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US vs UK curriculum

(25 Posts)
papalazaru Sun 23-Dec-12 20:09:08

Does anyone have first hand knowledge of moving their kids from the US to the UK? I know that kids in the US start school a year later than UK kids so does that mean US kids are a year behind? I'm mainly interested in maths, english, reading and science. History, geography, social science will obviously be different. My kids are in Grade 3 and 5 which is the age equivalent of Yrs 4 & 6.

lljkk Mon 24-Dec-12 13:46:48

Not first hand experience, but am a transplanted Yank so have tried to work it all out.

No, not a year behind, they do about the same rigour of work. I think US schools have entry tests for kindergarteners? As in, must pass this test or have to wait a year for entry, sometimes. Unthinkable in UK.

The usual ability range for 8-11yr olds will be large enough to encompass wherever your DC are unless they are highly unusual for age.

Are you thinking England, Wales, Scotland or NI? They all have own education systems.

Different will be things like phrasing (English talk about units and oblongs, not ones and rectangles). Spellings, sports, religious education all different. But nothing you can't adjust to. Geography is not half as different as you think, and I learned loads of ancient history in American schools that English DH was never exposed to. We had a big chat about Charlemagne the other night: "Who?" said DH.

lljkk Mon 24-Dec-12 13:48:05

Just tell your kids to never refer to their fanny or be aghast if someone talks about smoking fags.

horsemadmom Mon 24-Dec-12 15:37:55

School age per year runs from September to September rather than by calendar year as in the US. So, my autumn born kids are the eldest in the UK but would be the younger ones in the same year in the US. Are you looking at private or state in the UK? London, suburban or village?

lljkk Mon 24-Dec-12 15:53:14

That's not right about Calendar year as cut off, not universal anyway.

What month+years are your children's birthdays, Papalazru?

Bunbaker Mon 24-Dec-12 16:04:44

We had some American children in DD's primary school for 18 months. One of them was in DD's class when she was in years 3 and 4. I remember that he had a lot of catching up to do. When they went back to the States they were way ahead of the others in their year group.

It all evens out by the time they get to high school, but in year 4 your DC will need a lot of support.

pointysettia Mon 24-Dec-12 17:33:57

I think there's also a lot of difference depending on what state you're in in the US. Our local primaries get a lot of children from USAF families - the YrR and Yr1 children cope pretty well, but from Yr1 onwards it gets harder to catch up - some children come into Yr2 from the US with barely the basics of being able to read.

They do catch up though, and as Bunbaker says when they go back they will be ahead of the pack.

Mominatrix Mon 24-Dec-12 21:11:06

"No, not a year behind, they do about the same rigour of work. I think US schools have entry tests for kindergarteners? As in, must pass this test or have to wait a year for entry, sometimes. Unthinkable in UK."

I have never heard of a state US school that does this, but there are definitely private UK schools which do, do I would imagine those US schools you have heard of which test kindergarteners are also private.

If your children are currently at US schools, they would be slightly behind as the age of mandatory schooling in the UK is a year (or 2) younger than the states. However, the early discrepancies are made up by the time kids hit middle school.

In terms of school cut off dates, the area I am from did follow horsemadmom's experience leading me, with a very beginning of September birthday, to be the youngest in the class as school always began on the first Wednesday after Labor Day. However, I would have been the eldest in the class had I attended a school here!

Your Grade 3 child would probably feel a bit behind whilst your Grade 5 child would have less of a problem.

Mominatrix Mon 24-Dec-12 21:12:27

ugg! Meant to say " so I would imagine"

3b1g Mon 24-Dec-12 21:20:05

We lived in Michigan for a year when I was 5 going on 6 (for the academic year when I would have been in Year One in a British school). I was put into 2nd Grade with mostly 7 and 8 year olds, but I had been in full time education since the age of 3 (at a school in Scotland).

lljkk Mon 24-Dec-12 21:22:33

Kindergarten entry assessment: I phrased that wrong, it's more like poor results means pressure on parents to delay entry rather than absolutely not allowed to enter.

3b1g Mon 24-Dec-12 21:31:16

I have children in Y4 and in Y6, so can give you some idea of what sort of thing my children are doing at the moment.

My Y4s are doing homophones e.g. stationery/stationary, current/currant. Adding and subtracting time e.g. my watch is 35 minutes fast and it says 10.14 so what is the actual time? Speed tests on times tables and related division facts.

DS2 (Y6) is doing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions with different denominators. Themes in The Highwayman. Which words with the -able suffix keep the 'e', e.g. removable vs manageable.

Hope this gives you something with which to compare.

bamboostalks Mon 24-Dec-12 21:35:21

US tends to focus much more on facts etc where the general theme over here is problem solving etc. also less creative by ages 7/8 over there where still important here. These are sweeping generalisations of course.

3b1g Mon 24-Dec-12 21:39:01

Are you thinking of state primary schools (what would be called public schools in the US)? Primary schools in England (& possibly Wales?) only go up to the end of Y6. If your eldest was born before 31st August 2002, then the deadline for secondary school applications already passed at the end of October. I believe you can apply as a late entry but I don't know anything about the procedure for this.

papalazaru Mon 24-Dec-12 22:08:56

Thanks All. Some of your responses have panicked me a little - others have been reassuring....
We are a British family who have been expats since 2003, in the US since 2009. We'll probably be returning to the UK in Summer 2013. I get the feeling that although formal school here starts a year later than in the UK I don't think we are a full year behind. Lots of the topics mentioned sound very similar. Of course our spelling, units of measurement, shapes etc will be different but the schools will take that into account.
Our DS will be starting Yr 7 so we have applied to indies for him to sit his entrance exams in January. Lots of cramming going on over the Xmas hols poor thing. It's a long shot but if some of them come off then we're in a good place. If not then we'll find a prep school for a couple of years.
DD (going into Yr5) is a good reader, way ahead of the fluency measures they use here and even better at maths so I'm feeling fairly confident about her.
Merry Xmas!

NotMoreFootball Wed 26-Dec-12 01:26:29

I've worked in UK and US primary / elementary schools and Bamboostalks is spot on with the difference between the 2 systems. A lot of fact learning and testing in the US schools compared to creativity in British schools but in my experience by 3rd Grade children in both systems are working at relatively similar levels of difficulty. I've seen children transfer between both countries and stay with their peer group without any major struggles. If anything, US educated children are so used to testing that they are far more confident when exams come around than their UK counterparts!!

boomting Sat 29-Dec-12 02:25:39

When I was at school (not so many moons ago!) there was a girl from Texas who came at the beginning of Y12, although had she remained in the US she would have been going into her senior year of HS. Unfortunately, she simply couldn't keep up with the work, really struggled, and came out with D, E and U grades at AS. After that, she returned to the States and finished her HS Diploma.

I think the differences become more magnified as the children grow older - A Levels are equivalent in difficulty to the first year of US college. At their age, they should be able to catch up, so long as you are able to liaise with their teachers and help them where necessary.

emeraldy Sun 30-Dec-12 18:00:29

DS is at an American school here in the middle east and we are sending him back to UK to boarding school because we don't want him to be miles behind his peers when he goes back to UK. The work he is doing is way behind what he was doing a year ago at his UK prep. He is actually 'unlearning' things in maths, English -scary!

Amerryscot Mon 31-Dec-12 16:30:55

I have first-hand experience.

When we moved to the US, we put our boys up a year, from UK Y3 to US G3, and Y1 to G1. We did this because it was a 4 year assignment so wanted to be ready for moving back when the time came. Also, if my younger DS has gone with his age group, he'd have moved into part-time KG.

In retrospect, this was the wrong thing to do. They were not on par with their new classmates, but a good half-year behind. In addition, most boys in our school district were held back a year, so were actually 2 years older than our boys. DS1 was fine, but the gap for DS2 was large and we would have had him repeat 4th grade had we stayed.

We had no trouble returning to the UK. They were probably a bit ahead in English and Maths, going into Y7 and Y5 respectively. They hadn't done any meaningful science, history or geography, but caught up quickly. They also started French in the UK, but with remedial classes were caught up by half-term.

DD1 completed KG in the US and went to Y2 in the UK. KG was just play, so DD started Y2 as a complete non-reader. She was on the top table by half-term.

My advice is don't rock the boat too much and don't worry. In the US, they start school later, but with more readiness.

I would be much more worried about the other end of compulsory education.

GrumpySod Mon 31-Dec-12 17:04:21

What do you mean by the other end of compulsory education? Do you mean the last few years of secondary?

Amerryscot Tue 01-Jan-13 13:05:18

Yes, I would be much more worried about moving a high school child.

shorthillsmum Tue 15-Jan-13 03:51:24

Hi... We are also moving back to the uk from the us ths summer, so i can certainly empathise. I have spoken to a lot of ex-expats and all of their kids have had some catching up to do. I also got told by an ed consultant provided by our company that in the US they tend to complete subjects in blocks, whilst n the uk it is more tiered system. I am just preparing myself to spend a year getting ds aligned with uk system. Although, i have been told the kids seem to adjust easily. Good luck with the whole move.

papalazaru Tue 15-Jan-13 22:55:44

Good luck with your move shorthillsmum. We haven't had the services of an ed consultant yet but when we do I hope they are a lot better informed than when we came here 4 years ago! We've moved around a lot and the kids do settle down well although the "i miss friend X" takes a little longer each time to get over.

SpeechGarden Fri 22-Feb-13 19:29:04

Who was your educational consultant? We are in a similar situation and would love the reference. Thank you!

papalazaru Fri 22-Feb-13 21:41:52

Hi SpeechGarden - we haven't used an educational consultant yet but our company will provide one if we want. I just arranged directly with specific schools and some were more helpful than others. I would say that for my DS sitting 11+ exams we found that he did struggle with the maths more than the english and that's what let him down on a number of tests. However - we found a senior school that we are happy with and my DD will enter Yr 5 at a Prep so we are all sorted (fingers crossed!).
Maybe you can PM shorthillsmum and she'll be able to tell you who the consultant was?

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