The school system provides most textbooks and some supplies used in public schools.There are some exceptions to this. Students usually need to provide their own pencils, pens, erasers, paper, and rulers.
Teachers in the public schools require training and certification. Principals and vice-principals who are responsible for running individual schools must have additional training and qualifications. Schools across Canada vary quite significantly in terms of the number of students attending.There may be some differences in the courses and programs offered.
Be aware that schools encourage parents to become involved in their child’s school. Most have Parent Councils and organize parent meetings. There are often opportunities to volunteer for sports, school trips, and so forth. Contact your child’s school if you are interested in volunteering or if you would like to meet with your child’s teacher.
Parents and Guardians
Schools schedule Parent Nights or Meet the Teacher Nights to provide parents and guardians with a chance to meet with teachers and discuss the progress of their child in school. Parents are highly encouraged to attend these meetings, which are often arranged at the time when report cards are given out. Report cards are usually given out two to three times a year and provide information to the parent/guardian on their child’s progress in school. Other meeting times can be arranged by calling the school.
Canadians are encouraged to respect religious differences. Schools will aim to recognize, and be sensitive to, religious holidays and customs.Talk with your school’s principal if you have questions or concerns.
School boards or districts or divisions have elected members who help run them.These individuals are elected at the time of municipal elections. Anyone who is interested in running can arrange to be nominated and added to the list of candidates. Those elected usually serve a term of two years. This is another way you can get involved in education in Canada.
Most schools have a library or resource centre that students and teachers can use. Many have guidance or counselling offices and services to help students. Most schools have one or more gyms or gymnasiums for athletic activities, and some have swimming pools. Do not hesitate to talk with school counselors if you think they can help your child.
Students in kindergarten to grade 8 have little choice in the courses and school programs that they study.That is, most of the curriculum that outlines what they will learn is compulsory, meaning that every student must take those subjects.After Grade 8, students have more choice.They can choose from among course options or “electives.” However, some courses are required or compulsory even at the higher grade levels.
The length of the school day, as well as the length of class periods, varies from school to school. Some schools may start classes at 8:00 a.m., whereas others may not start until 8:45 a.m. Schools also end at different times. It is customary for teachers to be available at the end of the school day if students or parents wish to speak with them. It is a good idea to call and arrange an appointment if you wish to meet with your child’s teacher.
The provincial/territorial governments in Canada are responsible for public school education, the years of schooling prior to college and university. Post-secondary education— colleges and universities— is a shared responsibility between the provinces/ territories and the federal government. See page 227 for key education contacts.