A school is an educational establishment designed to offer learning places and learning environments specifically for the education of children under the guidance of qualified teachers. Generally, most developed countries have educational systems of some type, which can be either compulsory or voluntary. In such systems, children progress through a sequence of elementary schools, intermediate schools, and secondary schools. In countries with extensive social service programs, such as in the United States, children are also taught the basic principles of social responsibility through public schools. A school provides both the opportunity and the means for children to learn and grow.
The primary school normally begins at age seven in most cases, although it may extend into adolescence, depending on individual circumstances. The curriculum is primarily academic, but children may also be required to undertake extra subjects as part of their studies in their formative years. There is a division of labour within the school, with boys and girls normally having different periods of responsibility. Boys are responsible for the conduct of school sports, while girls usually oversee day-to-day activities, such as maintenance of the school grounds, arranging library services, as well as secretarial duties. Children will usually enter school from their families of either parent or neither and are subject to discipline by their parents once they reach the age of majority.
In countries with extensive social service programs, young children will typically enter secondary school, which offers students a range of career options, ranging from high school through college. In secondary school, students are able to specialize in particular courses or subjects in the field of study that they wish to pursue. For example, there are vocational schools, college prep schools, and private boarding schools that prepare young children for specific vocations, such as nursing, teaching, or security forces. The options for young children vary greatly, from those involving physical activity to those focused upon specialism, and are discussed below.