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Education for Kids (K-12)

Education for Kids

American education system is significantly different from any other country. Schools and education system are highly sophisticated and flexible. Classroom environment is quite open and friendly. Sports and other curricular activities are given equal importance. Children are not pressurized with a lot of homework.

The complete USA education system can be listed as follows:

US Education System

Below are the levels of education in US School system. Children can either go to Private Schools or Public Schools. Unlike Private Schools where the legal guardians have to pay for the tuition Public Schools are free. The areas with good Public Schools have high real estate prices ie the price of the houses and rent are high.

  • Preschool
  • Pre-K
  • Kindergarten (K.G.)/Pre School
  • Elementary School
  • Middle School or Junior High School
  • High School
  • Under Graduate College
  • Graduate College

Nursery: 3 years old child can be admitted in a Nursery. Child has to be toilet/potty trained. Normally nursery education is very expensive.

Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K): Child can be admitted in pre-K when he/she is 4 yrs old.

Kindergarten: In order to be eligible for admission to kindergarten the child must be 5 years of age by a specific date/month, which is decided by the school.

At the end of this one year period, the child has to go through an assessment test to get admission in 1st grade. The child will not be promoted if he/she is found unfit for the 1st grade.

Elementary School

1st to 5th grade education is known as "Elementary School".

  • Normally there is a school bus service available. However, parents residing within 2 miles zone, need to pick-up and drop their children on their own.
  • Unlike India here children are not given much home work. Most of it will be completed in the school itself, and very little will be given for home. However a proper homework practice does start from 4th grade onwards.
  • The examination system is also very relaxed. Tests and weekly quiz are conducted on regular basis, but no grades are given. The child's performance in the exam is categorized as "Excellent", "Good", "Satisfactory", and "Need Improvement". In some places alphabetic grades viz. A, B, C, D might start in 4th grade.
  • Unless there is an extreme exception a child is not failed in elementary school.
  • A kid's performance is tested by conducting the IOWA or CAT test depending on the state. A 3rd grade kid can appear for such tests.
  • Normally, elementary students stay with one group of classmates and one main teacher during the day. However different teachers may take classes in art, music and physical education.

Middle School

6th to 8th grade education is known as "Middle school".

In few schools 5th grade or 9th grade may also be included in the Middle School. On the other hand in some places only 7th and 8th grade constitute the Middle School. These rules vary from school to school.

  • The admission criterion is based on the records in the previous grades.
  • In some places there may be assessment tests for admissions.
  • Normally there is a school bus service available. However, students residing within 2 miles zone need to come to school on their own.
  • Children do get a lot of homework in middle school.
  • Tests are conducted in every 3 months, or 6 months basis. Final exams are conducted at the end of the year. There may be a regular quiz conducted for each subject. Grades are given according to the performance.
  • Students are provided with private lockers in the school to keep their stuff as they have to change classes throughout the day. A middle school student usually has to change classes in every 45 minutes.
  • Lunch duration varies from 30 minutes to 1 hour.

High School

9th to 12th grade education is known as High School.

These 4 years of education are more commonly known as:

  • 9th Grade is known as Freshman Year.
  • 10th Grade is known as Sophomore Year.
  • 11th Grade is known as Junior Year.
  • 12th Grade is known as Senior Year High School.
  • Admission criteria are based on the prior grade record and performances.
  • Generally bus will only pick up kids outside the 3 or 4 miles area zone. The others have to come to school on their own.
  • High school students get a lot of homework.
  • Tests are conducted in every 3 months, or 6 months basis. Final exams are conducted at the end of the year. There may be some regular quiz conducted for each subject. Grades are given according to the performance.
  • Students are provided with private lockers in the school to keep their stuff.
  • Lunch duration varies from 30 min to 1 hour.
  • In order to get admission in any college after high school, the student has to give ACT or SAT assessment test. It is better to start preparing for these tests right after the Sophomore Year. This way the student gets sufficient margin of time to improve their results.

General things to know

  • Public Schools: There are public schools all over USA. They offer free education and books. However, fee is charged for activities such as picnics etc. Lunch is also provided by the school at very low rates. Middle and high school students are allowed to take their books home. In some places elementary school kids have to leave their books in the school itself, but are given some printed material to help with the home work.
    ** Students have to participate in the regular school fund raising programs.
  • Private Schools: Private school education is comparatively expensive. They charge a very high tuition fee and there are many additional charges.
  • Re-opening Day: school re-opening day varies from state to state, but usually it is a few days before the Labor Day holiday.
  • Grade: class or standard is known as Grade. For example the Class III, Class IV, and Class V in India will be 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade here.
  • Grading System: on the performance, a student is graded as A, B, C, D, and F for each subject.

Marks Slab for each Grade

Grade Percentage/Marks Slab
A 90 to 100
B 80 to 90
C 70 to 80
D 60 to 70
E Below 60.

Actually the word "grade" conveys two meanings, viz. A year of education e.g. the first year of school is "first grade", and grade also means marks/rank, e.g. "grade A". A student might say, "In 8th grade, my grades were average."

Questions you must ask the Principal/Teacher before starting the admission process

Discipline and Security:

  • What are the discipline rules of the school?
  • What are the school's security measures?
  • What is the expected student behavior?
  • How is life on campus?
  • Are drugs a campus problem?

Student performance measures and tests:

  • How much homework is given?
  • When do students get feedback on their work?
  • When is a student's performance measured?
  • How are the parents informed about their child's performance?
  • What is the school's overall performance over the last few years?

Other Activities:

  • Are computers used for instructions in different subjects?
  • What is the level of physical education, sports and other curricular activities?
  • Do you welcome the involvement of parents?
  • What are parents expected/required to do?

Day Care

These are the places where you can leave your toddlers, while going to work. Day care centers accept children over the age of 3 months. The fee and timings of the day care vary in each day care center.

Extended Day Care: For late hours and working parents, there is extended day care facility as well. It can be understood as a facility which offers services for a longer duration than the normal day care. Again the fee and the timings vary from area to area. They also take children 3 months and older.

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