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Differences Between Australian and American Schools

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So Mason started school, and there are a LOT of differences between here [Ashburton Primary School] and home [Boone Station Elementary School, Springfield, Ohio].

Terminology

Kinder = Preschool

Prep = Kindergarten

High School = 7th grade through 12th  


We walk the children to school, stereotypically mothers in gym clothes and men in business suits.  Three minutes before the bell rings, music (e.g. the Beatles) is broadcasted over loud speakers so everyone knows to head to their classrooms. The children are happy and sprint to their rooms, although some running behind walk into class a minute or two late.

Prep and 1st grade rooms each, are one large room divided into quadrants through the use of low book shelves. The 4 groups have different timetables and within the room people frequently come and go. I once forgot Mason's lunch, and the office said to take it directly to his classroom.  I walked in during their class activities, put it in his cubby and no one noticed. 

Lunch

The school has no cafeteria but we can order meals online from a local milk bar.  There is no formal lunch hour, but they have "play recesses" and are meant to eat during that time. He has an apple at 11am tea time, and lunch at 1:30pm.  He hangs on the monkey bars with one hand and eats his sandwich in the other.  I am surprised he hasn't choked, although often he comes home having not eaten at all.   No cafeteria, no milk cartons, but they have water fountains which they call "bubblers".

Courses

The school language is Japanese, which they start learning in kindergarten.

There is no separation of church and state, and they have Religious Education (RE) as a school subject. You can choose to opt out, but most take it.

Family and Parent Social Nights

There are multiple opportunities to meet other parents.  We had a sunset Friday night picnic, and weekend catch ups at pubs.  However, the most popular school event is the annual trivia night.  Hundreds of parents come, making up tables of teams.  They bring wine, dress up in themes (e.g. Adams family characters), and don't care if they win. 

Fundraising

The school has a large fundraiser 2 months into the term. We started receiving communication about it from the first day of school, including donating sugar for the "marmaladies".  Ours is held on the school grounds on a Sunday afternoon, and is an actual carnival. There were rides on the cricket field, booths with cotton candy, a tent with a DJ, and booze.  The carnival is open to the public, and I served a hot dog to the local politician.

School Breaks / Vacation

The school year has 4 terms, with 2 week vacations in between, plus the month of January.  During each of the breaks, families go camping together.  Museums have special activities, and there are day camps where kids can learn to make robots, take intensive language classes, go to all-day sports camps, and more.

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