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Old 08.11.2011, 19:24
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kids settling in - how long does it take?

How long did it take for your (non french speaking) child to learn the language, get used to the school rules, make friends, do well in school...

We are now in the transition phase and our son is in 2eme enfantine. All that I keep hearing from his teachers and daycare people is how difficult it is for them.

We never had any such problems back home. How did you help your child adjust?
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Old 08.11.2011, 19:36
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Re: kids settling in - how long does it take?

For the toddlers that I work with, I tell parents that it takes about 1 month for them to start to show us that they understand, and around 6 months before they are confident and start to talk back.

Some kids find it very stressful, others seem to take it in their stride - some are 'watchers' and some are 'do-ers'...

I have a couple of children who are German speaking and very resistant to english, and I assume that it's the same for some of our English speaking children, but I have a few that speak Italian, French, Spanish at home, and have really adapted to both new languages, so I think it's very much individual for the child.

We assumed that all teachers would have some sort of basic training in what to do for non-native speakers, but we have discovered that some teachers have very little experience or technical training in this area, and it takes a fair bit of trust in the capacity of the child to adapt, from the teacher's point of view, trusting that they will just 'get it' - and keeping the confidence up...
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Old 08.11.2011, 19:48
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Re: kids settling in - how long does it take?

Thanks Swisspea. The problem is not so much the language - in fact he has already started correcting my french.

The concern is that apart from repeating ad nauseum that it is difficult for them to handle him (doesn't listen, doesn't follow rules, etc etc), they seem to be at a total loss what to do other than wait out the 6 months. I don't want to let this linger on for 6 months in case it gets from bad to worse. I want to ask them their plan (as professionals in this field) for helping a non native child integrate. But unsure how to approach the topic without sounding like a blindly defensive parent.
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Old 08.11.2011, 19:54
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Re: kids settling in - how long does it take?

How old is he ?

Do you find he's also like that at home ?
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Old 08.11.2011, 19:58
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Re: kids settling in - how long does it take?

5 years old, and yes we've noticed a change even at home - of late, after we arrived here. No such problems back home though. The usual energy that you'd associate with a 5 year old boy, but no 'behavioral issues' if that's what you're asking.
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Old 08.11.2011, 19:58
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Re: kids settling in - how long does it take?

My daughter was 6 when she started in Enfantine. I think a lot depends on the school, how you live. what sort of child you have and the other kids.
We were in Geneva and I remember taking her to school and suddenly the teacher just took her away. We were in a very tight community and the flats opposite were full of children so they all went to school together. She didn't speak any french and was the only english speaking child at the school,(unbelievable I know). I think that helped as within a few months I heard a child shouting out in french and could not believe it was her.
Has your child got any good friends yet? I think that is the key. Of course some days she did not want to go and it was hard but once her confidence came she was fine and really settled - then we were on the move, and we had to start all over again
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Old 09.11.2011, 10:39
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Re: kids settling in - how long does it take?

It appears to be a bit of cultural shock all around I'd say. I have a 5 year old boy as well, but he has grown up here. The school and the approaches to learning in the swiss way are quite different from an anglo culture. There is a lot of self-discipline and following the rules, little tolerance for expressionism, and a lot of need to conform. Well that is trying to sum it up in one sentence, which of course is not really possible.

If he is used to having a lot of freedoms, choices, and opinions then it will indeed take some time, and again not talking of the language. He may also be 'acting out' more in defense of his already learned ways. I would be consistent with discipline and following rules/orders, and try to approach to the teachers in a positive way and ask what can I re-enforce at home to help him better adjust or make it easier for them.
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Old 09.11.2011, 15:46
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Re: kids settling in - how long does it take?

My son is the same 2ere enfantine he started in september and now chats with the other children. After 2 weeks I had a phone call which she listed all these things he should be able to do. I responded by letter and as runningdeer stated asked what it was he was struggling with and what he was not doing. I asked my son in turn did he find these tasks difficult why he didnt do them. I found the teacher was a little negative to him which is the opposite to UK where everything is about reinforcing everything including what could be seen as bad behaviour with a positive constructive response.

After I wrote a letter to the teacher to relay what Joe and I had spoke of and all the actions we were going to take at home. One of her points was that he wasn't trying in class discussions.. she kept saying he wasn't shy because he would talk very loud english so why couldn't he do so in French. After talking to Joe I persuaded him he needed to try so he could communicate with his friends and told the teacher he did not feel comfortable with him speaking one infront of many situation at the moment. It made him feel nervous thus clamming up and saying nothing. She since stopped pressuring so much for him to answer and now as he is more comfortable in the language he will offer his answers at school.

Good luck
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Old 09.11.2011, 16:05
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Re: kids settling in - how long does it take?

It really all depends on the child's personality. My daughter started the ecole maternelle when she was 3.5. Sept 2010. She is quite outgoing and not shy at all, but it took some time.

The first two weeks she cried, then she was ok. She happily played with the other kids, but only started saying one or two words of French after a couple of months. The first few months, its about absorption and association. She only really started speaking in French in any great depth in February this year. Now, you can't shut her up!! I find it also helps because I have a French child minder for before and after school. She has 3 children of her own who all also play with my daughter so she is completely surrounded by French in and out of school, except when she is with me.

There was another English speaking child at the school when my daughter started, he was a few months older than my daughter and had been at the school for a year but spoke no French at all and refused point blank to do so.

After 1 year my daughter is fluent in French, and nags me to be at school all day instead of just the mornings.

Good luck.
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