Levels of study in Canada – kindergarten to high school

Canada has one of the strongest records of student achievement in the world. That’s why we’re an excellent choice for elementary and high school education. In fact, sending your child to Canada for school is one of the best ways to prepare them for college or university.

In general elementary school in Canada runs from kindergarten to grade 6, junior high or middle school runs from grades 7-8, and high school runs from grades 9-12. This varies from province to province. Kindergarten starts as early as four years old, while most high school graduates turn 18 the year they graduate. 

For a more detailed look at what school is like in the Canadian province you are interested in, please visit the Canadian Association of Public Schools International.

Public schools

Many Canadian public schools accept international students into their programs. Publicly-funded schools are managed at the local level by elected school boards, which deliver the standard provincial curriculum in addition to some specialized programs of study. Almost all public schools have male and female students in the same classes. They offer day programs only.

International students can choose to study in English, French or both languages.

International students attending public school typically also take advantage of living in ‘homestay’ with a Canadian host family. However, students are also welcome to live with a family friend, relative or even a parent.

Learn more about public schools in Canada at the Canadian Association of Public Schools International (CAPS-I) website.

Independent (private) schools

Independent schools (also known as private schools) in Canada charge fees and they must deliver the same curriculum as public schools in that province or territory. This ensures that students complete the same course of study as students in the public school system.

The legal status of independent schools varies across Canada. Most provinces and territories require independent schools to register with their ministries of education. The schools must follow the curriculum and other standards set by that province.

Both public and independent elementary and high schools offer homestay programs, however only some independent schools offer the boarding option (on-site accommodations). Independent high schools include boarding schools, alternative schools, international baccalaureate programs and specialized sports programs or schools for students with learning disabilities.

Learn more about independent schools in Canada at the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) website.