The school system in Ontario has two levels:

  • Elementary school (junior kindergarten to Grade 8 for children ages 4 to 13)
  • Secondary school (grades 9 to 12, children ages 14 to 17)

Following secondary school, many students continue learning at colleges and universities.

Public school system

Ontario law requires that children attend school from age 6 to 17. Many children begin school early in a kindergarten program from age 4.

All children between the ages 4 and 17 in Ontario can attend school for free in the public school system. Parents and guardians may be required to pay for extra supplies.

The Ministry of Education governs public education in Ontario and provides information about the Ontario education system. Ontario's public schools offer education in English or French. Public schools in Waterloo Region belong to one of the four school boards:

International language classes teach a language other than English or French and information about other cultures. The International Language Program to elementary and secondary school children is offered at both the Waterloo Region District School Board and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

You can contact the school boards for more information about their schools.

Private schools

Private schools also offer elementary and secondary education. They may be partly funded by government, but students must pay tuition to attend private school.

There are many private schools in Waterloo Region, which often have a specific culture or approach to teaching. Students may have to wear uniforms.

The Ministry of Education maintains a list of private schools in Ontario.

Home schooling

Home schooling is another option for educating your children. If you home school your children, you must follow Ontario rules for home schooling.

Other information

Education resources available for newcomers include:

Your settlement worker can provide you with information to help you make decisions about your child's education. 


Waterloo Region District School Board Welcome Centre

325 Louisa Street, Kitchener ON

Waterloo Catholic District School Board Newcomer Centre

104 Ontario St. N., Kitchener ON

Conseil scolaire Viamonde

116 Cornelius Parkway, Toronto ON