The Canadian school year for elementary and secondary students commences in early September and runs until late June. Breaks throughout the year occur from late-December to early January and in March. Public elementary and secondary education is paid for by the government. The standards in the Canadian public system are very high. Some people, however, still prefer to send their children to private schools, which require payment of tuition fees.

In Ontario, children aged six to eighteen are legally required to attend school. Elementary schools provide junior and senior kindergarten classes, and classes for grades1 through 8 for children aged six to thirteen. Some elementary schools only cover up to grade 5, after which children go to a middle school for grades 6 to 8. Secondary schools, which are also called high schools, offer grades 9 through 12 for students aged thirteen to eighteen.

In Québec, elementary school (écoleprimaire) includes kindergarten (maternelle) and grades 1 to 6. Secondary School (écolesecondaire) lasts five years. It is called Secondary I toV or simply grades 7 to 11. Students are usually twelve to seventeen years old. Following grade 11, students enter CÉGEP (Collège d’enseignementgénéral et professionnel) for two to three years, depending on the program. This is a form of post-secondary education between high school and university. A diplômed’étudescollégiales is required for entrance into university. It is generally the equivalent of grade 12 and first-year university. Specializations are available, as are generalist programs. A student in Québec cannot enter university with a secondary diploma from Québec alone. A student from outside the province, who wishes to purse post-secondary education in Québec, is required to pass university prerequisite exams to make up for a lack of CÉGEP studies. This year at university is called “year zero.” This two-year program explains why secondary school and undergraduate degrees are both one year shorter in Québec than elsewhere in Canada, and why certain undergraduate programs in Québec may be completed in three years, as opposed to four years outside Québec.

In Alberta, children aged six to sixteen are legally required to attend school. Children start elementary school at the age of six in grade 1 and finish after grade 6. Junior high school starts at grade 7 and ends after grade 9, students are typically aged eleven to fifteen. Senior high school students are between the ages of sixteen and eighteen and attend grades 10 to 12. To qualify for an Alberta High School Diploma, students must pass a series of provincially set examinations after completing the required high school courses.

A number of school choices are available for students in British Columbia, including public, independent, and private schools, online learning and other options. The choices include community, traditional or alternative schools, Aboriginal education programs, French immersion, special needs, full-day kindergarten, preschool, distributed learning, fine arts, dance, sports or trades schools. Primary school in BC covers kindergarten to grade 5. Grades 6 to 8 are delivered in a middle school. Secondary school includes grades 9 to 12.