School Age Calculator Canada

Enter province and child date of birth to determine year of entry into primary and secondary school 

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Canada Education System

An Overview

The education system including grade levels and age of entry requirements in Canada are managed by each of the province and territory governments and there are differences to be aware of between each region.

In general, the formal school system in Canada start in an optional kindergarten program, which is then followed by mandatory elementary / primary school starting in the year the child turns five or six.

Students then progress into secondary or high school from grade 7 or 8 through to Grade 12. In some provinces high school is split into a middle and senior school components.

While in most cases there are government standards set by the province, in some cases the districts and individual schools set the rules. Therefore the information provided here should be treated as a general guide only and validated by province and local government.

Pre School

In Canada children may attend preschool prior to entry into the public schooling system from as young as 2 or 3 years old.

Nursery is operated in childcare centres, crèches, nurseries, kindergartens or playgroups. These are run independently and are not part of the formal Government education system.

In most provinces there is some form of government funding or subsidy available for pre-school and early learning. Pre-school is not mandatory but is taken up by the majority of students.

Primary School

The formal schooling system in Canada, known as primary or elementary school, commences in most provinces with a kindergarten grade followed by entry in Grade 1. The terminology, age requirements and entry rules are different across each of the provinces; a brief summary is provided below:

High School

There are a number of differences between Canadian provinces in the high school terminology and entry grades. In general students will enter high school between Grade 7 to Grade 10.

Students enter high school in Grade 7 (Ontario) and Grade 8 (BC, Yukon), Grade 9 (Manitoba, New Brunswick, Novia Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan) and Grade 10 (Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island). Depending on the province, High school is known as secondary, senior high, senior years or senior secondary.

High school may be a continuous education program or be split into junior or middle school followed by senior high. In most cases, middle and senior high are within the same school, but in some cases children may attend separate campuses.

In all provinces and territories in Canada secondary school runs finishes after grade 12 with the exception of Quebec which finishes after Grade 11, with students then continuing into a tertiary education program to complete the equivalent of Year 12 in other provinces.

Alberta

Elementary school in Alberta starts with part day kindergarten in the year the child turns five, with the cut-off date 31 Dec. Kindergarten is not compulsory, with the compulsory age to attend school at the age 6 in Alberta. There is no defined policy to defer or delay a child’s entrance to the following year.

British Columbia and Yukon

Primary and elementary school starts with a full day kindergarten program in the year the child turns five. Entry into kindergarten is not compulsory, with mandatory school age at 6 years old. Children may defer entry into kindergarten until the following year on application to the school board. Any child may apply for delayed entry regardless of day and month of birth.

Manitoba

Compulsory school age in Manitoba is at the age of 7. Public early education begins at age 5 into kindergarten which can be either full or half day. Kindergarten attendance is not compulsory.

New Brunswick

Compulsory school age in New Brunswick is from the age of 5 years old. Children enter full day kindergarten starting in September, provided they are 5 by 31 December in that year. If the child is born after 1 September, then the child may apply to defer entry into kindergarten in the following year.

Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Compulsory school age is from the age of 6 years old. Public early education begins with part time kindergarten, which is not compulsory, the cut-off age to attend is 5 years old by 31 December.

Novia Scotia

Compulsory school age to attend school in Novia Scotia is 5 years old, with elementary school starting in grade primary. Age cut off to attend is 5 years old by 31 Dec. It is possible to delay a child’s entry into the following year. Some schools offer a half day kindergarten program in year child turns four.

Ontario

The first year in primary school is reception, with children commencing in September in the year after the child has turn four. This means that the child must have turned four by the 1st of September to commence in that year. If the child is born between September to Dec they will start the following year. Following reception year, primary school then runs from Year 1 through to Year 6.

Prince Edward Island

Compulsory school age is in year child turns 6 years old. Public early education begins with full time kindergarten, which is mandatory. The cut-off age to attend in that year is 5 years old by 31 December.

Quebec

Quebec has some similarities to Ontario in that it offers a two year kindergarten program integrated into the primary school system.

School in Quebec historically had commenced with students entering Primary / École primaire with the first year being kindergarten or maternalle. The child must be five years old by 30 Sep to gain entry in that year, otherwise commence the following year.

In recent years, Quebec has moved to introduce four year old pre-kindergarten / prématernelle from the age of four in all schools. In this case child must be four by 30 September to commence that year. There is no defined policy to defer or delay a child’s entrance to the following year.

Saskatchewan

Compulsory school age is in the year the child turns 7 years old. Kindergarten starts with an optional half day program; children must be 5 years old by 31st Jan to attend in that year.