Background Information for Teachers and Parents About School

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about what it’s like to go school, and prepare them for their school experience. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie School. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

There are many different kinds of schools. Basic education is spread across pre-schools, elementary schools, junior high or middle schools, and high schools. If your child is starting Kindergarten we recommend watching the Kindergarten movie together as a review. Higher education includes colleges and universities, graduate schools, and professional schools. Vocational schools offer courses to develop and nurture specific job-related skills. Some schools, such as Hebrew schools, teach language, culture, and religion. Charter schools are autonomous, alternative public schools started by parents, teachers, and community members. Magnet schools are competitive public schools that have high academic standards and special programs for students. Private schools are those that do not receive funding from the state government. In many cases, students must apply to enroll into private schools. Parochial schools are church-related schools and administered by parishes or dioceses.

According to the United States census of 2000, about 76.6 million people were enrolled in school. About 5.0 million students were enrolled in nursery school, 4.2 million in kindergarten, 33.7 million in elementary school, 16.4 million in high school, 14.4 million in college, and 3.1 million in graduate school. In elementary school, 51% of the students were male. This statistic reflects the greater number of boys than girls born each year. At the college level, however, about 55% of undergraduate and 54% of graduate school students were female. Historically, more males had been enrolled in higher education institutions than females.

Though the number of students who drop out before completing high school still poses a problem to our education system, the number has decreased since the 1990’s. In 2000, 9.8% of people between 16 and 19 years old were high school dropouts, compared to 11.2% in 1990.

Schools require a large number of resources and staff members in order to educate and serve the 27% of the country’s population that is enrolled in an educational institution. Teachers, principals, superintendents, and elected school officials are just a few of the people that help a school function. Guidance counselors, nurses, learning specialists, specialized instructors, classroom aids, nutritionists and cafeteria workers, custodial and maintenance workers, and administrative professionals all help schools function and educate our children. Students also help run schools by taking on positions such as library volunteers, hall monitors, office helpers, homework tutors, and student government and club leaders. Parents also play a role in education. Parent-teacher-student associations discuss how to improve schools and raise funds to supplement the school’s budgets.

By learning about schools, your children will learn how schools work and better understand the importance of receiving an education. Encourage your children to find ways to improve their school and think about why graduating high school and continuing on to college or a vocational school would be helpful.