Canadian Overview


What is the curriculum in the education system?

Canada does not have a national curriculum. Each provincial and territorial government is responsible for setting the curriculum for its schools and each province has its own ministry-established common curriculum. (Get more information about curriculum outcomes and resources in Nova Scotia.)


Preschool, in most provinces and territories in Canada, refers to any early learning experience that happens before children begin public school (grade primary in Nova Scotia). This includes regulated childcare programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, as well as publicly funded programs like the Pre-primary Program in Nova Scotia for 4 year olds, Junior Kindergarten in Northwest Territories for 4 year olds and Full Day Kindergarten in Ontario for 4 and 5 year olds.

Childcare programs in Nova Scotia may be in a licensed childcare centre (non-profit or commercial), a home that is approved by a licensed family home day care agency, or unlicensed care in a private home. There are fees involved and families may be eligible for childcare subsidy. Programs like the Pre-primary Program or Full Day Kindergarten are child-centred, play-based programs that are delivered in public schools and free for families. Participation is voluntary.

Elementary School

Curricula at the elementary school level varies widely among provinces and territories. Elementary education typically includes reading, writing, math, history, geography, art, music, science, and physical education. French as a second language is commonly mandatory at the upper elementary level. French Immersion, where all subjects except English are taught in French, is offered across the country but is optional.



Public Poll


Secondary School

In some provinces and territories, secondary schools - which include high school and middle or junior high schools - may specialize in academic, vocational or arts programs. In the past, students were streamed into university preparation courses or community college or work preparation courses. More and more, students are taking a variety of courses that allow them to attend university or community college. Most high schools have career preparation courses that are more hands-on and prepare students to enter the workforce directly after high school.

In all schools, there are mandatory or core curriculum subjects which must be studied for a set number of years or terms, as decided by each province and territory. These generally include English, French, math, science, physical education, and social studies or social sciences. In addition to mandatory courses, students choose optional courses called electives. Elective courses allow students to focus on areas of strength and to explore areas of interest related to career options. Late French Immersion is another optional program that starts in grade 6 or 7 and continues to the end of grade 12. Students take the majority of their courses in French.

Beginning around grade 9, career counselling is available to students. Career guidance helps students choose appropriate electives that will help them be successful in their chosen educational path.