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Old 02.08.2011, 01:05
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Worried about which Grade my son will start

I am writing to find out more about my son he is current 5 and a half years old and is the private education system in the UK.

We need to know what grade he will be coming to join in and whether it is worth his starting in December 2011 or wait until the year ends then start in Aug/Sep 2012 so he finishes his year 1 in the UK.

We are thinking of starting him of at a swiss state school and see how it goes from there. We are also looking at living in Zug.

PLEASE HELP...

Thank you.
LMC.
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Old 02.08.2011, 01:22
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

If you know where you are living call your local geminde and ask them. I would of thought your son would go into 2nd year Kindergarten and the start first grade in Aug/Sept. My son was born 04/04 and would be starting 2nd year this Aug. I personally would start him as soon as you can if you are going down the local route. I hope this helps.
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Old 02.08.2011, 01:29
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

Hi,

Thank you very much and I will definitely give them a call. We are seriously considering him starting soon!
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Old 02.08.2011, 07:59
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

He would be in Kindergarten. It could me the second year, but sometimes they start from year one, even at six.
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Old 02.08.2011, 09:03
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

But do also be aware that in Kindergarten there is no "formal" learning - that is, there is no reading, writing or maths at Kindergarten. It's all about playing, singing, social skills etc. There are "logic" games and little tests, but kids are not expected to even know the alphabet. Reading and writing doesn't even start until primary school (age 6 or 7 depending on birthday). So, be aware that you might need to supplement kindergarten with something else if you want to keep reading and writing going and for him not to get too bored - although learning a foreign language is certainly also a big challenge!
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Old 02.08.2011, 10:29
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

@Wattali1 - thank you for the information. The thought of him potentially going backwards is not settling well with me.
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Old 02.08.2011, 10:31
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

@ Mitziem - thank you.
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Old 02.08.2011, 14:00
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

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@Wattali1 - thank you for the information. The thought of him potentially going backwards is not settling well with me.
Have a search of the forum. This is a common concern for parents coming from the UK which starts kids on proper learning very early compared with continental Europe. I think you'll find that almost without exception, people who have been in the same situation as you have found their concerns to be unfounded in the long run
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Old 02.08.2011, 14:07
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

The two systems (UK and CH) are poles apart.

In the UK they start 'em young, teach to the lowest common denominator then spit them out to go to some uni or ex-poly to get a crap degree in media studies.

In CH, they start them later stream them into their abilities, and teach them a trade or send them off to uni to get a real degree.

If you are going to CH for the short term, stay private. If you are here for longer term, you'll need to adapt to the local system - unless you are going to be one of those can we afford to live on 500,000 CHF a year families. They don't start primary school until 6 and have a slow and steady approach to learning the basics before a steepening of the learning curve.

If your son doesn't speak any German, then give him the chance to learn in a kindergarten for a year (although that may not be enough) where there is no academic pressure to perform. Don't try to out-teach the system, as you'll just create a bored child... and we all know that bored children cause problems.

(Well, that's my 5 raps anyway)
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Old 02.08.2011, 14:11
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

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The two systems (UK and CH) are poles apart.

In the UK they start 'em young, teach to the lowest common denominator then spit them out to go to some uni or ex-poly to get a crap degree in media studies.

In CH, they start them later stream them into their abilities, and teach them a trade or send them off to uni to get a real degree.

(Well, that's my 5 raps anyway)
But not really a very objective observation on the two systems.
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Old 02.08.2011, 14:18
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

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But not really a very objective observation on the two systems.
That's why it is only worth 5 raps.

I'm not a big fan of the "everyone should go to university as a right" and "teaching to the LCD" way in the UK (in case you hadn't noticed). I think it is in part why the UK is in such a mess.
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Old 02.08.2011, 14:57
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

And the reason Switzerland is full of qualified people from the UK, poly or no...

A year in Kindergarten would take the pressure off to learn the language, a precious gift he will have and will stand to him all his lifetime, wherever he ends up moving to.
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Old 02.08.2011, 15:14
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

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And the reason Switzerland is full of qualified people from the UK, poly or no...
Define "full of" and compare how "full of" (qualified foreigners) the UK is... Then we'll have another chat
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Old 02.08.2011, 15:34
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

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If your son doesn't speak any German, then give him the chance to learn in a kindergarten for a year (although that may not be enough)
It's more than enough

After a year of Swiss Kindy, a native English speaking 5/12 yr old will be speaking fluent Swiss German.

It goes like this:
first 3 months: look, listen, don't talk much
second 3 months: talking starts, vocab grows immensely
After 6 months: no trouble communicating in Swiss German
After 12 months: hardly distinguishable from the locals, language skills so advanced, the child makes the parent jealous...
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Old 02.08.2011, 15:39
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

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It's more than enough

After a year of Swiss Kindy, a native English speaking 5/12 yr old will be speaking fluent Swiss German.

It goes like this:
first 3 months: look, listen, don't talk much
second 3 months: talking starts, vocab grows immensely
After 6 months: no trouble communicating in Swiss German
After 12 months: hardly distinguishable from the locals, language skills so advanced, the child makes the parent jealous...
Ummm... for every child?

I would suggest that step 1 can take anywhere from 3 months-2+ years depending on the child. However, I do agree that once they start, there's no stoping them.
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Old 02.08.2011, 15:42
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

It is true that formal education starts later in CH than UK. But all evidence shows that kids catch up and there is no difference within a few years. Much much better for your little one to be in kindergarten and acquiring the language before formal education starts, and feeling 'at home' + making friends. All the rest will follow quite naturally. You can keep up reading in English to keep up interest.
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Old 02.08.2011, 17:30
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

I will contribute with my personal experience from Nick, my 7 year old son. We moved from the US, where the learning curve is extremely steep and children finish 1st grade reading and writing rather fluently (at least in Southern California, where we lived). He reads on his own, every night, and last week he read through 3 of the latest "Captain Underpants" books I bought for him from Amazon.

He has had a very tough time catching up with the other children's German level in grade 1, and it will easily take him a full year to truly master his age's normal language skills. He's a perfectly average kid, no slower or smarter than most, brilliant at English, average at math, and mediocre at art. Nonetheless giving him a bit more time wouldn't have done any damage.

Like Mabern said, if they put your child in KG, consider it not a step back, but rather a great chance at learning a second language at such an early age without the academic pressure of 1st grade. There is little to no pressure in Switzerland to finish one's academic career one year earlier or later. And he will have a much better time in 1st grade once he can understand what the teacher is saying, rather than suffer and be frustrated during months because he doesn't understand a single word.
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Old 02.08.2011, 17:33
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

Carlos-now I get it...
Some of the qualified foreigners were already qualified foreigners in the UK too?
I've often seen newbies or wannabees with a location from home and then a strange turn of phrase,the penny drops!
Oops going off topic here. Over and out.
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Old 02.08.2011, 17:44
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

Yes, sorry, that was a bit of a "post and run" - had to go out to ToysRUs I didn't want to sound negative about the reading writing thing, it's just something that a lot of UK parents are not aware of or used to and well, rather know now than later.

I do think it really depends on the child - my son for example is rather ahead for his age in terms of reading, writing etc. and I was desperately worried that he'd be really frustrated in Swiss Kindergarten. At age 5 he could already read about 3 years ahead of his age.

But, I have to say that in the end it all worked out very well for him. He wasn't bored at all - and was able to have fun at Kindergarten - so he wasn't all stressed out about having to actually learn stuff and "perform well" and deal with a foreign language as well, he had those 2 years to basically make friends, learn German, understand a bit about Swiss traditions and ways and it's been very good for him. We kept up his reading and writing by sending him to English reading/writing classes and he enjoyed that too - because there he also could socialise with expat kids who spoke English too.

All the other kids at Kindergarten were also absolutely in awe of the fact that he could read so well - so he became something of a hero with them and he would even sometimes read stories to the other kids (or spiderman comics from older brothers that were smuggled in by other kids!)

He's starting primary this year, which brings me a whole new set of worries about being bored when the other kids are learning to read, but I'm sure it will work itself out. I'm already on the lookout for other activities to keep him occupied.

I believe the Swiss system to be a good one in general - it allows kids time to be kids without pushing too hard at the beginning - which I think can really instill a hatred of school right from the start for kids who are not up to all that learning so early in life in the UK. Studies show academically at the end there's no real difference. And by the time they are 9 or 10 the Swiss kids are at the same reading level as the UK ones who started 3 years before them.

The real issue for expat kids though is if they have to go back to a more academic country before they are at that level though, so for example if you came here for 3 years and then went back to the UK then your kids would most likely be behind others the same age in the UK. A few more years and there'd be less of a difference, although the curriculum thing would probably cause other issues.
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Old 02.08.2011, 19:04
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Re: Worried about which Grade my son will start

My son is starting primary school this year too. Although he can't yet read very much, I have started the process. I got the usual response from the kindergarten teacher "If you teach him his ABCs now, he'll be bored in school." but, as a teacher myself, I have a different viewpoint. As we only speak English at home his brain will be hard at work at school to connect what he knows in English to the Swiss-German version. He's already had 2 years at the Swiss kindergarten but his vocabulary is still more limited than his peers ... then there's the social interplay -- lots to adapt to and keep him from being bored!
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