Parent interview on choosing a private school: Lisa McCabe

Lisa McCabe shares insights about choosing a school for her child

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Lisa McCabe has one child, Liam. Liam attended two private elementary schools, one up until Grade 3 (the highest grade of the school), and one from Grade 4 to 6. He started Grade 7 at a new private school in the fall of 2018. This interview focuses  on the decision to send Liam to the two private elementary schools.

We asked her several questions about this process. We covered topics such her goals, research methods used, challenges faced, and plans for the future. Here’s what she had to say.

If you’re interested, read the rest of our parent interviews on choosing a school. You can also read our comprehensive education expert advice guides on choosing a school and getting into a school.


Q: When did you first consider private school?
A: In senior kindergarten.

Q: Why did you consider private school at the elementary level?
A: I had actually originally thought he would be in the public school system and Liam had attended French immersion in SK at a public school. But it became apparent that it wouldn’t be for him. So the teacher reached out and we had some conversations. We came to the conclusion that he might be better off in a private school with smaller classrooms and more challenging programs (Liam was already bilingual.).

Q: Why did you pick these two elementary schools?
A: For Grade 1, I found a school with smaller class sizes and more individualized learning. I liked the school’s approach to learning how to read, and their art, theatre, and music programs. They performed little plays, and there were opportunities for children to interact more, and they had more field trips.

For Grade 4, I was looking for an all-boys school. I visited and met with a school, and they said they’d like to have Liam for the day. So he went for the day while he was still in Grade 3. Compared to the other all-boys school we visited, this seemed like a better fit. It had a warm and welcoming environment, plenty of sporting activities, and presented the opportunity for Liam to grow academically. It also helped that the school was in our neighbourhood.

Q: Were any resources especially helpful in your search?
A: We enlisted the services of an experienced education consultant, a former private school principal, in our search for the second school. She helped to identify Liam’s strengths and challenges and narrow down a list of schools that might be a good fit for him. We also used Our Kids, which allowed us to compare and analyze schools.

Q: Do you have advice for other parents?
A: Selecting a school is a very competitive process, and that should be taken into account. Putting a young child through this process can be very taxing. For example, what if a child is super set on one school and he doesn’t get in? What does that say to him about who he is, his academics, his educational ability and acceptability? It’s important to apply to a number of different schools, which is why, for high school, we had plans A, B, C, and D. You need to help your child manage his expectations.
 

Child-specific advice on school choice
For child-specific insights on choosing a school, read our guide. We explore how school choices crucially depend on kids' unique traits, such as their mental and academic focussocial tendenciesactivity level, academic interests (such as art and STEM), and other attributes (such as giftednessspecial needslearning disabilities, and social issues).

To get school-choice advice customized to your child's unique traits, create a child profile through your user account and read our seven ways to choose a school based on your child's needs (i.e., overall fitmore academic challengesocial strugglesacademic strugglesintensive learning interestsuniversity preparation, and special needs.).

Read the rest of our parent interviews on choosing a school: Catherine MauleJennifer ReynoldsKarim and ShafreenFelix WongCaitlin O’LearyCatherine WangHolly WykesNicole MorellShantiZoe MitchellKim BridgemanSabine KussmanShemin Jaffer

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