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Fatfacefun's avatar

How would you best describe your old/current American Elementary school?

Asked by Fatfacefun (144points) December 21st, 2009

I am English and would like to know what going to a American Elementary School would be like. Anything that stands out? Sorry if this question is a bit unspecific but I’m interested to see how people answer.

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9 Answers

Sarcasm's avatar

Here in America, Elementary school is grades 1–5 (1–6 in some places).
It’s like.. a school for kids. What is it that you’d like to know?

Fatfacefun's avatar

Sorry, I know it’s a stupid question.
Long story ,never mind.

azlotto's avatar

No air conditioning and steam radiators for heat.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I went to 4 different elementary schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1975 to 1983. The first one was for kindergarten and 1st grade. Kindergarten here is like an infants school, it’s mainly for 5 year olds. We drew pictures, played games, ate, napped and went outside to play a lot. I never paid attention when the teacher taught ABC’s and numbers; I was already a reader and could add and subtract. First grade (age 6) was more academic, with maths and rudimentary reading and spelling. I got in a lot of trouble in those years, because I couldn’t settle down.

The second school (for 2nd grade at age 7) I went to we had slightly more advanced reading and maths, the beginnings of geography and science, and lots of gymnasium time. In my case, the school I went to was being desegregated and the other kids didn’t want us there. It was a very stressful year.

I was transferred out for 3rd and 4th grades (ages 8 and 9) and sent to a magnet school for the arts, meaning that any child with the aptitude for the performing or visual arts in the city could attend. The teaching methods were also a bit Montessori without being full-on.

Then I was tested out of the arts school at age 9 and put in my last elementary school which segued into a middle school, from 5th through 8th grades (ages 10–13). Middle school in the US is 6–8th grades (ages 11–13) There was a program there that in later years would come to be called AP (Advanced Placement). School theorists were still trying to figure out how to best serve academically gifted kids when I was a girl, so I was part of that first wave of AP students. It’s a program I stayed in throughout high school as well.

It was mostly all right. I was bored a lot of the time, but I truly enjoyed my arts classes, and anything having to do with making movies, storytelling, music or drama, and in a minor way, computers.

Snarp's avatar

I went to two very different American elementary schools. This was a number of years ago, and perhaps things have changed, but it went a little something like this:

From the age of 5 to the age of 11 I went to elementary school most every weekday. At five it was kindergarten, so it was mostly very basic, and we took a mid-day nap. From age 6 (first grade) through age 11 (6th grade) things got a bit more intense. Beginning in first grade we had lessons in reading, writing, and math. At some point we got social studies and science added to the mix. I left home early in the morning and rode on a yellow bus with metal framed bench seats that were probably horribly unsafe to get to school. Some days one or several bullies would heap scorn and occasionally clumps of dirt or blows upon us at the bus stop. Most days not. Once at school I sat at a very uncomfortable desk, and at the start of the class period would stand for the pledge of allegiance. Then the teacher would lecture to us, write things on the board, have us read aloud, sometimes we would have art class. In one school we actually changed classrooms, bringing our supplies along in our desk drawer. Their there were usually two grade levels in a single classroom, and you were assigned to each class by your achievement level, not by your particular grade. Then I returned to a more typical school and was lumped into one big class with other kids based almost solely on age. We started getting homework around fifth grade, and I steadfastly refused to do it. In sixth grade we started migrating classrooms again, one room and teacher for math and science, one for English and social studies. This school was a bit overcrowded so our sixth grade classes were not in the main building, but in portable classrooms (basically trailer homes). Out math and science teacher was the coolest, but I didn’t have her for homeroom. She had snakes and rodents in the classroom. Also let gets lounge about while reading or doing individual work.

There was also recess, a free half hour or so usually spent outside running around, climbing things, playing games, being bullied, and evading bullies.

Then there was P.E., or physical education. We didn’t really call it gym class, because there was no gym. Usually it worked like this – we all lined up, and the coach told us to go run laps. We would run around a dirt track in the heat and humidity. Sometimes we did calisthenics. Sometimes we ran the ridiculous obstacle course. Once I smacked my knee on one of the bars we were supposed to vault over. It was excruciating. I was made fun of and told to get up and keep going. Sometimes we played basketball, kickball, dodgeball, any game with a ball where the smaller, weaker, slower could be tormented for their lack of ability. Once in kickball I managed a kick that hit a big bully of a girl who was pitching right in the stomach, and she literally flipped over the ball and fell on her back. I made it to second base. This was my greatest athletic accomplishment. Then we sometimes had to do the Presidential Physical Fitness test, at which I failed miserably. I did pretty well on the flexibility test, though. And we also had a track and field day, at which we got to run some more, but this time with a timer and all at once so we could see how pathetic we were. The running path was also a great venue for bullies and fights, and I was reduced to tears at least once by a blow to the stomach.

Lunch was terrible processed food served on a military surplus tray in a room full of kids. We paid for it with lunch tickets that our parents bought, perhaps to hide the shame of the kids whose lunches were paid for by the state, since they had lunch tickets too.

At the end of the day I would ride the bus back home again, usually getting home by 3. Since there was no need to wait at the bus stop, bullying was more easily avoided.

At the school where we changed classes I actually walked to school, about two miles. Also at that school we brought our own lunches. That school was all white. Not by mandate, but simply by location. My other elementary school was still overwhelmingly white, but there were some minority students.

That should give you some information. Covers a lot of what I remember on a general level.

Fred931's avatar

I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to attend one of the nicest and educational elementary schools that there could ever be, nonetheless I have nothing to compare it to. All of the staff were very dedicated teachers and virtually became friends with each and every student.There was hardly a negative or frowned-upon aspect of the school, except for the snobby a-holes that kept driving the wrong way or trying to make a left turn after exiting the carpool line. Like these guys

dpworkin's avatar

I started elementary school in 1955 when the US had one of the finest public education systems in the world. That is no longer the case, and I would advise to avoid the public school system if you are able, save for certain individual schools in certain large cities. (e.g. PS 87 in Manhattan, and schools like it.)

JustPlainBarb's avatar

I attended Pleasant Lane Elementary School in the Chicago suburbs starting in the mid ‘50’s… it was Kindergarten through 6th grade. We then attended Junior High from 7–8th grades and then on to high school.
Elementary school was much simpler then.
Kindergarten was optional then… but most kids attended starting at age 5.
I mostly remember it being a lot of fun… being in school with the same kids most of the way through. We would walk or ride our bikes to school—no buses. The school was right in our neighborhood. Everyone went home for lunch. That was in the days when most Moms only worked in the home.
We would have recess in the morning and afternoon out in the playground or in the All-purpose room/Gym in bad weather.
After school, we’d go home or to Scouts or music lessons.
We learned to use our imaginations since we had no computers… really happy times.

rooeytoo's avatar

I started school in 1951, a catholic school in a small town. There were about 40 kids in my class and one nun to teach us. We memorized our multiplication tables, and printed and then learned the Palmer method of cursive writing. We had no phys ed until Kennedy came along but there weren’t many fat kids because we all walked or rode our bikes to school and played outside until dark. When we got out in the afternoon, we walked in double line until we crossed the main streets around the school, then we were turned loose. It was rare that anyone talked back to the nuns and if you did, that ruler with the sharp metal edge brought you back in line quickly and no parent ever called to complain that their kid got whacked. A trip to the principal was the next to the worst thing that could happen, the worst being facing your parents when you got home.
From that class of 40 small town kids, there emerged 2 md’s (one male, one female), half dozen or so lawyers, one of whom became a judge. A couple became drunks but hey you can’t win them all. Most that I know are still gainfully employed (or dead).

I know I know, it sounds like one of those stories you tell your whining kid but it is the way it was when I was a kid. Is it better now? Are there less illiterates? Cuz now we have enlightened ones who reckon boys and girls learn differently so need sex specific teaching methods. That is because the rats in the maze tell us so. Always makes me wonder how all those boys managed to sit still and learn back in the olden days, hehehehe.

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