The beginning of the year is the time to start planning for September if you have a child who is 4 this year, and eligible for Junior Kindergarten, or a Grade 8 student who is moving to high school in the fall. Schools (and school boards) are vying for your attention and holding open houses or other events to encourage enrollment at their school.
Many families (and students) will have started thinking about these decisions well before now and may have even made some school visits. For others the ads on the radio and in the newspapers will be the first notice of registration processes for the fall. If you are unsure about which school system, public or catholic, English or French, this is your chance to visit schools and talk to the school staff. Look for information in local papers, on the school boards websites or call your local schools.
For parents of a child with a disability the need for information about the schools is critical. Accessibility and transportation may be important requirements and a visit to the school, as well as a meeting with school staff, will help you to have a better understanding of the school site. To find out more about the programs and services available at the school a more formal meeting may be required where information about your child will be shared.
For young children starting Junior Kindergarten (born in 2012) or Senior Kindergarten (born in 2011) you need to find out about the registration process and important dates. In most school board registration for kindergarten starts in January or February and parents are asked to come to the school and complete a registration form. Parents will need to bring the following documents:
- Proof of age (birth certificate or passport)
- Proof of address (two pieces of identification that show your address, such as a phone bill)
- Proof of immunization (the card that shows a list of needles your child has received)
- Verification of date of arrival and residential status (permanent resident or refugee), if your child was not born in Canada.
As part of the registration process it is a good idea to let the school know about your child’s special needs. There may be an additional form to complete, or you may be asked to have a meeting with school staff. Schools need to know about your child in order to plan effectively for their arrival at school in September. To help you with the transition into school, check the information under Starting School:
- School Entry Action Plan
- Is your Child Starting School for the First Time?
- Parent Tips for Successful Transitions
Starting High School
Moving to high school is about much more than selecting a school and involves decisions about programs and courses. Most students begin thinking about high school in Grade 7 and will have been planning for the future using tools such as the Ministry of Education Individual Pathway Plan (IPP) or MyBlueprint Education Planner. The IPP is part of Creating Pathways to Success, The New Education and Career/Life Planning Program for all Ontario students (grades K-12). The program emphasizes the importance of careful planning as students make their way through school. All students in grades 7-12 will develop an Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) that they will review and revise twice each year. MyBlueprint is an on-line planner that some school boards are using for individual pathways planning.
For students with special education needs planning for high school is more complex and you will want to know how the high school supports students with special needs. School staff, who know your child, will be able to provide you with information on high school programs and link you with the special education staff at high school. As you gather information about the high school options you will also want to develop a transition plan for the student, documented as part of their Individual Education Plan (IEP). You may need to set up planning meetings at the high school and opportunities for the student to spend time in the new school.
For more information on the IEP check the article, The Individual Education Plan – Frequently Asked Questions. For tips on the transition to high school, check the articles under the section of this blog on High School.