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  • Pinoy Parents Choose To Send Their Kids To A Catholic Public School in Canada (It's Free!)

    The Filipino kids didn't need a lot to adjust in their new school in Toronto, Canada.
    by Rachel Perez .
Pinoy Parents Choose To Send Their Kids To A Catholic Public School in Canada (It's Free!)
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Uprooting a family for a better life abroad is already a challenge in itself. Even making it trickier is helping the kids adjust without disrupting their life too much. One aspect where kids can look for a sense of normalcy outside the home is their school. 

    Shar and Jolly Picache took into consideration school options for their kids when they were still choosing a country to migrate to. Before they left the country, their younger son, then 6, had just started first grade in a traditional, all-boys school. Their older daughter, then 9, was already in Grade 4 in a private, all-girls school. 

    "Based on our research, Canadian education consistently ranked among the top in the world," Shar told Smartparenting.com.ph via Facebook Messenger. "In terms of cost, public school education for elementary and high school was free, depending on the province," she added. 

    They didn't know yet which province in Canada they would settle in, but it was the country that best presented offered two of their requirements for their kids' school: quality education at low costs. 

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    Each neighborhood has its own public community school. 

    When the family settled in Toronto, Canada, Shar and Jolly found out that they didn't have a lot of choices. The country's public school education system had narrowed it down for them as each neighborhood has its own community schools.

    "Our neighborhood's community Catholic school was already full, so they endorsed us to the Catholic public school in a nearby neighborhood," Shar explained. It was lucky that the second Catholic school they applied to accepted the kids for the school year, which had already started. The children's schools back home were both Catholic, too.

    "Having come from traditional private school educational backgrounds back home, this was new territory for us," Shar said about sending their kids not only to a co-ed school but a public one. But she and her husband quickly loved many things about it.

    For starters, kids have more time to do other things outside of school. "They are in school from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and get home by 3:30 p.m.," Shar shared. Since the school was close to their home, there were no traffic jams that ate up a big chunk of their children's' time going to school and back home.

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    Shar added that while the kids also have homework, but it's usually done in just 20 to 40 minutes. "All that free time can be used for rest, play, and after school recreation," Shar said in relief. 

    The kids, though, don't have periodic exams. The couple themselves graduated from traditional schools in the Philipines, and exams have always been the way to measure how much students learned. "My husband and I are still trying to change that mindset of quantitatively measuring one's learning," Shar admitted.

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    The free cost of education is a huge burden off their shoulders.

    Sending two kids to private schools can be costly in the Philippines. But in Toronto, where Shar and Jolly are settled in, education is free even for children of parents who are on a work or study visa. The family just got their permanent residency a year after moving to Canada.

    Tuition is free for public elementary and high school students, and that already includes supplies and bus transportation fees. "It's not technically free since our taxes pay for it," Shar clarified. Still, parents only had to pay for some school trips and activities, and the cost of which is still minimal. 

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    "This really lifts a huge weight off our shoulders," the mom of two confessed. "As new immigrants, it's comforting to know that our kids will continue to get an education while we work on being financially stable," Shar added. They were starting from scratch in a new country.

    Shar and Jolly chose the closest school available in their area that's most similar to their kids' schools here in the Philippines. Still, it was a significant change, especially for their daughter. "It was tough at first, especially for our daughter, who had to leave behind her friends back in the Philippines," Shar said.

    The children also started school in Toronto three months into the school year. Like any other student transfers, "they had to hit the ground running and catch up," the mom of two added. By the end of the school year, though, their kids were fully adjusted and had made friends already.

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    Nearly three years on, Shar and Jolly's older daughter is now in Grade 6 while their son is in Grade 3. They're still in the same school they first enrolled in when they arrived in Toronto.

    The Picaches have more time to spend together as a family, too. The kids have free time after school, and Shar and Jolly earn enough for a comfortable life without having to worry about tuition. These are two of the main reasons they brought their family to another country to start anew. 

    Apart from proximity to your home and cost of tuition, click here to know what else to prioritize when choosing which school to enroll your kids.

    *This article was updated on Feb 18, 11:45 p.m. to correct the kids' ages. 

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