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9 Alternative Education Options in Calgary, AB

Posted by Justin Havre on Monday, August 14th, 2023 at 11:10am.

Education Options for Students in Calgary, ABEvery child is unique, and so are their learning needs! Traditional public education still has its place and value, but may not always be the best fit for every child. Thankfully, Calgary offers up a plethora of alternative education options, catering to differing interests, learning styles, cultural backgrounds, and more.

Choosing the right educational pathway for your child is a big decision, and many parents understandably get caught up in the academic results, amenities, security features, and so on. While it’s great to know that your child’s school has the latest technology and computer equipment, robust security measures like CCTV and smart traffic cameras around the neighbourhood, it’s vital to consider how your child learns best, and what environment would best suit their needs and strengths.

Whether your child is a budding performer with stars in their eyes, a gifted academic learner, or a curious scientist in the making, Calgary has the right alternative program for every student. Let's dive into some of the exciting alternative education options available in this wonderful city.

Bilingual, Immersion, and Language Minority Programs

For parents wanting to expose their children to languages beyond English, Calgary is home to an impressive array of bilingual, immersion, and language and culture programs. These wonderful programs provide a unique opportunity for keen students to become proficient in a second language, while also gaining valuable, character-building insights into diverse cultures.

Some of the language programs offered by the Calgary Board of Education include: 

  • Early and Late French Immersion 
  • Chinese/Mandarin Bilingual 
  • German Bilingual 
  • Spanish Bilingual 

Fine Arts Programs

Calgary schools provide many fine arts programs that cater to students with a passion for performing, be it music, dance, and/or drama, as well as a host of other creative expressions. These programs offer enhanced artistic experiences, dynamic workshops, and projects to nurture the talents of aspiring artists.

The Calgary Board of Education offers Arts-Centered Learning Programs, while the Calgary Catholic School District provides Fine Arts Programs and Bishop Grandin Marching Band.

Gifted Programs

Gifted children with exceptional academic abilities and a thirst for knowledge can benefit greatly from specialized gifted programs with a keen focus on challenging and encouraging their intellectual growth.

The Calgary Board of Education offers the Queen Elizabeth & Henry Wisewood GATE Program, while the Westmount Charter School near Parkdale is another fantastic option, offering a gifted program to students from Kindergarten through Grade 12.

Montessori Programs

The Montessori Method presents a child-centred educational approach, fostering keen exploration, courage and independence, and self-motivated learning. Calgary schools with Montessori programs create mixed-age classrooms, encouraging plenty of hands-on, discovery-based learning.

The Calgary Board of Education has Montessori Programs for Kindergarten and Grade 1 entry. 

Meanwhile, Private/Charter options include:

  • Calgary Montessori School
  • Montessori School of Calgary
  • Grey Matter Montessori
  • Maria Montessori Education Centre
  • River Valley School
  • Montessori Alberta

Science and STEM-Focused Programs

Children with a special interest and/or talent in science, technology, engineering, and math should explore Calgary's STEM-focused programs. These programs provide additional resources and learning opportunities for aspiring scientists to become further immersed in these fields.

The Calgary Board of Education offers the Langevin & Louis Riel Science Program, while Connect Charter School (formerly Calgary Science School) is a private, STEM-focused option for Grades 4 through 9.

Sports Programs

Aspiring athletes can certainly find programs in Calgary that support their high-level sports pursuits, all while ensuring their academic success doesn’t take a back seat! Options include:

  • National Sport School for Grades 9 to 12 (Calgary Board of Education)
  • Hockey Canada Skills Academy for Grades 4 to 12 (Calgary Catholic School District)
  • The Edge School for Athletes is another option available for Kindergarten to Grade 12

Waldorf/Steiner Programs

The Waldorf/Steiner education approach focuses on imaginative, holistic, and age-appropriate learning. These programs center around all things creativity and storytelling, as well as the importance of fostering a meaningful connection to our natural world.

The Calgary Waldorf School (not far from West Springs) offers this unique educational approach from Kindergarten to Grade 9.

Self-Directed Learning

For students who thrive in a more learner-focused environment, Calgary’s self-directed learning programs offer individualized education designed to meet each student's unique needs, abilities, and interests for maximum results.

Banbury Crossroads School is the only private school in Calgary that focuses on self-directed learning. Their website also highlights the benefits of this learning environment, if you’d like to read more.

Traditional and Preparatory Education Programs

For those seeking a traditional, rigorous approach to education, Calgary offers programs that emphasize academic achievement and university preparation. Options include:

Calgary Board of Education:

  • Traditional Learning Centre (TLC) Program
  • Foundations for the Future (charter)

Private/Charter Schools:

  • Clear Water Academy
  • Master’s Academy & College
  • Rundle College
  • Webber Academy 
  • West Island College
  • Strathcona-Tweedsmuir
  • Delta West Academy

No Shortage of Education Options in Calgary

Calgary is a wonderful city that recognizes that one size most certainly does not fit all when it comes to obtaining a stellar education. 

It’s essential, of course, to thoroughly research each option before making a final decision to ensure the best educational experience for your child. With a wide range of alternative education options, Calgary parents can easily find the perfect fit for their child's interests, learning style, and cultural background.

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