If your family will accompany you to the United States, there are
other things to consider. Your international student adviser will be
able to advise you in researching some of the options available for
your family in your local community.
In the United States, education is the responsibility of each state.
All states require that children attend school from age six to 16
years, or in some states, until they graduate from high school. Most
schools also have a kindergarten program for five-year-olds. By U.S.
federal law, public schools must provide education from kindergarten
through 12th grade (K-12) free of charge to all students, both U.S.
citizens and noncitizens who meet the residency rules established by
the individual school district. However, there is one exception. A
specific federal statute bars public schools that teach kindergarten
through 8th grade (K-8) from issuing I-20 forms to students who wish
to obtain F-1 visas to enroll. However, dependents of adult F-1 visa
holders (dependents usually hold F-2 visas) ARE eligible to enroll
in these public schools.
Private day schools charge tuition. Boarding schools charge tuition,
plus room and board. Be sure to bring copies of your children's
birth certificates in order to enroll them in school. It is also a
good idea to bring transcripts for the last year or two of your
children's education, as they may assist the school to appropriately
place your children in their new classes. Talk to the international
student adviser about how you can enroll your children in school.
Various possibilities exist for full-time or part-time child care.
Below are some examples.
Many people provide private day care
or babysitting services, caring for infants and preschool children
(five years old and under). Sometimes baby-sitters come to the
family's home to watch the children; sometimes a parent takes the
children to the baby-sitter's home. Sometimes they will care for
school-age children before or after school as well. Fees vary.
Day care centers may be public
centers, run by churches, or privately owned. Day care centers
usually take children who are preschool age — though not always
infants — and sometimes they require that the children be
toilet-trained. Some day care centers also take school-age children
whose parents are at work before or after the child gets out of
school. The parent drops off and picks up the child at the center.
Sometimes the day care center works with the local school system to
organize bus service to the school. Some day care centers require
parents to give time to help care for the children one or two
mornings or afternoons per week. Fees vary for this type of child
care, but note that day care centers are usually quite expensive in
large cities and metropolitan areas.
schools are generally open for children three to five years of age.
Most schools hold classes from two to five days a week, usually in
the mornings or in the afternoons. Besides play activities, children
are prepared to enter kindergarten, usually the first year of
schooling in the United States.
If you are the spouse of an international student, you will most
likely find that keeping busy will help you adjust to your new home
and to be happier there. Though you probably will not be allowed to
work, you may find that this is an opportunity to discover new
interests, improve your English, or take a few courses that you
never quite seem to find time for. The international student adviser
may suggest some of the following options:
Most schools have a
Parent-Teacher Association, or PTA, that plays different roles
depending upon the school. During the week, the local school may
appreciate your assistance in the library, in the school office, or
in a classroom. When you register your child for school, ask about
Universities or international centers, local adult education
centers, community colleges, or local community volunteer programs
often offer ESL classes. If you are just learning English or simply
want to become more comfortable with one or more aspects of the
language, this can be the perfect opportunity to improve your
language skills. For more information, see Short-term Study.
You may be qualified to apply for
admission as a regular, special, or "auditing" student at the
college or university that your spouse attends. An auditing student
is one who takes class for no credit. Ask about tuition costs.
Most colleges and
universities and some counties or metropolitan areas offer
continuing education courses that do not award academic credit. The
courses provide instruction in a wide range of subjects, from
understanding computers to working on cars to cooking. Ask the
international student adviser if there are such programs in your
Hospitals, schools, day care
centers, and other public agencies welcome volunteers' unpaid
assistance. Opportunities are available in many fields. The yellow
pages of the telephone book often has listings under "Volunteer
Services" or "Social Service Organizations." Otherwise, the
university may have a volunteer office, which will be happy to help
place you even though you are not a student. Alternatively, try
searching on the Internet.
Many people enjoy clubs
and organizations that focus on a common interest, such as
gardening, cooking, music, drama, knitting, card playing, or
exercise. Ask the international student adviser or someone at the
public library for a list of such organizations.