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Personal experience: how parents in the USA prepare a child for school and how much it costs

Back in June, we - parents - received a folder of papers with school recommendations and materials for working with a child at home in order to prepare a five-year-old child for school. The most difficult part was buttoning up, and it took several weeks of hard work to master this skill. But it all starts, of course, not with the buttons, but with the choice of the school.

Фото: Depositphotos

Especially for VOA Yarina Matviychuk talks about her own experience in preparing a child for the first day at an American school.

Writing your first and last name, knowing the names of the months and seasons, buttoning your own buttons - these and a number of other skills and abilities must be mastered by a 5-year-old child in the United States before going to school. From the age of five - from the zero grade (kindergarten) - a comprehensive school begins in the States.

What an American child should be able to do in 5 years: school expectations

  • Alphabet: Recognizes the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet
  • Toilet: Independently visits the toilet
  • Printed Word Concept: Knows how to read a book and keep track of words.
  • Effort: Able to respond to difficult tasks
  • Meals: Can unpack and pack your lunch
  • Friendliness: Communicates with classmates in a positive manner
  • Dressing: Can independently dress and take off clothes
  • Letter: Can spell your name, capital letters
  • Independence: Can independently cope with tasks
  • Voice Level: Can control your voice
  • Pronunciation: Can pronounce how the letters sound
  • Kindness: Amiable to others, knows how to share
  • Concentration: Can focus on assigning 5-10 minutes
  • Name Recognition: Can recognize your written first and last name
  • Optimism: Wants to go to school
  • Mindfulness: Able to pay attention to the teacher or activities
  • Listening: Able to listen quietly
  • Rhyme: Recognizes rhyming words
  • Scissors: Knows how to hold scissors and cut straight lines
  • Lines: Can draw straight and curved lines
  • Requests: Can follow directions on 1-2 actions
  • Answers: Can answer questions
  • Patience: Can patiently stand in line
  • Calendar: Knows the names of the months and seasons.
  • Desire to study: He likes to be at school and learn new things.
  • Buttons: Can self-fasten buttons and zippers

School selection

Schooling in the US is compulsory and free. If parents do not like / do not fit public school, they can choose a private educational institution. Education in this, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, will cost an average of 8-13 thousand dollars a year.

As a rule, families with children of school or preschool age, and even young spouses, when buying a house, reckon with which school the area of ​​their potential new home or apartment is assigned to. A child can go to public school only at the place of residence.

On the subject: Best and worst school systems: state rankings

In addition, when choosing new housing or making a choice between public and private schools, families are often guided by school ratings. They are made up of both states and specialized public organizations, taking into account the following criteria:

  • academic knowledge of school students (reading speed, knowledge of mathematics, worldview);
  • school security (how well it is equipped, how many and in what condition gyms, lunch rooms, toilets, which mugs and sections children are offered);
  • awards (recognition of schools or teachers at state, country level).

In the descriptions of the ratings, the percentage by race is indicated, and a geographical map of the area where children attend this school live is added.

If the rating is not enough for a final decision, you can always book an excursion to school.

During such a tour, parents communicate with teachers, with the principal, they can attend the lesson and see the school from the inside. Without an appointment you cannot come and independently consider the school. The tour can be ordered at any time by phone, even six months before the start of your child’s education.

An equally important criterion when choosing a school is the feedback and experience of parents whose children have already attended this school. Here the Internet, conversations with neighbors and friends will be very helpful.

Фото: Depositphotos

Acquaintance with the school

If you have decided where your child will study, the first acquaintance with the school will be a tour that you ordered or are still going to order. This is not necessary, but very useful for parents.

The administration of each school offers its own program of acquaintance with new students and their families. In our case, the headmaster periodically sends parents emails with school news. For the first time, we received an email from the school principal in May with an offer to meet and get to know each other.

During the summer, the school made four appointments for us. They are voluntary, not all families respond to these invitations, but such meetings are quite informative for both parents and teachers.

  • First meeting - June

A meeting on the site only for parents with children of 5 years of age, so that future students and their parents meet and find a contact. The classes are predominantly 25-30 students.

  • Second meeting - July

The school principal and teachers invited parents of all elementary school classes (from 1 to 5 class). The event is held on the street at the initiative of the parent committee. Children play on the playground, some of them my child already knows after the first meeting.

Near the playground there is an ice-cream refrigerator wagon, and popcorn is fried next to it. These goodies - for children and adults - are funded from the budget of the parent committee.

The principal and teachers in an informal setting speak individually with parents and children. At the same meeting, the parent committee of the school talks about their work / plans, and also invites / writes new parents to the committee at will.

  • Third meeting - August

This is a kind of school instruction only for parents (no children) in the evening. Parents at this meeting get acquainted with the school curriculum. Here they learn that in two weeks their five-year plan should present their own “research” in the classroom, that next year the child will begin to read, write a little, measure, use a computer.

Teachers tell parents what the school day looks like, lunch break, excursions, assessment of students' knowledge and skills throughout the year, communication with the teacher. And also - that a child cannot miss more than 14 days of schooling a year without an important reason.

On the subject: School in the USA through the eyes of Moscow parents

Here, parents are also offered to volunteer at school. For example, to help school staff during lunch, a half-hour break or after school, work in a library.

Those who agreed to volunteer should undergo mandatory training on the topic “Recognizing Signs of Oversight or Violence among Children”.

  • Fourth and final meeting

This is a kind of “open day” for parents, relatives, students, teachers. With ice cream and a guided tour.

At this meeting, children are shown their classes, a gym, a canteen, and schoolchildren get acquainted with their teacher and classmates. This reminded me somewhat of the First Call in Ukraine, but without building in the school yard and official speeches.

The first call

In the US, there are no ceremonial lines on the first day of school. And the first day of the school year is not necessarily the first of September.

As a rule, each school district in the state decides when the school year begins. Quite a few American schools began their studies in August or even at the end of July. Traditionally, most schools started the school year on the second day after Labor Day (Labor Day), which is celebrated on the first Monday of September. For example, we go to school 4 September (Tuesday).

Schoolchildren do not bring flowers to teachers, do not dress festively. The first day of school is a regular school day.

Фото: Depositphotos

School shopping

According to the company Deloitte Services, school expenses for parents per child in the United States average 510 dollars. These are funds for clothes, shoes, stationery, equipment. Each school usually offers a list of recommended items for students.

My friend from New York Svetlana Sischuk, the mother of an 5-year-old boy, calculated that their school expenses coincide with the statistics.

In our case, the school on the site published the recommended list of accessories for students of different classes. For five-year periods, you need a little: a backpack, glue, felt-tip pens, markers, simple and colored pencils and headphones.

List from Svetlana Sischuk from New York


  • Crayola Colored Pencils - 3 Packs
  • Crayola Markers - 2 Packs
  • Crayola Watercolors - 1 pack
  • Notebooks - 3 pieces
  • Plastic folders - 8 pieces
  • Plain pencils - 2 packs
  • Scotch tape - 1 roll
  • Index cards - 2 packs
  • Glue stick - 6 pieces
  • Liquid glue - 2 bottles
  • Colored paper - 2 packages
  • Elastic bands - 2 packs
  • Copy paper - 2 packs


  • Hand sanitizer - 1 bottle
  • Wet wipes - 1 pack
  • Antibacterial wipes - 4 containers
  • Paper towels - 4 rolls
  • Paper napkins - 4 packs
  • Liquid Hand Soap - 4 Bottles

Price: $ 111,00 for the whole kit.

We are not talking about corruption, because the parents themselves buy things from any store or online.

Each school independently determines the needs of its students. Some parents get a very detailed list of stationery with brand names.

This is usually done to ensure that all children in the class have the same pencils and notebooks so that no one is considered “better or worse”. In addition, teachers usually know very well which brand of scissors cut well and are safe for the child. For example, headphones in our school should cost no more than $ 20, as the school recommends.

Stationery for the whole year ahead parents bring on the first day of school (or earlier). In our case, each student in the class has a signed box where his / her belongings are stored.

Most office supplies do not require, but rather recommend bringing. The school does not publicly announce who brought and who did not.

Sometimes the parenting committee takes care of folding the knapsacks with all school supplies, which thus saves other parents time, and earns money for the needs of the school through various actions / events.

On the subject: Rules for children in the school bus and car

My colleague Tatyana Vorozhko (fifth-grade mother) says that in the summer they buy their son only a new backpack and shoes. The rest is ordered on the school website. It takes literally a few seconds, and all the necessary felt-tip pens, drawing albums and other accessories are on the student’s desk on the first day of the school year.

Primary school students in most public schools do not wear school uniforms. The main rule is that clothes and shoes are comfortable. In our case, the teachers had one request: that the children do not wear flip-flops to school, because it is inconvenient to run around in them.

Each student either brings lunch from home or buys in the cafeteria. On average, lunch costs $ 2,55, each time students pay for food with a card, which parents replenish once a month.

In general, if we compare the preparation for school in Ukraine and the United States, American teachers (at least in elementary school) communicate with parents much more intensively - these are meetings, emails, excursions, volunteering, parental advice. This way parents feel more like a part of the educational process.

Participation in this for them is not necessary, but very useful. In addition, frequent meetings before the school year provide a less stressful start to education for both children and their parents.

Miscellaneous In the U.S. US schools US public schools Educational program

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