What is Elementary School?

School is something all of us have to go through, it is the formal education we need to receive in order to be able to have a place in society. Although there still can be found a lot of faults in the way education is implemented, there are a lot more benefits, and what each and everyone of us does with that education is much more important. So what does education start with? To answer that, we have to answer another question: what is elementary school? In Northern America, elementary school is the first stage of education, which in other parts of the world such as the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand and so on, is called primary school.

When asking what is elementary school, we must refer to its history in these various parts of the world, because education was never the same in different places. In the United Kingdom for example, the schools that were funded by the government and intended for working class children were initially called elementary schools, but they were commonly referred to as industrial schools. This was probably because many of the children never got to further their studies beyond this basic instruction, and many of their classes had to do with learning manual training and other practical skills. Except reading, writing and arithmetic, there is little theory these students received. Nowadays, primary schools which are government-funded receive all kinds of children, and they offer much the same education as private schools.

If you want to find out what is elementary school in the United States, things become a little more complicated because there, each state has its particular arrangements and rules. In the US, each state has the right to regulate internal affairs, and education is one of them. This means that each state might have a different age for starting school, and even a different number of years of study for each stage. Nevertheless, some federal authority can be extended to each state, though with not too much yield. States may receive additional federal funding, but they may choose to refuse it as well. Moreover, the government can make official suggestions, national goals and standards, but they are not always mandatory and are left to each party’s choice.

We’ve seen what this is like from an official point of view, but what is elementary school for the children? Everywhere in the world, this stage of the education is basic and introductory. It is meant to teach children the basic skills they will need all their lives – such as reading, writing and calculating -, but it also has a social function, in that it teaches the children what it means to be in society and deal with people, meet people who are different and have different opinions, and is basically meant to develop their socializing skills. Beyond that, elementary school is also the stage where children are introduced to some of the subjects they’ll be studying in the following years, and it is made clear to them why those subjects are useful later on.

It is true that an education could be given almost anywhere; in fact, there are many parents who choose to educate their children at home in the first years, but some argue that they are deprived of the socializing aspect of school, and that this might affect their interpersonal relations later in life. Whether this is true or not probably differs from case to case, but what is certain is that every child should be educated.