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  #121  
Old 28.09.2015, 19:45
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

I would add that probably he'll be picking up more of the local language while playing with the other kids after school than during the actual school time. The free play periods are also where the serious socialising happens, and it's sometimes between 2 and 3 years old that kids start playing with each other and friendships develop.

When we lived in Norway (partially subsidised full-time day-care for every kid over 1 year old; school start at 6 years old), some of the kids who were only attending day-care part-time had problems integrating to the group. Generally it ended up with the Group supervisor asking the parents to send their kid for a full day a few times a week to help the socialising process, in addition to the daycare operating with a core-period during the day where kids were expected to be there. However, for kids who have never been to daycare before they start very gradually over a period ranging from a few days to 2 weeks.

When we switched to school school in German and English we opted for 09.00 to 16.00 from the start for our 5 year-old in order to immerse him as much as possible in the language. He was indeed extremely tired at night, but within 2-3 months he could make himself understood and was well integrated.
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  #122  
Old 28.09.2015, 20:31
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

Absolutely correct Tom. Our son is 3 and a few months and as you said there is a service that starts from 7 am to 6 pm (prolungato) but you need first the authorization of the normal teacher. We have already been approved for this service (you need to apply even if you pay a small additional cost) but he needs to be accepted to the full day before he joins the extension of the school day (from 3:30 to 6 pm). That is exactly my problem.
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  #123  
Old 28.09.2015, 20:44
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

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we opted for 09.00 to 16.00 from the start for our 5 year-old in order to immerse him as much as possible in the language. He was indeed extremely tired at night...
a very long day for a 5 year old, as you say. So 11 hours in childcare at 3- well...toddlers grow up so quickly and you can never have that time back.
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  #124  
Old 28.09.2015, 21:01
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

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a very long day for a 5 year old, as you say. So 11 hours in childcare at 3- well...toddlers grow up so quickly and you can never have that time back.
I agree with you Odile that is why I wrote in one of my original messages that it was an outdated system not a wrong system. Unfortunately if both parents need to work and they don't have someone they trust to take care of the child (grandparents, etc) we need to entrust him to a "stranger". I prefer the school with its organized structure than a 19 year old... Obviously, I would prefer for one of us to be able to stay home and enjoy spending time with our son. But sadly it is not possible...I know we will never have this time back. We are at least happy that we were able to spend the first 3 years together.
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  #125  
Old 28.09.2015, 21:05
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

I know, not easy. Just came back to delete this message, but you quoted, so too late. I am a granny now- and it has made me realise how quickly time has gone, sorry.
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  #126  
Old 28.09.2015, 21:12
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

No worries. In a way we will always feel this way. If you are familiar with the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" there is a beautiful song called "Sunrise, Sunset" which starts

"Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older
When did they?"

As long as we care, and make sure we do the best for them this is what will make all the difference.
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  #127  
Old 29.09.2015, 10:34
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

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a very long day for a 5 year old, as you say. So 11 hours in childcare at 3- well...toddlers grow up so quickly and you can never have that time back.
Actually it was better a better deal for him than what he got while we lived in Norway and both worked 100%. There he was at daycare 08.30-17.00 if not 08.00-17.00, and he didn't get the benefit of 13 weeks of vacation (since we only had 6 weeks and no outside help).

Believe me, I wouldn't have done it if the teachers hadn't themselves told us it was better in order to foster integration. In addition, since it's a Montessori school, they are rather mellow on the kids. And they don't have "school" in the afternoon, they have music, arts & crafts, forest, sports or excursions. Real teaching at KG1-2 level is 09.00-11.00 3 days a week and 09.00-16.00 2 days a week, which I believe is the standard number of hours in Zürich. So we could modulate if and when he was tired. However, the non-compulsory full days are where the fun is done (forest, excursions), there was no way he would have missed them willingly.

At 6 he has one more compulsory full day a week.
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  #128  
Old 29.09.2015, 11:03
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

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a very long day for a 5 year old, as you say. So 11 hours in childcare at 3- well...toddlers grow up so quickly and you can never have that time back.
If both parents have to work then there aren't many options unfortunately. The after lunch rest is helpful for the little ones and prevents them from getting overtired.

I agree that the socialising and interaction with the other kids in the afternoon will be immensely beneficial in terms of language acquisition at this age. That the child is keen to stay longer is also a good sign in my opinion.


When our son started 'Ecole maternelle ' aged almost three back in Belgium we initially planned for him to go three mornings a week. This rapidly evolved into 5 at his instigation and it wasn't long before he was also staying for a couple of afternoons too ( the teacher proposed it) as he was missing out on somme of the fun activities. He didn't really speak any French when he started but picked it up really quickly.

All completely free from age 2.5 in Belgium from 7.30am until 4.30 pm ( garderie from 7.30 to 8.30 and from 3.30 onwards and from 12.30 on Wednesdays) with a nominal charge of 1€ per day ( or less if they attend every day and pay annually or quarterly) if they stay later than 4.30 ( up to 6.30pm).
It was a bit if a shock moving yo Switzerland coming from that system I can tell you.
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  #129  
Old 29.09.2015, 11:23
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

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If both parents have to work then there aren't many options unfortunately. The after lunch rest is helpful for the little ones and prevents them from getting overtired.

I agree that the socialising and interaction with the other kids in the afternoon will be immensely beneficial in terms of language acquisition at this age. That the child is keen to stay longer is also a good sign in my opinion.


When our son started 'Ecole maternelle ' aged almost three back in Belgium we initially planned for him to go three mornings a week. This rapidly evolved into 5 at his instigation and it wasn't long before he was also staying for a couple of afternoons too ( the teacher proposed it) as he was missing out on somme of the fun activities. He didn't really speak any French when he started but picked it up really quickly.

All completely free from age 2.5 in Belgium from 7.30am until 4.30 pm ( garderie from 7.30 to 8.30 and from 3.30 onwards and from 12.30 on Wednesdays) with a nominal charge of 1€ per day ( or less if they attend every day and pay annually or quarterly) if they stay later than 4.30 ( up to 6.30pm).
It was a bit if a shock moving yo Switzerland coming from that system I can tell you.
Thanks Belgianmum

that is exactly the way I feel. Of course we would like to be with our kids longer and spend more time with them, but if we both need to work then there has to be a solution. And I shouldn't feel bad or be made to feel like I am pushing the teachers to do something that is not good for the child if I want them to take him on for the longer schedule. As you said at home, after he leaves school at 11:30 am, he doesn't do anything different from what they would do at school, namely eat and rest/sleep and then some fun activity. In my mind, this will be even more fun and a learning experience if he does it together with other children of his age. This interaction will teach him more than we could ever teach him especially because at lunch they have a nice system, where older kids in class serve as "waiters" for the younger kids. That is a nice thing to learn that he will be taken care of but he also needs to take care of others. And language...he is already completely bilingual, he can pick up Italian in a giffy. They need to give him a chance. With 2.5 hrs every day in 3 weeks you cannot expect anyone to feel comfortable in any new environment. But he likes it. A few of the kids in his class still cry when their parents leave them every morning and they are Italian speaking. So language is not the real issue here.

Thank you all for your comments and discussion on the topic
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  #130  
Old 17.02.2017, 20:06
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

I see that many people here are very vocal when it comes to advocating the local Swiss schools. I can only comment for the French-speaking part, where I have taught in both public and private schools. Private schools are not always good – sometimes it’s money out of the windows. But to say that the Harmos public school programme in Geneva, Vaud, etc. is even OK – that’s a joke. In international comparison they fail miserably. No one would take two full years to teach 6 years-old how to read in French – during which time they don’t have any spelling or grammar. The French don’t do it, so why the francophone Swiss? They never offered any reason. The same with maths: they use a constructivist approach (again, no proof whatsoever of efficiency) where the pupils mainly play games during the first years – this is supposed to allow them to magically develop mathematical creativity in their brains. In the meantime, they only start multiplication in the third year and long division in the forth (UK: add one year). Some families have a rather traumatic experience when they return to “normal” programmes, and the teachers wonders whether the child ever had any sound math...
Switzerland lives off its reputation of yonder, when the schools were indeed good and the programmes thorough. But this was a very long time ago – about in the 50s. At present, it has become slow, slow and minimalistic to say the least. Not good news, I know – but after all, it’s the children’s future that is at stake. So don’t be fooled by those with the pink sunglasses: truth is that you should think twice before enrolling students in the Swiss system.
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  #131  
Old 02.02.2018, 13:58
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

Hi Quetzalcoatl, is the situation similar in the german speaking cantons? namely Zurich? I'm wondering whether we should send our daughter to a private Kindergarten.
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  #132  
Old 02.02.2018, 14:31
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Re: Childcare and Schooling in Switzerland

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Hi Quetzalcoatl, is the situation similar in the german speaking cantons? namely Zurich? I'm wondering whether we should send our daughter to a private Kindergarten.
No, 'Quetzalcoatl' was a one post troll, who was spouting total rubbish.

Tom
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