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Old 02.01.2011, 15:24
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Basel/[Baselland] local school advice (Allschwil Area)

Hi,
Had a few questions on Basel local schools. I have searched for a previous post but could not find an answer.

Background
We are relocating from Chicago to Basel with our 2 kids. 8 year old daugther and 5 year old son. We are planning living in the Allscwill area.
Questions
When do they start teaching English. What grade.
  1. My son is in kindergarten here going to 1 st grade. Will he have to repeat kindergater. Dob is feb 8 2005. He will be 6 years and 6 months on Sep 1st 2011
  2. What kind of support can I expect for my daughter in 4 th grade with German lessons. Same question for our son.
  3. Any personal experience info with allschwil schools will be helpful
Appreciate all the responses.
Best
Bapa
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Old 02.01.2011, 16:02
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Re: Basel local School Advise (Allschwil Area)

Hi I live in Allschwil and my 9 year old son is in the local primary school. There are quite a few English speaking/German speaking kids I know who attend the local primary school and Kindergarten here.

I can only speak from my own experience - but I've been very happy so far with the Kindergarten (which was in fact quite exceptional - my son went to the one attached to the primary school here) and also with the school.

I'm a teacher myself so I speak from that perspective.

If you move here now your son will have to go into the 2nd year at Kindergarten - but actually this would probably be very good for him - they focus mainly on discovering nature (my son's Kindergarten went to the forest or out every week for 2 years) and social skills/learning through play. They also have intensive German support for non-German speaking kids at Kindergarten. One of my sons friends is from Sri Lanka and he couldn't really speak German in Kinski - but now he's doing very well in primary school.

The primary system they have special German intensive courses for children arriving from other countries and these work very well. A case I can give is, a Polish boy arrived into my sons class this year - he didn't speak a word of German - it's taken a few months but slowly he's getting there and integrating. This is something the schools are quite used to working with.

Regarding English - in Allschwil the first foreign language is in fact French not English. The kids start with that in the 4th class at primary school - so from age 10.

I'd strongly advise enrolling both your kids in the Open Door which is an English afternoon school in Basel.

http://www.opendoorbasel.ch/index.html

My son has been going since the age of 2. The older kids go every Wednesday afternoon for a few hours (when there is no Swiss School) and learn to read and write in English. It's excellent and they follow the primary school syllabus from the UK.

Feel free to pm me if you have more questions.

Best Wishes
Steph
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Old 02.01.2011, 16:31
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Re: Basel/[Baselland] local school advice (Allschwil Area)

Dear Steph,

Happy New Year. Thank you for your prompt response. A few follow up questions.
  • How does the Kanton or the city decide which school the child is going to join.
  • My daughter is in 3rd grade - she is 8 years old, she will turn 9 next year. Will she be pushed back to 3rd grade.
  • What is the stress level in school for kids coming english speaking countries, trying to learn German.
Appreciate the help.
Best,
Bapa
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Old 02.01.2011, 18:14
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Re: Basel/[Baselland] local school advice (Allschwil Area)

Hi Bapa,

Where your kids go to school will be determined by where they live. The idea is that all kids should have a primary school within walking distance of their home.

With Kindergarten's it's slightly different. For example where we live there are 3 Kindergartens all within safe walking distance of our house. It is possible to request your Kindergarten and those requests from what I've seen are usually granted. I went in person to the Geminde (kind of local council) to the "kindergarten administration" and requested my son be sent to the Kindergarten attached to the school. My reasons were primarily because it was the very closest to where we lived. Later I discovered that the teacher there is very very highly regarded and excellent.

Your daughter sounds as though if she were here now she would be in the year below my son. They call it 2nd class. My son is in 3rd class. Your daughter would enter into the class appropriate to her age-group here.

Initially some English speaking parents may feel concerned that as school starts a little later here than in the UK and US that their kids are somehow being "held back". I can assure you this isn't the case. The system here starts off quite slowly - and your daughter will have her hands full getting to grips with the language at first. But it might be that in maths for example she's already covered some of the things.

But the idea from what I can see is, they spend the first 2 years building very solid foundations in maths especially. Then in 3rd and 4th class - there is quite a leap in terms of what these kids are expected to do.

I work at an International school in Basel and see for myself the difference in ability between teens who have been through the Swiss system and those who haven't when it comes to strength in maths and logic. The Swiss really excel there.

As for the 3rd question - this very much depends on the child. Basically the more outgoing and social the child is by nature - the easier they find the transition. The Polish boy I referred to has a very shy and introverted nature and speaking with his father I know he has found it difficult - but these difficulties tend to at most only last a few months. You'll find once your kids have been through a whole school year and are into their 2nd - they'll have probably integrated far more quickly and easily than we as adults would! Another point is, what kind of teacher your daughter has. Some teachers are better than others. I can only say at my sons school - they do provide specialised, intensive, separate support for German. A neighbour who came over from the states last year has had her boys in the extra German classes all year.

As I mentioned - by joining Open Door, at least your kids would then have some outlet to socialize and learn in English too.

Hope that helps
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Old 02.01.2011, 21:57
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Re: Basel/[Baselland] local school advice (Allschwil Area)

Quote:
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...
What is the stress level in school for kids coming english speaking countries, trying to learn German...
For my kids, who came here ages 4, 6 and 10 they were speaking German pretty quickly. Remember that children are far more adaptable than adults. They don't get stressed like we do, nor about the thing that we do... unless we project it onto them.

Your eldest has one year advantage over my eldest, starting at 9, rather than 10. So, to allay your fears somewhat, I'll tell you that, now 19, he's off to Basel university in October, having very successfully navigaged the Swiss system.
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Old 03.01.2011, 23:28
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Re: Basel/[Baselland] local school advice (Allschwil Area)

Can you kind people, provide recommendations of good school areas to live in Basel-Land. My company's office is in Allschwill. I have heard good things about Allschwill Schools, Binnigen Schools. Can you please provide more recommendations. Thanks, Bapa.
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