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Old 19.05.2012, 11:09
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School Problem yet again!!!!!

We have just shifted from UAE 3 weeks ago. Now my daughter is 7 and she was in grade 3 at a British Curriculum school there. She was one of the youngest as the cut off date was in August and she just fell under so they took her in FS1 at the age of 3 (Kindergarten 1)
Anyway she was in grade 3 there and doing very well there and was in one of the top groups in her class, however when we came here they decided to put her with her age appropriate children who are in grade 2. As well as the other reason they gave me was that her german was very basic so she needs to polish her german skills ( which I completely understand).
Now the dilema starts here the teacher is very nice a co operative and understanding but my daughter is academically far ahead from the class interms of Maths, literacy , writing reading in english ofcourse etc. They say so too as they saw all her books from back there.
However I am confused at the standard in Public schools here, they hardly give my daughter any work/reading for home. We used to get 4 evenings of homework there 2 evenings maths and 2 evenings language or literacy.plus there were 10 vocabulary words ever week that we had to make sentences of and then they were tested once in a week on the words. there was constant mental maths practice in the class etc.

There was a reading scheme that was followed there ( oxford learning tree) 3 books in a week to read and guided reading was carried out there to keep a check on the reading plus discussion groups etc to make the child speak their mind.

But here there is nothing so far. No reading! no maths homework! My daughter is bored in the class as she finishes her work much quicker than others. I requested the teacher to take her from the level she was left off from rather than making her do basic addition and subtraction!!

Would it be a good idea if I ask them to put her in grade 3 where she left off from as they said the children are much older in the class plus there is a lot of discussion in german in grade 3 which she wont be able to cope up with. But I dont want my daughters level to drop. Advise me what to do and if you have any similar experiences please share
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Old 19.05.2012, 11:27
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

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Now my daughter is 7

however when we came here they decided to put her with her age appropriate children who are in grade 2.

her german was very basic so she needs to polish her german skills ( which I completely understand).

my daughter is academically far ahead from the class in terms of Maths, literacy , writing reading in english of course etc.

But I dont want my daughters level to drop.
I'm not a parent and have no connection with schooling... but reading your post, particularly those bits I've quoted, evokes a simple reaction from me. Let your child be a child.

Academic achievement aged 7 is an absurd notion. She'll clearly socialise much better and improve her language skills while doing so if you leave her where she is, whereas pushing here up a level, even if it's possible, will inevitably put her into an inferior position wrt her classmates. That _may_ pressure her into achieving more, but will she be happier?
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Old 19.05.2012, 11:33
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

completely agree with the earlier post! Let your child be just a child. Having lived in UAE, I completely know how the system is and how much of importance is given to academics. When we moved in here 4 months back, my first reaction was almost the same. But 4 months down the line, i am completely happy and satisfied with the system here and i am so glad we never bowed to our own apprehensions! I am sure in the long run your daughter will just be fine and she will excel not only in academics but also in other things. Just have some patience and give it some time. 3 weeks is too early to make a judgement or do anything at all!
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Old 19.05.2012, 11:40
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

I would 'prescribe' other homework -

include her in the shopping trips, get her reading the labels in German, French, Italian. Take the public transport, go out on the weekends and find your way around the local area, shops, community centre, library...

Take her to the local park to meet and play with the local kids.

Join a social/sport/hobby group or go to the local pool, parks, forest, and get out and meet people. Meet your neighbours.

Is she in a 'language/integration' class or just the mainstream ? The most important 'work' for the next 6-12 months is language learning.

Does she have any skills in German at all ?
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Old 19.05.2012, 11:42
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

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Advise me what to do and if you have any similar experiences please share
Well is your daughter enjoying school? If so I see no reason to change, she has a chance to concentrate on other skills such as language skills, integration and so on...
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Old 19.05.2012, 11:53
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

I agree with the other posters. There is a lot more to school than just the academic work, especially in the early years, which are important for children like ours (foreigners!) to adjust to a new language, cultural differences, different ways of learning and interacting with teachers.

If you can supplement the work your daughter is doing in the meantime, and if she can concentrate on learning the language and on finding a place for herself in her peer group, then by the time she is in year 4, when the workload starts to escalate, she will be really well placed to do well.

Don't underestimate the impact going to school in a different language and with different ways of doing things has on your child.

I have a few friends in a similar situation to yours who wish now that they hadn't pushed to have their children enter the same level academically, but had instead put them in with their age group and let them adjust gradually.
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Old 19.05.2012, 11:57
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

I would also only advise you to look at the moving up a year option if you think that it is because you daughter is particularly clever - as opposed to having gone through a different system so able to do different things earlier than the Swiss system because she was taught them earlier.

If your daughter is gifted or just highly intelligent then this would be a reason to look into whether her current schooling is satisfying her needs. If she is just ahead because she was sat down and taught her letters and reading skills earlier than the Swiss kids, then I agree with Swisspea's postings - absorb her with other tasks and skills and concentrate on language language language because even if she is wonderfully bright, if her language skills are behind, she will never achieve good marks in the Swiss school system.

Give the system a chance. Then, having given it a chance, if you still feel like you have concerns, take them up with the class teacher and ask about an assessment with the Cantonal educational pyschologist. But only do this after a few months as it seems far to early for you to be able to tell yet.

It's a trap many of us ex pats fall into - the school system here is, how can I say, "bizarre" in comparison to what many of us have been used to, so do not worry about worrying about it! But give it a chance, get to know how the system works, sit in on a couple of mornings of school even - as you are certainly welcomed to do so in our Canton ("Bring your parent to school Day" they call it here - the kids love it!) and then make your mind up.

PS Regarding bringing reading home and the emphasis on literacy skills in the Foundation Stages of the British curriculum - as concerns reading and spelling, English is way out there as being a difficult language to learn to read in/write plus the British curriculum starts teaching these difficult skills very early - making it for many kids, a long, hard slog involving much time and effort - meaning lots of work (reading/learning words) at home. German, as regards spelling and reading, is a doddle in comparison. The children are taught to spell everything out phoenetically and for 95% of the words this system works perfectly - so absolutely no need to learn tricky words off by heart, as there are none (well relatively few ... and certainly relatively few at beginner level). Be glad that those spelling tests are gone! Go to the library and let your daughter choose books (if her German is weak at the moment, go for younger age group books with lots of pictures) and just enjoy discovering the language without the pressure of having to turn in homework for a reading group or a spelling test. Revel in the differences of this system, don't be disappointed by them.
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Old 19.05.2012, 11:59
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

Your title with 5 ! seems to be all guns blazing which is a pity. I agree with all the other posters - language skills, socialisation and integration are so much more important at the moment. There is plenty you can add at home, as described above- perhaps even start learning a musical instrument, IF SHE is interested. She will do well, no need to push.

Because of the way kids are selected for academic/vocational education quite early- language acquisition is primordial and should be your main area of focus. In Switzerland, kids are selected to join a class that will go around together - so even if your kids is excellent at, say, maths and sciences - s/he will also have a similar level in the local language to do well overall. In the UK, kids are setted per subject, so can be tops in, say English and History and a foreign language, but at a lower level for sciences and maths. This does NOT work here. So giving here time (and you could hire extra help for this and 'stretch' her) for language acquisition is paramount for her success.

Last edited by Odile; 19.05.2012 at 12:48.
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Old 19.05.2012, 12:18
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

I am so confused as coming from a system that was so demanding and here I just watch my daughter playing and I am taking them to the park every day and she is playing with her school mates who are our neighbors as well. She is really enjoying herself and I agree. She tries her level best to communicate and they also welcome her whole heartedly to join in.
I am very happy with the environment, however you cant blame me for reacting this way as I have been used to so much that this look absolutely absurd to me.
I was looking for some libraries around in Gebenstorf to take her there and get some books to read. She had some basic knowledge of German before we came as I starte her off with German lessons when it got confirmed that we were certainly going to be moving. Yes the school teacher is very accommodating and I am sure they will let me sit in for a couple of classes, but I find it so different that it freaked me out completely. My child is above average but not gifted she is just an intelligent girl, so I didnt want her to fall behind and forget all what she knew.
What about handwriting I dont even find them focusing them on handwriting cursive writing.
But then I agree with the above posts that I should give it some time observe and see a little longer and then if required take the necessary steps if required. I didnt want her to be pushed up and deal with the kids who are 2 years older than her but then doing so much there ( which I know is followed in Britain the same way) I thought the swiss system was a little less rigorous.
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Old 19.05.2012, 12:28
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

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........ so I didnt want her to fall behind and forget all what she knew.........I thought the swiss system was a little less rigorous.
I would pick up on these two points. First of all, your child is not going to 'fall behind' - in the end, she will get to the same point... but she will 'gain' language skills and cultural experience that for me personally is worth a huge amount.

The human brain doesn't 'forget' stuff - once she can do those things, she will find it very easy to do them again. When I hit high school year 11 I was drawing on geography that I'd done at age 7-8! - truly, the brain does not 'forget'...

Secondly, the swiss system is 'rigorous' - just with a broader emphasis - all-rounded and socially minded, integration to the local community is very important, and in the end, the swiss matura/tertiary studies are rated amongst the best in the world - so someone must be doing something right! - it's just the model is different, and there a lots more options - the tertiary stuff here is quite amazing - so many options, and quite easy to take one course of study and move your way through the ranks and it's not just a 'university or bust' model like many other places.

The best you can do, for long term success, is trust your child's intelligence, and get her the best language opportunities that she can, because as others have said, that's the 'make or break'.
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Old 19.05.2012, 12:44
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

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I am so confused as coming from a system that was so demanding and here I just watch my daughter playing and I am taking them to the park every day and she is playing with her school mates who are our neighbors as well. She is really enjoying herself and I agree.

That's quite alright - and normal - to worry. The system is different and you do not know it well enough yet - so do not feel bad for worrying about your daughter.

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What about handwriting I dont even find them focusing them on handwriting cursive writing.
Just wanted to pick up on this ... I think I understood your daughter was in second year primary? In this Canton, they teach joined up writing in second year and they are very Very big on it .... a letter a week, and lots of practice (this is something my son did bring home for homework). How long has your daughter been in school now? Could it be that she has missed the joined up handwriting part of the year or do they perhaps start it next year?

Handwriting skills are very big in my experience - along with continued requirements for neatness, smart presentation and books and papers being kept in a neat, crease free and orderly fashion - something my 9 year old struggles with!

Ask the teacher about the handwriting as from my experience, it strikes me as odd that you have not noticed an emphasis on handwriting yet.
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Old 19.05.2012, 13:04
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

Hi, I understand the concern about changing to a new country, with a new school system, and "losing" a year ...

Shifting from Australia (with a calendar year for the school year, rather than starting the school year in August), we had the problem of whether my daughter would go 'up' or 'down'. The school brought her in 'up', where she was one of the youngest in her official grade level. Fortunately this was a multi-age class, because after a while we realised that she would need that 'extra' year in primary school before going on to high school. So, her official grade level was adjusted 'down', and she is now coming to the end of her primary schooling and seems confident and ready for high school in August. If she had gone to high school at the same time last year, she would have struggled - not least with the language.
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Old 19.05.2012, 13:18
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

I am afraid you have hit the problem which many expats find with the Swiss school system. Actually many other countries in Europe have somewhat similar systems. Things just don't follow the British pattern. There are many complaints about this on other threads and many useful suggestions about how to supplement perceived lacks in the Swiss system. It all depends on how long you plan to stay in Switzerland. If you are not here for the long haul (and can afford it) the obvious solution is to send your daughter to a private international school, though there are disadvantages to this course of action you might find it easier to relate to the way things work. If you want to stay in the Swiss system I would not worry about some things like maths being too easy now as they will soon speed up and probably even overtake the British system in some areas.
To my mind the most important thing for your daughter is to get her German up to scratch. There is no point moving her up a class until she is more or less able to keep up with her classmates in spoken and written German. If you hanker after her previous homework schedule you could supplement the school's work by doing reading and writing in German at home. There are endless workbooks you can use for this. Without these skills moving her up because of her good maths might lead to her having to redo a year later on if she can't cope with the German required. I don't know about where you live but you need to bear in mind that in many areas getting into a gymi is selective and really quite difficult particularly for children who do not come from homes where the local language is not spoken.
I think it is too early to make any decisions I would give it at least a term or even two to see how things go before insisting on a move. She has enough to cope with learning German and Swiss German.
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Old 19.05.2012, 13:29
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

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Just wanted to pick up on this ... I think I understood your daughter was in second year primary? In this Canton, they teach joined up writing in second year and they are very Very big on it .... a letter a week, and lots of practice (this is something my son did bring home for homework). How long has your daughter been in school now? Could it be that she has missed the joined up handwriting part of the year or do they perhaps start it next year?

Handwriting skills are very big in my experience - along with continued requirements for neatness, smart presentation and books and papers being kept in a neat, crease free and orderly fashion - something my 9 year old struggles with!

Ask the teacher about the handwriting as from my experience, it strikes me as odd that you have not noticed an emphasis on handwriting yet.
I agree with ecb here - my 2nd grade daughter has done cursive writing this year. But at this point they have finished all their letters so they don't have that homework anymore.

I think the US/UK models shove things down kids throats too much at an early age and this can turn some kids off from learning. I like the models here in Switzerland (and Germany where we were last year) as the kids do get to be kids for a while longer. It does take a little time to accept this - when other friend's kids are showing their grammar homework and essays that they write in kindergarten on Facebook you can think you might be behind. But, in the end, they all catch up, and in the meantime your child has at least one other language learned which is invaluable.

Just my 2 rappen...
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Old 19.05.2012, 13:32
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

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..... however you cant blame me for reacting this way as I have been used to so much that this look absolutely absurd to me.
I think its very normal for you to worry and also question the system. I know i did the same. Everything looked pretty weird to me and without any logic. Its just 4 months and I completely understand why things are done the way it is done and I am also able to appreciate it better.

As far as library goes, there is one in Baden - very good one. It has got about 60,000 titles of which about 2000 are English titles. There is a kids section and my kid just loves being there (all kids book are in German). http://www.baden.ch/xml_1/internet/e...1590/f1720.cfm

What i found really different from other places i have lived (England, US, UAE & the rest of MiddleEast, India, South East Asia) is that the child develops a lot of skills and is exposed to different things other than academics. It will be so easy for the child to choose what he/she really likes to do compared to other systems.

More than children adjusting, i feel its us parents we are used to a certain way of doing things and when we see something different, i guess its very human to get worried. My only suggestion will be not to transfer those worries to your child. Let her be and enjoy the childhood
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Old 19.05.2012, 13:56
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

Maybe because we have joined in the last term they have finished their handwriting bits but ill ask the class teacher to give me handwriting practice that we might be able to do it at home in our summer break or some other time when she comes home early. Ill take time and settle in and then take up the issue if I still feel i need to do something about it.
Meanwhile can someone also guide me where to put her in the summer break so that she keeps on practicing her german language skills, as the teachers were telling me a lot of discussion in science is required and obviously all in german. The teacher was also saying that children at this age catch up very fast and they are giving her extra german lessons on one to one basis 3 times a week to help her settle in better. No I am now much at ease as I came to know that all is not that bad and since mostly all of you have gone through similar thoughts at some point or the other I dont feel the ODD one out.
Thanks everyone for their comments and helping me sort my mind out. I just need to give everything some time to understand how this system works.
Private schooling is not on the cards as we dont know how long we are here as we have local contract plus the schools are too expensive.
And in addition to the expensive bit I like it. i like the school and their interest in my child and appreciating her for what she has achieved so far. I just wanted them to take her forward from where she left off.
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Old 19.05.2012, 14:25
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

You could always do a bit of home schooling or request a bit of homework yourself.
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Old 19.05.2012, 14:34
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

I have no children so no direct experience of the Swiss system.

But I am a UK trained and qualified primary teacher, and I specialised in the 3-8 age range. I taught for 6 years there (between 2003 and 2009) and was more and more frustrated and sickened by a system that forced me, as the teacher, to focus on academic achievements at the expense of what I saw my pupils actually needed socially.

I didn't, and still don't see, as a professional, how putting a 4 year old in a class of 30 children where one teacher has to tick (or cross) 117 boxes per child, being sure to include 3 pieces of 'evidence' for each box ticked, is in any way going to provide that child with the best education. I was so worn out with looking out for evidence that I didn't have time to actually get to know my pupils as individuals, or to plan activities around their interests and needs... unless it was a need highlighted by a gap on the tick boxes.

From what I've heard of the Swiss system, it seems to me that the children will emerge from the early years more socially grounded, more confident and more able to learn... and also that their teachers will be more able to give them the individual attention and support they need.

And from talking to a friend of mine who took her 'maturité' last year - well, she was studying a far wider range of subjects, to a far greater depth and scope in terms of knowledge than I did in my A levels. Whilst her younger brother, who is a severe dyslexic and has struggled through school, is leaving at the age of 15 to start his own gardening business with a friend, through which he will do his apprenticeship, and they already have a lot of work lined up. So at the other end of the educational system the Swiss system seems to do well by the academic types and also the less academic children. I can't say the same for the UK system.

Just my opinion of course... but if I did have children, I'd much, much rather send them to school here.
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Old 19.05.2012, 14:37
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

My daugther is in 2nd class too, they finished practicing handwriting about 2 months ago. They worked on different worksheets, I'm sure the teacher will give you some, if you ask her.
My children started school in October, and I had very similar feelings, despite the fact that I am a professional (teacher and psychologyst, worked several years in education). I knew there was no need to worry, but still. Learning the language and socializing is more then enough for the first couple of months. Later if the class teacher sees, your daugther is ahead of the others, she might get some extra work. My son gets more difficult math exercises in the last couple of weeks since his German is good enough to understand more complicated texts.
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Old 19.05.2012, 17:02
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Re: School Problem yet again!!!!!

I think the best way for your daughter to pick up more German over the holidays is to do an activity in German. Either music or sport or a day camp, anything really. Learning by immersion is probably the best way for a young child.

Also, she won't even know she's doing it, which takes away any pressure she might feel with regard to having to learn the language.

There are lots of different day camps offered by the city of Zurich and by some private organisations.
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