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Thread: U.S.A. Culture and Language Help - II

  1. #31
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by fg_weasley
    Also, I wanted to clarify that Kindergarten is mandatory and starts around age five; pre-school, which is before Kindergarten, is not mandatory, though it is highly suggested.
    Kindergarten is not mandatory in all states. Some states require kindergarten attendance, but most do not (though it's encouraged in all states, and most states require school districts to offer it).

  2. #32
    A.H.
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    Kindergarten is not mandatory in all states. Some states require kindergarten attendance, but most do not (though it's encouraged in all states, and most states require school districts to offer it).
    Hmm... Well, I can't speak for states outside of the south, but being as I've lived in just about all of the states in the southern region (I really need to get out of here soon!) I can say that down here, they do. Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, Texas (etc)--every state I've lived in required Kindergarten.

    Though I don't dispute your point; there are some states that don't require it. I can see why, too. I barely remember those years but it seems like we studied the exact same curriculum year after year (and even into middle school). Though, that's most likely due to the schools and their limited curriculum rather than the system in general. In Alabama the amount of knowledge needed for GED (General Education Development/alternative to schooling) is far more difficult than an actual high school diploma, and some colleges are more willing to take on GED diplomas than "normal" diplomas.

    It's a weird and corrupted system. If advertising were allowed I'd go off on a tangent about it and start advertising the online program that my mother works for, but I won't, and I'll just leave it at that.

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  3. #33
    beccleroo
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    School systems are crazy where I live, kindergarten is a must, but you can go public, private, or even homeschool for it, and the cut off date is usually September 1 but that is even negotiable if the kid is ready sooner. Kindergarten can be full day, half-day, twice a week, it just depends on the place. Most private pre-schools also offer kindergarten. My school district has schools set up like this:
    Elementary: K-4
    Intermediate: 5-6
    Junior High: 7-8
    Ninth Grade Center
    Senior High: 10-12
    and everyone thinks it is totally nuts.
    Most places, however, has elementary through fifth, junior high/middle school/intermediate from 6-8, and high school from 9-12. When you say jr. high, or middle school, or intermediate school, most people think of 6-8 (11 through 14 year olds usually).
    Most kids graduate around 18, some are 17 and some are even 19.
    A '91 baby would most likely be a senior, with a small chance of a junior if born after September 1.
    Hope this helps.

  4. #34
    tibi jones
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    And to add another wrinkle, in some rural areas they have one school house with K-12 still to this day. Others may be bussed a few hours away to standard schools as explained above. When you get into private (or UK Public?) schools, they can vary widely, especially if they are boarding schools or military prep schools as an example.

  5. #35
    Halgy
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    Many of the rules for American schools vary by location, so I'll give you mine, just for a bit of variety. I went to a very small school (~200 kids K-12) in the Midwest.

    Firstly, what age must you be to start school? Is there a certain date that you have to turn that age by? (I.E. here, you have to turn six before the 31st of July to start grade one)
    I started Kindergarten when I was 5, but some start when the are 6; it is up to the parents. There was a kid in the grade below me who has my exact same birthday, for instance.

    Do you have a mandatory/volantary prep or preschool year?
    Kindergarten was required.

    I also don't really get the whole 'middle school' thing. Explain, please.
    Middle school was used to describe the 7th and 8th grade years. Basically it was like this:

    In elementary (k-6), all of the kids in a grade were put into one classroom and we had one teacher for all of our subjects. We always had the same desks and we got to do little-kid things like recess (go outside and play a couple times a day).

    In high school (9-12), we went to different rooms and had different teachers for each subject. At the end of the year previous, we got to pick our own schedule of classes to take. Some classes were required and all kids had to take them (e.g. English). Other classes (e.g. calculus, physics) were up to the discretion of the student; while there were requirements (e.g. 4 math classes and 3 science classes in the four years), it was up to the student to pick which classes he wanted. Also, there was much more freedom (my senior (12th grade) year, seniors could leave if they didn't have a class that period).

    Middle school, therefore, was the time between (7-8). While we had classes in different rooms like H.S., we did not get to choose our own classes. It was pretty much just a time to get us used to the way high school worked.

    How old are you when you graduate?
    I was 18 (barely).

    And finally, if someone was born in mid-September, 1991, what year would they be in now?
    They would probably be going into grade 12 this coming fall.

  6. #36
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    Also, since we are on the subject of school, you should also note the ridiculously long summer breaks: three solid months!

    In my hometown, summer break started on the last day of May and we weren't back in school until the day after American Labor Day, which is about a week into September. By the time school does start up again, kids are actually happy to go, because they are sick of having nothing to do!

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  7. #37
    Fifth Year Hufflepuff
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    Kindergarten is not mandatory in all states. Some states require kindergarten attendance, but most do not (though it's encouraged in all states, and most states require school districts to offer it).
    In most states, however, you're likely to find that it IS mandatory, or at least that most children attend, especially now. Granted, I have not been to every state, nor have I really researched it, and I know its not a must in every single state ... but I think its a safe bet that most children go to kindergarten. Almost every post here has said that wherever they live kindergarten is a must. I will not be surprised when it is mandatory throughout the country in a few years. So, if writing a fic in which a character is around that age, I think it would be best to have them attend kindergarten.

    However, by all means, the author can check up on this in whatever state the fic going to take place; that would be what a well-researched author would do, just to be absolutely certain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ari
    I barely remember those years but it seems like we studied the exact same curriculum year after year (and even into middle school).
    I remember fingerpainting. LOL. Really, though, I think the point of kindergarten as well as preschool is so that children go to first grade and so on having already learned the basics so they make connections faster. I know that I learned to read very quickly because I started in preschool and kindergarten. I imagine that they still teach things slowly because not everyone attends preschool or kindergarten, and thus some children take a little longer to get to the same place simply because they've had less exposure. Another reason I will not be surprised if both kindergarten and preschool are someday mandatory every where.

    Quote Originally Posted by Molly
    Also, since we are on the subject of school, you should also note the ridiculously long summer breaks: three solid months!

    In my hometown, summer break started on the last day of May and we weren't back in school until the day after American Labor Day, which is about a week into September.
    This I think depends as well, not only on the state, but on the school district. I wish my summer was three whole months! I get out of school around mid-June, and school starts again at the very end of August. My friends that go to school just one city over in another district get out a whole week later than I do. So ... another area thing that should be double-checked.
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  8. #38
    Halgy
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Also, since we are on the subject of school, you should also note the ridiculously long summer breaks: three solid months!

    In my hometown, summer break started on the last day of May and we weren't back in school until the day after American Labor Day, which is about a week into September. By the time school does start up again, kids are actually happy to go, because they are sick of having nothing to do!
    However, it should be noted that the other breaks aren't long at all. I had two weeks off for Christmas and four days off for Easter, and perhaps the odd Friday or Monday off besides that. But yeah, summer break was awesome, before I had to start working during it.

  9. #39
    Jen
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    I think the break up between elementary, middle, and high school, along with the mandatory Kindergarten/Pre-Kindergarten, and the lengths of the hollidays really all depend on which state you live in, which district you belong to, and what sort of inclimate weather days you've had during the year.

    For example, I live in Oklahoma, so all of my answers will be based off of the school system I attend in Oklahoma.

    Where I live, schooling starts out with nursery school for all children between the ages of three and four. (This type of schooling is optional, and usually conducted by a private business owner, or a daycare.) Pre-K is also optional, though highly, highly recommended for children between the ages of four and five. Kindergarten is mandatory for children aged five, and required to move on to either transitional first (T1) or first grade. Elementary school is grades Kindergarten through fifth; middle sixth through eighth, and high ninth through twelfth.

    As for the age restrictions starting school: my younger sister was born in November of 2000. She started Pre-K in August of 2004, and is one of the oldest in her class, because the age cut-off was September 1st. Had she been born just a few months earlier, she could've started Pre-K in August of 2003, and been one of the youngest.

    The only difference between elementary and middle school is, as Halgy said, the moving of classes. In elemetary, at the beginning of each school year, you are assigned a teacher and a class. You stay with that teacher, in the same classroom, until the end of the year. At the beginning of the next year, you are assigned a different teacher and a different class, and so on. In middle school, however, you are assigned to seven different teachers and seven different classes. You have a class schedule that you follow each day. Each class period is between forty-five and fifty-five minutes long, with a break for lunch. (i.e., the schedule that I followed for the entire year was First Hour: Reading; Second Hour: Science; Third Hour: Art; Fourth Hour: English; Fifth Hour: Algebra I; Lunch; Sixth Hour: Office Worker; and Seventh Hour: US History and Government.) You homeroom class can either be first hour or seventh (for me it was seventh, but it most places, it's first). Each year you move up a grade, your schedule and teachers change. This is the same concept as high school, only in middle school, your courses are pre-selected (save for your two electives), and in high school, you can pretty much pick what classes you take which years (though there are requirements: 3 math and science classes, 4 english classes, and so on).

    However, this is not set in stone. One of the elementary schools where I live has their fifth grade students only rotate classes, to prepare them for their years in middle and high school. And private schools are pretty much free to function however they want. Our christian schools follow the same format as the public school system, but one of the schools in one of our suburbs is broken up into K-8 being in one building and 9-12 being in another, both on the same campus.

    In regards to holiday breaks: Our school year starts on the third Friday of August (why they start on a Friday, I have no idea). We get a week off the third week of October for fall break, and Christmas break runs from the Monday before Christmas until the Monday after New Year's Day. We have the third week of March off for spring break, and have the Friday before Easter and the Monday after Easter set aside as inclimate weather days. (Roughly translated, if we have no snow days or other bad weather days, we get those two days off around Easter; If we do have bad weather, then we don't get those days off because we use them to make up for the days we missed during the winter. If we have a really bad winter and miss more than two days--which has happened before, though it's very rare--we either make them up in Saturday school, which is just as the name implies: a full school day on Saturday, or run later into the summer.) We usually end the school year on the third Friday of May, which leaves...around eight and a half weeks of summer break, give or take a few days.

    That said, our school board is free to dictate our school years as they wish. It is left entirely up to the board as to how long our breaks are. The state has a manditory setting of 170 school days per year, but how we break them up is up to the school district and the school board.

    Whew! That was a lot! Hope I cleared some things up, and if you have any more questions, feel free to PM me. Also, it might be good to concentrate on the area where your story is set, and to find someone who lives near that area to help you out.

    --Jen

  10. #40
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    butter wouldn't melt in his mouth?

    Hello,

    I was just wondering if the phrase "he looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth" is something that Americans say. I want a 19 year old New Yorker at uni in Britain in 1999 to say it. Whilst I've asked a few American friends about this they've all been living in Britain for a few years now and are unsure whether they knew what this phrase meant prior to coming here or not.

    Basically would it sound odd/ jarring to have an american say "he looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth"?

    Any help would be great! Thanks, Alex
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