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Schooling: which school board is right for your child?

As parents, we agonize over the decision of where to send our children to school. How close is the school to our home? Is it French or English (or a bit of both?) How big is the school? What is the academic performance of the school? The leadership? The teachers? 

The reason we agonize is simple

There are 168 hours in a week. About 70 of those will be spent sleeping, which leaves 98. School takes up approximately 6.5 hours a day, which is 32.5 hours per week. That means your child spends 33% of their time per week in school and that doesn’t even include before or after school activities. We want to know that our children are safe and happy in that huge chunk of time away from us.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) is reaching out to families to support them in making such a difficult decision. They strive to provide all of their students with a well-rounded education, inspiring and guiding children to realize their spiritual, social and academic potential. Here are some reasons parents of over 40,000 students in Ottawa choose to send their kids to an OCSB school:

French at every school

Bilingualism is one of the many things that makes Ottawa such a beautiful and vibrant city. It’s no surprise that when shopping for a school, “French” is often near the top of the requirements list for many Ottawa parents. 

Currently, every school in the OCSB offers pathways for your child to learn French. In junior and senior kindergarten, every student receives 50% of their instruction time in French, and 50% in English. To learn more about their approach to French, visit their website

Offering a values-based education

The OCSB encourages students to get involved in social justice initiatives. They’ve been working with schools on a campaign called Keep the Promise, with the aim of bringing an end to child poverty. Check out this video – it’s really inspiring!

The OCSB is also focused on faith-based education – not a coercion of faith, but giving the learner the opportunity to explore their spirituality. My daughter gets to hear faith stories that she LOVES. She has started to draw adorable pictures of these stories, which she proudly shares with her Catholic grandparents. Although my daughter has been raised in a United church, her school had space availability for her, and we are so happy with her experience thus far.

Encouraging care for the environment

I don’t know about you, but learning about our environment is a top priority for me for my daughter’s education. I can see the havoc that climate change is having on our ecosystems, and it’s SO important to me that my daughter learns by example.

The OCSB has strived to improve its energy efficiency track record. A great article published in the Ottawa Citizen features the newly designed St. Dominic Catholic Elementary School. The school is equipped with rooftop solar panels, energy efficient lighting, low flush toilets and more. The OCSB actually leads Ontario’s school boards in energy conservation as the top performing school board in the province!

Preparing our kids for the future

As our children grow up in an era of high-speed and high-tech, there are questions surrounding the usefulness of technology in the classroom. But what if we harnessed the incredible power of technology to promote learning? Recently, the OCSB was picked out of 35 school boards in Canada to become a case study in how technology can be integrated into the classroom.  The board has a “bring your own device” policy for students, and each teacher has their own laptop and tech support. How much paper waste do you think gets diverted with a high-tech school system? I’m thinking it’s a lot!

The OCSB also built their own curriculum called “Samaritans on the Digital Road” which teaches students how to be smart “digital citizens” from the lens of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Many parents are relieved and encouraged to know that their children aren’t just learning how to use technology, but they’re learning how to use it responsibly.

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When I ask parents what their number one concern is when it comes to choosing a school board, I rarely hear “academic achievement” as the top priority – although we all care about what our children are doing and learning in school, I think most of us realize that good grades are about so much more. Education is about children learning social and environmental responsibility, developing strong values, and being given the freedom to choose what’s important to them. The “A” that we see on a report card is just a tiny piece of the educational pie.  

Does your child attend a school with OCSB? What were the reasons behind this choice?