Musical Chairs

Also, here is what I don’t understand in this educational system. Why are kids constantly moved into new classrooms, with new teachers, and new kids? Klara has been at this daycare for only 15 months, but she’s already going into her fourth classroom, with the fourth set of teachers. Is it just this daycare, or is it the same everywhere?

It’s so bizarre because the most important thing for small kids is stability, predictability, and absence of chaos. And this way, chaos is generated purposefully. What is the pedagogic rationale behind this? Does anyone know? It’s surely not because it’s more convenient for the teachers because it’s clearly not.

Another thing I wonder if there is any stability in terms of class composition in actual school. Where I come from, you enter school at 7 and stay until you are 17. Unless you are switching schools, you will stay with the same kids for those ten years, growing up together and making lifelong friends. There is one teacher for the first 3 years who teaches all of the subjects. And after that, you get different teachers for different subjects but a single lead teacher who is there and who knows you until you graduate.

What is the system like here? Is there any permanence that is fostered at school? Or is it constant musical chairs like at the daycare?

13 thoughts on “Musical Chairs

  1. At big schools it is indeed constant musical chairs. At smaller ones, not so much.

    There is a curious side effect. In many schools, if a child invites any classmates at all to a birthday party, or other event at their home, they must invite everyone. This is usually too much, either because some of the classmates they do not get along with, or because there are just too many. What happens is that children typically invite their friends from previous years who are now in a different class, but none of their current classmates..


    1. I never felt pressured to invite my entire class just because I invited one or two people from it. I think that must depend where you are.


      1. It’s to avoid bullying, right? Because the only kid who never gets invited will feel like an outcast. That kid was always me but it wouldn’t have helped if kids were forced to invite everybody. I would never be allowed to go anyway. 😦


      2. At my grandson’s school, he was not permitted to invite any of his friends from his class to his tenth birthday party because the space where the party was held was too small. It was not a matter of being “pressured”, it was forbidden by school policy. I do not know what would have happened if the rule had been violated, but I suspect it would have been severe.


        1. How did you know that the school needed to be informed? It would never occur to me to talk to the school, and I’d get in trouble.

          Gosh, it’s a steep learning curve. 🙂


  2. Here, you enter school around five and typically graduate around seventeen or eighteen. In my elementary school, there were three grades in the same class together, and you generally progressed with the same group of kids. Art, music, physical education, and other “special” subjects were taught by different teachers. Then when I got into middle school—around 12 or 13–there was a different teacher for every class and kids from three elementary schools were suddenly together. All my friends were a year younger than me up until this point, but there were kids from other elementary schools who came to middle school with close friends. High school was more of the same, but this time we weren’t guaranteed to be able to get classes with friends —this had to do with how middle school was organized into “teams” so that all the kids on a single team had the same teachers. But my high school was fairly small—about 1500 kids in grades 9-12, and after 9th grade I was in class with a lot of the same kids.

    My experience with elementary school was fairly atypical, though elementary schools are generally small enough that kids do tend to progress together, and sometimes the teacher “moves up” with them to a certain point and specials are taught by different teachers than the regular classroom teacher.


  3. You seem to be confusing two separate systems:

    1) Daycare/preschool
    From 0-4 years old. Not required to attend by law. If parents choose to send their children, they generally pay themselves.

    Because the government does not require this type of schooling, it’s a it more free form. But generally, as you describe, there is some movement between classrooms. From what I understand, this is because they are trying to keep the smallest amount of children with the maximum amount of adults when children are very small. So the infant room has different needs than the 1-2 year old room which has different needs than the 3-4 year old room etc. etc. Also, because this type of schooling/daycare is not require by the government, children miss more often, do not attend 5 days a week regularly and so on. So the school.daycare constantly has to shift the adults depending on the daily enrollment.

    2) American schooling system
    From Kindergarten ( 5) – 12th grade (17/18). Required to attend by law. Free and provided by the government (though of course private school exists.)

    Within American schooling, there are three general divisions
    i) Primary/grammar school– K- 5th or 6th grade
    Here you have the one teacher/one class room from September to June. Also, while there will be some shifts from year to year, generally children are all from the same neighborhood and move through the grades together.

    ii) Middle school/junior high–6th/7th- 8th grade.
    This is bigger than the grammar school experience and generally students move between classrooms throughout the day depending on the subject.

    iii) High School– 9th- 12th grade
    Largest school experience. Students have different teachers for every subject throughout the day and most generally have “tracks”: developmental, “regular” “honors”. While public high schools are still neighborhood-based, they have a lot more students than the grammar schools. (Multiple grammar schools feed into one high school.)

    I hope this helps! 🙂


    1. Thank you, thank you! This really helps. I am confused because I didn’t experience it in person and I feel weird grilling the people I know and revealing my complete ignorance. But the way you explained it is very clear.


  4. I don’t have too much time, but here goes, based on raising my three kids in the US (Midwest):

    Infant 0-1, toddler 1-3, preschooler 3-5. If kid goes to daycare, they will generally keep same-aged kids together, but kids move classrooms once they hit a milestone, usually after some acclimation period. My kids always loved moving up since there are new things to do in the new classrooms and being with bigger kids is exciting and challenging. For a socially gifted kid, like Klara, I wouldn’t worry about the commotion. Stability at home is key, which she has; school can be fun/crazy/chaotic, and she likely enjoys the friends and all the action.

    K-5 Elementary school: Each year the kids have a new classroom and homeroom teacher, but will (by design) have some friends from previous year with them. The shuffling is not great, but they all know everyone by the end of 5th grade. My kids all went to the afterschool program inside the school (from end of school day till 5:45), where the kids are pretty much the same throughout K-5. For all my kids, their afterschool buddies are the closest and best buddies they have because they’ve had years of afterschool history together. Plus, afterschool is all playtime/fun, so that’s years of playing with the same kids, regardless whom they have in their actual class in any given year. Highly recommended.

    6-8 Middle school: Bigger, several elementary schools feed into one middle school. Kids have a homeroom teacher but move to different classrooms for different subjects and are (for the most part) with a certain set of kids in a given year through various subjects/classrooms. Next year, a new mix of kids. They do get to know everyone in their grade by end of 8th grade.

    9-12 High school: Several middle schools feed into the same high school. Each kid has his or her own customized schedule depending on which courses they take, so they will be with different kids every class period. They might not have any classes together with friends, but they get to hang out during lunch and recess.

    Kids who have strong bonds with neighborhood kids from elementary school and are socially adjusted do very well going through middle and high school. My middle kid (about to start middle school) didn’t want to even try lottery for a small fancy middle school because he said he wanted to be with friends and he liked having friends in all grades and he wanted a bigger school.

    Klara will likely be totally fine, as she seems to be a people person. Don’t worry!


    1. Thank you, this is VERY clear and detailed. You rock!

      It does seem like with two misanthropic parents, Klara turned out to be very sociable. We are both stunned. 🙂


      1. “this is VERY clear and detailed”

        Just remember that the precise details can vary from place to place since there’s nothing like a national education system.
        Lots of things that exist at the national level in other countries are only regulated at the state level in the US (remembering that as a guiding principle helps to figure out other systems too)

        The idea of K-12 divided between 3 schools for the 1-12 part is pretty universal but the three schools could be divided differently in different places. That is, the (so elementary school might be 4 5 or 6 years, high school could be 3 or 4 years ).

        “two misanthropic parents, Klara turned out to be very sociable”

        She looked around and figured you and N are taking up all the introvert space so she she’ll have to become an extrovert in order to distinguish herself…


        1. “only regulated at the state level in the US ”

          Actually now that I think about it, K-12 education is primarily organized at the local level (constrained by state policies) while the federal government doesn’t really have much of a say.

          This is very different from anywhere in Europe (that I know of) where all education is organized at the national level and lower levels are just carrying out national policy rather than creating policy.


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