School dictionary

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One thing I have a bit of trouble with is understanding some of the school references.

There seems to be a large difference in terms and some are very confusing.

I will list off the ones for canada that I know(although there is some new ones being used which are mostly slang type in cities)

age 4 - preschool/daycare - for children of age 4 or younger stay most of the day and not much is really taught to children.

age 5 - kindergarden - children are in school for half a day. Learn to write names mostly.

age 6 - 8 children stay full school day and learn to read and write, basic math, history, local geography. Grades 1-3

age 9-11 - Elementary - learn more advance math, introduction to grammer, secondary language, physical education, history and geography of country. grades 4-6

age 12-14 - junior high - more advanced math, general sciences, history and world geography, dedicated classes for physical education and sports, sex education, social sciences, english and french classes heavy on grammer and other forms essays etc. peer pressure occurs. Grades 7-9

age 15-17 highschool- varies alot as children choose what their major will be and many other classes. English, seperate sciences, physical education that is seperated into team and non team sports. Much more peer pressure occurs and in many cases causes issues of legal nature. Grades 10-12

age 18 adult graduated from highschool supposed to be in workforce. May or may not skip directly to college and or university.

College or university - specialize and learn specific fields, ie medical science (doctor) engineering, chemistry, physics, (scientist) engineering, mechnical (engineer) and many many others.

If you could please list the ones for your country (if different) I am fairly sure others would appreciate it. Personally I did a search and didn't find anything specific or that was understandable.

Thank you.

Varies even within US

I can't give a definitive guide for the US because it varies around the country. I can only tell you the variant I've seen.

Up to 4: Preschool
5: Kindergarten, elementary school
6-10: Grades 1-5, elementary school (collectively K-5)
11-13: Grades 6-8, middle school or junior high
14-17: Grades 9-12, high school
The US has two year (community) and four year colleges.

There is...

There is no "real" standard in the US. It's about where you are, but...

The first bit that's important is when the kid's birthday is... The kid's age on some specific cut off date determines when they can START 1st grade (and perhaps Kindergarten, etc.). I've seen August 1st, September 1st, October 1st, December 1st and January 1st (and other mid-month dates) used... Around here, the two most common dates are October 1st and December 1st... Thus, a friend of my daughter who's almost two months younger is a grade ahead in school... And another kid who's a month OLDER, is also a year ahead.

Once a kid STARTS in an accredited school - and makes progress - they move through the years sequentially... But, that adds another complexity. A small percentage of very bright kids get the "opportunity" to "skip" years of school. Others are held back to repeat a year (not always due to poor academic performance. I've known of cases where kids with A/B averages have had to repeat because they missed too many days at school and thus hadn't met state mandated standards so couldn't be promoted.)

The grouping of grades varies a lot from district to district. In the area within ten (10) miles of my house, I know of at least FOUR (4) different organizations / layouts of school years and schools.

Our district has Pre-K, K -6 in Elementary/Primary Schools. 7th and 8th grade make up the Middle School, and 9th-12th grades are high school.

About fifteen (15) years ago the district had K-6 (Elementary); 7-9 (Junior High School) and 10-12 (High School). At least one surrounding town has K-2 (Jr. Elementary); 3-5 (Sr. Elementary; 6-8 (Middle School) and 9-12 (High School). Another town has K-5; 6-8; 9-12... Another has K-4; 5-8; 9-12... etc.

A majority of those graduating from US High Schools are eighteen (18) or will be 18 by the end of the summer.

So, there's no surprise that there's confusion about name/grade here in the US.

Post secondary (oh - another term... Generally Grades 7+ are called Secondary Education and 6- are primary education (and teachers take classes in these areas). ) But, post secondary - that's community college; junior college, college, university, graduate school, etc...

There are post High School schools available (for $$$). Junior Colleges typically are available for 2 years. Some grant "Associates" degrees upon completion. Others don't... Many Jr. College students transfer into a 4 year school upon completion. There are Community Colleges. Some are 2 year and some 4 year. Some grant degrees - both associates and bachelors. There are other 4 year colleges... There are Universities (A university - technically - has more than one college as part of it... Say a college of Arts, a College of Engineering, A graduate college, etc.)

There are "Academies" at 7-12th grades as well as at 4 year college level. Many, but not all, are "military" themed. Some are "elite" some are where "problem kids" are sent... Many have VERY long histories (at least as far as US schools are concerned.

Some schools are Private institutions (in that they are not sponsored by a government body). Some are sponsored (and exist to varying degrees - depending on the school) by Religious institutions. Some are supported by States, county or even cities. These institutions generally cost less than a "comparable" private school, and for residents of the locality - they cost less than for non-residents.

And things go on and on...

Schooling system in PY

Here in PY there is mandatory 10 years of schooling, with voluntary education before and after.

under 6: voluntary day-care and kindergarten

Mandatory Schooling
ages 6: pre-school
ages 7-9: First Cycle - grades 1-3
ages 10-12: Second Cycle - grades 4-6
ages 13-15: Third Cycle - grades 7-9

Voluntary Schooling
ages 16-18: Middle Education - course 1-3 (grades 10-12)
This can be either academic in preparation for university, or vocational/technical in preparation for entering the job market.

From Pre-School to Grade 6 is known as primary school.
Grades 7-12 have been known as secondary school, where 7-9 was the basic cycle and 10-12 the baccalaureate.

Universities are 4-6 years for the equivalent of BA/BS/MD or similar under-graduate degrees. Graduate programs for Masters or Doctorates (PhD) are not yet well established, so many go abroad.

PY equals what? Paraguay??

Sorry, but that is the only place I know of or could google using PY as an abbreviation.

It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.


Only here in New Brunswick, Canada.

A lot of the pre-schools want the child to be able to do abc's, numbers 1-20, and print their name and address and phone numbers before they get into the pre-school. And this is from an average small town one. The whole early education things have rapidly changed in the last few years. A friends niece is learning cursive writing in the 1rst grade.

It has really changed that much. If this is for a story I'd honestly contact the area's schools you're setting this in and ask about the teaching plans they use. If you're going to write something up to date.

Bailey Summers

been there done that

have 3 nieces one graduated highschool recently. Nothing has much changed except what the slang of grades are.

That said however I have NOT checked in the city where I live just where I grew up and so forth.

This is not about who is smarter or whatever just general terms of schooling so that we have a guide of some sort to help figure out what people are talking about.

Still need people to describe what first form second form A levels O levels are about. (uk system confuses the heck out of me I have no idea if these kids are 13 or 18)

What junior year senior year sophomore is about. Even the term freshman is not exactly explained well as it is used for a variety of places and not just highschool.


In general:

High School
Freshman - Grade 9
Sophomore - Grade 10
Junior - Grade 11
Senior - Grade 12

Freshman - 1st year
Sophomore - 2nd year
Junior - 3rd year
Senior - 4th year
(in some schools/programs "Super Senior" - 5th year)

1st grade = Age 6 before "cut off date"
Beyond grade 1 = one year per grade...

So Senior or grade 12 = 6 + 11 = 17 by the cut off date... A majority of "Seniors" turn 18 by the time they graduate from High School in May/June.

Hope that helps.

(To add insult to injury, a small number of schools have their own unique names for the grades/years... Things like "Plebe" or "Youngster" for example... But those are the exception, and you should expect an author using them to explain the terms.)


Picking a model

I grew up in a small town and there were only two high schools. One ran from grades 9-12, the other from grades 10-12. The second was associated with a middle school, which was grades 7-9. There were two elementary schools as well: one from K-8, the other from K-6.

Given all the variants that can occur -- even in one small town! -- I think what's easiest to do is to choose a real school as a model. You can look up all the facts about most schools online, and use those arrangements in your story.

Or use your own experience as your model.

Robin_WH's picture

Czech rep. is like this:

3 - 6 y.o.: Preschool/Kindergarten
6 - 16 y.o.: Elementary School Grades 1 - 9
-it is only type of school which is mandatory for children to attend.
-entry age is 6, but some immature children can get 1 year delay.
-one school hour is 45 minutes long.
-it is divided to two stages:
Stage 1: grades 1 - 5, children have about 22 - 28 school hours/week differenced by grade, with recesses of 10 minutes. Many country schools consist only of this stage and older children have to commute. Subjects are Math, Czech (and learning to write italics), 2nd language (most often English) Art, Phys.Ed., Music and Sciences. Sciences are set by grades 1-3 as First Learning (Prvouka) and 4-5 National History and Geography
Stage 2: grades 6 - 9, children have about 28 - 38 school hours/week differenced by grade. Subjects are Math, Czech, 2nd (and often 3rd) language, Phys.Ed., Art, Music, History, Nature science, Geography, Physics, Chemistry
6 - 16 y.o.: Elementary Art Schools - elementary schools focused on Art for children with talents.
11 - 19 y.o.: Grammar Schools, grades 5 - 12, more academic focused schools, preparation for universities.
11 - 20 y.o.: Music and Art Conservatories, grades 5 - 12
15 - 20 y.o.: High Schools, Grammar schools, training/trade schools, grades 10 - 13 (they consist of 3 to 5 grades), up to 38 school hours/week, recesses may be shortened to 5 minutes., often are preparing for specific occupation - cooks, waiter, turner, nurse, bookseller, smith/artsmith, electrician, plumber, hairstylist, business ed.
18 and up: Universities, Colleges higher education in business, building, languages, Philosophy, Medicine and other social studies, Nature sciences, teaching, law, defense, police, art, theatre, film making.
State pays health insurance for all children and students up to age of 26. All of preschool, elementary and high school education is free of charge, with exceptions of private schools(which is very few) and preschools (there are many). University type education is currently is still free, but there is plan for entry fee of up to 6.000,- CZK / semester.
Other than that pupil/student is required to pay for its writing and drawing tools, gymkits, notebooks and some student and exercises books
Bonus activities are often non-mandatory, but often required to pay too. There are such as swim course (for now still mandatory), School(field) trips, ski courses, visits to theater and cinema.

School holidays are about 3 months long in total, main bulk of it is whole July and August, third month is cutted into the whole year with few days in September, October, November, January and May, and whole week on Christmas and Spring, and 3 days on Easter.

If you ever write a story set in Germany...

Age 3-5: Kindergarten (that is the German spelling). A mix of daycare and education, don't ask me about details ;-)
In Germany, Kindergarten is not mandatory and may cost a significant fee.

Age 6-9: Grundschule (literally ("basic school"), the German equivalent of Elementary school as described on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia description differs a bit from yours, it has Elementary as the first compulsory school in the system. So is the Grundschule in Germany.
Another difference is that Grundschule always covers grade 1-4, and all students receive some secondary education.

Age 10 and up:
Here the German school is 'three-tiered', with the following schools in place of high school:

1) Hauptschule, a secondary school that is mostly aimed at preparing students for a technical profession and often followed by an apprenticeship. Grades 5-9, sometimes 5-10. The Hauptschule often has the prejudice against it that it only "harbors the bottom end of society", which makes it less popular with parents who often try to get their children into the "higher" tiers of the system, even against the advice of teachers.

2) Realschule: The "middle ground" between Hauptschule and Gymnasium (see below). Grades 5-10.

3) Gymnasium. The secondary school that provides the most advanced secondary education in the German system. Successful graduation from Gymnasium is generally considered the prerequisite for entering a university. Grades 5-12.

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