I am in the process of planning 1 or 2 month long visit to the USA, with my children presumably on J-2 visas. One of the still open questions is, should my children attend a secondary school while there. (Let's assume Denver, CO, as a location, although I prefer answers aimed to tackle the general question, or backed with experience from cities in general.)

How much of a problem is incurred to the school by a pupil who attends for much less than a full school year? (I am thinking about various practical and regulatory effects of varying class size. It would also be problematic to visit the school long before actually starting attendance if the school required that.)

What's the minimum standard of fluency in English for (briefly) attending a secondary school in the US? My children can read and understand English on a basic level, but it's likely that they'll struggle with the spoken language more than with anything else throughout the whole stay. I view that as a good thing and as an opportunity to complement their current "academic" and "gaming" experience of the language with a little exposure to spoken, real life use of the language and of the culture.

Should the potential language barrier factor affect how we search for a suitable school? I am NOT looking for instruction in a foreign (that is, non-English) language, nor for ESL education. I am rather trying to consider factors like public vs. private school, educational system of the school, cultural diversity of the neighborhood, distance from a university campus and so on.

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    I believe a question like this should be asked in Expatriates and not in Travel, even if it is just for a few weeks.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 19:28
  • @o.m. - In my initial considering Expatriates, Travel, and Academia for asking this, it seemed to me to be a match for Travel and Academia but not a match for Expatriates because it is such a short stay and actually the shortness of it is the only reason why I'm even asking this question. Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 19:56
  • @JirkaHanika while the visit is indeed short and falls under travel, the school part is generally better to be asked in expats.se. I won't vote to close, perhaps someone else can initiate that. Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 20:20
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    Purely as a comment, I wonder if, for such a short time, your kids will benefit from being in school compared with doing something else that gives them intense real-life English language exposure. Curriculum is unlikely to match what they are learning back home. Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 21:16
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    Here's a guide for you to read concerning the Denver area.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


As someone who grew up under short international assignments, secondary schools are not easy to hop into for short stays. The curriculums are too different and the students feel lost rather than fitting in. Home study to keep up is better from an educational perspective.

Secondary schools also tend to be more cliquish which makes fitting in challenging as well, especially if you are joining in during the second half of the school year.

There plenty of things to see and do in a major city to keep you and the kids occupied and discovering US lifestyles without school.

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