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Old 24.06.2012, 22:00
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Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

Hello

Myself and my husband are both English, moved to Zurich 16mths ago and have learned a little german. We have two daughters 4 & 2 years old, since we arrived the girls have attended two full days a week at a Swiss german speaking kinderkrippe and in August my 4 year old will start local kindergarten.

Here's our worry.......that by the time she starts school she will know enough Swiss german to be able to make relationships with the other kids and integrate well enough for her to progress and that her education won't suffer.

Everybody says "she will be fine" or "she will easily pick it up" but I would like to know if anyone actually has had any experience of their children, fitting in perfectly or having such problems?

Lisa
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Old 24.06.2012, 22:53
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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\ since we arrived the girls have attended two full days a week at a Swiss german speaking kinderkrippe and in August my 4 year old will start local kindergarten. Lisa
This line sums it up your children have been absorbing Swiss German like a sponge, they will already have picked up a lot of the language. Make sure that the eldest of the children gets Deutsch als eine zweite Sprache DAZ once she starts Kindergarten. Everything will be fine. A couple of activities outside of school will aid integration. Please be aware that the academic expectations are different here for a four year old, just go with the flow.
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Old 24.06.2012, 22:53
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Hey Lisa,
I don't have experience with my own children, however as kids we were moved from Switzerland to New Zealand at ages 2, 3 and 5. I was five and went straight to school, I'd never spoken English before but managed to pick it up in just three months. Children that age are excellent learners - also kindergarten at 4 is still very playful. I don't see why it should have a negative impact on her education at all - quite the opposite. Good luck!
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Old 24.06.2012, 23:02
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

My children went to Kindergarten and now to Primary school.
They took about 1-2months to become fluent in Swiss german.
We speak mostly english at home.

Believe it or not, it is really "no problem" for the kids.
I'd rather worry about YOU adults integrating....
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Old 24.06.2012, 23:23
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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My children went to Kindergarten and now to Primary school.
They took about 1-2months to become fluent in Swiss german.
We speak mostly english at home.

Believe it or not, it is really "no problem" for the kids.
I'd rather worry about YOU adults integrating....
Haha yeah we are moving much slower than our eldest daughter to be fair she does seem to have some understanding of Swiss german but it's so worrying that she will be happy. I'm sure all parents experience this whether in the UK or elsewhere.

I've read elsewhere on the forum of parents experiencing difficulties with teachers in schools not being very understanding or helpful, again I know this happens all over the world!!
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Old 24.06.2012, 23:25
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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This line sums it up your children have been absorbing Swiss German like a sponge, they will already have picked up a lot of the language. Make sure that the eldest of the children gets Deutsch als eine zweite Sprache DAZ once she starts Kindergarten. Everything will be fine. A couple of activities outside of school will aid integration. Please be aware that the academic expectations are different here for a four year old, just go with the flow.
Thanks that's very helpful, we will be sure to look into that and to start some other activities is good advice
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Old 24.06.2012, 23:30
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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I've read elsewhere on the forum of parents experiencing difficulties with teachers in schools not being very understanding or helpful, again I know this happens all over the world!!
All parents from all shapes and sizes, worry about their children, and they also worry about conspiracy theories about Swiss teachers targeting their non-swiss children.
It is NOT TRUE that they do that, although it is 100% look like so to you.
I was there, believe me.
They are ALL FAIR.

Now, don't you worry, and let your children learn and speak Swiss german, etc...
good luck!
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Old 25.06.2012, 13:21
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

When we first came here, my daughter was 3 1/2 and none of us spoke German. Nearly 3 years later and my girl is finishing Swiss Kindergarten, has lots of friends and rattles off phases in Swiss German that my wife and I can't even guess the meaning of, so in the end it seems to have worked out ok, BUT, and I hate to shatter the "she'll be fine" illusion, it's been really Really hard for her (and subsequently us) at times.

At the start of kindergarten she barely spoke any Swiss German at all; she had been to a Kinderkripp 1 day a week for the previous 6 months but barely interacted with any of the other kids whilst she was there. The first 3-6 months of kindergarten were really hard as she was unable to communicate with the other kids (she's still the only non-Swiss) and was excluded from most group games that the kids played. The teachers were pretty good about it in as much as making sure that they didn't speak to her in English unless it was absolutely necessary but seemed to do little to step in when she was obviously being picked on. When I went on my regular trips to tell them that she'd come home in floods of tears yet again, their response was just that she's young for her age group and essentially that she needs to toughen up.

It definitely improved after about 5-6 months as she became more adept at the language but because of the bullying she also started doing Aikido once a week. That turned out to be a good move as the class for the little ones seems to be full of expat kids going through similar problems.

She still has some confidence issues that occasionally rattle her a bit, but on the whole she's adapted incredibly well, doesn't take sh*t from the other kids on the street, has plenty of friends that she screams around with, has been invited to a few Swiss birthday parties and we've even seen other kids standing up for her when things have flared up.

"She'll be 'right" is probably true in the end, but getting there's not necessarily easy

Primary School starts in August... the nerves are starting up all over again for her...

Last edited by Moscat; 25.06.2012 at 16:05.
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Old 25.06.2012, 21:23
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

Thanks moscat for being honest about your situation.

I'm happy for you and your daughter that she has overcome the initial problems but sorry that she had them in the first place.
This is why I posted my question as nearly everybody says don't worry she will be fine, kids adapt and learn easily etc, but me and my husband are worried that our daughter may go through similar problems when starting school.

I'm happy that lots of children settle in easily but it also gives me comfort in thinking we are not worrying unnecessarily. We want to be aware of the types of problems others have had, regardless of the percentage of children that have actually experienced them.

Good luck to your daughter starting primary school!
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Old 25.06.2012, 22:00
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

If I was honest I think there should be a self help group for the parents who's children have to go to a school in their new environment. The children have a far easier time of it than their parents do. At the end of the day, the children learn far faster and are far more open than the parents are.

Food for thought.
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Old 25.06.2012, 22:10
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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Hello

Myself and my husband are both English, moved to Zurich 16mths ago and have learned a little german. We have two daughters 4 & 2 years old, since we arrived the girls have attended two full days a week at a Swiss german speaking kinderkrippe and in August my 4 year old will start local kindergarten.

Here's our worry.......that by the time she starts school she will know enough Swiss german to be able to make relationships with the other kids and integrate well enough for her to progress and that her education won't suffer.

Everybody says "she will be fine" or "she will easily pick it up" but I would like to know if anyone actually has had any experience of their children, fitting in perfectly or having such problems?

Lisa
We have a 4 year old (who has some as yet un-diagnosed health issues) and a 3 year old. Our 4 year old has a therapist that comes to our home every week to work with him but as he will be starting kindergarten soon, the therapist will no longer be working with him. However she did talk about working with our 3 year old, not because she (the 3 year old) has issues like her older brother but to help her learn some more German and transition easier into school and stuff. The home therapist was set up through the local government here (I forget the word for it, but the community center, basically) and I imagine they might have similar programs elsewhere to help expat kids integrate easier into society.
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Old 25.06.2012, 22:37
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

Arrived here with three kids, then age 4,6 and 10, ten years ago. All integrated fine.

The only issue that recurs, is while our kids often have higher grades in German than their Swiss peers, in their other classes, there are still some teachers who say "hmm. Your German isn't good enough for [the next level]", yet say nothing to the Swiss kids. Happens to all three of them. Even the one who's now at university!
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Old 25.06.2012, 23:54
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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All parents from all shapes and sizes, worry about their children, and they also worry about conspiracy theories about Swiss teachers targeting their non-swiss children.
It is NOT TRUE that they do that, although it is 100% look like so to you.
I was there, believe me.
They are ALL FAIR.

Now, don't you worry, and let your children learn and speak Swiss german, etc...
good luck!
hmm. i don't fully agree. it depends on the teacher. we had a right bi*** at one school and the school were useless at addressing it but now were at another school the teacher and school are very good now.

not every school in CH is wonderful. its hit and miss.
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Old 26.06.2012, 00:01
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

Agree on the school, but also depends on the childs character and adaptability. If you have big concerns I'd talk to the teachers at the Krippe if they have any suggestions. Have some friends who have their kids in Swiss-German only Krippe but the kids are younger than yours but they are getting along fine.
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Old 26.06.2012, 12:38
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

My daughter has been going to a Swiss german Krippe and settled in really well, I have spoken to the teachers there about her language development many times and they have always had positive things to say. I recently told them my concerns and they again reassured me that she understands them very well however does not speak to them in Swiss german or to her friends. Maybe because she knows the teachers understand English?

She is a confident, sociable little girl, maybe a little shy at times, I'm proud of how well she has fitted into kinderkrippe so I guess only time will tell once she starts kindergarten and she has more exposure to the language.
We do have other options of where to work and live, we don't want cause development, confidence issues because she is viewed as an outsider by her peers.
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Old 26.06.2012, 12:47
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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Hello

Myself and my husband are both English, moved to Zurich 16mths ago and have learned a little german. We have two daughters 4 & 2 years old, since we arrived the girls have attended two full days a week at a Swiss german speaking kinderkrippe and in August my 4 year old will start local kindergarten.

Here's our worry.......that by the time she starts school she will know enough Swiss german to be able to make relationships with the other kids and integrate well enough for her to progress and that her education won't suffer.

Everybody says "she will be fine" or "she will easily pick it up" but I would like to know if anyone actually has had any experience of their children, fitting in perfectly or having such problems?

Lisa
Hi Lisa,

We arrived only in April from South Africa. I have two kiddies, daughter 10 and son 7. My daughter can speak German but my son only understands a little but they have settled amazingly well and are very happy in the local school, but I have to mention that the teachers have gone out of their way to help them. My daughter has already started picking up some Swiss German and her little friends are helping her with that. Both children are getting German lesson from the school, and they are really doing great.

Good luck!
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Old 26.06.2012, 12:54
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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hmm. i don't fully agree. it depends on the teacher. we had a right bi*** at one school and the school were useless at addressing it but now were at another school the teacher and school are very good now.

not every school in CH is wonderful. its hit and miss.
Just to agree with OBone. Both our daughters went to the same local primary school. One did really well but the younger had a teacher change and the happy child we once had became a victim of bullying for being a foreigner. My wife fought hard for a school change (and it was a fight as there are none of the parents rights to choose a school, as per the Uk) and we got her moved and the happy child returned.

So you are right to be concerned. In the right enviroment they will do fine, so I would just keep an eye on the quality of the teacher.
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Old 26.06.2012, 13:00
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

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I recently told them my concerns and they again reassured me that she understands them very well however does not speak to them in Swiss german or to her friends. Maybe because she knows the teachers understand English?

My daughter was exactly the same. For about a year before she started kindergarten she went to a Kinderkrippe for two days a week. After a while she obviously started to understand Swiss-German but didn't say much. I have heard that this is very common. Children sometimes take a while to digest the new language before they start speaking it.

Then we moved from Zurich to Meilen and my daughter started Kindergarten. At this point her Swiss-German really took off. She started speaking it all the time (with lots of mistakes, of course) but with no hesitation.

I also enrolled her in a small music group in Swiss German, and she started playing with all the local kids in Swiss German. Now she does all her activities in German with no qualms.

She's now just finishing the first class and, according to her teacher and from what we observe, there are no issues at all. She switches between English and German without really thinking about it, and will happily translate something she is reading for us if she thinks we don't understand it (which is often the case!).

I think you are going about things the right way. Kindergarten is all about building resilience and independence here, as well as developing social skills. Your daughters will have two years of Kindergarten before they start more formal learning, and should be offered extra German classes in that time. My daughter had extra German twice a week in Kindergarten, which has dropped to once a week this year because the German teacher thought that was now enough for her.
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Old 26.06.2012, 13:19
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

@Emelene, that's reassuring that they have settled in well coming at the age they are.

@Spacey, it's seems to be a common theme that the kids with good experiences in Swiss school have a supportive teacher behind them, I guess this is the same in schools worldwide however seems to be a common problem for us foreigners here, I have to admit I have only just really started feeling like a foreigner!

@Tildaoz, that's good to hear how your daughter has settled in I hope we have the same experience, it all seems hit and miss, more so than if they were going to an English speaking school, I guess I'm just gonna have to go with the flow and hope that my daughter gets the right teacher and group of peers!
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Old 26.06.2012, 13:22
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Re: Problems with children integrating into Swiss school?

I guess it has a lot to do with the attitude of the parents. If they compare everything here with the system back home, a child will develop most surely a negative attitude to the new school. If they encourage the child, and keep in contact with the teacher they can deal with issues on a low level. However, parents have to remember, that it takes time to adjust and to get new friends.
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