U.S. Education System (For Your Children)

“The United States does not have a national school system. Nor, with the exception of the military academies, are these schools run by the federal government.”

The education system in the US may be different from systems in other countries and may be a significant area of adjustment for many international families.

In Illinois it is mandatory that children attend school from ages 5 through 16.

In Champaign, Illinois there are 4 main categories of schooling for your child.

  • Pre-school is not mandatory, but starts when a child is between 3-5 years old and lasts for one year, or grade.
  • Elementary school is for children ages 5-12 and goes from kindergarten to fifth grade (6 years).
  • Junior High or Middle School is for children ages 12-15 and goes from sixth to eighth grade (3 years)
  • High school is for children aged 15-18 and goes from ninth to twelfth grade (4 years).

Champaign-Urbana Schools

What services schools can provide for international students?

Both Urbana and Champaign school districts offer multicultural programming and support for the education of students for whom English is not their first language. The goals of such programs are:

  • Children will achieve fluency and literacy in two languages.
  • Children will achieve at a rate commensurate with mainstream peers in all content areas.
  • Children will develop and maintain a positive self image.
  • Children will appreciate both the similarities and the differences among cultures and people.
  • Children will be provided with a coordinated and integrated learning environment through effective coordination with the mainstream school program and with cooperating community support agencies.
  • Families will be supported to the extent possible in maintaining the use of the native language in the home.

Parent’s Roles in Their Child’s Schooling

The role of a parent in their child’s education and the school’s expectation of what parents should do in the US may vary widely from most school systems around the world. Parents’ involvement IMPROVES a child’s success.

Here are some ways you can be involved in your child’s education each year at school:

  • Meet the teacher. Tell them about your child’s interests and hobbies. Let them know how and when it is best to reach you. Find out how the teacher might wish to collaborate with the parents.
  • Make a date with the teacher to visit your child’s classroom. Are the kids busy learning, exploring and asking questions? Does the teacher draw them in?
  • Go to parent-teacher conferences. If the school doesn’t have them, meet with your child’s teachers. Ask how your child is doing and review their work.
  • Join the PTA or other parent group. Go to school events, like back-to-school night. As a group, see how you can help the school reach its goals.
  • Stay up-to-date on school policies, schedules and rules. Ask about opportunities to participate in the development of school policies.
  • Make sure that your child is learning what they need to know to meet the standards set for their grade level. Talk to your child’s teacher on how you can support your child’s learning at home.
  • Find a teacher or counselor you feel comfortable talking to about your child. Talk about the courses they should take to reach her goals. Do they match what the standards say they should be learning? Will they prepare them for college and a career?
  • Check your school’s Web site regularly.
  • Contact your child’s teacher or counselor if you have any concerns about what’s going on with your child at school. Learn effective ways of talking to your child’s teacher about your child’s education.
  • Consider how you might be able to assist with your child having to learn and use more than one language. The Linguistic Society of America offers information on raising bilingual children that may answer some questions/concerns you may have regarding your child growing up learning two or more languages.