Welcome to Our Kids.

parent-choosing-interview-zoe-mitchell

We’re here to help you find the right school, the right way.

For more than 20 years we’ve worked with leading education and child development experts to explore and improve the school-choice process. The result is a robust suite of tools—used by over 2.6 million families every year—which enable you to choose your best-fit school among the 350+ profiled on this site.

We’re your virtual school-placement consultant: your personal guide to discovering, evaluating, and choosing the right school for your child.

Take 2 minutes now to open your free account. It will give you access to exclusive insights on how specific schools are a fit (or not) for your student’s learning needs.


Open my free account
Welcome to Our Kids

Parent interview on choosing a private school: Zoe Mitchell

Zoe Mitchell shares insights about choosing schools for her children

Find a list of schools

Zoe Mitchell has three children. They are in Grades 2, 5, and 7.


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

Shop exclusive deals at the Our Kids Store by Microsoft

To further serve the families who turn to us, we've been working with Microsoft to innovate in support of online learning. To that end, we're pleased to announce the launch of the Our Kids Store by Microsoft.

Gain access to exclusive discounts on Surface products—from laptops to accessories that support remote learning—at the Store through your Our Kids account dashboard.


Launch the Store from dashboard

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: How did schooling start for your kids?
A: When we were first looking at education for our kids before they started school, we did have the private school versus public school conversation. We felt like we wanted to go the public route because that's where the majority of children in our community were going. We also wanted them to learn to work with kids from all walks of life, not just privileged children, which you tend to think of in private school.

All our kids started off in the Catholic public system.

Q: When did you first start looking into private school?
A: At the beginning of Grade 5 we noticed that our daughter wasn't performing at the academic level that we had hoped for by this point in her education. And we had chosen not to go the French immersion route, which started in Grade 5 at her school. This created one classroom with 30 kids in the English stream: high-spirited children that probably wouldn't adapt to the French program. Her learning environment was distracting and loud, and there was an ineffective teacher. We thought we couldn't have another year of just getting by.

Q: How did your private school search begin?
A: We asked her if she would want to try out a private Christian school. We felt that we needed to get her out of the public system altogether, because these negative things she was experiencing were the trend across all the schools in the area. We were looking for a more focused education.

She was happy to go and try a private school for one day. I remember saying to the teacher, “I don't know if I can sell this change to her in one day.” And he said, “That's my job.” When I picked her up that day after school she said, “Can I come back tomorrow?” And she's never looked back.

Q: How did you make your final decision?
A: Her reaction was crucial in our decision. It’s pretty incredible at her age to leave kids that she's been with since kindergarten. She had wonderful friendships there. But she felt so invited and welcomed in the new school. Her response was impressive, which made me think it was probably worse than I knew at her old school.

We only looked at only one Christian school for a few reasons. First, it's so close to our house, like within four kilometers. But I also have three cousins who went there when it started. They went from kindergarten to Grade 8. And they're now adults. I was able to ask them what life was like at a small school and hear the pros and cons. I also asked about their transition from high school to university. I got first-hand feedback about two things: their experience in private school, and their experience at this school specifically.

I read a lot about the school’s mission and vision on their website and really liked it. My husband and I were really open to the Christian component because we were coming from a Catholic school, and we felt that the religion part was an asset. We were happy with the price point as well.

The night after my daughter had her visit there was an open house. That's when my husband and I went and had a good tour. We talked to the teacher who’d been with my daughter for the day. Then we went and talked to the teachers that would have our other kids if we transferred them over.

After we talked, I remember saying to the Grade 5 teacher who had my child for one day, “That was the best parent-teacher interview I've ever had. I couldn't believe how much he got in one day, and how well he understood her and her strengths and weaknesses.”

It was a pretty fast decision—literally overnight. She started the next day.

Sometimes it’s easier to make decisions that have to be made on the fly. I mean you do your best to pick the right one and you don't have time to doubt yourself too much.

A lot of thought had gone into the whole idea of getting out of the public system before that day, though. It started when she began complaining about her classroom situation and her general frustrations with her school. It was an evolution in a way, as we made the choice to move to a private school. It’s just that the final part of the decision was very quick. We were just so impressed after our visit that we were willing to send all our kids there overnight.

Q: How did you decide whether to send your other kids to this school?
A: I wanted the decision to be partly theirs, because I was not up for the battle of making them change. You've got to balance out the education with the social component and their comfort. My younger daughter was in SK at the time, and she was being exposed to this new school through her sister. The kindergarten teacher there kept coming to talk to her, and then eventually she said she wanted to go to the same school as her sister.

My son had established really good friendships at the public school and wasn't sold on changing to private. But we were also noticing that learning was a bit of a struggle for him and were looking at having an assessment done. We went down that road, and once we discovered the results and then saw the lack of support we got from his school we had to make a change. We'd been talking to him about the private school through that time and he actually said, “I think I would do better at this school.” It was a joint decision, and we weren't overwhelming him. We obviously wanted him to transfer, but we wanted him to do it on his own will.

Q: Has the school met your expectations?
A: There’s been a huge change in my son. I’m kicking myself for not forcing the move sooner. But he probably wouldn't have adjusted as well if he wasn't ready. He's had a great academic year. I’ve seen him grow as a person. His confidence grew. He's learning. He feels comfortable and well looked after.

I remember when I asked my daughter why she loves the school so much she said, “I finally feel like there's no competition.” She felt like she actually counted, and wasn't just another number in the classroom.

Q: What do you like about the school?
A: We loved that it was a smaller school in general. It's one floor and has smaller classroom sizes, which we valued, because the public education system was just getting way too big. We also felt that the environment was more positive. There was a feeling that the teachers enjoyed their jobs and wanted to be there, that they went above and beyond.

Plus we liked that there were opportunities for different types of education offered at the school. Based on their interests, they could choose programs that focus either on drama and the arts, sports—where kids could spend time learning how to golf, scuba dive, play tennis and more—or a more science-focused, hands-on, building and creating stream.

We knew our kids needed something more than they were getting at their public school. We not only wanted more for them academically, but also felt that their self-esteem could use some fostering at a private school.
 

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 ReynoldsLisa McCabeCaitlin O’LearyKarim and ShafreenCatherine WangHolly WykesShantiFelix WongSabine KussmanKim BridgemanNicole MorellShemin Jaffer

Advertisement
Find Private Schools:

In the spotlight:

Latest Articles


June 22, 2021
A place for children
The York School is not specifically a Montessori school. But Maria Montessori would have loved it, nonetheless: the school is animated by a passionate focus on making learning hands-on, social and engaging.

May 26, 2021
Why your school needs Zebra Robotics
For many educators it’s been a struggle to meet the requirements of the new Ontario coding curriculum. What if they didn’t have to?

May 5, 2021
The evolution and controversies of online learning in the classroom
Perspectives, opinions, and debates

May 4, 2021
The pros and cons of online learning in schools
The viability of an online learning school

May 4, 2021
Questions to ask schools about their online learning approaches
What you need to know about online learning in schools

By logging in or creating an account, you agree to Our Kids' Terms and Conditions. Information presented on this page may be paid advertising provided by the advertisers [schools/camps/programs] and is not warranted or guaranteed by OurKids.net or its associated websites. By using this website, creating or logging into an Our Kids account, you agree to Our Kids' Terms and Conditions. Please also see our Privacy Policy. Our Kids ™ © 2020 All right reserved.

Sign up to receive our exclusive eNews twice a month.

You can withdraw consent by unsubscribing anytime.


Name

Email

verification image, type it in the box

 


Our Kids  From Our Kids, Canada’s trusted source for private schools, camps, and extracurriculars.