The Gleaner

Kindergarten registration is open, but is your child eligible?

Parents who are planning to register their youngsters in a kindergarten class starting next fall have a lot on their minds as they contemplate the next stage in their child’s development, including everything from new lunchboxes and indoor shoes to pencil cases and eligibility certificates.

Some parents may not realize the registration period for both the bilingual K4 and K5 programs at New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) elementary institutions is already open. It’s a fairly common occurrence, says NFSB director general Michael Helm. “At some point before the end of the year, people realize they have to register their child,” he says, suggesting some families leave this important step to the very last minute.

Helm says the schools will do everything they can to accommodate late registrations, but he cautions that obtaining proof from the provincial government that a child is eligible to be educated in English can take time. “Kids can’t be in school unless we have this document,” he confirms, noting that even parents who are on the fence about registering their child in English public education might consider securing their eligibility certificate – just so they are not caught out.

Helm says it is important that parents start thinking now about decisions down the road and consider the possibility a child may want to attend an English institution at a later time. Currently, English-speaking students attending school in French must apply for their eligibility certificate before graduating from high school.

Under the French Language Charter, children living in Quebec qualify for English eligibility if they or a sibling completed the majority of their elementary or secondary school studies in English in Canada. The children of a Canadian parent who did most of their elementary education in English will also qualify, as will children of parents residing in Quebec on a temporary basis. And, while subject to government approval, children with serious learning disabilities may also attend an English institution. Families that are unsure of their status can contact the school board for more information.

Helm says once the question of eligibility is settled, the NFSB offers an especially welcoming bilingual environment for its youngest students with a curriculum based entirely on play. He says learning through play and exposure to social interactions are key components of the program, and they help prepare students mentally and emotionally for more academically challenging content through progressive grade levels.

Kindergarten is also beneficial for students who may have special needs, says Helm. “We can start to identify, support, and work with some of these difficulties or special needs right away,” he explains, suggesting this can be very helpful to the school, as well as the students and their families.

Children must turn four-years-old before September 30 to be enrolled for the 2024-2025 school year. More information is available on the NFSB website, including links to help parents find their school and the corresponding contact information. Helm encourages parents with questions to contact their school to set up a meeting.

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