Most children in the U.S. begin school at age 5, when they go to kindergarten. This is the beginning of elementary or primary school. Most children stay in elementary schools till they are about 11 years old. Elementary schools are divided by grades. The youngest children begin in kindergarten at 5, and then go to first grade, second grade and so on. Most elementary schools go up to fifth or sixth grade.
The focus of an elementary school is basic academic and socialization skills. Mostly children learn how to read, write, count, add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Students also learn the rules of English grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Children also learn basic social studies or history, science, art, and music skills, and participate in gym or physical education. In elementary schools children also learn how to follow directions, share, and work in groups. Students usually stay in one classroom all day with one teacher who stays with them throughout the year. Students may leave the classroom to visit the school library, the school gym, and attend special science, art, and music classes. Students also usually leave the classroom for lunch and recess. For lunch students sit at tables, separated by grade, in a large cafeteria. Recess is usually a half hour when children go out into a yard to play. The typical school day starts at about 8:00 in the morning and ends at about 3:00 p.m. Students go to school from Monday to Friday and have the weekends off.
Elementary school teachers are licensed by the state where they work. They have to graduate from college, or even graduate school taking special classes in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Before teachers can be in a classroom with students, they have to pass a background check and take an exam.