How to be an American student

Children in the U.S. go to school from grades Kindergarten through Twelfth grade (K-12). Many children also attend pre-kindergarten or day care to prepare them for Kindergarten. Generally the age range for children in school is 5-18. Children must be enrolled in either public school or private school. Children going to a public school need to be enrolled in the school that is in their district. A school district is a set geographical boundary that marks which areas go to what schools.  Students in schools are not allowed to leave for lunch; however they can bring their own lunch from home or buy lunch at the school. Schools provide free or reduced breakfast and lunch meals to children who qualify. Check the school district policies to see if your child qualifies. Be aware that schools may serve pork with these meals and if you have any dietary restrictions or allergies be sure to let the school know so they can accommodate you. 


There are certain items that are not allowed in school:

  • Weapons of any kind like guns and knifes
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes or tobacco products
  • Inappropriate clothing
  • Animals other than service dogs


Students caught bringing these items to school will be punished, such as with fines and suspensions. Schools have dress codes but they differ from school to school so be sure to understand the dress code for your specific school. Violations of the dress code will result in a teacher/administrator asking you to change into clothing that follows the rules set out by the dress code. Students are allowed to wear religious clothing along with their uniform to school.


In schools both students and staff are treated with respect regardless of their gender, culture, ethnicity, or religion. Schools try to create a culture that is tolerant and respectful of everyone so a safe and welcoming learning environment is created.


Students are expected to be at school on time, before classes are scheduled to start; being late is not accepted and arriving late too many times could result in grade penalties or other forms of punishments. Most schools use a bell system to signal when it is time to change classes; a bell will sound that signals the end of a class period. After a few minutes another bell will sound which means that all students must be in their next class.


At school students take core subjects, which generally are:

  • Math
  • English
  • Science
  • Social Studies.
  • Some schools require students to take a second language


Along with the core classes students take gym and fine arts, here students have the choice of which classes they want to take and are able to choose from a range of music and arts classes. Core classes are generally “tracked” which means that there are different levels of the classes offered based on the ability of the student. Which class a student gets put in depends on where they desire to go, and if they have the necessarily ability to keep up with the work level demanded by the class.

Students are expected to pay attention in class and be respectful to the teacher and other students at all times. During class time students must be sitting down in their seats listening/taking notes on the material provided by the teacher.


General in class rules are:

  • Raise your hand when you want to talk
  • Never interrupt someone when they are speaking in the classroom
  • Remain seated unless otherwise instructed
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated


Teachers often give in class assignments and homework out to the students, these assignments are expected to be completed and promptly returned back to the teacher by the assigned date. Failure to complete the work will result in points lost from your overall grade, and potential failure of the class.


Copying the work of someone else is strictly forbidden and will result in assignment failure and being reported to the principal or another head administrator who will then decide on a punishment.


At the end of each semester you will get a report card that has the grades that you earned for all the classes you took. Report cards are a great way to track your progress, and let you know if you need to get help in any of your classes. If you have a low grade talk with your teacher to get help for the coming semester.


They can:

  • Give you advice on how to study better
  • Give you extra work that can help your skills grow
  • Offer support when you are facing challenging material.


Another way to track student’s progress is through parent teacher conferences, where teachers will sit down with parents and discuss how the child is doing in school. Here the teacher may talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the child and what can be done to help improve the areas where the child is struggling in school. Parents can use this meeting as an opportunity to ask the teacher for advice on how to help their child succeed in the future and continue to grow academically. These conferences will also touch on how the child is doing socially and if the teacher sees any problems they can give advice on how to fix these issues.  


Every school has a nurse on site that students can go to with any issues that they have and get treatment or advice. Some nurses give vision and hearing tests and can make recommendations depending on the outcomes of the test.


Local hospitals have partnerships with the school district and will send out vans that provide students with:

  • Free medical exams
  • Free dental exams
  • Free vision exams
  • Free vaccination clinics where students can get their needed vaccinations with a signed permission slip. These vaccinations are necessary for children to be allowed to continue school.