Welcome to Canada: Enrolling your children in school

In Canada, primary (elementary) and secondary education are managed by each province or territory. Children must attend school by law. This is so all children get an education.


Some provinces require children to be vaccinated against some common diseases in order to go to school. Check with the local school board or ministry of education if you’re not sure.

Types of schools

Most children go to public schools, which are free.

Some provinces and territories have separate Catholic public schools. Some communities also have private religious schools.

In most schools, boys and girls learn together in the same classroom. Some private schools offer schooling for boys or girls only.

When school starts

Children can start primary (elementary) school as young as 4 years old, and usually start secondary school (high school) at around 14 or 15 years old. They usually finish secondary school when they’re 18 years old.

Quebec is a little different. Children start high school when they’re 12 years old and finish secondary school around age 16. Students usually then go to college, known as CEGEP.

The school year starts in late August or early September and finishes in June.

During the school year

School is normally from Monday to Friday. However, schools close on public (statutory) holidays. There are also several holiday breaks during the year.

Many schools have settlement workers to help children and parents who are new to Canada. Ask your school about this if you’re interested.

Learn more about education in Canada, including how to enrol children in school.

Get involved in your children’s school

Getting involved is a great way to meet people, become a part of the school community and support your children’s education. You can

Get help in different provinces and territories

Learn more about how to get different kinds of help in

Page details

Date modified: