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Old 19.11.2015, 11:06
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Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

Hi Everyone,
I would really like to get some advice from EF regarding my kindergarten. I apologize in advance if this is a long post and a rant but I am really upset and worried. MY family and I moved from Zurich to Solothurn in September. Yeah, I know, older ones were not happy with moving schools and leaving their friends but they have settled down and made new friends.
The problem is my five year old. She went to a kindergarten in Zurich for a month and absolutely loved it and her teacher; young mother with a great kind heart, God bless her! She was happy and lively in the school and couldn’t wait to get out the front door and go to school everyday.
We speak English at home and frankly other than the older two, no one speaks German at home. But it was not a problem in her kindergarten and she was happily learning a few German words and repeating them to her sisters.
Anyway, we moved to Solothurn and the first day of school was a disaster. First in the morning we couldn’t find the kindergarten cos there were no signs and it was tucked away in an apartment complex. Just a little, itty bitty garden. I passed it and thought, no way that is the kindergarten. The teacher was NOT happy and did not even smile at me when I eventually found the place with the help of some lovely neighbors. I explained but she just frowned at me and I slunked away shamefacedly. Damn me for getting lost. She does not speak a WORD (?) of English and muttered something in German.
Then it was hols for three weeks and she; the teacher was sick for another 3 weeks. IN between, my child had four different teachers who were much older and spoke English. They were really nice to us and I used to chat with them after school. I asked about my child and they did not report any problem. And it was very pleasant and nice. My child was happy and still eager to go to school. She does not speak any SG and was finding it hard to communicate with the other children BUT still she was happy and lively.
Then, the first teacher comes back. I presume she was very ill or something cos she looks really bad and lost a ton of weight. I tried to chat and ask how she was but she was rather abrupt to say the least.
First sign, my child stopped talking. She came home one day and would only mumble. She did not talk AT ALL. This is a lively chatterbox whom everyone especially her sisters tell her to be quiet cos once she starts talking she doesn’t stop. And she is very active and lively. But to be fair, she is very shy around strangers and takes time to open up in public. I thought it was a phase and coxed her out of it and next day she was normal. Few times, it happened but I though it as a phase and ignored it or diverted her attention.
Then came the parent-teacher meeting and I literally had a bomb dropped on me. The first teacher and another one; who was nice and spoke English were there. According to them, my child is very unresponsive in class. She doesn’t interact or communicate with the others. She sits in her chair the whole time and looks blankly around. They think she is retarded. She doesn’t know how to draw a house. They want to bring in some specialist and do tests. She can’t follow instructions even when they show her what to do. It was just terrible.
But at that moment, I had taken my baby along too and you know, how siblings play and boss each other around.So the two of them were playing and larking about, the English speaking teacher stopped talking and was looking at her in surprise. She told me it was like seeing two different children. The whole time the first teacher was just sitting there looking at me.
Anyway, I came home, had a cup of tea, took my kids to the park to run around and play, just numbed out. Then OH and I had a talk. I spoke to her old teacher and asked what is this, did she do the same thing there? And she was really surprised. My kid was just like the other ‘normal’ kids. She was a bit shy and quiet but she interacted and played with the other children. I asked her if she thought my child was retarded and she was shocked that they said that to me.
And another thing, if a child is unhappy at school and her behavior at school indicates she is unhappy then the child will not want to go to school right? She will kick up a fuss and cry. But mine doesn’t. She still gets up early and is happy to go to school. She smiles when she leaves me and smiles when I pick her up with baby. She doesn’t give the impression / symptoms that she is facing / causing a lot of issues at school. It is confusing.
I made arrangements to visit the school next week and observe her at work and take it from there. OH and I spoke to her and made her understand that she should interact with the other kids. But she is only five. Every day, I ask her teacher how is she and she is like no improvement. BTW, the teacher does speak English but she doesn’t want to with me. During the parent-teacher meeting I was speaking in English with the other teacher and she understood what we were saying.
I can understand different teachers and teaching methods and all that. And I can understand that teachers are human too and go through difficulties and stuff in life and I can make allowances for all of that. And my kid doesn’t speak SG and either do I. So it is difficult for the teacher as well and I can understand that.
But, I may be paranoid, but I don’t think I am. She doesn’t like me or my child and is just making this up. I want to change the school and the environment as soon as I can. I don’t want my child becoming impacted by this. It will have a long term effect on her.
I know Switzerland follows a different rule and things are not as easy or as simple as that. And I know Solothurn is not like Zurich and I have heard not very friendly towards foreigners. We just moved here. I don’t know the other parents and it has been hard to make new friends here.
I would like some advice or input from anyone. What are my options now? How do I go about changing schools? Is there any place I can send her for extra German privately etc? What can I do about this teacher?
Thank you in advance.

distressed mum

Last edited by Jamiezra; 19.11.2015 at 11:26.
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Old 19.11.2015, 11:17
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Re: Urgent advise needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

The biggest problem is most likely to be the language, independent of whether the teacher is an issue.

Is she getting German lessons in Kindergarten?

If not you should see what the gemeinde offer, or push for more; at that age they pick it up easily, and it could improve her experience of school very quickly. They don't really learn much in that class except how to be in a class with other kids, so doing German is a better use of her time IMO.
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Old 20.11.2015, 10:26
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Re: Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

Hi,

I hope this doesn't sound like I'm minimising your worry, but I would not place too much emphasis on this teacher's use of the word 'retarded'. Remember that she was doing her best to communicate in a foreign language, and that she therefore did not have as wide a range of vocabulary at her command. She might have been trying to tell you that she felt concerned that your daughter's social skills were behind the other children, that your daughter was showing some delay in certain areas... I used to work in a bilingual pre-school and one of the hardest things was communicating concerns in a foreign language. So perhaps you have been a victim of a language issue.
Secondly, I found it interesting that there was a second teacher present. Yes, no matter how much they try teachers do not get on with all children equally. But for me the fact that this second teacher was also concerned indicates that this is not some personal vendetta against you or your child.
My advice, (for what it's worth I worked for 6 years as an infant school teacher), is to let these tests happen. These teachers are professionals. They would not want to organise tests unless they were genuinely concerned. I know you probably don't want to hear this, but it may be that your daughter does need extra help - and if this is true, it's much better if this is identified and given to her soon.
On a more personal note, please don't say anything more to your daughter along the lines of "You need to interact more with the other children." I have socialisation issues and really struggled to make friends at school (no early identification for me...). It is so hard to be a child who is struggling to find their place, who knows they don't fit in, and then to have the adults in your life saying "You need to..." This may give your child the impression it is all their fault. If you want to help her, try modelling the behavior she is struggling with. For example, get some puppets or soft toys (ideally special ones, not ones she normally plays with). Act out some situations you have heard / observed her struggling with. Ask her how the puppet who is struggling could react. Give her options yourself. This is a technique which, if she becomes used to it and responds to it, can be used to deal with specific situations - but it's always the puppet who has the problem, not your daughter. Your daughter is the one who has the power to help and advise the puppet.

Hope that helps.
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Old 20.11.2015, 11:02
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Re: Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

Hello Jamiezra,

I understand the pain and anguish you are going through right now... I have 2 daughters who sound like your little one. They will play, scream, shout, dance with full energy like any normal kid at home but as soon as they put foot outside they are completely shy. they refuse to greet or say good bye to others even when they know them.

It always bothered me that they are not being social enough. But I accept the fact that they take their own sweet time to trust people.

2 years back, when we were in Lausanne, this was a constant topic of discussion with the teacher in the creche. The teachers were very nice and friendly but they started to be concerned about why my girls don't want to play with anyone. We never found a solution.

Then we moved to Rolle. This place is more international than my previous locality. And there was this creche. On my part I had a meeting with the teacher and explained the situation. They all listened very patiently and took note but asked me not to worry about it too much.

I think because this new place is more international the teacher have experiences with many cultures. And did not find it very disturbing that certain child behaves in a way that is little different than the others.

And actually trying not too hard worked better. And they start to make friends. They are still shy. But I am getting more and more positive feedback. Also I make a point to chat with them about whats going on in the creche... ask a lot of questions about their friends, teachers etc.... that give me a feel of what they like and what they are worried about...
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Old 20.11.2015, 12:14
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Re: Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

This brought back memories for me. My daughter is now 11, fairly bright and doing well. When she started Kindergarten I took a very eloquent chatterbox. When I went to the first parents evening I was told how quiet she was. My husband and I looked at each other stunned.
We moved to a small village where she was the only English speaker and for the first term again we were told how quiet she was. Then came the change. She started to understand more Swiss German (we had also changed dialects) and was herself at school. A little too much herself at times
Her brother was exactly the same. When he went to his first football practice he couldn't follow the Swiss German coaching and the trainer came up to at he end and asked me simply if my son was "special". I was horrified at the time but he still plays for the team 5 years later and I can see that a lot of the reaction was the childs natural inclination to step back and observe until they are happy with the language, the interactions, and the format of the day.
It may also be that all the other children know each other well, went to spielgruppe together, went to krabbelgruppe together, and with our village may also be cousins or second cousins.
So I suggest, chin up, the assessments will probably advise providing DAZ (Deutsch Als Zweitsprache), both mine started in Kindie, and all will be fine. I have two well adjusted, sociable kids who hold their own with their grades, but at the beginning of their schooling I wasn't sure which way it was going.
good luck.
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Old 20.11.2015, 14:49
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Re: Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

Why are you afraid of these tests? you can still decide to change school afterwards. Honestly I can't see a teacher hating a child and call specialists as a vengeance. I would separate the problem of your child from your experiences with the teacher because it might impair your judgement. Also the 4 teachers in between were probably there for only a short time right? they might not have noticed anything, thought that she was new, etc. etc. Nice teacher from Zurich also only one month and she did say she was a bit quiet and shy, so there could be something there... just saying. Maybe only your current teacher has seen her long enough to determine that tests are needed.
Good advice on that "you need to..." thing, should it be needed, ask a professional what to do.
Anyway don't worry too much, maybe she will just grow out of it or it's just a language barrier.

Btw i can definitely see the advantages of having mandatory preschool from 4 years, optional from 3, these things can be detected earlier on.
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Old 20.11.2015, 16:11
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Re: Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

Thank you so much for all the positive feedback, encouragement and stories. I am so glad your kids adjusted well. I hope LO will do so soon.

Well, I too feel that this is a language / communication problem. I have been tagging along and observing her in KG. And it is obvious that there are some serious problems, the Teacher 1 is there only two days a week the rest of the time there is a parade of different teachers. There doesn't seem to be organised or coherent framework for the teachers to work in.

I asked one teacher what they will be doing the next day and she said she doesn't know, the other teacher will do something!

I can feel the impact this has on all the kids. Some are really boisterous and hard to control. I offered some help and some teachers appreciated it. Teacher 1 just looked like I offended her and I slunked back to my naughty corner

Anyways, I spoke to the Schul Verwaltung and arranged to meet up on Monday so that we can discuss what other options / extra German activities they can offer. They were very supportive and helpful.

I know kids take a minimum of 6 months to settle in and more especially if they don't speak the language. But LO really loved the first kindergarten and her first teacher. In fact, she is the one who advised me to contact the Schul Verwaltung and speak to them. All of this started from a teacher who was away for a long period and then comes in only two days a week. She doesn't make LO feel comfortable and that has a big impact on the child. She ignores LO and focuses on the others that demand her attention. I totally admire teachers and know it is not easy to manage a classroom of lively kids. But if she can't manage or organize the KG. Then that is a problem and LO needs extra help / attention too.
For the time being, Older Sister and I have set up extra lessons at home for her and she enjoys that. If the indication of her mixing random German words with English is proof Gaben me milk!!!!

I am not afraid of the tests but I am wary of the environment or atmosphere they will take place in. I don't want LO to feel that something is wrong with her and you know be impacted. And how can a teacher who doesn't engage the child get to decide she is retarded and needs special teaching. LO needs extra German not tests to say that she needs extra German. Duh......

This will take some time and I arranged some socializing with other children from the KG with the help of another parent. And with the extra German, hopefully once she is able to communicate with the others, things will improve. I just need to be patient and supportive of her and be positive.

Again, thank you to all you mums. I really appreciate all the advise and feedback.
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Old 20.11.2015, 16:37
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Re: Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

We had a similar problem and trying to communicate with her teacher was less than successfull. And I am fluent in German. So we went to the school director and settled this there. Once of a sudden the teacher`s behaviour changed to positive. If this wouldn`t work you can still contact the school authorities in your municipalty and ask for help.
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Old 20.11.2015, 16:39
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Re: Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

Quote:
I literally had a bomb dropped on me
Really?

Anyway. No frets. Our daughter was referred to a child psychologist due to her lack of language skills and others. The psychologist confirmed there was nothing psychologically wrong about her - she was just adjusting to a new situation and having to cope with a new language.

During primary, her crap teacher (who also had the attitude that somehow, forcing us to speak German with him during teacher/parent meetings - he spoke English fluently - was in the best interests of our child ) continually put her down in social and academic ability. She ended up in the lowest stream of secondary... for half a semester. Then, rather more able and professional teachers realised she was in the wrong place, she was moved up to Secondär and finished her school career at Gymnasium.

If your child has no problems, then it will be clear. If she does, then take all the help offered. Perhaps your community would fund some extra German lessons? Ours did.
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Old 20.11.2015, 16:51
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Re: Urgent advice needed. Child is having problem in new kindergarten

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All of this started from a teacher who was away for a long period and then comes in only two days a week. She doesn't make LO feel comfortable and that has a big impact on the child. She ignores LO and focuses on the others that demand her attention. I totally admire teachers and know it is not easy to manage a classroom of lively kids. But if she can't manage or organize the KG. Then that is a problem and LO needs extra help / attention too.
Ok, this is not a mom speaking right now, I will do that in a min. This is a teacher speaking just for a sec.

You seem like a smart, involved and observant parent who is not there to just overprotect her kid (nothing too wrong with it, at this age, anyways, btw).

Since when is a 5yr old kid, not speaking a local language, supposed to acquire social skills, within a few weeks, on her own? And being labelled as not normal when not being helped?

Lazy teaching. I would show up at the KG and ask the team to give you the run down on how they work on integrating your child. Activities, way to speak to her and include her, to the maximum. Roles she has to play, theatre, singing. Tasks during serving food, one does not need language for that, miming is good. They are the specialists, that one particular teacher just seems to come up with a diagnosis instead of integrating your child and shoves the kiddo off to the shrink when the square peg does not fit her particularly round hole. If you do have a meeting with the KG, write a letter with your request 1st, and ask them whether you need to ask the Social Dept in your community to provide an interpreter. There seems to be awfully lot of psy analysis pushed on your normal child, and very little extra help requested from the team of teachers, who should be educated top notch in the field of inclusion. It all depends on how teachers speak to the child (or if she is being ignored), then other kids notice the child, then they offer help and friendship. Kids will not do anything on their own. They will follow the example of the grown ups. If your kid is ignored by the kids in the class, more likely than not, that is because she is probably let to fend by herself by the grown ups who do not make an extra step to help. Stress factor in that place might play a role, not everyone here is stress proof in the edu environment, to avoid quickly seeing the children/parents as culprits instead of pushing on the group of kids play with your little one, and every time they see your kid alone to go and introduce, give her vocab, nice tone of voice, repeat, praise... It is not a language issue. Kids do not need the language to play together. Kids do not need language to hear how appreciated they are. She will be ok when she speaks the local language but in the meantime, the team could stop turning her into an autist in their mind, since it is probably the last lesson they had in their last pedagogical class and they just see a quiet child while others are burning the house down.

As a mom now - totally been there ourselves. You won't likely change a rigid person's work ways. I would ignore that one teacher and work with others. Focus on improving the conditions if changing the group for her is not an option, you do not sound too excited about some cooped up place in an apartment block. I have invested a lot to push the local language up, both DD's and mine, with fun tutors for her, created other groups to play with (dance, music, sports and millions of playdates, neighbors, sleepovers), and I take my child to my old childhood school to camp out there to learn what it is to be comfortable and included, she is there a few days all holidays. Not all local teachers are like that, I know some amazing teachers here, too. It really depends. There are other positives here. But I recognized your story, plus it repeats here on EF quite a bit.

And then, of course, you can just go with the KGs suggestion and have her evaluated, just to tell them also, that you feel that she is not being included and actively integrated enough by her teacher. There is no harm in specialists looking into how well she is where she is now.

Nothing is really acute, either, kids change teachers here so often, plus progress to higher level schooling where the dynamics will be so different.. I know you worry now, you can certainly stay active and help your little one out, but also I can reassure you kids do regain the confidence and strength. Just stay behind her. There is always enough time to give the independence push later when she adjusts better.
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Last edited by MusicChick; 20.11.2015 at 17:20.
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