The ABCs of Education in Canada: What You Need to Know
Understanding Education in Canada
Most potential immigrants to Canada with families are interested in Education in Canada and to know about the typical Canadian school days.
From the ages of 5 to 18 children in Canada children are legally required to attend school from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m from Monday to Friday between September and June.
Free public schools are provided and students attend 13 different grades for each year in the system. Children start in Kindergarten and move up to grade 1, then grade 2 and so on until grade 12.
These 13 grades are often called the “K to 12” years and are usually separated into three phases:
- elementary school
- middle school
- high school
Most Canadian children will attend three different physical schools before completing their years of education.
Elementary school in Canada spans from Kindergarten to seventh grade.
Kindergarten classes help socialize young children into a classroom setting with simple activities such as counting and singing.
As children progress through their grades they start to discover and learn basic concepts in math, science, history and geography.
Middle school (junior high) in Canada is designed to help facilitate the transition from the easygoing climate of elementary school to the more structured and demanding world of high school.
Canadian kids attend middle schools in their early teen years from around age 13 to 15.
Middle school introduces the concept of different subjects being taught by different teachers, with students moving from classroom to classroom after the conclusion of each lesson.
High School in Canada
High school is the most challenging phase of Canadian public education covering late teenage years. It concludes with a graduation ceremony at the end of grade 12.
Classes in Canadian high school are more specialized and specific. Instead of taking general courses like science, students take courses in specific subjects such as physics, biology, or chemistry, with more emphasis on honing academic knowledge in a particular area.
Students must pass their provincial exams to successfully graduate high school and complete their K-12 education.
These exams are written by the provincial government and provide a definitive assessment of whether students have learned everything the government considers important.
Failing to perform well in these exams makes it difficult to get admitted to a good university and failing to pass them all can severely limit a persons ability to find decent work or move on to further education.
Typical School Day in Canada
A typical school day in Canada starts at 8:30 or 9:00 am and ends in the afternoon at 3:00 or 3:30 pm.
During the school day students attend classes in various subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science and Physical Education. Class periods last 45 minutes to an hour with breaks in between classes for students to grab a snack or use the restroom. Most Canadian schools have a lunch break in between the morning and afternoon classes.