to their standardized curriculum and focus on group learning, not all IB schools can provide the individualized learning and one-on-one support many kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) need. Also, the highly academic nature of the IB Programme can be daunting for some kids with ASD, especially those with poor executive functioning skills.

    That said, the IB organization requires authorized schools to have specially trained staff in both IB education and in meeting the needs of different learners. But, “What this looks like and how students are supported varies between schools,” says Stacey Jacobs, director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “Ask what specific programs and policies they have in place to support your child.”

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Is your child dyslexic?

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How Dyslexic kids fit with Sunnybrook School's dimensions:
  • Small school (150 students or less)

    Smaller schools with small classes normally provide lots of personalized learning and one-on-one guidance. This gives them the flexibility to support students with a range of learning disabilities (LDs), including dyslexia, and to actively monitor their progress and development. Some also provide learning environments that directly support dyslexia, such as segregated classes and part-time withdrawal classes. 

    “Keep in mind, though, that not all small schools provide support for kids with dyslexia,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Consulting. “For instance, a school may only support kids with LDs involving math or numbers (like dysgraphia).” 

    Ask whether a school supports dyslexia, and if it does, how it delivers this support. Finally, make sure a smaller school has out-of-class resources that meet your child’s needs. Since your child struggles with decoding language, they may need regular visits with an on-site reading intervention specialist.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The heavy workload of IB schools can be difficult to manage for some students with dyslexia. Also, due to their standardized curriculum and their focus on collaborative learning and group projects, some IB schools may not provide enough one-on-one support for kids with dyslexia.

    That said, the IB organization requires authorized schools to have specially trained staff in both IB education and in meeting the needs of different learners. But, “What this looks like and how students are supported varies between schools,” says Stacey Jacobs, director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “Ask what specific programs and policies a school has in place to support your child’s learning.”

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THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Sunnybrook School

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