What Does The First Day of School Look Like Around The World?
Wherever you are in the world, education is important. This month, parents and teachers are planning for a much anticipated return to school. Depending on where students live, their first day of school traditions can vary from new hairstyles and school bags to a hearty breakfast and a bouquet of flowers. Teachers all over the world will make their best effort to set the tone for the school year and help students feel welcome. Let’s take a look at some of the most unique traditions that exist worldwide.
In Japan, rather than carrying a school bag, the students bring a randoseru on their back on their first day of school. It is a backpack made from leather synthetic material commonly used by Primary school students. This book bag will last them all through their Primary years. The cost can range from 200-400 euros. Some parents will also gift their child with a new desk in the home hoping to set them up for academic success by making a space in the house dedicated to their studies. Students in Japan are not allowed to wear their shoes inside the school building, instead they change into slippers at the school entrance. There are no school buses in Japan. In Japanese public kindergartens, mothers take their kids to school, often by bicycle. Public elementary schools and secondary schools are close enough for the students to walk to school. Children who attend private schools commute by train with their fellow students. The Japanese school year begins in April every year with an end date in March.
Students take a two hour long lunch break everyday. This is in preparation for a longer school day which begins at 7:30 and ends at 5pm. This means that children are expected to be in school anywhere from 8-10 hours. On average, under the current system the length of the secondary school year is 245 days. Chinese pupils get around four weeks off in winter, and seven weeks in summer, including weekends and all kinds of traditional festivals.
The first of September is a big school holiday in Russia. On this day, they celebrate ‘Knowledge Day’ (День Знаний). Students from Primary, Middle and High school are all on the same campus and so they gather together as one. First year students take a bouquet of flowers for their new teachers. 11th graders, the seniors of the school walk the 1st graders into school for the first time. The first bell is rang usually by a first grader who is hoisted up on the shoulders of an older boy who carries her around the line of students as she rings the first bell to mark the occasion. Uniforms are compulsory on this special day.
Pravesanolsavam is the official school reopening ceremony that marks the first day of the Indian school year. School begins in late May or early June and ends in March. The youngest school children can be seen wearing paper crowns and they are given sweets by their new teachers. Aside from standard school supplies, umbrellas are a typical back to school gift because the first day of class coincides with monsoon season.
School begins in March for South Korean students. Students have a home base room. They stay in their room all day while the teachers rotate from classroom to classroom. Many schools in South Korea get to enjoy virtual teacher assistants in the form of robots. Usually each classroom has a Korean teacher and an English speaking teacher working as co-teachers. However the English teacher will nearly always defer to the Korean teacher’s judgment in most matters. Children are well behaved. Besides etiquette such as removing their shoes and wearing indoor slippers, Koreans can also be seen bowing to their teachers as a greeting and a thank you.
Back to school in France, similar to Ireland, happens in September every year. The return after the summer holidays, or la rentrée, doesn’t just apply to school pupils, but affects a large portion of society: there’s a political rentrée, a literary rentrée, a university rentrée, and so on. French students get to enjoy a freshly homemade lunch everyday. No artificial foods make it into their schools. They then sit down in tables of four and enjoy several courses of food! Yes, we are very jealous!
Students in first grade are given a Schultüten by their parents on the first day of school. This is a large colourfully-decorated cone and inside, children will find school materials, sweets and trinkets. The children celebrate their first day with lots of songs, poems and speeches. They go to school for about two hours before returning home to their parents where they finally get to open their cones to mark the beginning of the school year.
In Holland, children can be seen on a bakfietsen or ‘box bike’. It is normal for the dutch to transport not only cargo in these box bikes, but also their children. It can fit up to 3 people and usually the children will sit in the front in a large box while their parents pedal them to school. The kids really enjoy being dropped to school in this environmentally friendly way.
Gathering school materials can be quite a daunting task for any parent but for parents in Brazil it is quite a costly task. School supplies can be very expensive and so parents will begin buying school supplies a few months prior to the school start date at the beginning of February. School supply prices can often become inflated close to the start of school, being marked up to around 3-4 times more than their usual price.
Although there are no celebrations specific to The US on the first day of school. Parents will usually have a mini photo shoot at their home or outside the school gates. Kids typically wear their brand new school outfits whilst holding signs of the grades they are going into with the school year on it. In some inner city schools, the first day serves as an orientation for students to get to know each other as changing schools is quite common for some families.