Education in the United States
To make sure all children are prepared to succeed, the United States provides free public education from kindergarten through grade 12 for all students in the United States. Some communities also offer the chance for children as young as three years old to attend preschool. This section tells you how to enroll your children in school, how schools in the United States work, and how to help your children learn.Most public schools in the United States are coeducational. Coeducational means that girls and boys attend classes together, however, there are some schools that only enroll a single gender. Most schools are part of a school district that has several schools, including different schools for children of different ages. The ages of students at each school may vary from community to community.
Enroll Your Child in School
One of the first things you should do is to enroll your child in school. Call or visit your local school district’s main office or website to find out which school or schools your child may attend. Currently, all states and the District of Columbia have compulsory school attendance laws. Compulsory school attendance means that all children who are between certain ages must attend school. In most states, these laws cover all children ages 5 to 16. Check with your local school district or state department of education to find out the required ages for school attendance in your state.
You can send your child to a public or private school. Public schools are free and do not offer religious instruction. The state decides what your child learns in public school, but local school districts, principals, teachers, and parents decide how to teach your child. Charter schools are a special type of public school that operate independently from the local school district. Your local and state taxes, and some of your federal taxes, pay for public schools.
Private schools are another way you can educate your child. Private schools are owned and run by groups that are independent of the government, including religious and non-religious groups. Students generally must pay a fee (called tuition) to attend private school. In some cases, private schools may offer financial help for students who cannot pay the tuition. In other cases, public funds may be available in the form of vouchers for students to attend private school. Some private schools are coeducational, while some are only for boys or only for girls. Some states have licensing or registration requirements for private schools, and many private schools choose to be accredited by an accrediting association. To learn more about private schools, contact your state’s department of education.Educating your child at home is another option. This is called homeschooling. The requirements for homeschooling differ from state to state. Parents interested in homeschooling should contact their state department of education to get more information.
Most American children are in public school for around 13 years, from kindergarten through grade 12. In most schools, your child will be placed in a class (called a grade) based on two things: age and level of previous education. In some cases, a school may give your child a test to determine his or her grade level and class assignment.