Children must be 5 by September 30 of the school year in order to enroll in Kinder (pre-scolaire 5). Some schools, not all, offer Pre-K (pre-scolaire 4). Elementary School goes to Grade 6, High School goes to Grade 11. A Derogation Process for children who turn 5 during the school year after Sept. 30 is available through the Centre de services scolaires de Montréal (CSSDM, formerly Commission scolaire de Montreal).
The language of instruction in Quebec is French. Children who do not speak French may benefit from the Welcome Class (Classe d'accueil) offered by the French public school system. They will attend class with other children in a similar situation, who are either new to Montreal, or do not speak French. The goal of the program is to immerse the children in intensive French classes for a year in order to prepare them to join regular classes. To register for this program, you must contact the CSSDM via email at accueil [at] csdm.qc.ca or leave your request at 514 596-6084.
Children have to attend the public school that is within the district of their home address. To attend a school outside the district (libre choix), parents must contact the school board, add their child's name to a waiting list, and wait for a space to become available. Some public schools have special programs and do not register children based on their home address. Instead, they have an admissions test or a lottery. The registration process may be during the previous fall, or in early winter. It may vary by school. Information is available at each school's website or via the school board. Please consult your local public school website and others you may be interested in.
French Public School Boards in Montreal
There are a number of alternative schools in Montreal including schools offering special programs with emphasis in arts, music, sports, science, and more. The registration process for the alternative schools pertaining to the Centres de services scolaires de Montreal varies. In most cases, parents are required to attend a mandatory pre-admissions info session. For more information, please consult https://csdm.ca/parents-eleves/admission/autres-cas/
Parents wishing to home school their children must contact their school board. Home Schooling may be in English or French, but doing so in English does not make the child eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility to Study in English in QC. Parents must provide an educational plan, along with teaching materials for the school board's review and approval. The child must receive an educational experience equivalent to what is provided at school, so as to gain sufficient knowledge and competencies to enter the public or private school system. The school board will conduct discretionary evaluations. For more information, please contact your local school board or consult the MELS' Homeschooling framework. Additional resources and support are offered by the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada and The Canadian Homeschooler's Homeschooling in QC guide.
French public elementary school rankings can be found here. These rankings, published in Fall 2015, are the results of a study done by the newspaper La Presse. The study took into consideration socio-economic indicators in different areas when classifying schools. No equivalent study is available for English public elementary schools at this time. High school rankings for some public and private schools from the English and French systems can be found here. This study is done yearly by The Fraser Institute. The Journal de Montreal has arranged the results in map showing private and public schools. These studies are not endorsed by McGill University.