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How are kindergartens in America

The education system in the United States is significantly different from what we are used to at home. In America, there is no long maternity leave, so babies are sent to kindergartens very early - sometimes from six weeks. Moreover, there is no division into nurseries and kindergartens. And from the age of five, the child must necessarily attend special groups at the school (kindergarten). ForumDaily begins a series of materials on education in the USA with a story about the preschool education system. We will show all the pitfalls and share life hacks on how to give your child the best education.

Фото: Depositphotos

Child choice

Isabella Halperin from California has been looking for a garden for her three-year-old daughter Charlene for a long time. I wanted him to be close to home and, most importantly, to make the child feel good in the garden. Their family is Russian-speaking, but it was important for Isabella that her daughter started learning English now, found friends and started talking. So she was looking for a large, non-religious American garden.

Isabella started by reviewing kindergarten reviews on Yelp.

“I only looked at kindergartens with a five-star rating, read reviews on the Internet about those gardens that matched their rating and distance from home. If they were good, I went on a sightseeing tour. So I visited six or seven kindergartens. One of them even had video cameras so that parents could remotely watch what their child was doing at any time. I really liked this idea. Unfortunately, there was no room in this garden, ”says Isabella.

As a result, she found what she was looking for - a large American kindergarten close to home, which operates on the Montessori system. Before going to the kindergarten, little Charlene learned how to speak English so that she would not be pushed and what she needed to go to the toilet. Now she visits the kindergarten two days a week for three hours.

Isabella Halperin, after a long search, found a garden for her daughter, who arranged it completely. Photos from the personal archive

Isabella Halperin, after a long search, found a garden for her daughter, who arranged it completely. Photos from the personal archive

Charlene's group includes 24 children from 3 to 5 years old. Children have their own schedule and snacks. The child's day is divided into two parts - classes with teachers, during which children sit in a circle, sing songs, read, learn letters and numbers, and time for independent study, when the child himself chooses a toy or a development tool to his liking. Isabella likes that a lot is provided for learning in the garden: along with toys, there are many educational materials, and the list of activities even includes real geography - with maps and cardinal points. Charlene most of all liked the lesson in which the children learned the states of bodies: liquid, solid, gaseous.

In the kindergarten is very clean, the kids themselves clean up after themselves, put everything in place. On the street, children are waited by safe and interesting playgrounds with slides and a sandbox.

True, Charlene did not immediately get used to the kindergarten. At first, the language barrier affected - Isabella often noticed how her daughter stood apart from all the children and played with herself. But now Charlene has already got used to it: she is learning songs in English and is friends with an English-speaking girl.

What are the gardens in the US

In the US, you can pick up a kindergarten (day care) for every taste. First of all, they differ in size: there are small, so-called family, kindergartens (there can be only 5-6 children in them) and traditional large ones, where in the same group there are about 25 people.

Small kindergartens can even be located on the territory of a private house. Their activities are necessarily licensed.

The advantages of such kindergartens: few children, which means a more individual approach, family environment, relative cheapness, many of them are designed for one or another diaspora (for example, there are Russian, Chinese or French kindergartens). Cons: as a rule, the academic program is weaker than in large kindergartens, in addition, the child may find it cramped in it - there is little space, few children, there is no diverse communication.

Large gardens are located in specially designed buildings. Accordingly, there are a lot of children in them. As a rule, in such kindergartens, children are taken from the cradle - the baby can be left from six weeks. They sleep all day in special boxes. Pampers, infant formula, blankets and everything else must be brought by parents. Such an early age for accepting children is due to the fact that there is practically no maternity leave in the United States. You can forget about three years of childcare, to which everyone in the post-Soviet countries is accustomed. In the States, you need to go to work within a month and a half after giving birth, and many American mothers make a choice in favor of work.

Maria Oksyuk, a psychologist by training, now works as a kindergarten teacher in California. Her group includes kids one and a half years old. “They do not need me, but their mother,” says Maria. - As a mother, my heart breaks when I see how difficult it is for such babies to stay all day in an unfamiliar environment. As a psychologist, I understand that if a child is sent to kindergarten at such an early age, he will not develop an attachment to his mother. In fact, it turns out that the teacher becomes the main adult for the baby. This is probably the secret of such a "detachment" of local adults, and the desire of teenagers to quickly leave their father's house. For example, I see a two-year-old toddler whom my mother brings at seven in the morning and picks up at half past seven in the evening. In the evening, he no longer runs to her joyfully towards her - on the contrary, he rushes away. This is such a “refusenik” syndrome. ”

Maria Oksyuk, a psychologist by training, thinks that you shouldn't give your children to the kindergarten very small. Photos from the personal archive

Maria Oksyuk, a psychologist by training, thinks that you shouldn't give your children to the kindergarten very small. Photos from the personal archive

American gardens are not like ours in terms of nutrition. Most kindergartens do not have traditional breakfasts, hot lunches and afternoon snacks. They are replaced either by food that parents bring with them in a container, or snacks - pizza, fries and fruit. Some gardens, however, sometimes offer hot meals as an option.

Also, in American kindergartens, children usually do not sleep on beds, but on special mattresses that are placed on the floor. At the same time, children do not undress - it is believed that they should be prepared for various emergencies and not waste time getting ready. Cots are provided only for the smallest. However, in small private kindergartens, all children can be placed in beds.

In addition, in the United States are popular gardens, belonging to a religious community. There are, for example, gardens at Catholic churches, chabads at synagogues. As a rule, they are significantly cheaper than usual. But in order to give the child back there, you need to be in this religious community.

Yana Berger, a Russian-speaking immigrant from Israel, has three children. She gave her youngest son Aaron two and a half years to the chabad at the synagogue. This is a small family daycare in a small California town. “I toured a lot of gardens: both Montessori, and ordinary, and Russian, but I stopped at the Chabad. Firstly, it is not far from home, and secondly, I feel that the teachers here work not out of fear, but out of conscience. Aaron goes to the garden with pleasure, and in the evening the teachers tell me what kind of angel he is. Of course, a mother's heart melts from such an attitude towards my child, ”Yana admits.

In Chabad, children also sleep in clothes and shoes, and they are not allowed to take off their shoes. “As they explained to me, if a child drives a splinter into his leg, no one has the right to remove it - this is considered a surgical intervention. Well, and because of the earthquakes that often happen in California, of course, ”explains Yana.

Expensive pleasure

It is up to the parents to decide whether or not to send the child to kindergarten, there are no special requirements at the legislative level.

Kindergartens in the United States are mostly private. However, for families with low income (for three people this is considered $ 19 790 per year) are provided and Free gardens under the “Head start” program. Even in smaller towns, you can find a free garden by contacting your local education department. True, even if you find it, this does not mean that you will be able to send your child there - as a rule, there are huge queues in free kindergartens. Children are accepted there almost from birth to five years old.

If the family income per dollar is higher than the poverty level, the garden will have to fork out, and how.

Average cost a private garden for babies from six months to three years old in the USA - just over $ 11,5 thousand per year, that is, about $ 1000 per month. Older children (3-5 years old) cost their parents a little less: $ 4-9 thousand per year, that is, $ 300-800 per month.

But this, of course, is the “average temperature in the hospital”. The price tag fluctuates depending on the age of the child, the number of hours they spend in the garden, the type of kindergarten and the state where you live.

The difference in the cost of the garden, according to According to The National Association of Children's Preschool Education, on average, can be quite substantial: from $ 5,5 thousand to $ 16,6 thousand per year. In some cities comes out even more expensive. For example, the cost of staying in kindergarten in Boston or San Francisco can reach 2200 $ per month. This is how it looks list of states with the most expensive gardens in descending order: Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Illinois, Washington and Wisconsin. For comparison, the most inexpensive kindergartens are in Mississippi ($ 4,6 thousand per year), Kentucky ($ 6,5 thousand) and South Carolina ($ 5,8 thousand).

All information about cost of gardens in your area, please contact a specialized Child Care Resource and Referral agency.

But there is good news. The amount of payment for the garden can be deducted from taxes. If, during the year, parents who study full-time or work, have spent more than 3 thousand dollars per child or more than 6 thousand dollars for two or more children in a kindergarten, then they can return to 35% of the amount spent. That is, it turns out that in order to receive a tax benefit, a child needs to go to the garden for a full day two or three months a year, or half a day for half a year. It's just important not to lose your monthly receipts.

Also, American kindergartens teach parents to be organized. When the child enters the kindergarten, the parent signs a contract, which stipulates, among other things, penalties for being late. And the fines are considerable - from 15-20 dollars for twenty minutes.

If in 20-30 minutes after the end of the working hours of the kindergarten, the child is not taken away, and the parent cannot be reached, the educators call the police - the policeman arrives with a social worker. The consequences can be dire, up to and including the transfer of your child to another family in court. So don't be late.

Different learning systems

In American kindergartens, there are different training systems. In addition to the usual there are Waldorf gardens, Reggio Emilia gardens, Montessori gardens. As a rule, the specialization of the kindergarten does not affect the price, it is all about the preferred direction of development for your child.

Waldorf gardens

Waldorf system, based on the teachings of the Austrian Rudolf Steiner, provides an individual approach to raising a child. Children are taught, including their imagination and imitation craving, without using any tests at all.

This system is more suitable for children with artistic inclinations. The daily program of such a kindergarten includes a variety of artistic activities: drawing, modeling, music, puppet theater, production of small pieces, storytelling. The child is free to find the means for artistic expression. Among other things, Waldorf’s schools and kindergartens are also oriented towards religious Christian education.

Reggio Emilia Approach

Gardens of Reggio Emilia (the name comes from the Italian city of the same nameOroda, where the pedagogical system originated) the training system is based on a project approach. Children spend days and months exploring parts of a whole from different angles - for example, the sea is learned through the study of a shell.

The system is based on such postulates as the control of the child himself for his learning and development, obtaining new knowledge through the study of objects and their movement in space, many ways of child self-realization (music, design, drawing, storytelling).

Reggio Emilia kindergartens are distinguished by their original design. These kindergartens are as far as possible in appearance from what appears before our eyes at the words “preschool”. Rather, it is a warm, welcoming home with all its smells and sounds, funny pictures and collages on the walls. Educators in such kindergartens are not senior mentors, but co-authors and co-creators, they constantly learn with children, and sometimes from children.

Montessori system

The most popular in the US was the Montessori system. It was invented by the Italian Maria Montessori about a hundred years ago and has not changed significantly since then. The essence of the method is to follow the individual physiological schedule of development of the brain of the child, throwing tasks to the child with an increasing level of complexity. From the middle of the zero, the Montessori learning principles were incorporated into the US state school curriculum.

In practice, in such a garden, children from three to six years old are in the same room, play and study together. This is one of the basic principles of Montessori - to imitate the village community. So the younger ones learn from the older ones, and the older ones get used to feeling their responsibility for their actions in front of the kids. In the morning, at the most productive time for children's development, several training sessions are held, the rest of the time the children play themselves with ordinary toys and educational aids.

Please note that the Montessori trademark is not registered in the United States, as is the case in Europe and Russia. This means that any garden can use the fashionable prefix Montessori in its name by purchasing specialized teaching aids, but at the same time be far from the principles of the ancestor. You can check how the child care institution really works according to the Montessori system by asking employees for an AMS (American Montessori Society) or AMI (Association Montessori International of the United States) license. If there is no such license, but you still like the kindergarten (cheap, close, nice teachers), do not be discouraged: ask where the educators studied, if they have an idea of ​​the method and, in general, whether their eyes are “burning”.

How to learn a second language in kindergarten

The United States is a multiethnic state, and children can receive benefits from this state of affairs already in early childhood. Increasingly, both native American parents and immigrants prefer to send their children to ethnically oriented kindergartens, for example, Russian-speaking immigrants often send their babies to Russian gardens. A child who has fallen into a different language environment from an early age has every chance of growing up as a bilingual person - a person for whom two or three languages ​​are native. For example, Forum Daily previously said, how in the US can you teach a child the Russian language. In addition, the study of a foreign language, albeit in a game situational form, gives a powerful impetus to the development of the brain, stimulates the child to actively explore the world in all its diversity.

Children's ability to grasp language on the fly gave impetus to the emergence of many bilingual kindergartens. The “popular” foreign languages ​​in the United States are Chinese and Spanish. Accordingly, kindergartens with these languages ​​of instruction are in high demand. For example, Chinese, a tonal language that is very difficult to learn, is surprisingly easy for children. Classes are conducted by native speakers of Chinese, children are sung songs, read fairy tales in Chinese. Normal non-fiction communication is usually in English. And it doesn't matter if the kid does not understand either one or the other - he will not mix up languages, but will learn both over time.

Фото: Depositphotos

Russian-speaking Yana Diener from California sent her four-year-old daughter to a full-day Chinese kindergarten. “My daughter is always happy to go there in the morning and never wants to go home. We are very happy: she is always clean, dry, nourished and happy. And although my daughter's main language is Russian, she already speaks Chinese, ”says Yana. Yana gives her daughter's food to the kindergarten with him.

“A Chinese kindergarten costs us $ 1300 a month. In our region, typical American gardens cost $ 1500-1700 per month. So we also get savings, ”says Yana.

Whom do we leave children for

Preschool education in the United States is a large chunk of the labor market. By According to 2012, 2,3 million people are employed in the care and education of children under five. About half of them work in kindergartens, the rest are nannies, as well as relatives and friends who are paid to look after the children.

According to the National Kindergarten Association, many kindergarten workers do not have specialized education, only slightly more than half of them graduated from any college. In fairness it is worth mentioning that their work is paid accordingly. average salary kindergarten worker 10 $ per hour. In essence, a penny.


Veronica Ent on the first attempt failed to find a good kindergarten in San Francisco for her two-year-old daughter, although there were no special requirements. “We were looking for an ordinary community garden not far from home. But during the search, I was horrified: the teachers had no education, no normal English. Licenses - it is not clear what. In a word, it is difficult to find something of high quality, and the waiting lists for the gardens do not end, ”Victoria says indignantly. As a result, she hired a nanny, but from the new school year she still plans to send her child to kindergarten.

In principle, the care and supervision in American kindergartens is not bad: up to a year, there is one teacher for three children, from one to two years - one teacher for four children, and from two years old to the older group - one teacher for six children.

An alternative to gardens can be a qualified nanny. However, this is not the most budget option. Depending on the duties performed (cooking, transporting in sections, developing classes), the nanny's hour of work is 12-20 $. Add the cost of sections and circles. Saving does not work, but the child receives individual care.

Food for brain

When giving children to the garden, parents count not only on their socialization, but also on intellectual development and preparation for school. results researchheld in 2012 by psychology doctor Elliott Tucker-Drob from the University of Texas, talks about the positive impact of gardens on the mental development of babies.

The psychologist examined 600 pairs of twins. Initial intelligence testing was performed at the age of two. It was studied whether the children attended kindergarten, how stimulating the communication of the mother with the children was to mental development, and also analyzed their socio-economic status and race. The final test in reading and math was done at age 5. Since it was twins who had the same set of genes and who grew up together were compared, Dr. Tucker-Drob was able to isolate the influence of the child's environment on the test results.

The report states that a poor home environment affects the mental abilities of children who have not visited the gardens, much more than the children who attended the gardens. In other words, a bad home situation becomes much less of a problem for a child if he goes into the garden. And even if the family is very poor, a poor garden is better than nothing. If everything is good at home, then it does not matter for the child’s ability to learn whether he attends a kindergarten or not.

Of course, for working parents, a garden is a great way out. Children go there with pleasure, make new friends, learn foreign languages ​​and get to know the world playfully. And for non-working mothers, a garden is a couple of hours of rest, an opportunity to pamper yourself, while being sure that the child is also good. And often only the financial side is decisive in the question of whether or not to send a child to a kindergarten in America.

Read also on ForumDaily:

How to get an education in the USA and how much it costs

How to pass TOEFL in the USA

Immigration to the USA: five stories of people who won the green card

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