If you’re relocating to Ontario with young children, you’re probably curious about elementary school in Ontario. What is the school calendar, and will your child be mastering the same subjects here as he/she would in your home country?
First, let’s start with the basics. Elementary school in Ontario includes from kindergarten to grade six. In some school districts, students attend middle school (grades seven and eight) in the same building where they go to primary school.
In order to enroll your children in kindergarten, they must be six years old by December 31 of the school year. Registration usually happens the February before your children start school in August. If you are enrolling your children in public school, in most cases they matriculate within the school district closest to your home (though exceptions can be made, in which case contact the school board where you would like your children to attend)
In addition to classes, primary schools in Ontario make an effort to provide before- and- after-school activities and childcare, community service opportunities, book fairs, sports, field trips and other activities important to your children’s well-being.
At the elementary school level there is a focus on building strong foundations, with particular attention paid to literacy and numeracy. Elementary education is grade-specific. As students progress through their classes, they build upon the skills and knowledge gained in the previous year.
- Social Studies (History and Geography)
- Science and Technology
- The Arts
- French as a Second Language (within the English Public School Districts)
- Health and Physical Education
- Native Languages
Students stay with one teacher who instructs the students on most subjects for a full year. In some cases, more than one grade level is combined in a classroom. This is called combined grades, and it allows younger students to learn and get help from older ones. It helps older students reinforce their knowledge and build strong social skills.
To read more about curriculums specific to each grade level, visit the Ministry of Education’s Elementary Curriculum.
The Calendar and Structure of Elementary School in Ontario:
Generally, elementary school classes have 23 students of fewer, and there is a goal to reduce the size of classes so that students can receive more personal attention.
The elementary school day usually begins from around 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., though there are some before-schools programs offered to student whose parents work early. There’s a roll call in the morning and the seven-hour day is divided up into periods of about 50 minutes, with two breaks (or recesses) that give children a chance to play outside. There’s also a lunch period around from noon to 12:45 and the school day ends around 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m. When the final bell rings, students take the bus home, are picked up by their parents, or go to an after school activity.
The school year is usually just under 200 days (194 days in the minimum number permitted), running from around Sept. 1 to June 30.
- Labour Day (early September)
- Thanksgiving Day (early October)
- Christmas Break (weeklong, the last week in January)
- Family Day (mid February)
- Mid-Winter Break (a week in March)
- Good Friday (early April)
- Easter Monday (early April)
- Victoria Day (mid May)
For more information on Elementary School in Ontario from the Ministry of Education, click here.
We at settle-in.com hope your children enjoy primary school as much as they enjoy their new school clothes!
Enrolling your children in Ontario school? Sign up for Settle-in.com and get full access to “The Guide.” Read the “Education” chapter for more information on this topic.
Here’s more info about education in Canada:
- Choosing a School in Toronto
- Public vs Private Education in Ontario
- The Public School System in Quebec: Strengths and Weaknesses