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Old 11.02.2013, 14:29
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comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

Hi - i'm new here and we are relocating to zurich as a family later this year.

i'm trying to research the education system for little ones (I have two boys aged 6 and 2). My 6 year old is in a private school in UK in Year 1 and doing well (enjoying and progressing). I've read that in Zurich they start school at 7yrs. Does anyone know what the difference is for a 6 year old is? would he have structured lessons at this stage or just do a kindergarden? Also i'd like him to learn German and go to a local school - any recommendations? would i even get a choice like we do here and at what stage do I need to enroll him?

any help or resources would be very gratefully received! it's a bit daunting knowing where to start!
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Old 11.02.2013, 15:39
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

Hi, we are relocating ourselves this year (from Canada), and from what I understand from my research you do not get a choice of school, what school you are assigned to is dependent on where you live. Once you have an apartment secured, you contact your Schulkreis, and then get assigned to a school. As far as age goes, I understand that they may be a bit flexible, so if your son is already in year 1, they would likely not make him go back to Kindergarten (which is more of a playschool, not so much structured learning), on the other hand, that may not be such a bad thing, since he will have to learn German. That is something you will need to discuss individually with the school I think to find the best balance. We are planning to purposely set the kids back one year, putting them with their peers age wise, and to make it easier academically as they will have to catch up with German. But ours are quite a bit older.
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Old 11.02.2013, 15:58
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

The cut-off date in Zurich is April 30th. That means the youngest kids starting grade 1 are nearly 6 and 4 months old. Might be a good idea to start your son off in grade 1 again since German will be new to him. It'll give him time to learn the language (German and Math are the main subjects of the first couple years of school).
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Old 11.02.2013, 23:22
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

That's really helpful thanks.

Chrisinzutich -my son was 6 last month (January) so if he did year 1 again am i right he'd be with other 6 year olds? Which probably makes sense so he can concentrate on German.

I've read that in Zurich they study English as the second language (rather than French or Italian) but I wasn't sure at what point they start it. From what you say, he may not start English until he is in year 2 or 3? So I'm wondering if its common for expat children to continue to learn English outside of normal school?

Would anyone know where is best to explore this?
Thanks
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Old 12.02.2013, 05:30
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

Depending on your local area, they might offer an 'integration' class for 6 or 12 months before transitioning to the local school. In our local area, they do this for grade 1 upwards, but kindergarten kids are included in the local kindergarten class.

From friends who've been offered the integration class, I've only had good reports of the kids really enjoying it, teachers great, lots of going around the local area and learning where everything is, and immersion in the language with teachers who really have a plan for this...

The english as a 'second' language is basic. If you want your child to keep up with the english enough to integrated directly back into the UK system, I'd suggest doing some sort of continuing stuff anyway. Especially if he's not quite reading yet. Reading opens a big world for them that isn't found anywhere else...
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Old 24.02.2013, 22:56
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

If your son was 6 in January 2013 then he is in the right age group to start in 1st class, so he will be with kids all his own age. Even if he has done first class equivalent in England, I don't think they would move him up to 2nd class. It is much better for him to be in first class with his own age group and concentrate on the German. As a January birthday, he will be at the younger end of the year group anyway.

My daughter is in First Class right now, and she loves the Swiss school, the work is challenging enough, and they get about 10 mins of homework three times a week. The German is hard enough that I sometimes need the help of google translate! The maths so far is quite easy, but I get the impression the swiss system is going to be very good with setting a good base for learning.

We live in canton Zug, and the kids start English in the 3rd class.
My daughter can't wait for this as she is on a mission to help the Swiss kids sing Happy Birthday with the 'th' sound and not convert is to 's'! So far I have had 2 of her Swiss friends proudly show me that they can say birthday the english way!

I don't get her extra English lessons. She could read before she started Swiss school and continues to read in English, and when she is writing her spelling is not bad either.

If you do want to go the route of lessons I know there is a place in Horgen, www.fun-tastic-horgen.ch where they run after school english classes for kids. I don't know personally what these classes are like, but my daughter attended their playgroup for a year before she was old enough to start Swiss Kindergarten and she enjoyed it there and all the staff were very nice.
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Old 25.02.2013, 08:56
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

Our local school in Gutenswil take them from the same age as reception children. They go into the school kindergarten.
Now my children are actually at the ICS international school in zumikon ( which suits us better). - a lot more expensive than UK private schooling but it is fantastic! I cant praise the school enough!
Where are you looking at moving? I can receommend the Uster region on homegate, lots of international families dotted around, great transport links into zurich itself and an internation centre for families to attend with younger children ( with clubs for older ones too) - WAC.ch
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Old 01.05.2013, 11:49
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

Hi, my recommendation would be to choose the school you want him to go to, before finding an apartment. If you can get recommendations from others on a school which supports non German speaking children with integration classes and extra German classes, the transition will be a lot easier. Then choose a place to live within the catchment area.
Our three children are in local school since Aug 2011. The school has been fully supportive and they have all integrated really well. I am not familiar with Zürich schools so can't offer advice. At age 6 he should pick up the language very quickly. In preparation you could show him German DVDs or have him listen to German songs. The BBC language programme, Muzzy, is very good. Best of luck!
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Old 04.05.2013, 06:48
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

I have had experience of both Integration classes and Swiss school system for both my children. My youngest, at 7, started in Integration class,( kids in the class range from 7yrs -9yrs) .It only concentrated on the children learning german language and some maths.. it was very intense and focused on tests and getting spellings and grammar correct. Most of the children in the class had problems, as did mine, as the "fun" of learning and education wasn't there. It was very focused on getting children up to a standard of german that would then allow them to integrate into a swiss class the following year without too many language problems.
Coming from UK , I (and my child) found this method too intense. Too much homework,all based around learning words, spelling and the die/der/das.. all had to be correct or the child couldn't move on. It was very stressful for the child.
Seeing the suffering that it was causing, we eventually moved our child to a swiss class, which is conducted in German and concentrates on curriculum subjects, and he is now loving it. Made friends, learning German through being immersed in the language in class, doing fun things.

I also think, from experience, that the Integration class, although maybe good for getting a grounding in the language, has its problems. The child could make friends, that he won't be in school with again after that 1st year..kids come from different parts of town for the one class, then move to their local schools after Integration class has ended. The kids in the class are from other countries and therefore, your child would not be immersed in German/Swiss German language around his peers.
The Integration class is mixed ages (7-9yrs and then 9-13yrs).

In my opinion, if you have the choice, go straight for the Swiss school (although In Zug, you must go to Integration class for 1st year.. for kids up to 13yrs old) as for young children, they will learn naturally and with their peers, have "normal"subject lessons, and be able to make longer term friends...and won't see a massive issue in not knowing the language.
My child has learnt more German now, by being in a Swiss class than he did in the Integration class, and by happier means!
... Just my experience...!
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Old 04.05.2013, 18:29
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Re: comparing uk education with Zurich education for a UK 6 year old?

Sounds like you definitely need to contact schools then, as they seem to all have some sort of support but all different. For my kids, the integration class is only mornings and they will go to their regular school and be immersed in their respective classes in the afternoons. It also only lasts 10-20 weeks, not the whole year.
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