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Old 12.04.2011, 12:23
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A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

Hello all!
I did run a few searches on the forums but couldn't find what I'm looking for so please bear with me (and link me to the right place) if this has been discussed a million times before. Also I hope I've put this in the right forum.

We're thinking about maybe taking a year out from work and doing some travelling with our children at some point, probably when they are 7 and 4 years old respectively. We've been here 6 years so have C-Permits, and our eldest is now in part-time Kindergarten (Swiss system). Also we're EU citizens, in case that's relevant. My questions are:
- suppose we travelled for a month at a time and then were back here for a couple of weeks before heading off again, over a period of several months... how would that work with schooling for the older child? I know he has to be in school from age 5.
- Does he have to attend school here if we're domiciled here, even if we're not actually in the country most of the time? Do we get fined or *gasp* imprisoned if he doesn't?
- Or would I have to domicile myself and the kids somewhere else, where homeschooling is allowed for instance, so as to get round it?
(Can we even be domiciled here if we're not actually here?)
-Most of all: Has anyone here done anything like this before?

I expect I'll have loads more questions later so if you know the answer to one you think I ought to be asking, please do volunteer your thoughts!
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Old 12.04.2011, 12:57
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

I cant answer all you questions, but i can tell you based on experience this.

My husband (swiss) has a (now) 7yo boy and we went to Mexico on 2010 for 8 months and took him with us. He had to unregister him and as soon as we got to mexico he registered there. If he had stayed in switzerland he had the obligation to start school, but since we were no longer registered here they didnt make any pressure. In Mexico we were just traveling around so we didnt actually suscribe him to any school (anyways even the international school couldnt help him because he only speaks german) So my husband made sure to study with him the basics so when we returned he wasnt so behind. Now he is in school and seems all is working great.

So.. the point is.. As long as you register him in other country, switzerland is no longer responsable, anyways law changes here as we speak (or write) so you might want to ask your gemaide how it will work in your case.

edit>> Unless you are paying rent for an apartment you are not living, then i think yes. For us (we have very tight resources) Its been really dificult to find apartment again, we had to take wathever they let us rent and we still havent found something decent to live.
Again, if you are officially living here, you must follow the rules here, no matter you are around, but if you register somewhere else you need to know that unless you have great bank savings it might be dificult to start over.
edit again>> My husband's son had this insurance where dentist is included (i think for kids is really cheap to have) anyways when he tried to suscribe again with this feature, they said is no longer available after 6 years.. meaning,, if they are less than 6 years and suscribe to insurance it can be added for low cost, and will have it in case they need dental suport even as teenager, but when suscribed after 6 yo, is no longer available the feature. So you might also want to talk to your insurance company and ask about this.

Good luck and enjoy!
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Last edited by coconut; 12.04.2011 at 13:11.
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Old 12.04.2011, 13:06
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

If your child is registered as living here and of school-going age, to the best of my knowledge, there is a fine for taking them out even for a day or two without permission.
When we didn't want our child to attend specific school excursions we were warned that he would still need to attend school and have special supervision arrangements made for him (i.e. we were making a big fuss and it would be easier for all to let him go on the excursion though it wasn't our wish as parents).
I think there have been threads about this before but it may vary from canton to canton?
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Old 12.04.2011, 15:59
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

Thank you both!

I did find this thread: Taking a kid out school for a day which talks about missing a day, but this would be more like missing a year or six months. Of course we would inform the school - I was wondering whether they were more likely to actually give permission, or to sic social services on us!

coco.nails, that's very helpful about the dentist, definitely another thing to add to the checklist! Was it fun in Mexico? How did you finance that? (if it's not rude to ask!) I'm sorry you have had trouble finding a nice place. We would be doing freelance work, or at least I would since that's what I do anyway, so that probably makes it easier when we come back as it doesn't matter so much where we settle. But like you say, we would definitely build up some savings first.
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Old 12.04.2011, 16:09
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

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Hello all!
I did run a few searches on the forums but couldn't find what I'm looking for so please bear with me (and link me to the right place) if this has been discussed a million times before. Also I hope I've put this in the right forum.

We're thinking about maybe taking a year out from work and doing some travelling with our children at some point, probably when they are 7 and 4 years old respectively. We've been here 6 years so have C-Permits, and our eldest is now in part-time Kindergarten (Swiss system). Also we're EU citizens, in case that's relevant. My questions are:
- suppose we travelled for a month at a time and then were back here for a couple of weeks before heading off again, over a period of several months... how would that work with schooling for the older child? I know he has to be in school from age 5.
- Does he have to attend school here if we're domiciled here, even if we're not actually in the country most of the time? Do we get fined or *gasp* imprisoned if he doesn't?
- Or would I have to domicile myself and the kids somewhere else, where homeschooling is allowed for instance, so as to get round it?
(Can we even be domiciled here if we're not actually here?)
-Most of all: Has anyone here done anything like this before?

I expect I'll have loads more questions later so if you know the answer to one you think I ought to be asking, please do volunteer your thoughts!
Taking a year with your family is a good idea just go... dont think to heavy about it. The kids will not turn into imbeciles just because they took a year off school. The whole schooling thing is a bit of a farce at this age as they are not learning anything that is going to help them in the future. I guarantee they will learn lots more by travelling to different countries and will be much smarter then the average kid. Just do the neccessary paperwork say you taking a year away and enrol them back the next year. Enjoy your life with your family happy journey.
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Old 13.04.2011, 01:15
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

Even if you have a C permit I think you may have to de-register if not living here? At least that would get you off the hook as far as the children not attending school is concerned! How could they attend if not living here anymore?
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Old 13.04.2011, 02:51
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

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Thank you both!

I did find this thread: Taking a kid out school for a day which talks about missing a day, but this would be more like missing a year or six months. Of course we would inform the school - I was wondering whether they were more likely to actually give permission, or to sic social services on us!

coco.nails, that's very helpful about the dentist, definitely another thing to add to the checklist! Was it fun in Mexico? How did you finance that? (if it's not rude to ask!) I'm sorry you have had trouble finding a nice place. We would be doing freelance work, or at least I would since that's what I do anyway, so that probably makes it easier when we come back as it doesn't matter so much where we settle. But like you say, we would definitely build up some savings first.
Mexico for me was definitelly the best ever because I'm from there and just had my first baby which was also the first grandson and my family was crazy to meet our little family. We travel to some citys, my family would check on the kids so my hubby and I could have our honeymoon it was really fun before summer, then my husband couldnt take it because the heat was not good for him, anyways not in those temperatures (35C to 43C)
My husband has a decease and because of that he cant work and is 100%IV So in CHF living in Zurich means poverty, but when translated in pesos living in mexico is much better. The reason was because he was advised by his doctor and therapyst that the weater in mexico might help his decease, but it didnt so we had to comeback.
I cant work because I have to be available 24/7 for him plus we have 2 little kids So our situation is different in that and Im sure you could make it much better than us, just be careful about the insurance, we tried to continue paying insurance here because of my husband medications but they didnt let us (if you live in zurich they cant reject you even with the most expensive decease, but once youre out of the country they can say no) Maybe you could keep only the basic for your kid, doesnt hurt to ask. What we did kept was the Regga suscription (not sure thats how you write it. is in case of emergency they pick you up even in the end of the world)
Good luck and keep us posted about your advance, It will be a great experience Im sure.
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Old 13.04.2011, 10:29
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

My friend is doing just this with her family. She has three children (3, 5 and 7) and has got permission from the Schule to take her 7 year old daughter out for the year. She has had to promise to do two hours of school work a day. She is not a teacher, but she is a Kindergarten teacher.

The situation regarding permits is different, as they are Swiss. I just wanted to show that it was possible to persuade the authorities to let the kids have a year off.
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Old 13.04.2011, 17:18
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

That's all very encouraging, thank you!

I'm definitely not concerned about the kids becoming imbeciles because of missing a year. And we would take steps to make sure they retained some understanding of German - audiobooks and suchlike. It's good to hear other people have managed to convince their schools that it's a good idea, although I'm not a teacher at all so I guess it could be harder for us. But definitely worth a try then.

Thanks for the advice. Hope someone out there has some more!
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Old 13.04.2011, 17:30
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

I've heard of many similar stories of globetrotting families in the forums of websites like Couchsurfing and Lonely Planet.
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Old 13.04.2011, 17:47
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

Did nobody else read the title of this thread as 'A year without kids?'
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Old 13.04.2011, 18:25
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

I heard that you can lose a C permit if you are out of the country too long but I'm sure someone more qualified than me can comment on that.

I just wanted to say that there was a good series on Channel 4 called "my Crazy Gap Year" where families went away and were recorded at various stages of their travels. I have to admit that several of the families seemed wholly under prepared for the experience and I can really not imagine that they benefitted, there was even one family that nearly got killed in a car accident.

BUT there were a couple of families who did so well, especially the first episode where I though the Family matured and grew and became closer and if you can hit that target you will all be the richer for the experience.

Good Luck!
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Old 13.04.2011, 21:44
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

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Did nobody else read the title of this thread as 'A year without kids?'
Yes, and I was clicking the thread immediately in order to vicariously experience someone else's masterful plan to offload them for such an extensive period of time!

In all seriousness, though, I would advise Swissoconnors to consider whether the year away will affect the child's placement (year) in school upon return, i.e. whether or not the child will need to be evaluated upon returning to full-time schooling in order to be placed (rather than assuming that the child belongs at a certain level based upon age). If that is a concern for the parents, the need for homeschooling activities during the year away is certainly more pressing, and consideration must be given to the possibility that the child might eventually end up in a class where he or she is a year older than his or her peer group. However, if the child will need re-evaluation, I suppose that the he/she could end up in a higher level class compared to age, as well!
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Old 13.04.2011, 22:41
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

Register/ deregister will probably hinge on your canton's view on homeschooling. This site gives info for most cantons, but unfortunately not yours: http://www.cruxmove.com/SwissHomeSchooling.htm.

This is the website for a (the?) Swiss Homeschooling Association: http://www.bildungzuhause.ch/en/home.html, plus there is also a Swiss Homeschooling Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeschoolingch/ (you can join to see messages and ask questions even if you're only vaguely considering homeschooling rather than an ardent supporter).

I guess - and it is a guess - that you could just deregister the children, say that they were 'going to live in X country with grandparents'? There would be some issues with health insurance. Once adults are deregistering, you need to think about where you would be considered resident for tax purposes.

If homeschooling is allowed in your canton, that would make it easier in one way (no need to deregister) but perhaps more complicated in another (have to follow the canton curriculum, probably have to produce evidence of lesson planning and work carried out).

A 7 yr old would be missing nothing of any real importance, though. You would need to keep up their German, especially reading - materials for this could get expensive as this is the age of churning single use early readers. Perhaps just blitz this during the 'in CH' parts of your year, using a tutor who doesn't mind being flexible.

The maths would be a doddle - they would need to have addition and subtractions facts down pat (ie, addition facts of 10 are 1+9, 2+8, etc), be able to tell the time, do things like pattern recognition and skip counting in 2s, 5s and 10s, have a grasp of place value (that in the number '287' the 2 stands for two hundreds, the 8 for eight tens, etc). This isn't anywhere near as daunting as it seems; search on 'homeschool math curriculum' ('math' because it's usually US sites) and you'll get tons of suggestions and ideas from buying a complete 'now say this, now do this' package down to making games from basic kitchen materials. A couple of hours a week will be more than enough.

I think it's a terrific idea, good luck with your plans and keep us all posted on what you find out.
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Old 14.04.2011, 10:09
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

One thing to consider re. homeschooling, to keep a swiss address for insurance, permits, etc.; I would see if you can register/find an address/swap houses in one of the more liberal homeschooling cantons, ie. GE/VD come to mind, and this would help keep a residence and aid with the schooling aspect.
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Old 15.04.2011, 17:10
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

No, I haven't yet found a way of offloading them for a whole year. But if I do I'll be sure to let you know!

Thank you all for the links! I've found a couple of my own about people who do this sort of thing, which I'll put here in case anyone in the future is looking for the info...

http://www.uncommonchildhood.com/
http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/10...with-kids.html (this site also has a lot of other info about travel with or without children)
But those aren't specifically about Swiss people taking time out, although there is an article about an Anglo-Swiss family on the first link, but mostly it's just general information.

We're thinking of doing a brief trial run for a month, possibly this summer, to see if we can really cope with being with the children full-time, away from home, for a long period.
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Old 16.04.2011, 08:51
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

Not sure what it is like nowadays but the C permit should be valid also if you leave the country but not for longer than 6 months.

You can also ask to "freeze" it.

However, I think the easiest would be to retain a CH adress for all purposes lile tax, health ins, permit etc.

You coul potentially integrate in your trip a brief return of 1 week before the 6 months out expire?

I honetly think this will make it so much easier for you upon returning than all deregistering and reregistering.

All to be checked with your gemeinde as rules may have changed

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Old 16.04.2011, 09:20
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

ot answering your question re Swiss regulations concerning schooling, but I really recommend people who are considering taking time out with children to read "The Seven Year Hitch" by David Grant. He, a Scotsman, travelled across the world with his three children for 7 years. The postscript is that they have all grown into educated, nice young adults. :-)
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Old 19.04.2011, 16:29
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Re: A year out with kids? Please share your thoughts!

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Not sure what it is like nowadays but the C permit should be valid also if you leave the country but not for longer than 6 months.

You can also ask to "freeze" it.
Thanks! I had a look on the back of our C-permits - new last year so it should still be up-to-date info - and indeed it does say 6 months with a possible freeze of up to 4 years if you ask for it within the first six months. I'm guessing the "up to" means if it's less than four years till your next permit renewal, you only get however long there is left and you have to come back to renew it.

I will have to phone up and find out whether I still need a fixed address here for that to happen, or whether a Post Office Box would be sufficient.

Biff, thanks for the recommendation. It's gone on my wishlist. We're always happy for an excuse to acquire/read more books!

OK, a more education-related question now: can any of you recommend any Swiss or German websites that can be used for learning - I don't mean homeschooling sites, but rather sites that a Swiss child might make use of alongside normal school. An example in English would be www.starfall.com which can be used for practicing the alphabet and reading at various stages. My kids both love it (the youngest hasn't the foggiest idea what she's doing but she loves it anyway) and if there were something similar in German that would be fabulous.
I'll research too and post here if I find anything.

Edit: Forgot to say I'd prefer something free! But I have just found this http://www.toggolino.de/?bhcp=1 which isn't too bad for a one-year membership.

Last edited by Swissoconnors; 19.04.2011 at 16:37. Reason: more info
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