Here's what you need to know about how the system is structured:

Before entering elementary school, most children these days attend a preschool. Preschool is for children three to four years of age. Preschool is not mandatory. Parents may decide not to enroll their children in preschool.

Following preschool, there are two main levels for schools. The elementary level is for children between the ages of five and eleven, on average. The secondary level is for children between the ages of eleven and eighteen. School is mandatory for children in the United States. Children must attend some type of school.


Elementary School or Grammar School (elementary level)

Ages (average) Level
5 kindergarten
6 first grade
7 second grade
8 third grade
9 fourth grade
10 fifth grade
11 sixth grade

What do children do in elementary school? Most chidren learn to read, write, do arithmetic, study science and geography. Elementary school is the foundation for basic skills.


Middle School or Junior High School (secondary level)

Ages (average) Level
11 sixth grade
12 seventh grade
13 eighth grade

Middle schools vary across the United States. In some cities and town, middle school begins at the sixth grade; in other places, middle school begins at the seventh grade. Middle school may also include the ninth grade.

Children continue to learn basic skills in middle school, but it's here that students are introduced to higher levels of math, science, and language arts, depending on the student.  


High School or Senior HIgh School (secondary level)

Ages (average) Level
14 ninth grade
15 tenth grade
16 eleventh grade
17 twelfth grade

In high school, children begin to identify particular subjects of interest. There are general courses of study, but for students who are talented in math and science, for instance, the course of study can be quite rigorous in preparation for college.



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