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Alternative Education Options in Calgary

Although you may know that a mainstream public program just isn’t right for your child, it can be difficult to know where to turn to find the perfect fit. Whether you’re looking for something for your theatre kid, want a more faith-based learning community, or need a school which will keep your gifted child interested, Calgary has options for every child and for every family.

Bilingual, Immersion, and Language Minority Programs

Calgary is home to a wide variety of program options for parents who wish to expose their children to one or more non-English languages during the regular school day. Bilingual programs offer an approximately 50 per cent instructional time between English and the second language; immersion programs offer between 50 per cent and 100 per cent instruction in the second language. Language and culture programs offer both language and cultural instruction.

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • Chinese/Mandarin Bilingual Program (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

  • Early French Immersion Program (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Late French Immersion Program (Grades 7 to 12)

  • German Bilingual Program (Kindergarten to Grade 6)

  • Spanish Bilingual Program (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

Offered through the Calgary Catholic School District:

  • Filipino Language and Culture (Grades 10 to 12)

  • Italian Language and Culture (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • French Immersion (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

  • Extended French (Grades 10 to 12) Continuing French classes for students who have completed French Immersion.

  • Spanish Bilingual (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Calgary French & International School (Kindergarten to Grade 12) French immersion program.

  • Lycée Louis Pasteur (Kindergarten to Grade 12) French/English bilingual program including both Alberta Education and French Ministry of Education curricula.

  • Almadina Language Charter Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 9) Offers French, Arabic, and Urdu instruction.

Fine Arts Programs

Many schools in Calgary offer additional resources, school time, and programming to suit students with an exceptional interest in the fine arts (music, dance, drama, etc.) or offer unique courses or extracurriculars. More of the school’s budget may be devoted to workshops, school trips, and/or school-wide artistic projects, or extra fees may be required from parents to allow for this.

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • Arts-Centered Learning Program (Grades 5 to 12).

  • Offered at selected schools.

Offered through the Calgary Catholic School District:

  • Bishop Grandin Marching Band (Grades 10 to 12)

  • Fine Arts Program (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

  • Offered at selected schools.

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Calgary Arts Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 9) 

Gender-Segregated Programs

There are several gender-segregated program choices available in Calgary for parents who feel a single-gender environment is right for their children. Boys-only programs often employ a more active, hands-on learning approach with added emphasis on personal responsibility; girls-only programs tend to focus on community- and group-based learning, with an emphasis on women’s studies, female achievement, and leadership.

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • Alice Jamieson Girls’ Academy (Grades 4 to 9)

  • Sir James Lougheed All Boys Program (Kindergarten to Grade 6)

Offered through the Calgary Catholic School District:

  • Sacred Heart Single Gender Program (Kindergarten to Grade 6) Boys and girls are segregated during classes; recess, lunch hour, etc. are integrated.

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Calgary Girls’ School (Grades 4 to 9)

  • North Point School for Boys (Kindergarten to Grade 9) 

Gifted Programs

Gifted programs are specifically designed to assist children with exceptional academic performance, learning rate, depth of knowledge and reasoning compared with other children their age. This is usually determined by a psychological assessment. Gifted programs are tailored to provide challenging, open-ended learning experiences which allow gifted children to explore their potential.

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • Queen Elizabeth & Henry Wisewood GATE Program (Grades 4 to 12)

Offered through the Calgary Catholic School District:

  • Cardinal Newman & St. Jean Brebeuf Congregated Gifted Program (Grades 7 to 9) 

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Westmount Charter School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

Montessori Programs

The Montessori Method is a child-centered educational approach which employs mixed-age classrooms, student choice of activity, uninterrupted blocks of focused work time, ‘discovery-based’ education (rather than direct instruction), freedom of movement, and exploratory learning. Montessori is a popular style of education for younger children, but requires a great deal of self-motivation at higher grade levels. Due to the unique nature of Montessori education, it can be difficult for children to transition from or to regular programming. 

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • Montessori Program (Kindergarten to Grade 6) Kindergarten and Grade 1 entry only.

  • Offered at select schools.

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Grey Matter Montessori (Kindergarten)

  • Montessori School of Calgary (Kindergarten to Grade 6)

  • Maria Montessori Education Centre (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

  • River Valley School (Kindergarten to Grade 6)

  • Montessori Alberta (Kindergarten)

  • Calgary Montessori School (Kindergarten to Grade 6)

Religious Programs

Calgary has many schools, which offer religious education and observance as an integral part of their programming. Often, these schools will have academic time set aside for formal religious instruction. They may have additional codes of student conduct in accordance with their religious affiliation. Many religious schools offer tours, Open Houses, and meetings with faculty so you can be sure their outlook and philosophy matches your family’s faith tradition.

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • No formal religious education offered. 

Offered through the Calgary Catholic School District:

All students are educated in the Catholic faith and religious traditions from Kindergarten to Grade 12, including school celebrations and participation in Catholic Church services.

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Calgary Jewish Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

  • Calgary Islamic School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Glenmore Christian Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

  • Heritage Christian Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Bearspaw Christian School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Calgary Christian School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Clear Water Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

Science and STEM-focused Programs

Some schools in Calgary offer additional resources, school time, and programming to suit students with an exceptional interest in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering, and math) or offer unique courses or extracurriculars. More of the school’s budget may be devoted to field studies, school trips, and/or school-wide inquiry projects, or extra fees may be required from parents to allow for this. 

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • Langevin & Louis Riel Science Program (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Connect Charter School (formerly Calgary Science School) (Grades 4 to 9)

Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning is a broad category featuring learner-focused, individualized programs which meet each student at their own level. Often, self-directed programs take place in a multi-age setting. They require self-motivation and discipline, but also allow for open-ended projects and student-led exploration, which can result in a much greater depth of understanding.

Offered through the Calgary Catholic School District:

  • Bishop Carroll High School (Grades 10 to 12)

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Summit West Independent School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Banbury Crossroads School (Kindergarten to Grade 12) 

Sports Programs

Sports programs are designed specifically to support high-level athletes who would not otherwise be successful in their academic endeavours due to insufficient time for school or who wish to devote a greater percentage of their time to the development of skills in their chosen sport. Many sports programs provide one-on-one mentorship, sports psychologists, and other adaptations to ensure academic and professional success for young athletes.

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • National Sport School (Grades 9 to 12)

Offered through the Calgary Catholic School District:

  • Hockey Canada Skills Academy (Grades 4 to 12)

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Edge School for Athletes (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

Traditional and Preparatory Education Programs

There are several school options in Calgary, which focus on sequential, whole-group instruction with traditional and rigorous approaches to math and literacy instruction. Academic achievement and university preparation is emphasized. Traditional programs often feature uniforms, a focus on discipline and structure, community involvement and volunteerism, and sometimes allow for students to be grouped by achievement rather than age.

Offered through the Calgary Board of Education:

  • TLC Program (Traditional Learning Centre) (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Foundations for the Future (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

  • Rundle College (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Delta West Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • West Island College (Grades 7 to 12)

  • Strathcona-Tweedsmuir (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Webber Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Clear Water Academy (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

  • Master’s Academy & College

Waldorf/Steiner Programs

Waldorf education focuses on imaginative and holistic instruction which emphasizes age-appropriate learning. Some unique features of Waldorf education include a lack of technology in the classroom, frequent celebrations of traditional Germanic folklore, storytelling, artistic and creativity-focused classroom learning, and a strong connection to the natural world.

Offered Privately/Charter:

  • Calgary Waldorf School (Kindergarten to Grade 9)

This is a non-exhaustive list of program options. Thoroughly research your options before making a final decision.

 

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