Toronto, ON | Grades JK - 12 | Shortlist
Our two girls spent a semester of studies in Canada. We already feel emotional because that was an unforgettable time for them, and we already feel that these months have been immensely profitable for them. So I would like to thank all of the Seneca staff for everything and especially the exceptional care given. Our children were warmly welcomed and they felt safe. It was demanding academically speaking, without forgetting the importance of extracurricular activities. They also made some good friends! We discovered the Canadian school system in a less abrupt way, I guess it's because it is a small structure. The girls had skipped some classes before and the public school would replace one or 2 years earlier. So the school adapted to our needs, which was great. So the kids were not disappointed in any way
We didn't encounter any problems. The staff is adorable - Sharon is a pillar of the school - and the principal was always amicable and available for any inquiry. Children in Seneca hill are really taken care of, they feel loved but that doesn't mean that there is no discipline, they take the matter pretty much seriously! Accountability for every action. That makes it really balanced. They use edsby to communicate info and this website works effectively. But of course, they call you directly if needed.
I really loved the thorough reports there. Teachers were really explaining the content of their work and lots of details about the achievements and things to improve. You could feel that they knew their students so well and had a great experience in their field. We had also amazing parents -teachers meetings every trimester. The English level tremendously increased and in our case, especially the accent. The girls felt truly integrated into the school. Teachers were all competent, following the Canadian curriculum but with something more I guess: they learned some sense of responsibility, accountability and sense of initiative. The girls had a great connection with their teachers, they could talk to them freely about any issues, and were really encouraged to do so. This school has a family atmosphere, surely because it is family-run. The founder is the mother of the current principal
One of my girls learned how to practice a soft version of American football (I forgot the exact name of this sport but it's for children and it's not violent at all) I guess it was culturally tremendously interesting for her! And excellent for the vocabulary, by the way. The school has a huge playground where they make exercise and some other refreshing activities
Less than 15 students per class. Some boys are boisterous at times but nothing problematic from the feedback that I had. I didn't feel any bad spirit of jealousy, or competition, the kids were helping each other. I think it has to do with the small number of students in the class. More adults taking care of them. So the overall feedback from our girls has been excellent. There is a genuine "esprit de camaraderie" at Seneca hill. A lot of teamwork and they learn to communicate online with these google software (it prepares them for their future professional life) A lot of friendship Although the girls stayed only for 6 months, the school organized a party at a restaurant, I am sure that these times were unforgettable.
The application process was smooth. We had a long conversation with the principal and we agreed upon many things so, nothing special, it was the opposite of bureaucratic or stressful. No entry exams. No endless paperwork but on the form there was room for the children to express themselves and they absolutely enjoyed it: things they loved, their qualities, etc. The principal allowed them to spend a free day at the school, and the integration process went well. There was a girl from her class who was designated to show the premises and explain how things work. As a parent I was of course invited to visit the school. Also, they use edsby the online communication platform both for children and parents, very convenient!
We used public transport, nothing special to say about it, there are 2 bus lines. Pretty simple. The environment outside the school looked really safe. The area is pretty quiet although there is a big mall, a shoppers drug mart, cinemas... I remember that on Friday afternoons they used to buy a snack outside but I guess they have so much to do in class.
Are parents welcome to be involved in the life of the school? Yes although I sadly was too busy to get involved myself. For the rest, it is difficult to answer because of my lack of experience in North American schools. In France the only participation of the parents is about the specific outdoor activities, to compensate for the lack of adults I remember that all the parents had to bring some homemade food for the Christmas party and indeed it was convivial. I guess if we had stayed longer, (more than a mere semester) we would have mingled more with the community of parents because a lot of children are awesome here and so must be their parents! I remember some parents congratulating my daughter after the Christmas show, so cool!
Oh, they were so eager to go to school! They only missed two days in a semester, and they had to be awfully sick not to go... Although as a parent accustomed to the French and British way of teaching (fewer projects, more conventional and academic way of learning), I must admit that our girls enjoyed making some projects and do some research online. There's something about this way of doing that makes the children remember and understand more things than just sit down and learn by heart or to make exercises. They also learned how to make speeches, they get more confidence. The only problem would be the time passed in front of a computer screen - in short, too much internet - but I easily balanced that with a no-tv approach and plenty of books.
I would say that it is an enhanced Canadian curriculum. The academic level is higher than average schools, it is a feeling that I had when I was confronted to other children in other schools. There was no French teacher unfortunately for that semester for one of the girls (but she's a native French speaker so it was no big deal) but it was compensated with successful studies where she learned the good habits and good ways of organizing themselves to optimize their potential. Truly useful: she became more organized in her work. Language teachers are native speakers. Good point. It is project-oriented pedagogically speaking. I guess it is usual in North America. They had, if I'm not mistaken, at least one daily hour of core subjects (maths like science and English)