Americans at school

Before sending a child to school, American parents have many questions:
How can we find a good school for out children?
Will some students come from other neighbourhoods?
Does the school teach other languages besides English?
Are sports important?
Does the school teach other languages besides English?
Do the teachers belong to our Church?
Are private schools better than public ones?

American children go to elementary school when they are six years old and stay there for six years. the school years are called “grades”. In most parts of the country, elementary schools also have kindergartens for five-year-olds.
Pre-schools are for children younger than five. In pre-school and kindergarten, children get ready for school. They play with other children and learn to listen to the teacher. These are important programs for young children.
Public elementary schools usually have about 500 students. Boys and girls are in classes together, with between 15 and 30 other children. Some students learn fast. Others need extra help. Teachers may put pupils in small groups, where they can learn at different speed.
Subjects taught at Am. elementary schools are as follows: English/reading and writing/, Mathematics, Science, Music, Art, French or Spanish, Health, Sports, etc.
Students often raise their hands to ask questions and give answers.
Why must children go to school? They must learn to read and write and do Maths. But they must learn other important lessons, too. They must learn to choose, to use free time well, and to study alone. In junior high school /grades 7 and 8/ and in high school /grades 9 through 12/ these are important lessons.
The first teacher the students see in the morning is their homeroom teacher. The homeroom teacher gives them information for the day. The teachers stay in their classrooms, while the students go from class to class. Some subjects /like English/ are compulsory, some are not. A special teacher called a guidance counselor helps the students to choose suitable subjects according to their interests, abilities and plans for the future.
The students can join some clubs after school or to be on high school teams. Americans learn sports as part of their education. The teams practise often. They usually meet every day after school and 2 Saturdays a month. Parents, friends and teachers all travel with the team to other schools and watch them to play.
There is a special cub of girls and boys who jump up and down and shout for their football team. They wear clothes of a special color – the color of their school’s team. Each school has a team color and a team name. Cheerleaders call out the team name in their cheers. They practise many hours to learn special jumping and cheering. Cheerleading is almost a sport itself.
Every classroom has an American flag in it. Students start each day by standing up and saluting the flag. They say the “Pledge of Allegiance”. This is a promise to the country. It was written 200 years ago.
At many high schools and universities there is a big football game once a year and a parade afterwards. This is called “Homecoming”. Students who graduated from the school like to return for “Homecoming” to see their old friends and teachers again. In American schools there are ceremonies for students who have done good work in school or who are excellent at sports. The school director gives prizes to the students. sometimes the prize is money for later university study.
When students graduate from high school, they get the high school diploma. Afterwards the graduating class has a big party, or “prom”. everyone wears fine clothes and a band plays dance music.
What are American schools like?
There is always a gym, a lunchroom, a school library, and an auditorium, a very large room where all the students and teachers can meet. Most schools also have rooms for the school a band to practise in. They have rooms for students to type and use computers. There are usually rooms for students to work with paint, wood, metal and other materials.
Private schools are very expensive. Parents who send their children to private schools must pay to do so. Most private schools accept only children who are already doing well in school and are able to work quietly. Some takes only boys or only girls. Classes are less crowded than classes in public schools. This gives children a chance to learn more. Some parents choose private religious schools. these schools each belong to a Church. They give lessons about that religion.
Children at many private schools wear special school uniforms. At public schools, student wear what they want. Only 17 percent of American children are sent to private schools. Most Americans really believe in public education. they want their children to go to schools that are free and open to all.
In the US, students take many tests each year. Teachers use tests to see how well pupils are learning at school Most American schools give the following marks: A = 91-100 percent, B = 81-90 percent, C = 71-80 percent, D = 65-70 percent, E = 50-54 percent, and F = below 50 percent. In high school it is possible to take some classes without marks. Then the students get a “P” for “pass” and an “F” for “fail”. Students get report cards four times a year. 81 percent of American students graduate from high school.
Colleges accept only those students who have done well in high school. Students choose from 2000 colleges in the US. Top students may chose famous “Ivy League” schools like Princeton /NJ/, Harvard /MASS/, or Yale /CON/. They are the oldest universities in the country, excellent, but expensive. A college diploma is called a degree. Students can get a Bachelor degree, a Master of Arts degree or a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

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J.Fleisner
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