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The Toronto Heschel School:
The Our Kids Report > Academics
Grades Preschool TO Gr. 8 — Toronto, ON (Map)

The Toronto Heschel School:


Curriculum Liberal Arts

[Show definition of Curriculum]

Central to your child's school experience is the underlying curriculum taught in the classroom. "Curriculum" refers to both what is taught and how it's taught. When considering the different curricula outlined in the next few pages, keep in mind that few schools fall neatly into one category or another. Most schools' curricula comprise a blend of best practices drawn from multiple curriculum types. Having said that, most schools do have a general overall curriculum type. These are identified for each school on

Curriculum approach at Heschel: Liberal Arts

Heschel has a Liberal Arts approach to Curriculum (as opposed to Traditional, Progressive, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf approach).

[Show: About Liberal Arts?]

Liberal Arts curricula share with traditional programs their emphasis on core knowledge-acquisition, but tend to borrow more best practices from the progressive approach. A Liberal Arts program might still feature group work and projects, for example, contrary to the more singular emphasis on tests and essays at a Traditional program.

Curriculum at schools on
  Liberal arts - 13%
  Traditional - 40%
  Progressive - 33%
  Montessori - 11%
  Reggio Emilia - 1%
  Waldorf - 2%

What Heschel says about their overall curriculum and approach:

Heschel's award-winning, integrated curriculum helps each student develop their potential to think deeply, creatively and flexibly. The curriculum is organized by thematic units, rooted in a Jewish theme, enabling students to make meaningful connections across the disciplines. Heschel's teaching methodology is based on the "Teaching for Understanding" model that originated at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Heschel teachers use many tools to achieve understanding, including the arts, multiple intelligences and multi-sensory learning. Children are taught in small skill groups, which provide each student with a high level of personal attention. Heschel's immersive Ivrit b'Ivrit program produces graduates with a very high level of Hebrew competency. Our kindergarten classes are completely bilingual, with two teachers in the room at all times, one of whom speaks only Hebrew with the students. By elementary school, students converse fluently in Hebrew. By junior high, students write essays, poetry, scripts and screenplays in Hebrew. Heschel is a leader in environmental education and is the first Jewish Day School in Ontario to achieve Platinum Eco School Status.


Focus Religious-based
Arts Jewish

If you want to learn more about faith-based education, check out our comprehensive guide.
If you want to learn more about Jewish day schools, check out our comprehensive guide.

Pedagogies and subject courses:

  • Mathematics

    Equal Balance

    Mathematics approach at Heschel: Equal Balance

    Heschel has an Equal Balance approach to Mathematics (as opposed to Traditional Math, Discovery Math approach).

    [Show: About Equal Balance?]

    These math programs feature an equal balance of “Traditional” and “Discovery” methods.

    Mathematics at schools on
      Equal balance - 68%
      Traditional math - 26%
      Discovery math - 6%

    What Heschel says:

    Traditionally, mathematics programs emphasized quick and accurate paper and pencil calculations. However, to be successful in the 21st century, students must learn to think numerically. The best math teachers now focus on students’ numeracy skills, teaching them to be mathematically literate. They make sure students understand the why and how. Learning mathematics is more than manipulating symbols and numbers. It involves fluency with how numbers combine, break apart, group and regroup, and investigation into the relative size of numbers and their relationships. Heschel students develop a toolkit of mental math strategies. Visual images, concrete materials, strategy games and practice materials are presented in a carefully thought-out sequence. Teachers ask students to represent a problem in different ways, in different contexts and for different ends. Multiple representations allow students to develop strong number sense, approaching calculations flexibly and creatively and noticing when a calculation is required in the “real world.”

    Textbooks and supplementary materials:

    This information is not currently available.

    Calculator policy:

    We discourage the use of calculators in order to encourage students to practice mental math strategies and enhance their global understanding of numeracy.

  • Early Reading

    Balanced Literacy

    Early Reading approach at Heschel: Balanced Literacy

    Heschel has a Balanced Literacy approach to Early Reading (as opposed to Phonics-intensive, Whole Language approach).

    [Show: About Balanced Literacy?]

    Balanced reading programs are typically Whole Language programs with supplementary phonics training. This training might be incidental, or it might take the form of mini-lessons.

    Early Reading at schools on
      Balanced literacy - 56%
      Phonics-intensive - 42%
      Whole language - 2%

    What Heschel says:

    Reading skills in kindergarten are often learned through books of songs or poems. At times in JK, children use their song books to follow along with the words to the song. In SK, poems are introduced to the whole class, written on chartpaper and chanted together. Children then locate letters and/or words in the poem, both as a group and then individually. Reading strategies in SK and Grade 1 are explicitly taught via CAFE methodology, modelling direct reading strategies including comprehension, decoding, expression and vocabulary building. After a strategy is taught, children then read independently or with a partner to practice using the strategy modeled by the teacher, reading texts they can decode and comprehend independently. Teachers assess what specific skills are needed by each child and give them either direct feedback or they work with a group of children who need to acquire the same skill.

    DIBELS Testing: This school periodically uses DIBELS testing to assess reading progress.

    What Heschel says:

    This information is not currently available.

  • Writing

    Equal balance

    Writing approach at Heschel: Equal balance

    Heschel has an Equal balance approach to Writing (as opposed to Systematic approach, Process approach approach).

    [Show: About Equal balance?]

    Programs that balance systematic and process approaches equally likely have an emphasis on giving young students ample opportunities to write, while providing supplementary class-wide instruction in grammar, parts of sentences, and various writing strategies.

    Writing at schools on
      Equal balance - 78%
      Systematic approach - 10%
      Process approach - 12%

    What Heschel says:

    All children seek to express their ideas and experiences, both orally and in writing, and are curious about the ideas and experiences of others as portrayed in books and other media. Our approach to teaching literacy at Heschel is informed by our commitment to shaping lifelong readers, writers, and both expressers and investigators of meaning. Students are encouraged from an early age to decode and construct meaning in what they read, to think like writers, and to use models for writing in various styles, be it poetic, narrative, expository, or persuasive. Thinking like a writer begins with learning what great writers do and how they do it. Students learn from model texts and ‘writers in residence’ and synthesize what those writers do well in order to convey their messages clearly. Students then use those techniques, in conjunction with previously learned skills and devices, to craft their own pieces of writing.

  • Science


    Science approach at Heschel: Inquiry

    Heschel has an Inquiry approach to Science (as opposed to Expository, Equal Balance approach).

    [Show: About Inquiry?]

    Inquiry-based science emphasizes teaching science as a way of thinking or practice, and therefore tries to get students “doing” science as much as possible -- and not just “learning” it. Students still learn foundational scientific ideas and content (and build on this knowledge progressively); however, relative to expository science instruction, inquiry-based programs have students spend more time developing and executing their own experiments (empirical and theoretical). Students are frequently challenged to develop critical and scientific-thinking skills by developing their own well-reasoned hypothesis and finding ways to test those hypotheses. Projects and experiments are emphasized over textbook learning. Skills are emphasized over breadth of knowledge.

    Science at schools on
      Inquiry - 26%
      Expository - 5%
      Equal balance - 69%

    Teaching approach:

    Children are curious by nature. Be it about birds, trees, flowing water, the stars, or the soil beneath their feet, they are naturally moved to ask questions, make observations, form hypotheses and conclusions, without conscious awareness that they are behaving like scientists. Science classes at Heschel, in contrast to many modern science classes that attempt to fill the heads of the students with the scientific knowledge that has been amassed over centuries, aim to kindle within students wonder and amazement while honing the skills necessary to use the scientific method for satisfying that curiosity. Science classes at THS are designed for students to take risks and explore unknown ideas, focusing on the scientific method as a way to train the mind to think clearly and logically. As a result, students have the tools they need to make sense of their world and feel empowered and confident in their conclusions.

    Treatment of evolution:

    Evolution as consensus theory
    Evolution as one of many equally viable theories
    Evolution is not taught

    Topics covered in curriculum:

  • Literature

    Equal Balance

    Literature approach at Heschel: Equal Balance

    Heschel has an Equal Balance approach to Literature (as opposed to Traditional, Social Justice approach).

    [Show: About Equal Balance?]

    These literature programs draw in equal measure from “Traditional” and “Social Justice” programs.

    Literature at schools on
      Equal balance - 75%
      Traditional - 22%
      Social justice - 3%

    What Heschel says:

    This information is not currently available.

  • Social Studies


    Social Studies approach at Heschel: Thematic

    Heschel has a Thematic approach to Social Studies (as opposed to Core Knowledge, Expanding Communities approach).

    [Show: About Thematic?]

    The Thematic approach organizes the curriculum around certain themes or cultural universals. Students might spend time focused on food. Then they might focus on transportation or government, and so on.

    Social Studies at schools on
      Thematic - 32%
      Core knowledge - 39%
      Expanding communities - 29%

    What Heschel says:

    This information is not currently available.

  • Humanities and Social Sciences


    Humanities and Social Sciences approach at Heschel: Perennialism

    Heschel has a Perennialism approach to Humanities and Social Sciences (as opposed to Pragmatism, Equal Balance approach).

    [Show: About Perennialism?]

    Perennialism in the humanities and social sciences emphasizes the idea of education being a kind of “conversation” between generations, and so frequently turns to “Great Works” and “Big Ideas” for teaching-content. Perennialist programs approach past works on their own terms; as if they might actually help students understand “today” better. Past works are not viewed as mere historical artifacts, but as gateways to a deeper understanding of the human condition. History (and, by extension, the humanities in general) therefore plays a large role in perennialist curriculums, though social sciences like economics, psychology, and sociology can still be taught. There is a strong Liberal Arts bent to perennialist programs. The key goals are to develop critical thinking, a strong foundation of core knowledge (or “cultural literacy”), and persuasion skills through informed debate and extensive practice in essay writing.

    Humanities and Social Sciences at schools on
      Perennialism - 8%
      Pragmatism - 11%
      Equal balance - 81%

    What Heschel says:

    Studying history at Heschel is not about memorizing facts like key dates and events but understanding the impact of these events and experiences on different cultures. It is an active process in which students engage in inquiry, research, observation, hypothesizing, and refining their thinking. Students learn how to analyze different sources, make connections between different events and experiences to uncover universal themes that emerge throughout history, and make history relevant by relating it to events that may be occurring today. Understanding gained through prior learning becomes a foundation for structured inquiry, promoting creative thinking and enabling students to ask questions and effectively seek out more precise knowledge. Looking at artifacts, geography, architecture, texts and artwork helps students to form a holistic understanding of different times and their impact. Students learn how to form their own ideas and make their understanding personally and culturally relevant.

  • Foreign Languages


    Foreign Languages approach at Heschel: Communicative

    Heschel has a Communicative approach to Foreign Languages (as opposed to Audio-Lingual, Equal Balance approach).

    [Show: About Communicative?]

    The communicative method of language acquisition emphasizes the use of the target language in authentic contexts. The approach commonly features interactive group work, games, authentic texts, and opportunities to learn about the cultural background of the language. Drills and quizzes may still be used, but less frequently than with the audio-lingual method.

    Foreign Languages at schools on
      Communicative - 34%
      Audio-lingual - 3%
      Equal balance - 63%

    What Heschel says:

    One of the most effective models for bilingual learning involves making a clear demarcation between the primary adult speakers of each language. Heschel utilizes a two-teacher model in JK and SK, whereby one teacher communicates with the students in English while the other communicates only in Hebrew. Students learn through visuals, facial expressions, gestures, songs, and repetition. While at first, children may find it unusual to encounter a teacher speaking only in Hebrew, it does not take long before they adapt to this new, interesting, and cognitively stimulating environment. Learning Hebrew in elementary grades involves complete immersion during lessons in Hebrew. Immersion is a highly effective approach to promote comprehension and speech, as language acquisition occurs via osmosis. We encourage students to speak Hebrew by having real conversations in natural circumstances. By Junior High, students are able to explore Jewish texts in Hebrew, graduating with a high degree of fluency.

  • Fine Arts


    Fine Arts approach at Heschel: Creative

    Heschel has a Creative approach to Fine Arts (as opposed to Receptive, Equal Balance approach).

    [Show: About Creative?]

    Creative arts programs are studio-driven. While historical works and movements may still be taught to add context to the program, students mainly engage in making art (visual, musical, theatrical, etc). The goal is use the actual practice of art to help educate students’ emotions, cognition, and ethos.

    Fine Arts at schools on
      Creative - 33%
      Receptive - 2%
      Equal balance - 65%

    Program offers:

    Graphic Design
    Visual Arts

    Visual studio philosophy:


    What Heschel says:

    Thinking as an artist helps students to express their knowledge in a creative, often non-linear way, unconstrained by written or oral expression. It teaches them to think metaphorically or abstractly, and to approach a problem in an interpretive or inventive manner. Our students create multimedia artworks, expressing complex ideas that integrate their knowledge across multiple disciplines. Students use a wide range of materials in traditional and experimental ways, thinking flexibly and imaginatively about how form can convey deep meaning. Grade 5 students create macramé sculptures that reflect slaves finding freedom in Exodus, and via the Underground Railroad. Grade 8 students sculpt activists “praying with their feet,” reflecting deep understanding of AJ Heschel’s march with Martin Luther King Jr. and their commitment to social justice through action. Students’ work is displayed to the Heschel community, invoking further reflection and discussion, and elevating the importance of the arts within the school.

  • Computers and Technology

    Medium integration

    Computers and Technology approach at Heschel: Medium integration

    Heschel has a Medium integration approach to Computers and Technology (as opposed to Light integration, Heavy integration approach).

    [Show: About Medium integration?]

    Effort is made to integrate the development of digital literacy through the curriculum. However, this is not a dominant focus.

    Computers and Technology at schools on
      Medium integration - 51%
      Light integration - 19%
      Heavy integration - 30%

    What Heschel says:

    This information is not currently available.

    Program covers:

    Computer science
    Web design
  • Physical Education

    What Heschel says:

    At Heschel, Phys Ed is taught much like the way students learn any other subject, learning the fundamentals before moving on to the final product. Like learning to read letters, words and paragraphs before reading a whole book, we teach the building blocks of different games and practise their basic skills before progressing to playing competitive games. For example, students learn to throw, catch and dribble and to feel comfortable with those skills before progressing to playing a game of basketball. Teaching the child skills rather than throwing them directly into a game boosts their self-esteem that they can do things. When we move to playing on teams, everyone has had the same training and is included in the game. As the students move into Junior High, they learn all of the intricate game rules and take on leadership roles in learning to referee the games they are playing.

  • Sex and health education

    Not Ontario curriculum

    Sex and health education approach at Heschel: Not Ontario curriculum

    Heschel has a Not Ontario curriculum approach to Sex and health education (as opposed to Follows provincial curriculum approach).

    [Show: About Not Ontario curriculum?]

    The sex education curriculum does NOT follow the provincial one taught in public schools - either in terms of structure, pacing, focus, and/or tone.

    Sex and health education at schools on
      Does not follow prrovincial curriculum - 40%
      Follows provincial curriculum - 60%

    Approach to sex and health education: Fairly value-based

    Heschel has a approach Fairly value-based (as opposed to Mostly value-neutral approach).
    [Show: About Fairly value-based?]

    Sex is sometimes taught from a particular moral or ethical standpoint. Sometimes particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) are invoked when teaching sex and related issues .

    Heschel has a approach Progressive (as opposed to Traditional approach).
    [Show: About Progressive?]

    This approach might involve placing more emphasis on things like planned parenthood, different types of families, sexual and gender identities, diversity, and social justice.

    What Heschel says:

    Our school is rooted in values of equality, diversity, respect, and inclusion. Our pluralistic community is comprised of Jewish families with a range of backgrounds, traditions, and family structures. Our approach to learning combines a respect for tradition with an appreciation for diverse and progressive perspectives.

Preschool/K Curriculum Play-based

[Show definition of Preschool/K Curriculum]

Preschools and kindergartens tend to have a particular curriculum or curricular approach. This refers to what is taught and how it's taught. Most preschools have a curriculum that comprises a blend of best practices drawn from multiple curriculum types. A preschool's curriculum may or may not, though, reflect its higher-level curriculum (if it's part of a school with elementary or secondary programs)

Preschool/K Curriculum approach at Heschel: Play-based

Heschel has a Play-based approach to Preschool/K Curriculum (as opposed to Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Academic approach).

[Show: About Play-based?]

Play-based programs are the most common type of preschool and Kindergarten, and are founded on the belief young children learn best through play. Largely open-ended and minimally structured, play-based programs aim to develop social skills and a love of attending school. “Pre-academic” skills are taught, but in a more indirect way than at, say, an Academic program: through children playing in different “stations” set up around the classroom, which children choose on their own volition. Stations often contain an indirect lesson or developmental goal. Play-based classrooms are highly social and active.

Preschool/K Curriculum at schools on
  Play-based - 25%
  Montessori - 24%
  Waldorf - 2%
  Reggio emilia - 7%
  Academic - 42%

What Heschel says about their preschool/K curriculum approach:

Our Kindergarten program is a bilingual (English-Hebrew), immersive program where students learn through hands-on activities, discussion and play. Lessons are multi-sensory. Our curriculum is organized according to generative topics that integrate learning across all disciplines. Building social and emotional skills is also at the forefront of the program.

Language bilingual / dual-immersion

Learn about The Toronto Heschel School's languages of instruction and enrolment.

Heschel is a bilingual / dual-immersion school with English, Hebrew as the primary language of instruction

English - 50% Hebrew - 50%

Language of enrolment include: English

Curriculum Pace Standard-enriched

[Show definition of Curriculum Pace]

This refers to the rate at which students move through the curriculum (e.g., topics, textbook material, skills, etc.). Curriculum pace is often defined in comparison to provincial standards.

Curriculum Pace approach at Heschel: Standard-enriched

Heschel has a Standard-enriched approach to Curriculum Pace (as opposed to Accelerated, Student-paced approach).

[Show: About Standard-enriched?]

Broadly-speaking, the main curriculum -- like that of most schools -- paces the provincially-outlined one. This pace is steady and set by the teachers and school. The curriculum might still be enriched in various ways: covering topics more in-depth and with more vigor than the provincial one, or covering a broader selection of topics.

Curriculum Pace at schools on
  Standard-enriched - 58%
  Accelerated - 18%
  Student-paced - 24%

What Heschel says about their curriculum pace:

Our integrated, bilingual program is designed to enable students to think deeply within and across all disciplines. Teachers are trained in differentiated instruction to support a range of skill levels. The program requires a high level of Hebrew competency (particularly in Grades 2-8), as well as creative and critical thinking.

Flexible pacing style

Type Offered
Subject-streaming (tracking)
Multi-age classrooms as standard
Ability-grouping (in-class) as common
Frequent use of cyber-learning (at-their-own-pace)
Regular guided independent study opportunities
Differentiated assessment

What Heschel says about their flexible pacing:

This information is not currently available.

Academic Culture Rigorous

[Show definition of Academic Culture]

Through the collective mindset of teachers, administrators, students, and parents, each school develops and maintains its own academic culture. This generally relates to the norms and expectations created around academic performance. Many parents look to private schools because they want a specific type of culture. Some want a rigorous environment that will elevate their child to new heights. Others want a nurturing environment that will help their child develop a passion for learning.

Academic Culture approach at Heschel: Rigorous

Heschel has a Rigorous approach to Academic Culture (as opposed to Supportive approach).

[Show: About Rigorous?]

A school with a “rigorous” academic culture places a high value on academic performance, and expects their students to do the same. This does not mean the school is uncaring, unsupportive, or non-responsive -- far from it. A school can have a rigorous academic culture and still provide excellent individual support. It does mean, however, the school places a particular emphasis on performance -- seeking the best students and challenging them to the fullest extent -- relative to a normal baseline. High expectations and standards – and a challenging yet rewarding curriculum – are the common themes here. Keep in mind this classification is more relevant for the older grades: few Kindergarten classrooms, for example, would be called “rigorous”.

Academic Culture at schools on
  Rigorous - 50%
  Supportive - 50%

What Heschel says about their academic culture:

Heschel's teaching methodology is based on the “Teaching for Understanding” model that originated at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Heschel teachers use many tools to achieve understanding, including the arts, multiple intelligences and multi-sensory learning. Children are taught in small skill groups, which provide each student with a high level of personal attention.

Developmental priorities Balanced

[Show definition of Developmental priorities]

Schools have specific goals regarding how they want their educate and develop their students. This is part of a school's overall philosophy or vision, which is contained in its mission statement. While they tend have several developmental aims, schools tend to priortize certain aims, such as intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional, or physical development.

Primary Developmental Priority: Balanced

Equal emphasis is placed on a balance of priorities: intellectual, emotional, social and physical cultivation.

What Heschel says about their developmental priorities:

Our progressive interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to nurture the habits of heart, soul, body and mind that enable children to flourish academically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Special needs support

[Show definition of Special needs support]

Schools offer a wide range of approaches and services to support students with special needs. This may include individualized learning, one-on-one support, small classes, resource rooms, and learning aids. These supports may be provided in a number of different environments such as a dedicated special needs school or class, an integrated class, a withdrawal class, or a regular class with resource support or in-class adaptations.

A - Forms of Support
B - Environments
Indirect Support:
Resource Assistance:
Withdrawal Assistance:
Partial Integration:
Full-Time Class:

Special NeedNeed
Forms of SupportA
  • Learning disabilities
    Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability)
    This is a learning disability that can limit a child's ability to read and learn. It can have a variety of traits. A few of the main ones are impaired phonological awareness and decoding, problems with orthographic coding, and auditory short-term memory impairment.
    Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
    This is a sound differentiation disorder involving problems with reading, comprehension, and language.
    This is a kind of specific learning disability in math. Kids with this math disorder have problems with calculation. They may also have problems with math-related concepts such as time and money.
    This is a kind of specific learning disability in writing. It involves problems with handwriting, spelling, and organizing ideas.
    Language Processing Disorder
    This is characterized by having extreme difficulty understanding what is heard and expressing what one wants to say. These disorders affect the area of the brain that controls language processing.
    Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)
    These involve difficulties interpreting non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language. They're usually characterized by a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual-spatial, and social skills.
    Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
    A characteristic seen in people with learning disabilities such as Dysgraphia or Non-verbal LD. It can result in missing subtle differences in shapes or printed letters, losing place frequently, struggles with cutting, holding pencil too tightly, or poor eye/hand coordination.
  • Developmental
    Refers to a range of conditions that involve challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and speech and nonverbal communication. They also involve unique strengths and differences. For instance, there are persons with both low- and high-functioning autism (some claim the latter is identical to Asperger's syndrome).
    Asperger's Syndrome
    On the autism spectrum, Asperger's is considered quite mild in terms of symptoms. While traits can vary widely, many kids with Asperger's struggle with social skills. They also sometimes fixate on certain subjects and engage in repetitive behaviour.
    Down syndrome
    his is associated with impairment of cognitive ability and physical growth, and a particular set of facial characteristics.
    Intellectual disability
    This is a condition characterized by significant limitations in intellectual functioning (e.g., reasoning, learning, and problem solving). Intellectual disabilities are also known as general learning disabilities (and used to be referred to as a kind of mental retardation).
    Williams syndrome
    This is a rare genetic disorder present at birth. It is characterized by intellectual disabilities or learning problems, unique facial features, and cardiovascular problems.
    Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
    Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy. These may include growth deficits, facial anomalies, and damage to the central nervous system, which can lead to cognitive, behavioural, and other problems.
  • Behavioral and Emotional
    Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
    roubled teens tend to have problems that are intense, persistent, and can lead to quite unpredictable behaviour. This can lead to behavioural and emotional issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse, criminal behaviour, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety.
    Clinical Depression
    This is a mental health disorder also called "major depression." It involves persistent feelings of sadness, loss, and anger. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms are usually severe enough to cause noticeable problems in relationships with others or in daily activities, such as school, work, or one's social life.
    Clinical anxiety
    This is a mood disorder involving intense, relentless feelings of distress and fear. They can also have excessive and persistent worry about everyday situations, and repeated episodes of intense anxiety or terror.
    Suicidal thoughts
    This involves persistent thoughts about ending one's life.
    Drug and alcohol abuse
    This involves the excessive use of drug and/or alcohol, which interferes with daily functioning.
    Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    This is a disruptive behavioural disorder which normally involves angry outbursts, often directed at people of authority. This behaviour must last continuously for six months or more and significantly interfere with daily functioning.
  • Physical
    Multiple sclerosis
    This is a condition of the central nervous system. It affects the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. Symptoms can include fatigue, loss of motor control, memory loss, depression, and cognitive difficulties.
    Cerebral palsy
    his refers to a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. CP is caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture.
    Muscular dystrophy
    Muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disorder which weakens the body's muscles. Causes, symptoms, age of onset, and prognosis vary between individuals.
    Spina Bifida
    This is a condition present at birth due to the incomplete formation of the spine and spinal cord. It can lead to a number of physical challenges, including paralysis or weakness in the legs, bowel and bladder incontinence, hydrocephalus (too much fluid in the brain), and deformities of the spine.
    Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
    This is a Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Also known as "sensory integration disorder," it affects fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech.
    Visual impairment is a decreased ability or inability to see that can't be fixed in usual ways, such as with glasses. Some people are completely blind, while others have what's called "legal blindness."
    Hearing impairment, also known as "hearing loss," is a partial or total inability to hear. The degree of hearing impairment varies between people. It can range from complete hearing loss (or deafness) to partial hearing loss (meaning the ears can pick up some sounds).
    Cystic Fibrosis
    Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an inherited genetic condition, which affects the body's respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems. It affects young children and adults.
    Multiple physical
    Accommodating a wide range of physical conditions and disabilities.

Read our guide to special needs schools and special education

Academic support

Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation
Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties

Mild but clinically diagnosed learning disabilities

Extra support

What Heschel says:

Small ratios, with capacity for accommodations for students with learning challenges and different learning styles. Generally do not provide one-on-one support outside of the classroom. Open to conversations with families about working together to meet the needs of children with exceptionalities. Achieving a high level of Hebrew fluency is important; children with significant language difficulties may be excessively challenged.

Additional support

Social skills programs
Occupational therapy
Speech-language therapy

Gifted learner support In-class adaptations

[Show definition of Gifted learner support]

Schools support students with gifted or advanced learning abilities in a several ways. Whether they offer a full-time gifted program or part-time support, they normally provide some form of accelerated learning (delivering content at a faster pace) or enrichment (covering content more broadly or deeply). Many schools also offer a wide range of in-class adaptations to support advanced learners, such as guided independent studies, project-based learning, and career exploration.

Curriculum Delivery: Enrichment

The main focus is on enrichment. This means that while students may work at a marginally quicker pace than public school peers, the primary aim is to study subject in broader and deeper ways.

In-class adaptations

Program Offered
Custom subject enrichment (special arrangement)
Custom curriculum compacting (special arrangement)
Guided independent study (custom gifted arrangement)
Cyber-learning opportunities (custom gifted arrangement)
Formalized peer coaching opportunities (specifically for gifted learners to coach others)
Custom subject acceleration (special arrangement)
Career exploration (custom gifted arrangement)
Project-based learning (custom gifted arrangement)
Mentorships (custom gifted arrangement)

What Heschel says about their gifted learner support:

Our integrated, project-based approach to learning is modeled on key principles of gifted education. All students at our school learn through this approach.

Extracurricular Activities

While academics remain the priority for most private schools, many also place a strong focus on a well-rounded education and encourage participation in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, arts, or clubs. Involvement in extracurriculars helps stimulate students in their studies, makes them more motivated to learn, and can make school more enjoyable and fulfilling. Extracurricular activities can also provide students with a much-needed break from the stresses of academics, while helping them to develop skills and allowing them to take part in valuable social situations.

Sports offered

The Toronto Heschel School offers 6 competitive sports and 4 recreational sports.

  Competitive offered          Recreational offered
all sports]
  • Archery
  • Curling
  • Ultimate
  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Cricket
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Cycling
  • Downhill skiing
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Field Hockey
  • Figure Skating
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice Hockey
  • Ice Skating
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts
  • Mountain biking
  • Racquet Ball
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Running
  • Sailing
  • Skateboarding
  • Snowboarding
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Squash
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Volleyball
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

Clubs offered

The Toronto Heschel School offers 10 clubs and extracurricular programs.

  Clubs offered           Clubs not offered
all clubs and programs]
  Foreign Language Club
  Habitat for Humanity
  Jazz Ensemble
  Math Club
  Musical theatre/Opera
  Ballet and Classical Ballet
  Online Magazine
  Outdoor Club
  Outdoor Education
  Poetry/Literature club
  Radio club
  Robotics club
  Round Square
  School newspaper
  Science Club
  Student Council
  Art Club
  Astronomy Club
  Audiovisual Club
  Chess Club
  Community Service
  Computer Club
  Dance Club
  Debate Club
  Drama Club
  Environmental Club

What Heschel says about their extracurricular activities:

  • May 2022: Heschel Takes the Cup! Yasher Koach to our incredible Junior High Boys' Softball Team! Their razor-sharp focus and team cohesion produced stellar playing at the JDSSL Boy's Softball Tournament on Wednesday, winning Heschel FIRST PLACE! Go Hornets!
  • May 2022: The Heschel Hornets continue to sting, with our Grade 4/5 Boys Soccer Team taking the trophy and Junior High Girls Softball Team winning second place!
  • May 2022: Congratulations to our shining Heschel Players for their outstanding two-night production of Willy Wonka Jr.
  • June 2022: Grade 4/5 Boys Softball won second place in their tournament - congrats!
  • June 2022: Families joined Heschel for Mitzvah Day, where we made and delivered cards to local first responders, brought flowers to L'Chaim Retirement Homes, and cared for the Heschel Garden.
  • June 2022: our Tarbut committee sold multi-coloured freezies to celebrate Pride and raise funds for Mechane Lev, a Jewish overnight camp for children who are LGBTQS+ and allies.
  • June 2022: In a beautiful initiative organized by our Tikkun Olam Committee, three students donated eleven inches of hair each to Zichron Menachem, an Israeli organization that makes wigs for children with illness-related hair loss. What an incredible act of chesed—kindness.
  • October 2022: At the JDSSL cross country meet, our school received three gold medals, 3 silver metals, and 5 bronze metals! Our Grade 3 girls were particularly impressive, taking home first, second, and third place in their race.
  • November 2022: Heschel’s Grade 4/5 Boys won the JDSSL soccer tournament!

THE OUR KIDS REPORT: The Toronto Heschel School

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