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Top 14 Things Parents Need to Know About American Schools: An Immigrant's Opinion

'02.09.2021'

Source: Yandex Zen

What is the real education system in the United States? For a detailed account of how American schools are taught, see the Between New York and Boston blog at Yandex Zen.

Photo: Shutterstock

Perhaps the strangest thing about American studies the fact that secondary education in the United States is free and strong enough, but the cost of colleges and preschools is disproportionately high. Not surprisingly, American parents start saving money for college for their kids from birth.

There is no permanent team and class. Starting from elementary school every year, students of parallel school classes (and there are usually at least 4-5 in the States) are constantly mixed with each other. Each year, a child from the old class will have only 20-25% of the acquaintances with whom he studied all last year, and all the rest will be new. This will happen annually and for everyone without exception, that is, all children will be on equal terms, everyone needs to make new acquaintances, to gain authority. This happens from the first grade, and children tolerate it normally. As the child psychologist explained to me, in a new social circle it is easier to prove oneself from a different side, if there were some problems in the previous team, the child's division into strong and weak, which usually forms during the year, disappears, and everything can be started from scratch.

In elementary school America along with the annual change in the class team, the teacher also changes in children. The fact is that American elementary school teachers specialize by grade. The teacher will read the curriculum of only one, for example, the second grade, and when the school year ends, the children move on to the next teacher, with whom they will spend the whole next year and study the third grade curriculum. Just like us, elementary school teachers teach all basic subjects: mathematics, reading, writing and elementary sciences, and specialized lessons, such as sports or music, are already taught by specialized teachers.

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From elementary grades they teach to read a lot and, as a rule, this habit remains with the child for life. Most American children read a lot and enjoy reading. Our compatriots are very surprised when they hear this and ask: what is the secret? The fact is that children are taught to choose the right literature according to age, this is even given several lessons in elementary school. First of all, books should be interesting, uncomplicated, all the situations described in them should be understandable, and there should be few new, unfamiliar terms - otherwise, interest in reading may disappear. What kind of books to read (especially in primary school), the child chooses in the school or city library. The teacher issues a form in which you need to fill in the number of pages read per day and the number of books read over a certain period, for example, over the summer. Very often they organize presentations of their favorite books among children and, of course, they praise a lot for the result, give small prizes (bookmarks, erasers, pencils). Reading is associated with the holiday, not with the obligation.

Since high school each class will have only a few basic, compulsory subjects, and all the rest can be chosen independently. Approximately 2-3 weeks before the start of school, the school sends a list of compulsory subjects and a list of what to choose from to the parents' address. For example, if a child is interested in stars, then he can choose a course in astronomy or take an additional story to the one in the main program. It is impossible not to choose additional subjects and focus on studying only the main program. If by the specified date you and your child do not make your choice, then the program for the child will be chosen for you.

In accordance with the subjects chosen for study for each student an individual schedule will be drawn up, and here the concept of a class and one collective is generally dispersed. Students will only cross paths with friends on core subjects. In all other courses, everyone will go to their chosen class. This is a good opportunity to try new subjects, find out if you really like it, or change the subject, in which case, next year.

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From the elementary grades, they make collective and individual complex projects... First - in the classroom, under the supervision of the teacher, and then each one independently or in groups. From open sources, you need to find information, analyze it, draw conclusions and present to others. The project should not be handed over to the teacher, but to be presented to the whole class or even in an open lesson to all parents. It's the same with presentation skills. American students give presentations on all sorts of topics almost every week. Very useful skills that are used everywhere in adulthood.

Students are not encouraged to use cheat sheets on exams and tests, and it is also not customary to “save drowning people” with tips. Schoolchildren do not cover up those who cheat, but on the contrary, in every possible way suppress such actions and inform the teacher. The rules are the same for everyone, and they are taught to do this from school.

It is the same with the notes: it is not common for American students to share their notes and notes. For example, no one will let you write off your homework, and no one will ask about it. But an offer to buy some notes or notes (this is already in high school or college) can be perceived favorably - Americans know the value of work, and also that nothing is done for free.

American learning system encourages experimentation, non-standard approaches to problem solving and praises for mistakes. Errors are the engines of progress, and you cannot learn something, much less invent something in the future without making mistakes. Therefore, mistakes are welcome, here they teach not to be afraid to make them.

Praise always and a lot... Praise is for the effort, not the result. It's very unusual to get so much praise after our school, especially if you make mistakes. A specific person is assessed in dynamics and, moreover, a student is not compared with a student.

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Much attention is paid to sports. Each school has its own sports teams that will compete with other schools, and each student has the opportunity to prove themselves. I want to point out that sports in American schools never run counter to academic performance in core subjects. After all, if the coach finds out that a team player has unrecorded items, then he can be removed from the game, so there should not be any poor students in the team, but C students are already allowed.

High school students (especially those who do not shine with knowledge) take sports competitions and sports in general very seriously. And all because the best players in school teams have good chances to enter a famous college even without excellent knowledge. This is unspoken information, but if you are noticed by a college sports coach, then you do not need to worry about the entrance exams. There are also many examples where really talented athletes from poor families who simply cannot pay for college tuition receive training grants. Therefore, for many, sports are a ticket to life!

In America it is considered normal if after graduation a teenager still does not know what he wants to do and where to go to study. Yes, and in the USA there are those for whom the parents have decided everything for a long time, and the child will follow in the family footsteps. If a family has its own business or runs a large corporation, then 80% of 100% of children will continue the family business, which means they will choose an appropriate university for education. However, many high school graduates will be hesitant about which choice, and this is socially accepted as normal! This is the time when you can try everything and choose what you like. There is an opportunity to go to temporary work or go to see new places, and you can continue your studies later.

Original column published on the blog. "Between New York and Boston" on Yandex Zen.

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