decisions about high school
If you are considering a private high school in Ontario, check out OurKids.net. Most private schools offer the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, so the content is the same, but the way students interact with the concepts may differ. Some private schools have a different approach, provide a different environment or have different standards and expectations of students. Do your research to find a school that would be a good fit for your teen's unique learning profile.
If you are enrolling your teen in a school that is part of a public or separate school board, your local school will offer a range of course options. Be aware that there are some schools within the board that offer unique programs, courses or environments that may be more beneficial to your teen.
A starting point for parents in helping their teens select courses is on the PeopleForEducation website. This outlines the types of courses offered to grade 9-10s and 11-12s.
As teens have more options (i.e. grades 11 and 12), it is important to have a good variety of subjects, while emphasizing the courses of interest.
A school guidance counsellor at your school is knowledgeable in supporting course selection if you have any questions. Alternatively, if you want to incorporate course selection into a broader career plan, consider FCC's course or coaching options.
re-take a course?
If your teen has failed the first time and the credit is needed or wanted, consider taking the course or investigating other options.
Taking a course a second time because your teen didn't do as well as they had hoped (but you passed) generally is not a good idea in grades 11 and 12. That's because universities and colleges will see on their high school transcript that he/she took the course more than once. Some institutions when calculating averages for admission will penalize them. Do your homework on that one.
There may be cause for taking a grade 9 or 10 course a second time if it means that your teen has the opportunity to stay on the academic/university track if that is important to them.
Advanced placement (AP) courses
Some schools/school boards offer Advanced Placement course options (sometimes as part of a whole programme). These are university-level courses that students would take in their final year(s) of high school.
To find out more about AP courses in general, check out The College Board or for specific AP courses offered at your local school/board, look at your local school board website.
Specialist High Skills major (SHSM)
Some of Ontario's public and separate schools offer a Specialist High Skills Major in selected fields to grade 11s and 12s.
In order for students to earn an SHSM seal on their diploma, they must complete a specific bundle of courses in a selected field, earn industry certifications, and complete a related co-operative education placement.
See a complete list of school boards offering different SHSM fields in 2019-20.
International baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program (DP)
This 2-year program for grade 11 and 12 is geared to the self-motivated, highly academic students who are looking for a challenge. The IB Diploma Programme is recognized globally for how it prepares students for success in post-secondary education.
Some private schools provide the option of DP. Many public and separate school boards have specific schools that offer the program. Generally, to be accepted into the IB Diploma Program is a rigorous process.
If your teen needs special education support, likely by this point you have been in regular communication with the resource teacher and/or other professionals at his/her school to develop and review his/her Individual Education Plan (IEP).
If your teen is in grade 8, there will be meetings scheduled to help support transitions to high school, and significant support in the program/course selection. Approach these meetings with an open mind and with the perspective that everyone has your teen's best interest in mind.