Canada is known for the quality of its education and schooling systems. When it comes to your child’s education, you should do research before coming to Canada to determine what school would be the best fit for your child.
Education is Canada is managed at the provincial level, so the school system differs between provinces. Even within a province, education can vary between types of schools and school districts.
What types of schools does Canada have?
Canada has public schools in all its provinces and territories. All children are entitled to a free public education, meaning there is no fee to enroll your child in a public school. Public schools tend to serve a particular area within a neighborhood, so the school your child can attend will depend on where you live. Public schools are available in both official languages.
Private and independent schools exist in Canada as well. These schools charge tuition to attend. Some private schools offer scholarships for students who display special academic, artistic or athletic abilities who otherwise would not have the funds to enroll. Some private schools are day schools and others are boarding schools, which means the student will live on campus with fellow students.
Canada also has French immersion schools, which are public schools that teach predominantly non-native French speakers in French. The students are expected to become fluent over time and French immersion is an excellent way for your child to become bilingual. Catholic, Jewish and other religious schools integrate religious education as a core subject in their curriculum. They may have specific admission requirements, and can be public or private depending on the province you are in.
When does academic session run in Canada?
Elementary schools in Canada typically start in late August or early September, and the year usually ends in June. The months of July and August are summer vacation, and most public schools have time off over the holiday season as well as a week in March.
What subjects will my child learn in school?
Canadian provinces set the curriculum for their schools, so the subjects may differ among provinces. However, your child will learn a range of subjects including math, science, English, French, history/social studies, art and physical education.
The typical school day in Canada starts from between 8 am and 9 am and will last until 3 pm and 4 pm. As your child goes through the education system, they will have more opportunity to choose what classes they take depending on their interests and what they excel at.
How do I register my child for school?
To register your child for a public school, you should contact the local school district office or the school board to find out what the process is for enrolling your child. It is important to contact the school board as early as possible because there may be limited spaces available, and you may have to find another option for your child.
If you want to register your child for a private school, you should contact the school directly. If you are enrolling your child for the first time. The school board or school itself will likely want to have your child complete some form of assessment to understand where your child is at academically and what level is appropriate for them.
This will allow the school determine if your child would benefit from any additional resources the school may offer, like language training.
What supplies do I need to get for my child?
Most times, your child's school will provide you with a list of necessary supplies for the academic year. While the school may also provide some of these items, there will be others that you will need to buy on your own.
Aside from classroom essentials like notebooks and pencils, you might want to think about acquiring the following:
- Apparel - Some schools enforce a uniform policy or dress code, which stipulates what your child can wear.
- Sportswear - Given that physical education is a component of most curriculums, your child will require suitable gym outfits.
- A backpack.
- Tech devices like a laptop or a tablet.
How will my child get to school?
Canadian school boards oversee the organization of school bus routes responsible for transporting your child to and from school. These routes are determined based on your residential location and typically cover areas within a specific proximity to the school.
Alternatively, you have the option to personally transport your child to school. Your child's ability to independently commute to school depends on their age, with various options such as walking, using public transportation, driving, or biking available.
What will my child eat at school? Do I need to provide lunch?
Students will have lunch at school during the day, while they will breakfast and dinner in their homes. The lunch choices available will vary depending on the school.
Public schools may have cafeterias where students can buy lunch, whereas certain private schools incorporate lunch into their tuition fees. In some cases, students are permitted to bring their own lunches, although it's important to confirm whether this is allowed at the specific school. Some schools may accommodate exceptions for students with severe allergies or dietary restrictions, such as kosher or halal preferences.