1. How can I enroll my child in a preschool?
Child care for children starting at 30 months of age to prepare them for school is called preschool. In recent years, such programs have been developed in Canada for a full day. There are licensed preschools, which serve more than 5 children and non-licensed preschools, which accept up to 5 children. Licensed preschool programs have to be approved by the Ministry of Education and are annually checked by inspectors. These preschools in Ontario can be found at the website http://www.iaccess.gov.on.ca/LCCWWeb/childcare/search.xhtml. There are unlicensed preschools that provide programs which are designed through consultation with the parents of the participants. The addresses and contact information of such preschools can be found in local newspapers. In preschools, children generally learn basic letters, sounds and numbers and engage in creative play. Some preschools take older students after school, where they do homework, play together and participate in sports. When applying to a preschool ask about the possibility of receiving a government subsidy, which is given to low-income immigrant families.
2. How can I enroll my child in an elementary school?
Children start school at 4 for either 1/2 day or full-day junior kindergarten depending on the province; this is followed by kindergarten at 5 years of age. They then start elementary school when they are six years old and they study for eight years from grade 1 to grade 8. They acquire basic knowledge in accordance with provincial standards and demonstrate their abilities and potential. School subjects include: English and/or French, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Social Studies, History and Geography, Health and Physical Education, Native Languages and Arts. Since public schools are assigned to specific districts, you should contact the school near your place of residence; however, in the case of a shortfall of students, your child can be taken to another school district. To find your school in Toronto visit www.tdsb.on.ca/FindYour/School.aspx. To decide what grade is appropriate for an immigrant child, school staff mainly focus on a child’s age, but also take into account the level of English and previous education received prior to immigration. For admission to the school your child should be vaccinated. Studying in elementary public schools is free.
3. How can I enroll my child in a secondary school?
At secondary public school children study for four years, from grade 9 to grade 12. However, if the student is struggling to cope with the school program, study can be extended to get the required number of credits. Selection of the secondary school is usually made based on your area of residence; however, you may be interested in a school that offers some specific courses that will be useful towards the future career plans of your child. To find your secondary public school in Ontario visit https://www.app.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/sift/indexSec.asp. Studying in public secondary school is free. Secondary school study is designed to prepare students for adult life and, according to their goals, they can take courses that will help them to go to university, or college, or find immediately a job after secondary studies are completed.
Knowledge of English and mathematics for newly arrived immigrants, who according to age have to enter grades 9-12, will be examined by the Newcomer Reception Centre. In order to help high school students in career planning in high school, there are Teacher-Advisers and Guidance Counsellors.
During their studies the secondary school student must obtain 30 credits (one credit is equivalent to 110 hour course). This means 18 credits for compulsory subjects and 12 subjects selected by the students. In addition, it is necessary to complete 40 hours of volunteer work and pass a literacy exam. After that, students receive an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).
4. How can I apply for college or university?
If English isn't your first language and you haven’t studied in a Canadian school for the past 4 years, for admission to a college or university you can be asked to complete the TOEFL or IELTS tests. In some cases, you may be asked to take the English test directly at the place where you have applied.
In Ontario, there are 24 colleges of applied arts and technology, and 20 universities that offer programs for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. There are many colleges and universities which offer day, evening and distance learning courses that issue certificates and diplomas. You can apply simultaneously to 3-4 institutions. There are no entrance exams for admission to colleges or universities in Canada. Applicants are accepted based on high school grades and the results of an interview. Students live in dormitories or rented apartments, and under certain conditions, they can study and work at the same time. Eligible students can get scholarships and loans.
5. How can I find continuing education?
Perhaps you have already studied and have the necessary diplomas before immigration; however, after arriving in Canada, you will find that to work in your profession you need to update your knowledge. To get new knowledge and skills you can take paid continuing education, which is offered by many universities, colleges and business schools. The duration of training is usually 1-2 years; lessons are conducted in the evenings, on weekends and through distance education. When choosing a place to study, make sure that it is a recognized institution in Canada that provides recognized education documents.
6. What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a program for those who want to become skilled trade workers and prefer to study and work simultaneously. Immigrants can use the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program to prepare for an apprenticeship. Apprenticeship programs include about 90% training directly in the workplace, where you can earn money. The remaining 10% is reserved for theoretical lessons, which are conducted at the nearest college, business school or other training facility.
After graduating from the apprenticeship, you can become an electrician, a car repair mechanic, or a construction worker; also you can work in manufacturing, heavy industries, the food industry and the service sector. The duration of an apprenticeship training program depends on the chosen occupation and can take from two to five years. After finishing an apprenticeship you have to pass a professional examination, and if you get a grade of 60% or higher, you will obtain a Certificate of Apprenticeship and a Certificate of Qualification.
7. Where can I find additional information about education in Canada?
We recommended the following sources about education in Canada:
In this book see Part 5 Education.
The Newcomer’s Guide to Elementary School in Ontario
The Newcomer’s Guide to Secondary School in Ontario http://settlement.org/downloads/SecondaryGuideSWIS%20DEC4.pdf.
Canadian colleges and institutions www.collegesinstitutes.ca/our-members/list-of-members.
Canadian universities www.universitystudy.ca/canadian-universities