Enrolling children in school

What can you do to make sure your children are prepared to succeed? Regardless of whether you had a chance or not, have your children start learning in school or at home. You have the choice of enrolling your children in a private or public school. Private schools will charge you a fee (known as tuition) for allowing your child to attend. On the other hand, public schools are free.

Before your child’s first day in school, the school staff will determine what class (called a grade) your child will be placed in. Your child’s previous education, if any, and his/her age will help determine the grade. In some cases, the school staff may test your child to determine the grade.

The following table shows a guide to determine where your child can expect to go and in what grade:

School: Elementary or Primary Junior or Middle Secondary or High
Grades: Kindergarten, grades 1 to 5 grades 6 to 8 Grades 9 to 12
Age: 5 to 10 11 to 13 14 to 18

Here are some questions and answers that may arise as your child prepares to start or has started a school:

Where do I enroll my child?
Check on the internet or ask your neighbors with your child’s age group. If this fails, contact your local school district’s main office to find out which school your child should attend. Tell the staff your child’s age and the address where you live.
What documents do I need to enroll my child?
You will need documents proving your residence so the school knows that you live in the same community as the school serves. The school staff will need proof of your child’s certain immunizations (or shots), in addition to your child’s medical records.
How long is the school year?
In the US, the school year usually begins in August or September and ends in May or June. Children are off from school for at least a few months during the summer. School days are Monday through Friday. Some schools offer alternative school programs outside of regular school hours.
My children don’t speak English, can they attend a school?
Schools receive funding from state and federal government to provide services and programs aimed at teaching English. English as a Second Language (ESL) is a program that can prepare your child to learn English. The school staff will determine the proficiency of your child’s English to place your child in the appropriate school program.
How will my child get to and from school?
If your residence is near the school, you may consider walking your child to and from school. Alternatively, your child will need to ride a public school bus. The transportation is free. Your child will be picked up and dropped off at a school-bus stop near your home, not necessarily from your home. If your school does not have the public school bus service for your area, you may consider car pooling (share driving with other parents in the area) or driving your child to the school on your own.
What will my children eat for lunch at school?
You can either pack lunch for your children or give them money to buy it in the school cafeteria. Through federal School Meals program your child can get free or low-cost lunch and breakfast if you cannot afford to provide this to your child. Check with the school staff to find out about your eligibility to participate in this program.
What books and other school supplies will my child need?
Depending on the grade of your child, your child will need any number of items including notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators, and so on. The school will supply your child, free of charge, all the needed textbooks. Your child’s teacher will instruct your child about the class-specific supplies.
What can I expect my child to learn from school?
Your local school district decides what all students should know and be able to do. In most schools subjects include science, math, English, social studies, art, music, physical education, and foreign languages. Some schools also offer advanced educational programs for talented students.
Will my child be exposed to activities outside of the classroom?
Many schools have special events such as school trips or other events after school. While you may be charged a small fee to send your child to some of these programs, your child may love learning about music, sporting activities, and the museum scenes.
How will my child’s learning be assessed?
This depends on your child’s teachers. Based on your child’s work on the assignments throughout the year, they assign a grade ranging from A through D (or F), where A means excellent work, D (or F) meaning poor or failing work. In addition to class assignments such as homeworks, tests, quizzes, projects, book reports, and so on, teachers may use attendance, and class behavior to determine grade for your child.
What should I do if my child needs to miss one or more school day(s)?
You should let your school, specifically the teacher, know that your child will be out of school. You can either phone the school or send in a written note with your child. If and when you don’t know in advance when your child misses a school, send a written a note the next time your child goes to school. Remember school is important to the child and any missed work will need to be made up later. So keep out of school days to minimum, if possible. Otherwise, your child will twice as hard to spend time making up for missed classes as well as working on current class work.
What is the term "codes of conduct" about?
The codes of conduct refer to the list of rules that students must obey in a school. Students who break school rules may be punished. The punishment is based on the severity of the rule that was disobeyed. For instance, for breaking some rules, the student can be asked to stay late or come early. The student may also not be allowed to participate in a school activity such as sports. In severe cases, students can be suspended or expelled from school. To protect your child from such punishments, make sure your child is aware of staying away from trouble.
Is my child safe in school?
Most schools are safe places to learn for children. High schools, in particular, are not free from problems with violence, drugs, alcohol, and street gangs. If you are concerned about the safety of the child contact the school staff for options.
Posted on 12/8/2007
by Raj Singh