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Common Questions

How can I encourage my child to develop good literacy and Numeracy skills?

What are competencies?

Competencies are combinations of attitudes, skills and knowledge that students develop and apply for successful learning, living and working. They help students build upon how and what they know, understand, think and can do. Students develop and apply competencies when they face new challenges, develop solutions to problems, imagine and create.

Alberta’s curriculum promotes the development of the following competencies:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Collaboration
  • Managing Information
  • Cultural and Global Citizenship
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Personal Growth and Well-being.

For more information about competencies, visit the Competencies web page.

How can I help my child to develop competencies?

How can I be involved in my child’s school?

How can I help my child with homework?

How do I find the right school for my child?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a school for your child, including distance from home, language of instruction, programs offered and alignment with your values. Fortunately, you and your child can choose from a wide range of options for schooling: public schools, separate schools, Francophone schools, private schools and charter schools. There are also a number of unique and innovative programs, including home education, online/virtual schools, outreach programs and alternative programs.

When searching for a school or program that will best meet your child’s needs and future aspirations, be sure to research what types of learning experiences a school or program offers. Talk with the school administration and teaching staff and attend school open-house or information events. The more information you gather, the more informed you will be about your options, and the better you’ll feel about your child’s learning experience.

What if my child needs more support to be successful?

If your child is having difficulty learning, the first step is to talk with the classroom teacher to determine what might be causing these difficulties and decide if there are some small changes that can be made in the classroom environment to improve learning.

Teachers can use a number of strategies to explore your child’s learning strengths and needs, including:

  • talking with your child
  • observing your child in the classroom in various types of learning experiences
  • analyzing your child’s class work
  • doing an informal reading or mathematics inventory.

Many school authorities have school-based teams that might include administrators, counsellors, learning coaches and other school staff knowledgeable about learning strategies and learning difficulties. Classroom teachers can consult with the team to develop strategies for addressing the learning needs of individual students.

If school-based strategies aren’t enough, the teacher, in consultation with parents, may make a referral for a specialized assessment. Written informed parent consent is required before any specialized assessment, such as psycho-education, speech-language or IQ testing, begins. Each school authority has different assessment procedures, so talk to your child’s teacher or the school principal about what will take place and how long it will take. There should be opportunities during the assessment for you, as a parent, to share information and insights about how your child learns.

When the school requests a specialized assessment for your child, this does not necessarily mean your child has a specific disability or special education needs. It may simply indicate that your child is having difficulties learning at a particular time and may require short-term support.

When assessment results and additional information have been compiled, the school will contact you and arrange for a meeting to explain the results, discuss the recommendations and get your input on any related decisions.

If my child has a disability or medical condition that impacts learning, what kinds of supports are available?

What if I do not agree with an educational decision that is made for my child?

What if my child is gifted? How can I support his or her diverse learning needs?

How are my child’s diverse learning needs supported within French immersion programs?

How can I help my child complete high school?

How can I support my child's transition from...

Home to Kindergarten?

Elementary to Junior High?

Junior High to Senior High School?

Your teen’s strengths, interests and career dreams will influence the courses they choose in junior and senior high school. Work with teachers, school counsellors and administrators to determine the path that will help your teen move toward their future goals. At the start of high school, it is important to understand the high school graduation requirements and the course sequences that must be followed to ensure that your teen is on the path that will help them achieve their goals. Want more support for your teen’s transition to senior high school? Visit the Alberta Learning Information Service website. If your teen is contemplating a career in the trades, see the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Trade Entrance Requirements.

High School Graduation Requirements:

Senior High School to post-secondary studies and/or the world of work?

Senior high school courses (required and optional) help students understand themselves, develop personal management skills, explore their options and plan their careers. Students should make sure they have the courses they need to follow the career path they are interested in. For some 30-level courses, a provincial diploma examination must be written. Your teen can get help with course decisions by consulting school counsellors and by referring to current post-secondary calendars, the Alberta Learning Information Service website and the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Trade Entrance Requirements. School counsellors can also help your teen apply to post-secondary institutions, explore scholarships and investigate options for financial assistance. Get the Education and Training Planner PDF or visit the Alberta Learning Information Service website to learn more. Information on career coaching your teens may also be helpful.

High School Graduation Requirements:

Dual Credit Programming

Dual credit provides opportunities for students to participate in post-secondary programming while still in high school and earn both high school and post-secondary credits for the same coursework.

Dual credit helps students to:

  • get a jump start on their post-secondary education while still in high school
  • complete high school while engaging in personally meaningful curriculum
  • transition to post-secondary studies or move into the world of work
  • potentially reduce the financial impact of post-secondary education.

To learn more, visit Alberta Education’s Dual Credit web pages.

I want to know more about...

Knowledge and Employability

Distributed Learning

Locally Developed Courses

Locally developed courses (LDCs) allow school authorities the flexibility to complement, extend and/or expand upon provincial programs of study. LDCs may be used to:

  • accommodate student needs and interests, ranging from Marine Life and Ecosystem Studies to Technical Theatre
  • encourage and support innovative learning and teaching practices, through courses such as the Learning Strategies sequence
  • address unique community priorities, such as international and heritage languages
  • engage students who may be at risk of leaving school early, through courses such as Leadership, Character and Social Responsibility
  • promote successful transitions to further education, including through exposure to advanced subject matter aligned with Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs.

School authorities may develop new LDCs or acquire existing ones from other school authorities. Talk to the staff at your school to find out if they offer any LDCs that might interest your child. View more details regarding LDCs.

French Immersion

French immersion is a second language program designed to promote functional fluency in French while students achieve all of the objectives of the regular school program. French immersion may begin in Kindergarten (early immersion) or in Grade 6 or later (late immersion). Several or all subjects, except English language arts, are taught in French. This program is designed for students whose first language is not French. The objectives are full mastery of the English language, functional fluency in French, and understanding and appreciation of the French culture. Want to know more? Refer to Yes You Can Help! Information and Inspiration for Parents of French Immersion Students.

English as a Second Language

Many children born in Canada speak a language other than English at home, and many students move here from countries where English is not the main language. Students who are learning English at the same time they are learning the content of their school subjects are called English as an additional language learners. Schools provide English as a second language (ESL) supports and programs to help English as an additional language learners learn English so they can do well in all of their school subjects.

English as an additional language learners receive supports in the classroom, such as:

  • pictures, diagrams and charts to help them understand what they read or hear
  • books and other written materials that match their reading abilities and interests
  • direct teaching about English grammar and vocabulary.  

Some ESL programs or courses help students learn English while they learn about Canadian cultural values, customs and social expectations.

Every year, schools measure the English language proficiency of students who are English as an additional language learners. Schools use this information to decide what sort of supports each student needs. Many schools use the Alberta K–12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks, available through the Supporting English Language Learners website, to find out an English as an additional language learner’s English level in Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. There are five levels of language proficiency. If your child is an English as an additional language learner, the school will tell you about their progress in developing English language proficiency either once every school year or at report card times. You are encouraged to:

  • contact the school to ask questions
  • provide useful information about your child
  • volunteer at the school.

If you are a newcomer to Alberta and want to learn more about the school system in Alberta, you might wish to look at the Parent Tip Sheets. The tip sheets are currently available in English and in French.

For more information about ESL supports that could help your child learn English, contact your child’s school.