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UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Old Jan 30th 2017, 11:04 am
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Default UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Hello everyone, I hope this will be the first of many discussion on this forum as we have just made the decision to move to LA with my husband's job. Exciting - but also rather daunting as we have 3 children, 9, 6, 2. We're getting stuck on finding the right school for them, particularly the 9 year old as we want to ensure he is ready to start secondary school in the UK when we get back in Sept 2019 (ie we want him to be able to fit back in the UK school system easily, and ideally get into a good one).

I would be so grateful for some advice on this. We had heard the schooling systems are so different that when UK arrive in the US they effectively go back a year. I'm not sure how this could be true, but I'd love to know your opinion. If my son does his final primary (ie elementary) two years in the US, will he still be ready for UK Year 7 (we're also considering an independent secondary school, so he'll need to be able to sit an assessment to be accepted)?

My husband's work is going to be in the Culver City area (the office is actually in Venice at the moment, but it will be moving soon after we arrive). Where we decide to live I guess will be all about the schools, so any help you can offer I'd be hugely grateful.

Thanks so much
Ness
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 1:44 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

I doubt a 9 year old would be held back, unless he's having academic problems anyway.

It only becomes a potential issue once the British and American curricula diverge sufficiently in high school or towards the end of middle school, and even then it can likely be overcome.

You will also need to consider how best to prepare them for returning to school in the UK. Others here can better advise you on these issues.
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 4:44 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

I expect it's a misunderstanding based on naming conventions, ie, Year Two in the UK covers the same age range as 1st Grade in the US. Children coming from a non-US school system will almost always be placed in the correct grade year for their age*, depending on which birthday cut dates a particular school district uses. There may be some flexibility to request that a child is placed up or down a grade if they have a birthday close to the cut-off; there can be pros and cons for this.

*When we arrived here from Switzerland, my French-educated 7 year old daughter couldn't read in English (or much at all, really as they don't start in Switzerland until age 6-7). Despite this, she was placed in 2nd Grade as being correct for her age, and given extra tutoring until she caught up. There was never any suggestion of holding her back.
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 5:02 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Returning to the UK with a 12-13 year old is likely to be a bigger problem than moving to the US with a nine year old, given that in US schools subjects are taught in intensive packages, similar to university classes, rather than spread more evenly as in the UK.
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 5:34 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Aren't you all missing the point here? (Or is it me, it usually is :-)

Children start school in the US (at least in CA) a year later than in the UK. So at any given age a child coming from the UK will have been in school a full year longer. Depending on when their birthday falls it can be even longer than that.
My eldest had been at school two years longer than the US kids when we moved over but was put in the same age-based year group. We could have tried to get him moved up a year to more closely match the level around him, but we wanted to ensure he fitted-in well and that was more important right then.
He was in a different league to the other kids for the academics, and sailed through the first two years. But he made lots of friends and now fits in nicely.
When his friends in the UK moved up to Secondary he was still in Elementary for a full extra year.

As Pulaski points out the teaching here is very different. As you're only coming temporarily I'd look at ensuring they tried to keep up with the UK setup. We're here for good so I am not worried that the systems diverge so strongly.
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 10:12 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Thanks so much - all really good points. I agree we need to ensure our son keeps up with the UK set up as we'll only be in LA for a couple of years. Does anyone know how we might find such a school? There doesn't seem to be an international school in LA that focuses on IB or any European system. Might an independent school be the answer? But are independent schools in the US necessarily academically further ahead than state/public schools? Thanks so much. Ness
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 10:26 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Originally Posted by NessC View Post
.... Might an independent school be the answer? But are independent schools in the US necessarily academically further ahead than state/public schools? ....
Good ones are ahead of US public (state-funded) schools, but getting your son accepted in a top-notch private school may be a challenge, and while good private schools are expensive, expensive schools are not necessarily "good". The best private schools will likley be full, and you have probably just missed the application window for starting in August of 2017.

My daughter is in a very good private school, currently 4th grade, age 9, and has been studying aspects of maths and English grammar for 1-2 years that I didn't study until I went to grammar school at age 11 in the UK.
Disclosure: I do not know what the current practices are in the UK for teaching maths and grammar to junior school children. Also, we do not live in California.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 30th 2017 at 10:36 pm.
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 10:33 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post

Disclosure: I do not know what the current practices are in the UK for teaching maths and grammar to junior school children.
Judging by all the 'why in god's name does my 5 year old need to know what an adverbial phrase is?' that crops up around SAT testing time, I suspect it's changed somewhat since we went.
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 10:44 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

The difference between private and public schools in academic quality is very mixed - do not assume a private school will be better than a public school as frequently it is vice versa. Unless you find a private school that explicitly offers British curriculum with a mind towards returning expats, I would not bother with a private school especially as many public schools offer IB.

Private schools tend to be used by Americans wanting a specific academic focus rather than "quality" concerns - ie those wanting their children to have a religious-oriented education etc as public schools cannot do that by law.
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 11:13 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

125 IB state schools in California
Find an IB World School - International Baccalaureate®

Cross reference with USNews High school rankings
http://www.usnews.com/education/best...ame=california

and see what you get....

IB is roughly based on the British curriculum so will more closely match what your children will face when they go back. Moving 16 year olds to a different education system is tricky ( my daughter had to manage it) and can mean a fair bit of catching up on your return just to close the differences somewhat. If you know which school you will be returning to it would be a good idea to have a chat with them before committing to anything.

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Old Jan 30th 2017, 11:27 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Originally Posted by Marc_ely View Post
Children start school in the US (at least in CA) a year later than in the UK. So at any given age a child coming from the UK will have been in school a full year longer. Depending on when their birthday falls it can be even longer than that.
My mum teaches in the UK and she reckons my eldest (3rd grade) is doing about the same level of difficulty as a child his age in the UK would be doing. So I don't get hung up on 3rd grade = 4th year by age and instead focus on what they're actually learning and achieving.

Originally Posted by carcajou View Post
The difference between private and public schools in academic quality is very mixed - do not assume a private school will be better than a public school as frequently it is vice versa.
Oh yes. My wife kept getting told about her church's school (SDA) was far better than the local schools. Turns out the nearest one opted out of the testing normal schools do (as they are allowed to do), and the next one that hadn't was far from optimal - about 60th percentile for the area IIRC, so not bad but you could get far better at a public school.

Then there's the awkward point of history 7,000 years ago or more at an SDA school.....
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 11:27 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Originally Posted by carcajou View Post
The difference between private and public schools in academic quality is very mixed - do not assume a private school will be better than a public school as frequently it is vice versa. Unless you find a private school that explicitly offers British curriculum with a mind towards returning expats, I would not bother with a private school especially as many public schools offer IB.

Private schools tend to be used by Americans wanting a specific academic focus rather than "quality" concerns - ie those wanting their children to have a religious-oriented education etc as public schools cannot do that by law.
What you say is probably generally true, but there are a few secular schools that offer education based on academic excellence (see my post above), so the option should not be discarded out of hand.
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Old Jan 30th 2017, 11:33 pm
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Originally Posted by GeoffM View Post
My mum teaches in the UK and she reckons my eldest (3rd grade) is doing about the same level of difficulty as a child his age in the UK would be doing. So I don't get hung up on 3rd grade = 4th year by age and instead focus on what they're actually learning and achieving.
I agree - from comparing my kids with others at various ages across the UK, Swiss and US systems, UK kids are briefly advanced in their learning due to starting 1-2 years earlier, but by around age 9-10 it's all entirely evened out.
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Old Jan 31st 2017, 2:50 am
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

I live in Hong Kong where we have American and UK-based international schools. Despite the naming conventions in Primary (Year 2, Grade 1, etc) the academic syllabus at the primary level is identical. My kids in an American school are the same age as their neighbors in the UK school and do the same homework (same online lessons) despite one being in Year 6 and the other in Grade 5. I will say one year for example the UK kids focused more on reading in the Fall whereas the US did more math, but then in the Spring it flipped around, etc, etc. Basically it's all the same.

MANY US kids actually do start pre-K or K at age 4, despite the official start age of "school" being 5. It's often a half-day session where they do a few games and stuff (i.e. same as reception).

This has come up several times such that we created a WIKI.

Education: What do I need to enroll the kids in school? : British Expat Wiki

Also read this thread:
http://britishexpats.com/forum/loung...school-643985/
In the end it will come down to the specifics of a) Your Kid, b) the school you are coming from and c) the school you are going to. You may find that while one kid feels he is ahead the other feels he is behind. It will really be specific to your circumstances.

Good luck.
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Old Jan 31st 2017, 3:07 am
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Default Re: UK kids 'move down' a year in the US?!

Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
.... MANY US kids actually do start pre-K or K at age 4, despite the official start age of "school" being 5. It's often a half-day session where they do a few games and stuff (i.e. same as reception). ....
In truth for many children it starts much earlier than that.

My daughter started in a custom-built day care facility immediately after her second birthday and the room was set out similar to a class room. Over the following three years the daily activities changed incrementally every month or two, until by the time she reached the summer when she started kindergarten (in the August after her firth birthday), the daily routine at the day care was exactly like a standard American kindergarten routine, with time spent sitting in front of the teacher and a whiteboard, with the pledge of allegiance, group singing, fixed breaks ("recess"), some basic reading, ABCs, and arithmetic. So transition into formal schooling at kindergarten was completely seamless and pain free. As a matter of policy Mrs P and I, from the day little Miss P started at daycare, always called daycare "school", so even the name was familiar to her.
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