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Elementary and Secondary School

In Canada, public education is provided by each province. Most children attend public school, which is paid for through taxes. Through the Ontario public school system, children in Grades 1-8 attend elementary school (ages 6-13), and youth in Grades 9-12 attend secondary school (ages 14-18). Parents have the option to enrol their children at an earlier age in junior and senior kindergarten programs.

Parents are expected to be actively involved in their child’s education. They are encouraged to speak with their child’s teachers on a regular basis and be aware of what is taking place day to day. If parents have questions or concerns about their child’s education, they are welcome to contact their child’s teacher or school principal.

The “school year” at most schools begins in September and continues to the end of June. This is different from the calendar year that begins in January and ends in December. Generally, during the months of July and August, children are on “summer holidays” and do not attend school. During the school year, classes take place Monday to Friday. Students have a break in the day for lunch, as well as breaks during the day to play outside. Older students have smaller breaks between each class. 

It is common for students to bring their lunch and eat it at school. It is best that parents prepare a lunch and snacks that do not need to be warmed; students do not usually have access to microwaves.  Some students go home for lunch if they live nearby or if a parent is able to pick them up. 

There are a variety of ways students get to school each day, depending on how far away they live from the school. For students who live farther away, they may be able to take a school bus to school.  A school bus brings children to school and home again at the end of the day. It does not cost money as they are paid for through taxes. To ensure students are safe, a parent or guardian must meet the bus when their child is arriving home after school.  

If your child is sick or will be absent from school, parents have a responsibility to inform the school; this helps ensure your child’s safety.  There are policies regarding extended absence and attendance; contact your school board to learn more.

Throughout the year, schools are closed for different holidays and professional development days (PD Days). During professional development days, teachers attend meetings and receive additional training.  School is often closed for two short breaks in the year: one in December and one in March. Each school board will have a slightly different holiday schedule. To learn more about holiday schedules, contact your school. To learn more about holiday schedules, contact your school board.