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Old 21.08.2011, 19:13
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Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

Just a quick one .. my son starts grade 1 in the Swiss system tomorrow (he is very excited) but I am wondering when they go to a fuller week. His schedule only has afternoon lessons on Monday and Tuesday. I had heard they always have Wednesday afternoons off even through to senior school, but had expected they would go on Thursday and Friday afternoons as well. I have no issue with this.. except that I wonder when on earth they find time to learn if they aren't really there?

I also hear the Swiss system progresses far faster than the Australian system, meaning that although they start two years after kids start in Australia they quickly accelerate in terms of the content they are learning.. is this other people's experience as well?

Thanks!
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Old 21.08.2011, 19:15
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

Most schools in Zurich have an afternoon care (hort) which can take care of the kids up to about 6pm.

I've put mine in for a couple of additional afternoons a week to take account of my work.
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Old 21.08.2011, 19:24
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

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I also hear the Swiss system progresses far faster than the Australian system, meaning that although they start two years after kids start in Australia
There is no "Swiss system", each canton is different.

For example, here 1st grade starts the calendar year the child turns 6 (as in the US, at least where I grew up), i.e. if your kid will be 6 on or before Dec. 31 this year, then they start 1st grade next week. And they do full days MTRF, and mornings on W. Meanwhile, your kid will start kindergarden the day they turn 3 (or 1st school day after).

Tom
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Old 21.08.2011, 19:41
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

Hi Saskia,

My daughter also starts tomorrow and is also very excited. And we're also from Australia.

She will do two afternoons this year, three next year and so on, but Wednesday afternoons will always be free.

I've had it explained to me that because the kids are in school less hours this is the reason why they have more homework.

And while I haven't had the experience yet of seeing my daughter progress, this is what friends with older children have said, that the first couple of years of school are not so quick but that after that there is a much steeper curve.

Hope your son's first day goes well!
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Old 21.08.2011, 19:45
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

In Aargau - Baden, our first kids started grade 1 two years ago and the second one started this year. For the first year he had 2 afternoons off. In the second grade he had one afternoon off and now in the third he still has one afternoon off. The Swiss school system I believe does not encourage mothers to work.
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Old 21.08.2011, 19:52
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

Here in Basel Land, my son (grade 1) started last week, and does 5 mornings and 2 afternoons. This continues until grade 4 when he does 3 afternoons. After that I'm not sure, but I believe here they basically never do a full week until they are in their teens and even then they still get Wednesday afternoon off. It's hard for me because I work and there is no afternoon care in our school (and mittagstisch only 4 days).
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Old 21.08.2011, 19:54
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

In Zurich (City), it's from the fourth year that all afternoons are booked - except Wednesday afternoons.

3rd year still has 2 afternoons off (incl. Wed.).
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Old 21.08.2011, 20:08
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

So, other than Ticino, is there another canton with block-hours and full-days (other than Wednesday PM) starting at 1st grade or earlier (second year of kindergarden here)?

Tom
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Old 21.08.2011, 20:29
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

Thanks for all these interesting replies! I guess my inner conflict is over how far behind the Australian system our children would be should we ever go back. They speak beautiful Swiss German - as was the intent of putting them in a Swiss kindergarten and school, but every now and then I have a momentary freak out wondering what happens if / when we ever go back.. We've been told not to teach them to read in English as the letter pronunciations are so different to German and it confuses them.. but they seem to do ok as I can't quite let them not learn to read!! Ahh the joys of raising a family in other places! It's great to know we're not the only ones
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Old 21.08.2011, 20:38
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

I don't believe that's true about the reading thing though (using my very scientific "example of 1" theory!) My son started learning to read English at around 3 1/2 years (he was in international school then.) He could already read very well by the time he was 5 and we switched to Swiss Kindergarten. He then started learning to speak Swiss and High German - and almost instantly he was able to read German too - because he could see the letter sounds of the German words (in English) and because he knew how they ought to sound in German he figured the whole thing out for himself. He can now basically read anything in German too and he's only ever been actually "taught" to read in English. I think if kids want to learn to read then you should definitely encourage them.
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Old 21.08.2011, 20:45
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

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We've been told not to teach them to read in English as the letter pronunciations are so different to German and it confuses them.. but they seem to do ok as I can't quite let them not learn to read!! Ahh the joys of raising a family in other places! It's great to know we're not the only ones
This is a big mistake, start teaching them English. I used the time that they had off school to teach them to read and write and keep up with their English.
Also to make sure that they were covering a the range of subjects

The Australian literacy schemes are some of the best available. In no way did learning English interfere with or inhibit their learning in fact both were advanced one year in the Swiss system.

You just have to start home schooling, I filled the time that they had off with extra-curricular activities- music lessons, cultural trips. museums, hikes. They sometimes complained that they didn't have time to play with their friends, but they met a wider variety of people and in any case, their Swiss friends had a lot of family social events like time with Oma and Opa that took up their time. So when the others had Swiss family time my kids never felt left out- often we took their Swiss friends with us and in return they took them to family events.
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Old 21.08.2011, 20:51
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

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I don't believe that's true about the reading thing though (using my very scientific "example of 1" theory!) My son started learning to read English at around 3 1/2 years (he was in international school then.) He could already read very well by the time he was 5 and we switched to Swiss Kindergarten. He then started learning to speak Swiss and High German - and almost instantly he was able to read German too - because he could see the letter sounds of the German words (in English) and because he knew how they ought to sound in German he figured the whole thing out for himself. He can now basically read anything in German too and he's only ever been actually "taught" to read in English. I think if kids want to learn to read then you should definitely encourage them.
I'd agree with this. My son was in a bi-lingual pre-school and the the English teachers taught English reading and basic writing and the German teachers did the same but in German. Apparently there is no problem teaching both in tandem and I haven't identified any adverse issues with my son, nor the kids with whom he was taught.
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Old 21.08.2011, 20:56
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

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We've been told not to teach them to read in English as the letter pronunciations are so different to German and it confuses them.. but they seem to do ok as I can't quite let them not learn to read!!
Seriously one of the educators at the local school told you that? I...I...I... my mind boggles and this just confirms my happiness with the local bi-lingual school as if anyone told me that we shouldn't teach our daughter either of our native languages in addition to the German, I really don't know if I would trust the soundness of their educational abilities particularly relating to languages.
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Old 21.08.2011, 20:59
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

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I'd agree with this. My son was in a bi-lingual pre-school and the the English teachers taught English reading and basic writing and the German teachers did the same but in German. Apparently there is no problem teaching both in tandem and I haven't identified any adverse issues with my son, nor the kids with whom he was taught.
Ummm, well my kids did have problems with the alphabet, expecially as there is no J,K, or W in Italian! (and one of me daughters has a name beginning with K, and the other a letter combination that doesn't exist in Italian)

Tom
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Old 21.08.2011, 21:20
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

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I think if kids want to learn to read then you should definitely encourage them.
I agree, and they don't need to spend time in lessons to learn, like Hoppy said:

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You just have to start home schooling, I filled the time that they had off with extra-curricular activities- music lessons, cultural trips. museums, hikes.
Encouragement from home. I wish my parents had done it more.
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Old 21.08.2011, 21:29
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

My kids are also in the local system and the teachers are very pro the kids having extra English reading and writing lessons. They even offered to be flexible about my daughters afternoon schooling if they clashed because they thought it was important. They said that it was the schools opinion that a child who was strong verbally and also reading and writing their mother tongue would find the second language that much easier.

Just as a nod to the OP my 2nd year kindie child has five mornings and 2 afternoons and my second year school child has five morning and three afternoons and every other afternoon full of extra curicular between them so I don't know what we would do if they were in school more (no English, Turnen, music or swimming I guess)

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Old 21.08.2011, 22:10
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

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I agree, and they don't need to spend time in lessons to learn, like Hoppy said:



Encouragement from home. I wish my parents had done it more.

I did it for the reason that I enjoyed sharing what I had learned, learning and spending time with them as much as pushing them academically. I hoped that it would make it easier for us to relate. That isn't always the case they grow up in a different environment and form their own views. Now more and more I enjoy them sharing their experiences and I learn from them. It would be very difficult for me if I could not relate to my kids in English.
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Old 21.08.2011, 22:12
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

I've had the same experience as Wattsli1, both for my son here and for my sibilings growing up in a French-speaking country. My son spells out words in English and when "he knows it's German he says it like it's German" (that's his own explanation when I asked how he knew the pronunciation). And like Caz, our local KG teachers vigorously encourage us to make sure the kids have a strong mother tongue - they haven't actually mentioned reading in that context but they realised I'd been teaching my son and they didn't express any disapproval or concern.

Here in Nidwalden a 1st year (non-compulsory) KG child - age 4 - has 5 half-days a week, one of which will be an afternoon, and a KG2 has 5 mornings and 2 afternoons. I don't know when it goes up. (Also the school cut-off point here is June 30th rather than December 31st - interesting to hear it's different in Ticino!)
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Old 22.08.2011, 11:44
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

Our Vaud-based school timetable is 4 mornings and 1 afternoon for 1st enfantine, 4 mornings and 3 afternoons for 2nd enfantine, then 5 mornings and 4 afternoons from 1st grade onwards, with just the Wed afternoon off. Hours are 8.30-11.30, then 14-15.30 in 1st grade.
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Old 22.08.2011, 12:02
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Re: Grade 1 - when do kids do full weeks?

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Our Vaud-based school timetable is 4 mornings and 1 afternoon for 1st enfantine, 4 mornings and 3 afternoons for 2nd enfantine, then 5 mornings and 4 afternoons from 1st grade onwards, with just the Wed afternoon off. Hours are 8.30-11.30, then 14-15.30 in 1st grade.
I think it's the same here in Neuchatel. I can't say for sure for enfantine as I have no direct experience there but the neighbour's kid just started 1st enfantine and has 4 mornings and 1 afternoon so I guess it's the same.
From first grade up the hours are 8.15-11.50, then 13.45-15.20.(with no possibility of staying at lunchtime.)

I'm all mixed up with the numbers now since the harmos thing. My son jumped from 5th to 8th (new numbering system) but all the books are still labelled 6th and the documentation seems to be a mixture of both

Wish he was still in primary, these 7.30 starts are killing me. He has to get the bus at 6.50
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