Belle Immigration Inc.​






As early as elementary school, parents from around the world send their children to attend one of Canada’s K-12 schools. For good reason: students benefit from a world-class learning environment while living in supportive, friendly accommodations in safe communities.

It will be very important for the agent to convey to students’ families that they will not only receive an excellent, standardized education in Canada, but safe and extensive social supports and lodging as well.

In addition, international students benefit from a full range of extra-curricular activities and community involvement that produces well-rounded, global citizens. Embracing diversity, cross-cultural collaboration, respect, and tolerance are highly valued in Canadian society, and this is fully reflected in the country’s educational programs and within the classroom experience.

Whether families choose an accredited boarding school or a homestay program with a caring family, they can rest assured that their child will receive the attention and guidance needed to succeed in every way.

Understanding the Options 

Within the Canadian K-12 education landscape:

  • Public schools are funded by provincial governments, follow a provincial curriculum, and are overseen by a Board of Trustees elected by the community.
  • Private schools operate according to the regulatory environment in each province or territory. The legal status of private schools varies across Canada as each province or territory is responsible for the regulatory environment of schools in its jurisdiction. Most provinces and territories require private schools to be registered with their ministries of education, and must meet the curriculum and other standards set by their respective ministries; however, they may operate differently. In Ontario, for example, private schools operate independently without any oversight by the Ministry of Education. However, if a private school wishes to offer credits toward a secondary school graduation diploma they are inspected to determine whether the standard of instruction in credit courses meets ministry requirements.
  • Independent schools are usually non-profit organizations with their own Boards of Directors.Courses are taught in English, French, or another language, depending on the school and its location, while still others offer immersion programs to learn a second language.Choosing between the options will depend on a variety of factors: cost (which can vary substantially between the types of school), learning curriculum and extra-curricular activities, and geography/environment (large urban cities, suburban, or rural communities).

Unlike in some other countries, 95% of Canadian parents choose to enrol their children in public schools for an excellent quality of education. Public schools in Canada:

  • Are provincially accredited;
  • Follow a provincially approved standard curriculum;Employ government-certified teachers;
  • May offer faith-based education in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario;
  • May offer many specialized academic, fine arts, and athletic programs.

Independent and private schools offering a Canadian curriculum often also offer enriched or specialized programs, such as:

  • Single-gender education (i.e., all-boys or all-girls schools);
  • A religious affiliation (e.g., a Catholic school);
  • A curriculum of the United Kingdom, France, or other international designation;
  • Arts, sports, or other focus.

They may also be known for such things as small class sizes, enriched teaching resources, or comprehensive boarding facilities. For reasons like these, they can be more expensive than public schools in Canada.

Across the public, private, and independent spectrums, students in Canada learn to become global citizens from a young age. Their education provides an international outlook and students embrace the diversity of cultures they learn about and see in their own classrooms.


Canada values learning and cares about student success, offering support for language development, special needs, adaptive learning techniques, and manageable class sizes.

Standard core academic courses across all school types include:

  • English, French, or both
  • Mathematics
  • Social studies
  • Science
  • Computer studies (not compulsory in all provinces)
  • Physical education (not compulsory in higher grades)
  • Art (not compulsory in all provinces)

As students progress through grade levels, they can opt for specialized optional courses sometimes referred to as "electives" according to their interests, such as:

  • Additional foreign languages
  • History and geography
  • Chemistry, physics, and biology
  • Art, music, drama, dance, and photography
  • Business subjects, such as marketing or accounting
  • Computer programming, animation, and graphic design
  • Wood and metal working, and automotive
  • Home economics, such as cooking and sewing courses

Courses offered will vary by school. A wide range of clubs and extra-curricular activities are also offered in all schools. *While the education system in each province is similar to those in the other provinces in many ways, it will have its own curriculum and guidelines to reflect the culture and history of its region.


Homestay refers to an international student living with a local family while studying in Canada. This is often one of the most memorable aspects of an international student’s Canadian K-12 experience. Alternatively, he/she may be housed in a dormitory with other students, which is more common with private schools). Being able to answer the questions an international student’s family will have about their child’s living arrangement is as important as knowing about the educational part of their study abroad experience.

International students living in homestay truly become a part of the Canadian family and will be:

  • Living with a host family;
  • Fully immersed in the local culture;
  • Practicing listening and speaking with native English and/or French speakers;
  • Cared for, supervised, and supported in all aspects of school/home life;
  • Provided with three meals daily.

Associations Involved in K-12 International Activity 

​CAPS-I (the Canadian Association of Public Schools—International) focuses specifically on international students. Its member schools believe:

  • International students provide a complementary, enriching experience to the Canadian multicultural mosaic.
  • ​The presence of international programs assists Canadian staff and students in preparing for life in the global community of the future.
  • The multinational relationships developed through international programs will result in long-term benefits for Canada.
  • Investment in international education programs in public schools is beneficial for sustainability and growth of international programs in a competitive, worldwide market.

There are currently 100 public school boards across Canada that are members of CAPS-I. They enroll about 20,000 international students in full-year or one-semester programs and as many for short-term  experiences. CAPS-I schools:

  • Provide an extensive selection of both academic and optional courses, clubs, and extra- curricular activities;
  • Boast a great mix of Canadian students and international students;
  • Hire knowledgeable and supportive staff to assist international students and ensure they are registered for appropriate courses suited to their language ability, interests, and goals;
  • Are provincially accredited, follow a government-approved curriculum, and employ only government-certified teachers;
  • Rank at or near the top in the world on standardized tests in English, math, and science;
  • Offer competitively priced fees for tuition, accommodation, and health insurance;
  • Are located in communities that offer a high standard of living and host families that provide an opportunity for students to develop conversational English or French skills and experience life as part of a typical Canadian family;
  • Provide carefully screened and selected host families—welcoming, caring, and supportive.In some cases,

CAPS-I schools:

  • Provide an opportunity to learn in English and/or French;
  • Offer faith-based educational opportunities;
  • Offer specialized fine arts and elite athletics programs;
  • Offer International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses for qualified students;
  • Offer dormitory instead of homestay accommodation.

Annual tuition and homestay fees combined range from $18,000 to $24,000 for a full-year program and vary by location depending upon the cost of living.

Private and Independent Schools 

For private/independent schools, tuition and boarding fees range from $30,000 to $60,000 per year depending on the institution.

​The Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) is a membership association of not-for-profit independent schools that specialize in university preparation. Member schools are provincially licensed, board-governed, and are not driven by commercial interests (thus not-for-profit). Of particular interest, each school must meet high standards of excellence established by an independent accreditation commission.

​In Canada, education is provincially mandated, and CAIS Schools are required to meet Ministry requirements.

However, all schools undergo an additional, rigorous CAIS National Standards accreditation process. This process is recognized by the NAIS Commission on Accreditation and ensures that all accredited schools are pursuing best practices in every major area of program and operation. ​In fact, out of the thousands of private and independent schools in Canada, only 93 schools meet the 12 CAIS National Standards and have earned accreditation.

Boarding Schools

  • ​The Association of Boarding Schools is a select group of Canadian Accredited Independent Schools that specialize in boarding services for international students. They offer helpful resources from CAIS member schools, including definitions and links to types of boarding schools, information for international families, and application advice.
  • ​The Western Boarding Schools Association represents more than three dozen college-preparatory schools in Canada and the western United States.

These regional associations offer region-specific guidance and information that may be of use to those attending schools in BC, Ontario, or Quebec:

  • Independent School Association of British Columbia (ISABC)
  • Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario (CIS)
  • Quebec Association of Independent Schools (QAIS)

Canadian K-12 Learning Environment 

Generally, it can be said that in elementary and secondary (K-12) schools in Canada:

  • Teachers use various teaching methods depending on their training, personality, and students. These methods may include role playing, field trips outside of the classroom to let students learn via nature or in another hands-on way, group work, and art or drama to emphasize creativity as well as skills acquisition.
  • Teachers appreciate students’ creativity, individual personalities, and opinions so long as these enhance the overall classroom experience and do not disrupt it.
  • Lecture and memorization styles are very much offset by other styles (see bullet point #1; students are encouraged to think for themselves and creatively as well as to absorb rote information).
  • Teachers will integrate multimedia (e.g., making short films) and/or other digital technologies and computer-based learning into the classroom to prepare students for our increasingly computer-reliant world. The extent to which this happens will be dependent on the school and teacher.
  • Testing and evaluation occurs throughout the year; students’ grades are never fully dependent on one year-end final examination.
  • Classrooms are made up of students from all different ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds, and students are encouraged to be global citizens and to value tolerance and respect for differences.