“We bake and join clay club” – one of the main differences between elementary schools in the US and Singapore

My daughter just finished one full year of the elementary school in the US. And this post is about the differences between her schooling in a public school in California vs. her previous public school experience in Singapore from the perspective of a 10-year-old :). Thank you, Sophie.

1. Singapore school is smaller and more “restrained”

Due to the size of the country, Singapore schools are generally a lot smaller than those in California. Because of the much bigger size, in California, the kids have a lot more space to play, a much bigger courtyard, playground, soccer field, etc…

During recess or lunch in California, the children play many different games and so Sophie likes it.

2. Curriculum in California is more diverse than in Singapore

For social studies, there are more diverse topics being taught in California than in Singapore. Also, in California, the kids learn to bake cakes, and join the clay club, which are the highlights of Sophie’s school year 🙂

3. The sense of “much more freedom” in the US

I am honestly surprised that at such a young age, Sophie notices this about the US and the school in California vs. Singapore. They learn about freedom of speech in grade 5. Also, kids can wear anything to school. They can express themselves freely.

From the perspective of a parent, though, I can see the other side i.e. wearing a uniform to school. It means that no matter how rich or poor your family is, you wear the same clothes to school as everyone else. Here in California, for example, I can see how kids from poorer families may feel a bit sad when other kids wear much nicer clothes than them. Perhaps it is just my projection.

4. Singapore schools emphasize teaching values

Accordingly to Sophie, it is not like in California, the schools don’t teach kids good values. It is about the emphasis that Singapore schools have on teaching kids good values, like honesty, respect, empathy, appreciation, tenacity, etc…

5. Maths is a lot more advanced in Singapore schools

Sophie enjoys learning maths in Singapore a lot more as it is more advanced. For example, in grade 3 in Singapore, they already learn about fractions.

To her, maths in California is a bit too simple. I asked her if she wanted to learn more by herself 😀 since there are many books. She cheekily said no, she would rather have other fun things to do 😀

6. The school cafeteria in Singapore has more food options

In Singapore, the school cafeteria offers cheap meals for students (less than US $1.5). And they have many options from Chinese food, western food, vegetarian option, halal option, etc…

In California, while the student lunch is free, they offer only 1 option. The food is often not great, according to Sophie. So many students have to pack home cook meals.

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