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School System FAQs for Parents

Q1: What is going to school like in the U.S.?

Q2: What is going to school like in California?

Q3: What are content standards?

Q4: How do I choose a middle school for my child?

Q5: How do I find out if my child's school is really safe?

Q6: How does my child's school operate, and what are the rules?

Q7: What are my rights as they pertain to my child's school?

Q8: How is middle school different from elementary school?

Q9: How can I be a more active middle school parent?

Q10: I want to feel more comfortable and know generally what is going on in my child's school. What can I do?

Q11: Are there any special considerations and new responsibilities I should be aware of as a middle school parent?

Q12: How do I build a relationship with my child's teacher?

Q13: When should I ask for a parent-teacher conference, and how do I get the most from the conference?

Q14: What school activities should I attend throughout the year?

Q15: I do not have transportation to get my child to after-school, weekend, or extracurricular school activities. What can I do?

Q16: What are assessment or standardized tests, and why are they important?

Q17: What are some existing support programs for parents?




Q1: What is going to school like in the U.S.?

Welcome to the United States! To help you get used to your new home and the way that children are educated in America, we have provided you with an overview of the U.S. school system. More importantly, we want you to visit your neighborhood school to get to know the people who work there. The people are there to help you feel welcomed.
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Q2: What is going to school like in California?

Welcome to California! There's no doubt that moving to a new place can be scary, plus moving to a huge state like California, with more than 8,000 schools, can be very overwhelming. Questions are bound to arise, like, "Where will my child go to school?" But not to worry — everything you need to familiarize yourself with the California school system is included in this resource. Learn more about California's school types, special programs, average school calendar, school-age requirements, and more...
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Q3: What are content standards?

Get a better understanding of what your child is expected to know at each grade level.
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Q4: How do I choose a middle school for my child?

Many things should be considered when selecting a good school for your child. To help you decide whether or not a school meets your family's needs, use the following steps to evaluate and compare schools.
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Q5: How do I find out if my child's school is really safe?

Because of a great deal of television coverage and public concern regarding safety in schools, it is sometimes difficult for parents to feel at ease about their child's safety at school. Learn how to speak to your school about their campus safety policy.
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Q6: How does my child's school operate, and what are the rules?

Just as there are rules, policies, and regulations in all aspects of your adult world, the same exists in your child's world — school. Before problems arise, review your student's school handbook to familiarize yourself with your school's unique operating structure. Keep these ideas in mind...
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Q7: What are my rights as they pertain to my child's school?

Although no parent expects or anticipates receiving bad news from their child's school, unexpected events do occur. During these potentially challenging times, it is important for you to be familiar with your rights as well as those of your child's. Take a look at some of the most common rights that you have as a parent.
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Q8: How is middle school different from elementary school?

The change from elementary to middle school can be very scary for some children, largely because they do not know what to expect. More than one teacher, shorter class sessions, the need to move from one class to another — all are possible changes that your elementary school child will face as a middle school student. Changes to a child's regular routine can be confusing and at times overwhelming; however, you can help by familiarizing yourself with the key differences between elementary and middle school.
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Q9: How can I be a more active middle school parent?

Work and family obligations can sometimes be overwhelming. How are you supposed to also fit classroom visits and phone calls to teachers into your already busy schedule? As challenging as it may seem at times, your involvement in your child's education is vital to your child's academic success. Explore the many things that you can do both at home and at your child's school to get more involved.
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Q10: I want to feel more comfortable and know generally what is going on in my child's school. What can I do?

Staying on top of the activity at your child's school requires developing a good working relationship with your child's teacher, reading school information that is mailed home, and regularly asking your child about what is happening each day. Find out more ideas on how to stay informed here.
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Q11: Are there any special considerations and new responsibilities I should be aware of as a middle school parent?

"It takes a village to raise a child." It is more than just a saying. It is, in fact, a guiding principle of the GEAR UP program. GEAR UP was founded, in part, to help parents become partners with their children's schools; however, you, as the parent, play the most active and important role in nurturing your child's academic success. Encourage your student to stretch academically each day. Learn how here...
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Q12: How do I build a relationship with my child's teacher?

Second only to parents, teachers spend the most time with your child. Because teachers are a very important part of your child's life you should feel comfortable talking with them. Try these tips the next time you want to talk with your child's teacher.
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Q13: When should I ask for a parent-teacher conference, and how do I get the most from the conference?

Have you seen changes in your child's behavior? Is your child having the same homework questions day after day? Is your student going to be out of school for more than a few days? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be a good time to ask for a parent-teacher conference. For more tips to help you build a working relationship with your child's teacher, take a look...
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Q14: What school activities should I attend throughout the year?

Because you are trying to do many things, it is nearly impossible to attend every school function; however, it is important that you stay informed of the activities that require your attendance. Find out more about some of those activities.
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Q15: I do not have transportation to get my child to after-school, weekend, or extracurricular school activities. What can I do?

Lack of transportation may present a problem for you; however, the following suggestions may help you get your child to school activities.
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Q16: What are assessment or standardized tests, and why are they important?

It is a fact of life...tests are here to stay! Make sure you understand which tests your child has to take, when they are offered, and how the scores will be used. Get the details now...
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Q17: What are some existing support programs for parents?

Help is on the way! Check out the many academic outreach and parent education programs that exist in California to help you reach your goal of being the most effective parent you can.
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