It’s Back to School – Why I Think I Might Switch My Daughter to Catholic High School #BTS

Question mark heap on table concept for confusion, question or solution
Question mark heap on table concept for confusion, question or solution

So here’s the thing. I’ve been agonizing all summer over a big change for my older daughter. She graduated from grade eight in June. Her year was not great. But let’s face it I’ve been feeling like public school has been letting me and my children down for years now.

When my husband and I adopted our kids, we agreed on a lot of things. We agreed on French immersion and we agreed on names and RESPs for saving and he clearly, a Catholic kid, said NO to Catholic education. Interesting, right? He had some considerable strong feelings about that. I didn’t really have a massive concern either way about Catholic versus public system. But the public high school we’ve enrolled our daughter at is not inspiring confidence in me actually. Both of my girls have IEPs, that’s an individual education plan for learning disabilities, special needs, or anxiety or whatever. It’s supposed to mean that kids with different needs get what they need to succeed. But it doesn’t. It means you battle as a parent often just to get the administration or the teachers sometimes to read the IEP. A couple of conversations I have had with my daughter’s public high school have made me think nobody there has read her IEP, or done any transition meetings. In fact twice now I have spoken to the special education resource person at the public high school and both times huge alarm bells went up. My older daughter is a good student with anxiety. She needs to know she is safe at school. She needs a quiet space when she feels stressed out, and when she feels a panic attack approaching. She also needs extra help in one small area of math. Her grades in French immersion math or As and Bs, mostly As. The last time I spoke with the special education coordinator she suggested my daughter should maybe not do academic math in French. Clearly she hasn’t read anything about my daughter at all.

So on the last day of school this past school year I took her to see the Catholic French Immersion high school near us. And she was mostly receptive to the idea. The visit was a good experience. It’s a uniform school. So that would be different for all of us. It’s also a school with half the enrolment of the public French immersion school. For me, that means potentially more support for my daughter. It also means smaller class sizes. There’s a great drama program at each school. My daughter has a group of friends but they are not a deal breaker for me, or for her. In fact, I feel like, with exception of one girl, they are not a great resource or influence. SO, the fresh start might be a good idea.

I am not Catholic. My husband is. Ultimately, you really just have to prove you have reason to want to be at a Catholic high school. You don’t necessarily have to be Catholic. So there’s that. And I’ve spent some time talking to a couple of kids who recently graduated from there. Great kids with great futures. We’ve been thinking about this all summer. And I’m not sure I’ve made my mind up yet.

Anyone have any experience that might help me make up my mind?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Nancy T

    Our 2 girls attend a FI Catholic Elementary School. My older daughter has an anxiety disorder (Selective Mutism) and has an IEP in place. The principle is amazing – her grade 1 & 2 teachers AMAZING. Grade 3 made me question keeping her there – but it’s only one teacher that seems to not understand or bother with her IEP and required assistance.
    So we’ll see how this year goes – removing my daughter from the school and her friends would be devastating for her and if needed we’ll fight until there’s no fight left to make sure she gets the assistance she needs.

    • Paula

      Nancy – My younger DD oddly sometimes has fewer big issues at school than my ODD with anxiety. Anxiety is such a shitty thing sometimes. She stresses and then procrastinates over something and then suddenly the thing is bigger than it ever was supposed to be and we are all running around trying to get a lid on the anxiety and the assignment or the school issue for P. I hate that. Life should be happy go lucky for kids. I think I have decided. I think I need her to be somewhere that the kids around her will also be good, kind and caring kids. I just get a better feel for all of that right now from the Catholic high school. It’s a good school. It just was never in the plan. I am so happy to hear that your kiddos are doing well.

  • Deanna T.

    My kids are in public school, French Immersion, like your girls. No special issues or IEPs (thus far, knock on wood). The plan is to send them to Catholic High School. Unless we up and move, which would be shocking, the school hubby and I both attended is about a 5 minute walk away. They have uniforms, which I actually think is a plus. Even when I was a kid I sort of *liked* having a uniform, much less worry about what to wear. Though kids still find plenty of ways to compete and judge you on accessories, shoes, or whatever. (If you can believe it I remember at one point the turtle necks we wore under our uniform blouses were a big social indicator as to whether you were cool or not). Hubby and I both had relatively positive experiences at that school, by which I mean the teachers and the learning experiences were solid, and the rest of it pretty much sucked, because well, high school DOES.

    • Paula

      Deanna: Thanks for the comment. Honestly these decisions regarding education make me nuts. Who ever thought they would be this hard? I am glad to hear uniforms were tolerable. I know high school kind of sucked for me too. I was chased home by a bully girl often! That’s what I recall about high school and I was a nerdy academic. Whatever. I am hoping to minimize the sucky – ness of high school for my kids. If that’s even possible.

  • Margarita Ibbott

    Well then… you clearly know how I feel about this issue. You also know that I believe strongly on the principle of “who’s the parent?” At this stage of the game, you get to make all the decisions for what is best for your daughter. Both my daughters changed schools when they entered grade nine. My eldest, went to a school where she knew no one (or maybe one person). And she ended up LOVING IT. As she said, you have to give the transition 6 months to a year. Don’t give up after one month because that will not be the time to make a change. It can be a bit hard but ‘you will find your peeps’ is what she said.

    You know it is the God-honest truth that both my girls LOVE having uniforms. One less anxious decision to make in the day.

    There is a smaller student population at the school that you are now considering so resources may be more accessible. As you know, we are keeping our son (also special needs) in a school that has less students to pull on the resources. The thing is at a high school level, the game changes. You need to be there to ensure that the IEP is followed but know that THEY are also expected to be more independent. You will get that at ANY high school (catholic or public).

    The leap to a Catholic school may not be as big as you think. It may be a chance for a new fresh start that may provide a wonderful and positive experience. There are not guarantees but my daughter had a great experience at that school.

    Everything in my heart and mind wants me to keep saying trust me, you’ll (she’ll) love it. But ultimately, she is your and J’s child.

      • Paula schuck

        Ha! Love how supportive you’ve been. I am the parent. I have made the choice to move her. Now I just need the office to be open the day I go so that I can switch get over fast. I want them to read her iep and get things in place now. I love L fir all her help and support too. I really appreciate that. She’s a good kid with a great future. We’re lucky to know her.