education in Canada

The ABCs of Education in Canada: What You Need to Know

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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


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


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.



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Subject Matter Expert at Migration Made Simple | Website | + posts

Jacqueline Chow is an international immigration and visa expert with over 15 years of experience in the field. With a background in law and a passion for helping people, Jacqueline has built a reputation as a trusted and reliable source of information and advice on all aspects of immigration and visas. She has worked with clients from all over the world, including high-net-worth individuals, professionals, skilled workers and families. As a sought-after speaker and commentator Jacqueline has been featured in various media outlets and has given talks on immigration and visas at conferences and events around the world.