Schools around the world
I Am A Mom, Raising Global Citizens And TCK's, Raising Multilingual Children

15 Fun Facts About Schools Around the World

Schools around the world

I was so surprised to find so many differences in the various school systems. The date school starts, the age at which the kids start, grading systems, approach and teaching philosophy – the variation is huge!

Fascinated by all the differences, I sat down and found 15 exciting and fun facts about schools around the world. Enjoy!

 

    • In Germany, school kids are given a school cone (Schultüte) on their first day of school. It can be filled with sweets, snacks, art supplies, lunch boxes, little books and small gifts. They can only open it at school. Children don’t have to be able to write their names on entering schools- although they must be able to hold a pen properly. School readiness is decided on not only physical development but also social skills.

 

    • Russian children always start school on September 1st even if it’s a holiday, or the weekend. This is referred as Knowledge Day (День Знаний)- and marks both the first day of school and the first day of autumn. Most kids bring a change of shoes to school. Elementary school through high school are usually in the same building.

 

    • Dutch children go to school on their fourth birthday. This results in some chaos as new kids are added to the class throughout the year during the first year (called groep 1 or kleuterklas). The kids get to play and learn social skills and only start “real school” when they’re 6 (groep 3). However, school is not compulsory until the kids are 5 years old.

 

    • Polish kids have to wear strój galowy- a formal costume– usually a white blouse with navy blue pants or skirts for the girls and suits for the boys for the first day of school and school ceremonies. There’s also an opening ceremony where the kids are sworn in as students of the first class.

 

    • On April Fool’s Day 2015, it was announced that Canada was to introduce a year-round school by 2017. It’s not true! However, school kids in Canada are offered many bilingual (English and French) options.

 

    • Singaporean schools have recently enjoyed their 5 minutes of fame and al because of a math problem. It went viral, causing a stir and even a hashtag on its very own- #WhenIsCherylsBirthday. it came from a test for students gifted in math and stirred a discussion about school quality around the world. Here’s the problem– can you solve it?

 

    • Finnish schools are considered the best in the world. They’re also very hands-off: no grades until year three. There are no national tests until the 12th year and subsequently much less pressure on teachers as school results cannot be compared. Teachers are trusted and respected and they have a lot of autonomy.

 

    • Japanese kids are expected to go to school by themselves and they also clean have to the classroom. There is no canteen; children are expected to bring packed lunches to school. They’re often very beautifully arranged into so called bento boxes. It is customary for the grandparents to buy the school bag called randoseru.

 

    • French kids are served a 3-course meal for lunch. The French education system has been made famous by Karen le Billon in her book (French Kids Eat Everything) that described the French approach to eating (did you know that schools hire nutritionists and special chefs to cook for the kids?) On the other side, the system is very rigid and strict.

 

    • The school year in Kenya is divided into trimesters (the academic year is divided into three parts, not two) not semesters. The parents are expected to pay for the children’s school. Most students attend school even though they don’t have to.

 

    • In Taiwan, children attending elementary schools would wear new uniform, carry new school bag, have a new pencil box (yes, pencil box, that is always a very fun shopping trip) and carry a home lunch box (optional).

 

    • In Australia, the longest holiday is actually the Christmas holiday! Summer officially lasts from December to February, and therefore includes Christmas and New Year holidays. Typically Christmas summer holiday in Australia last approximately six weeks, usually from mid-December (depending on school year, see below) to late January.

 

    • Schools in Nigeria start in January and end in December. The academic year is divided into trimesters and there are 2 months off between each one. Nigerian schools are also very strict about dress code – even including hair styles, jewellery and accessories.

 

    • Parents of kids in Swiss schools have to pick them up for lunch. The children get a lunch break between 12 and 2pm and that’s when they get home to have lunch. As mothers enter the workforce in bigger and bigger numbers, a special Mittagstisch (literally lunch table) is set up for the kids with working parents.

 

  • In Brazil, schools run from 7am to noon so that the kids can eat lunch with their parents. However, in Brazil there are three sessions per day to meet the demands for space. Kids attend one session per day.

 

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16 Comments

  • Reply Heidi Raki September 4, 2015 at 3:04 am

    When we lived in Morocco the most amazing difference for me was that my kids were expected to write in pen in cursive from first grade on. Most schools also break for a one or two hour lunch where kids can go home, but lunch is also offered at the school.

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Hi Heidi, how nice to see you on my blog. Oh wow that is really early- when do they start school in Morocco?

    • Reply Susanna Dilliott September 5, 2015 at 11:40 am

      It’s the same in France that kids write in pen in cursive. They even use pens for math and only use pencils for art.

      • Reply Olga Mecking September 5, 2015 at 11:46 am

        Hi Susanna, thank you for your comment. I don’t remember how it was in Poland, I think we were asked to write in pencil first.

  • Reply Dorota September 4, 2015 at 4:35 am

    Have to add some facts about Taiwanese schools: although kids finish school at 4pm, most of them go to after-school schools (cram schools) and stay there until 9pm or even 10pm. Middle and high school students go to school even on weekends and have only 1-3 weeks summer vacation!
    And about schools in Japan: the one that my daughter attended briefly served the most delicious school lunches. No one brought packed lunch with them. Btw it was a small rural school.

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 4, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Dorota and for adding your thoughts. Wow in Taiwan they don’t seem to have lots of vacation!

  • Reply Marta September 7, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    These are some fun back to school facts. Thanks for posting! In the United States, children start public school at age 5 (Kindergarten and Grades 1-5 are in the same building). Any preschool they attend before that point it typically private and paid for by their parents. In certain areas of the country, Kindergarten is only 3 hours/day. In first grade, typical school day may start at 8am and end at 2:30pm. They get 30 min. for lunch (buy or bring your own) and 30 min. for recess (outside play). At the end of the school day, children of parents who work are picked up by private daycare businesses (daycare vans/buses line up in front of the school) and they go to “after care” for several hours where they do their homework and sometimes participate in classes like dance or karate. They are picked up by their parents between 5 and 7 o’clock in the evening. Children who have a nanny or a parent at home take the school bus home at 2:30pm (sometimes they walk home from the bus stop or a parent will meet them at the bus stop). Mom or Dad may drive them to activities in the afternoon. This varies by state, by typically children cannot be left home alone until they are around 10 years old.

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 8, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Hi Marta, thanks for commenting and for explaining how the school system works in the US. In the Netherlands, they have peuterspeelzaalen, which are also 3 hours a day but focus on social skills and language (normal daycare is from around 8am till 5-6pm). Interesting to see how school works in all countries!

  • Reply Anita September 11, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I found both this and your handwriting blogs most interesting.
    One think that has not been mentioned regarding school/education is the “alternative” schooling ie. Waldorf or Montessori.
    Both are in just about all countries of the world. They carry on the pedagogy, theory, practice of their founder’s principals, therefore making it easier for the students to adapt to a new setting (should they need to move, even a country). They feel at ease more quickly knowing the routine and what is expected.
    On the handwriting side, I love cursive script in whatever language. I was taught cursive first and when the inkwells and pen nibs were used – centuries ago!! I hated it at the time as the teachers were VERY strict and we had to re-write pages very often, mainly due to blobs of ink splaterirng on the page …
    Now though I love it. Even chose our children’s names so they look/flow beautifully when written down.
    Also handwriting develops small muscle in the fingers, hands; helps with control of movement and concentration.

    • Reply Olga Mecking September 15, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      Hi Anita, thank you for your kind comments. I love the point you’re making about alternative schooling- very true and I don’t have a post about that! Thanks for the inspiration. I also enjoy handwriting although am grateful for computers.

  • Reply Sean January 7, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    This is simply amazing that you were able to summarize this very nicely. Did you actually travel to the countries listed?

    • Reply Olga Mecking January 11, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Hi Sean, thank you for your kind comments. I’ve been to some of these countries, but never went to school in either of them (although I attended German kindergarten). What about you?

  • Reply Fan Facts About Schools Around the World | VollNews January 12, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    […] This post was originally published on The European Mama. […]

  • Reply Back to School: Experiences Around the Globe - By Catarina August 12, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    […] And last but not least, Olga Mecking from The European Mama shares 15 Fun Facts About Schools Around the World […]

  • Reply McKenzie January 17, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    These facts are so incredibly interesting, and I am fascinated by different customs of the way different countries treat education. Thank you or sharing!

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