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Help on US (Chicago) school grades?

(20 Posts)
annabell99 Mon 08-Aug-16 14:21:51

Hello -

We are seriously contemplating a move to Chicago with DH's job.

DD is 6 in October and has finished her first year of school here in Scotland (primary one) and is just about to start primary two.

From what I can see on the web, based on her birthday she would be just about to start Kindergarten in Chicago.

She's really proud of being able to read and write and would find it very demoralising to start again at the beginning.

Does anyone know whether there is flexibility around which grade she could join? Is it more flexible in private schools than public ones? (I know they often have more flexibility here, don't know if it is the same there)

Any advice very welcome!


AppleMagic Tue 09-Aug-16 22:26:52

If you're not moving permanently there are two British Schools in Chicago run by the same group. Our Dd is at one and they follow the English curriculum so preschool 3-4, reception 4-5, year 1 5-6, year 2 6-7. It's pretty academic and they push ahead with phonics from preschool onwards. Lots of American parents chose them (Dd was one of only two non-US students in her class) so they are quite well regarded locally.

Public primary- level schools in the city are mostly dire but they are better out in the suburbs. Any idea where you'd be based? I expect you already know but public schools are allocated mainly by catchment areas here so you need to make sure you live in the school district for the school you want.

We haven't been here long enough to be able to answer about flexibility though, sorry.

annabell99 Wed 10-Aug-16 13:16:10

Thanks for replying - I will look at theBritish Schools. We don't know where we would be living but probably more inclined to the suburbs . How are you finding living there? I am very anxious about the move.

AppleMagic Wed 10-Aug-16 13:42:05

We've been here a few months and are enjoying it. It's been amazing having a proper summer but we are a bit concerned about the winter cold!
We live in Lincoln Park as DH likes to walk to work so the British school works for us but it's quite central so not necessarily best choice from the suburbs as the traffic can be quite bad (plus the state schools can be very good depending on the suburb I think). There is a Brits in Chicago Facebook group which seems quite active and lots of them live in the various suburbs (they'd probably be able to answer your questions about school years too).

KickAssAngel Wed 10-Aug-16 14:03:26

I'm a teacher in MI, so don't know about Chicago schools, but get the impression it's the same everywhere.

Schools are a lot more flexible than the UK. In MI anyone born between August and end of Oct can opt for which year they start school. Private schools are even more flexible. In DD's grade (she started in K after doing a year in UK school) there's a spread of kids with age differences over 18 months because of this.

the common core in US schools is pretty close to the UK national curriculum, BUT it is almost impossible to sack a bad teacher in the US, so you do get some teachers who are just sitting it out, waiting for retirement. Schools are also funded by local taxes, so poor areas get much less funding than wealthy areas.

DO find out about schools in areas where you might end up living. Once you've moved in there is no choice about which school to go to. We chose a school first, then looked for a house.

How long are you likely to be in the US for? How much money will you be given to help with the move? Moving countries is very expensive - and the pound doesn't get a great exchange rate atm either. If you're going to be only a couple of years, then rent something small in a good area.

btw - Moving house in the US is far more expensive than in the UK. Only buy somewhere if you're 100% confident that you want to live there for a decade or more. We've been here 8 years and still think the effort/cost of moving house is more than we can face!

annabell99 Thu 11-Aug-16 08:24:56

Applemagic - a proper summer sounds amazing - we are in Scotland at the moment so not much sunshine here! Good that you are enjoying it, that's reassuring. Lincoln Park looks exciting but maybe a bit too central for us, DH and I used to live in London but DD has only ever known suburban Scotland so I think it might be a bit too unfamiliar for her. It's hard to tell on Google though - hopefully we will have a trip over to get a better idea soon.

KickAssAngel - thank you for all the information! It's really reassuring to know we should be able to get DD into the right year-group. We are likely to be in the US for three years, DH still has to finalise the exact timeframe with work. I don't think we would want to buy - that definitely sounds like a complication we don't need. Hopefully it is easy enough to find nice rentals? Very helpful to know that we have to look for the school first, thank you!


ItchyFeet16 Fri 12-Aug-16 03:24:15

We're Scottish too, living in Ohio. Our kids attended an international British School prior to moving here. It's been tricky. My daughter was about to go into Year 3 in the British system but had to enter Grade 2 here so essentially repeated a year. She's bright but I'm worried about how she'll convert back to the British system. My son was only 4 when we came here but ready to start school in the British system so we persuaded the principal that he was ready for kindergarten (only 2.5 hours/day in this district!!) as he just missed the official cut off by 6 weeks. KG was fine and he loved it but first grade has been really tough for him socially as there are some kids who are 18 months older than him! There is a huge emphasis on sports in this district and kids (boys in particular) are allowed to postpone KG. The whole thing is really tricky. My son can keep up academically (just) but while he loves his sports it's hard for him to compete in PE (it's all competitive games), soccer etc as the other boys are so much older. It's compounded by the fact he isn't as emotionally mature as he loses his temper and gets frustrated at losing. Anyway, I digress but if we had allowed him to start KG a year later he would then be a year behind the British system.

MadamDeathstare Fri 12-Aug-16 03:50:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lemonpoppyseed Fri 12-Aug-16 03:58:33

I am currently in negotiation with a midwest city school board to get my son into grade one. He has already completed two years of Kindergarten in Canada, but the way his birthday falls means he would go into K again. Will let you know how it turns out - school begins Aug 29 so we are running out of time! One tip - have everything: paperwork, report cards etc in order, and in duplicate and print out curriculum docs from your home country. Knowledge of out of state education is nonexistent lacking.

AppleMagic Fri 12-Aug-16 04:19:21

Also, medical paperwork can be a bit onerous. Certain vaccinations are essentially compulsory to attend school in Illinois. The one we were missing was Hep B as it wasn't offered as standard where we lived in UK. They were happy to admit Dd once she'd had the first of three jabs to catch up. You'll need to see a paed and then they will fill in a child health form confirming vaccinations are up to date etc. The other one is varicella/chicken pox but they will accept an unvaccinated child if you can describe the child having had it (I took in pictures of Dd covered in spots).

MadamDeathstare Fri 12-Aug-16 16:10:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AppleMagic Fri 12-Aug-16 18:58:59

Here is the form your paediatrician will need to fill in before they can start any daycare/nursery/school in Illinois.

I think they just test for tb rather than require the vaccine in Illinois but my kids had had the vaccine anyway so I don't know for sure.

annabell99 Sun 14-Aug-16 11:04:37

Thank you all so much for all the information!

Apple magic - thank you for the form! I will have to check DD's vaccination schedule. I know she definitely hasn't had chicken pox and I was considering getting the jags anyway as she's getting to the age where chicken pox can be brutal.

Itchyfeet - it does sound difficult for your son! sad My big worry is also how DD will be impacted at school when we return to the UK, as it's only going to be a three year secondment to the US. I really don't want her to end up a year (or maybe two years!) behind her classmates here.
Madamdeathstare thank you for your tips on how to deal with this! I will bear that in mind.


annabell99 Mon 15-Aug-16 08:05:22

Lemon poppyseed - good luck and please do let me know how you get on! X

lemonpoppyseed Tue 16-Aug-16 14:41:34

Thanks. We have a meeting with the school board's legal counsel this week. I'm not sure the people 'on the ground' can make / are allowed to make such a decision. Will keep you posted.

lemonpoppyseed Tue 23-Aug-16 01:19:42

And we're (DS, anyway) is in! It was a quick yes from the legal counsel after they'd looked at our paperwork.

Good luck!

annabell99 Fri 26-Aug-16 17:19:04

Yay lemon poppyseed, im really pleased for you and DS!

OlennasWimple Wed 07-Sep-16 19:21:12

Our local school district doesn't allow admissions out of normal age for any reason, so DD wasn't allowed to start Kindergarten, despite being part way through Reception when we moved (ie a rising 5). They were also very strict about vaccinations - both DCs had to have additional injections to catch up to their required schedule

We've found some elements of the curriculum to be ahead of the UK, some elements behind.

justinpatch Mon 14-Nov-16 15:35:36

hi there, just been looking for information on Chicago. We're in a slightly different situation in that we are already in an expat setup and my husband is being sent to Chicago for a few months on a firefighting exercise. Instead of being separated, I am really interested in going there with him, but on a purely informal basis, no expat package, just for a few months. Do you think we could do that with regards to visas etc? We'd hope that my husband negotiates accommodation with enough room for both of us, then we head over under 'tourism' and stay for a month or two. Has anyone else done this in the US? For some reason, it sounds like the US might not like this, but I don't really know why I think that...Thanks for any views and advice.

OlennasWimple Tue 15-Nov-16 03:36:41

You could go to Chicago as a visitor for a few months, but your DH would need to have the appropriate immigration status for his time working there - possibly visa free as a business visitor, but it would depend exactly what he was doing, where he was getting paid etc whether he could do that or if he needed to get a visa.

What nationality are you, and where are you living now? (Dont' say if it would be too identifying!)

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