Friday, July 7, 2017

Why We Chose To Send Our Kids To Catholic Schools


Within our family, I did not attend Catholic schools growing up, while my husband did. My older brother attended a Catholic elementary school, but my mom decided to send my sister and me to the public school next door. Mainly her choice was related to the facilities - the Catholic school had open-concept classrooms at the time and she felt this was a distraction. I believe there was also a fee for attending Catholic schools then. Fast forward to today and the difference in facilities is not a factor. In fact, in growing areas like ours, there are many beautiful new Catholic schools.

Here in Ontario, we are fortunate to have options when it comes to where we send our children to school within the public school system. Both public and Catholic elementary and secondary schools are widely available in many areas, including here in the Greater Toronto Area.



Most of us as parents aren't primarily concerned with school buildings alone. We take parenting and the responsibilities that come along with it seriously, and we want our children to spend their days in school environments that not only educate them but help guide them into becoming caring and responsible citizens.

When I was pregnant with my first child (who is now 15), my husband was just completing his degree in Education. Having attended Catholic schools himself, he applied to work at Ontario Catholic schools. At the time, I was also working in public relations at a Catholic school board. It wasn’t really much of a question where would we send our children to school. In fact, my son now attends the high school where my husband teaches. (And no, he doesn't mind seeing his dad at school).

With our firsthand knowledge of the Catholic school system, my husband and I were confident and comfortable in knowing that our two kids would be educated in an environment that focuses on compassion and social justice, modeled on the example of Jesus. You don't have to be a regular church-goer to support core values such as acceptance and forgiveness of others.


As developing individuals in a complex society, my children have benefited from the focus their Ontario Catholic teachers place on values such as fairness, compassion, respect and concern for social justice and the environment. One great example from my son's Grade 9 year is the "Unburn" Book he created for Religion class. Maybe you have heard of the Burn Book, created by the character Regina George in the movie Mean Girls? It's a book full of rumours, stories, and gossip about her high school classmates. We all know these kinds of hurtful interactions take place among teens. For his Unburn Book, my son was asked to choose a number of people he admires and outline how those people demonstrate caring and model the Beatitudes (such as Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy). I thought this was quite a valuable lesson to get the kids thinking about how they speak about others.

Of course we don't want our children to live in a bubble with no understanding of other religions. In our diverse and global society, acceptance of other beliefs is so important. In his Grade 11 Religion course, my son will study world religions. Students learn about other faiths, such as Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Taoism and Sikhism, among others. Teachers often take them on excursions to mosques and synagogues.


Along with valuable lessons in subjects such as science, English and physical education, Catholic teachers share lessons that extend beyond the classroom. Sometimes our kids get a little tired of hearing life lessons from Mom and Dad and it's comforting to know that their teachers are reinforcing the core values we promote at home. Graduates of Ontario's Catholic schools participate in elections, donate to charities and volunteer at very high rates.

Watch the video to see how Eli, co-founder of the Gay-Straight Alliance at St. Thomas Villanova has created and found a safe space:


video




Visit Ontario's Catholic Teachers online for more success stories from Ontario's Catholic school communities.

Did you attend Catholic school? What life lessons did you learn?


*This post is part of the YummyMummyClub and Ontario's Catholic Teachers #CatholicTeachers sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for providing your perspective on this issue. I'm sure it will be helpful to other parents wondering if it's the right choice for them. Your daughter is adorable, btw!

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    1. Aww, thanks Jenna! She is turning into a little woman now, but I still think she's super cute. ;)

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  2. I had no idea that Catholic schools taught world religions and I LOVE that unburn book idea! So smart! For a moment I thought you lived in my city when you mentioned the school name but your about page says you are in Toronto so I guess we just have a school twin.

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    1. I really like the world religions component. And I agree the Unburn Book is such a great idea. Yes, there are lots of school twins - I guess because there are limited saints' names, haha.

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  3. Love the idea of the of the Unburn book - such a powerful lesson and something to carry forward. I too have chosen Catholic Schools and been really happy with the focus on values.

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    1. I'm glad you also have had a positive experience in our Catholic schools Kerrie. :)

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  4. I'm glad your experience was great. But... Because there always is one... I think you've left yourself open to some negative shots, For instance, a school doesn't teach compassion etc., it may reinforce it, but doesn't necessarily teach it. Think of the difficulty in teaching children of many faiths in one building, the challenges this poses. This is part of the reason I don't support having two boards, it's truly not fair to all of the other religions because they cannot be publicly funded. Think about it from their perspective, how compassionate are you for them? My personal experience in the Catholic board has been nothing but negative. Being the mother to two Catholic children and a Catholic husband where I am not Catholic has been... Let's say quite interesting... Not being allowed to be chair or co chair of parent council. Having to have special permission to even be on council as a parent representative... Yet you toot compassion? Having to hear my kids come home and talk about the "publics" in a negative way, how they don't give to charity etc., this is the influence of the Catholic school! Again, just a different perspective. I just think you could have done a better job on your article, it was very weighted to the Catholic perspective only. A good writer, no matter how inexperienced writes to both sides equally.

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    1. I'm sorry your experience with your Catholic school has been negative. My kids have several friends (at their Catholic schools) with one Catholic parent and one non-Catholic parent. And, in high school, there are students with no Catholic parents, as the schools are open to all. Many people of different religions have chosen to send their kids to Catholic high schools for various reasons. In my personal experience, I haven't heard my children say anything negative about public schools and of course they have friends who attend public school. My article is indeed weighted to the Catholic perspective, as that was the intended focus. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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  5. While I agree that a good writer have to mention both pros and cons, I think you are venting here. Just because you are not catholic and haven't been allowed to be chair to parent council.
    The school is not the only one responsible for your kids. You are too! You can teach them your values and why you think it's not good to donate to charity. It's upto them to pick what they believe for themselves!
    Not fair to have 2 different school board but fair for everyone to take a statutory day off for christmas and new year and yet call it the 'holidays'?
    I think this article is quite helpful for parents deciding whether to enroll their kids in catholic school or not and compare.

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    1. I had a look at one board's policy regarding Catholic School Councils and the membership section does not say that a parent representative must be Catholic. I can't imagine a school excluding a parent for that reason.

      I can't really speak to the public school experience, as my children have only attended Catholic schools and I went to school a looong time ago. ;) I do admit that I enjoy the fact that the kids can celebrate Christmas fully and without reservation, however I am thankful also that their teachers have been mindful of other holiday traditions from other religions as well.

      I think it's great teachers who really make the difference, whatever school you attend.

      Thanks for your comment.

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