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  #21  
Old 29.06.2012, 13:12
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

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I have come to the conclusion that the choice between the two really comes down to one thing: what kind of lifestyle do you wish to have?
Actually I'd say the first question to answer, is "how long are we likely to be here?". The second question is usually "how much does it cost / would we be able to afford it" leading onto other practical questions (distance - commute - holidays (compatible with other family members if they are in the Swiss system etc).

But I do understand the lifestyle comment - one child goes to an intl school here, but I insisted that the youngest went to local KG as I knew this would help us to "integrate" more and we'd be at less of a risk of being trapped in an ex-pat bubble. Also I thought the youngest would be a lot more settled after a few months (3) having picked up the basics of SG.

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If you want to integrate with the Swiss and need to feel part of the community, your only choice is to send them to local school if the children are young enough. It's not like living in London or New York etc.., where lots of kids go to private school and it doesn't really matter, because very few Swiss families -- even the rich ones -- choose this option. Your children simply won't be accepted by the local community unless you take this step. I can speak only for the German side, but if your kids can't communicate in Swiss German, making local friends will be pretty much impossible, regardless of how many football or scouts classes you enroll them in. Their social circle will be limited to kids who go to their school, and they are unlikely to live nearby.
There I disagree. If you get on well with the neighbours, if the neighbours have children of roughly the same age, there are possibilities... also do not underestimate the power of clubs and communities (sports, other activities). I don't think you can make a blanket statement liek that.

I agree completely on the language point though - without German at least, and to be honest Swiss German, then it's highly unlikely that anything is going to happen.

Last edited by c123; 29.06.2012 at 13:20. Reason: "2nd question" added + 2nd quote
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  #22  
Old 29.06.2012, 13:23
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

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Hankag,
You make an interesting point about kids in international schools not being accepted by locals, I think you are right . sending my kids to local activities but not school has backfired on them. The local kids are really quite nasty to them , or at best ignore and exclude them, so much so that I have withdrawn them from these activities, which means they are very isolated. Not a good thing but I couldn't force them to keep going to activities they hate becuase other kids pick on them ( only name calling, but hurtful for any kid to be called a dirty forgeigner, pig etc.). The teachers/ group leaders seem to be oblivious to this. I don't know if they would have faced the same problems if they went to the local school, perhaps at the beginning and then less as they are more accepted. if I had been aware of this, I would not have been so enthusiastically signing them up for activities in the happy/naive belief that everything will be fine provided I make the effort. Based on my experience, it's not easy being a foreign kid here. I should say that my kids are 10 and 12 though, which is possibly the worst age for bullying, so maybe I am seeing the worst side of things now.
Sad to hear that. Our experience is the contrary - eldest goes to an intl school, but plays local school organised badminton. Happy to say zero problems. We arrived / she started badminton at the age of 9.
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  #23  
Old 29.06.2012, 13:25
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

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Has anyone put their older children (10+) into local schools? What has been your experience?

Honestly, I haven't heard too many real success stories. Most kids were happy to go back to their native country again or never really integrated due to the private lifestyle being 100% English (including friends).
Ha. We arrived when eldest was 9. I was pushing for us to try local for two reasons: cost, and integration. I was overruled, the mother thought it would be too much of a strain.
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  #24  
Old 29.06.2012, 16:47
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

There are valid reasons for choosing either system, both parents working being a great, big one. And as I said in an earlier post, this is really aimed at people who are making a substantial time commitment to Switzerland and are trying to choose (and can afford the fees!) And with children with few educational issues (that's a whole other subject.)
Maybe I am wrong, but I would guess that not many non-Swiss kids going to intl school (or even Bi-lingual school) speak Swiss German to a reasonable standard and are therefore not that capable of communicating with local kids. Enormous kudos to those who make it work.
But imagine a French family moving to Rye, New York with little intention to learn English. They would be confined, more or less, to making friends at the local Lycee. Most people would find that odd, not to mention a missed opportunity to get to know a new culture.
I know that Swiss German, or even German, is not that useful in the grand scheme of things but if you're going to be hanging around the country for a long period of time, you might as well make the most of it. Even socialize with, dare I say it, "non-international people."
Frankly, I haven't met too many expats who send their kids to international school speak kindly about their host nation's citizens. But my sample is very small, so I shall end my comments (this is what happens when I take time off from work.) Good luck to all facing this issue.
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Old 29.06.2012, 17:03
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

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I know that Swiss German, or even German, is not that useful in the grand scheme of things...
Not wrong, of course, but for each individual, it's not the median/average grand scheme that matters but their special case (= their lives). One can never know if one's particular life will follow the big scheme of things or will be a special case. In my life, Danish was the most important language that makes me the happy person I am today (complex reasons, no need to go into details). Nobody could have predicted that in my French-German childhood. English ended up being totally secondary, although it is anything but secondary for hundreds of millions of people in the world. To me, Danish was useful in my life, English is just for fun. The school system, my parents, the statistics and the whole internet if it had existed then were predicting it the other way around.
You'll never know whether German or Swiss German will be a fundamental factor of your success in life in advance. Statistics are of no use for handling individual cases. I trust intuition far more for that. What ever intuition says... it's worth considering it. Just the lesson life taught me. I'm sure we all learned different and equally valuable lessons, I'm just sharing this one.
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  #26  
Old 29.06.2012, 23:48
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

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Sad to hear that. Our experience is the contrary - eldest goes to an intl school, but plays local school organised badminton. Happy to say zero problems. We arrived / she started badminton at the age of 9.
Thanks, actually the same kids who came home in tears from their local group last week because of this name calling, told me today they didn't care and the perpretrators were stupid or something. so really maybe I was overreacting, sorry if I put anyone off integration efforts.
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  #27  
Old 18.04.2016, 13:35
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

I am just bumping up this thread as currently we are agonizing over the decision as the OP points out---

We have a child going to Kindergarten and must decide between local on Intl school system. We have been here for a while, and don't mind trying out the local system, but since we both work full time, it is so painfully difficult to find a good solution

Also, having visited both International and Local schools, it seems International schooling does have its advantages and prepares the kids for a truly international life later on. Local on the other had is good for integration and access, but we need to put in the same amount of effort as the child (perhaps more!)

On the flip side, International system is fully in English with no exposure to German, which I don't know how good it is for a child intending to grow up in Switzerland. Local schools on the other had (and kids growing up in local system), have as well an outlook that is restricted to Switzerland

Is there any one on the forum who has opted out of the local system and decided to go international, even while intending to stay in Switzerland for the foreseeable future? what were the challenges you/ your child faced or is facing?

I know there are loads of threads and so on, and also lot of information on the net, but have not come across this specific example we are intending to be ---

any comments that will give us some perspective are much appreciated
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  #28  
Old 18.04.2016, 14:54
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

I don't know which International School you have been looking at. Before you go any further you need to find out whether you will be permitted to send a child to an International school even if you want to. The ruling changed a couple of years back in canton Zürich.

The new ruling is along the lines of - a child can go to a 'foreign-language' school if the parents are only living temporarily in Canton Zürich, if they now live in canton Zürich but can show clearly that they intend to move abroad, or if their child started schooling in a non-German speaking canton or non-German speaking country.

The problem with a purely English speaking school is less the school itself, but the integration with other children generally and the question of what the child does at school-leaving age. Bachelor Courses in Swiss Universities are held in German, French, Italien and if the child wants to do an apprenticeship instead, there are a whole load of hurdles ahead if he or she has not been through the Swiss school system. I believe Swiss children are helped with looking for apprenticeship place and choice of career during their last years at school. At a school whcih is really orientated towards (foreign) Universities, this will all be missed.

I'm not sure that this last point wasn't one of the reasons for the ruling. Parents with enough funds were sending their children to enable them to enjoy the many positive aspects of an international school (not least of which is -er slightly more parent-friendly timetable) and at the end of their time there, parents and children were suddenly confronted with 'what now?' - and the Swiss system was supposed to come up with an answer.

Good luck anyway.
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  #29  
Old 18.04.2016, 15:54
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

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I am just bumping up this thread as currently we are agonizing over the decision as the OP points out---

We have a child going to Kindergarten and must decide between local on Intl school system. We have been here for a while, and don't mind trying out the local system, but since we both work full time, it is so painfully difficult to find a good solution

Also, having visited both International and Local schools, it seems International schooling does have its advantages and prepares the kids for a truly international life later on. Local on the other had is good for integration and access, but we need to put in the same amount of effort as the child (perhaps more!)

On the flip side, International system is fully in English with no exposure to German, which I don't know how good it is for a child intending to grow up in Switzerland. Local schools on the other had (and kids growing up in local system), have as well an outlook that is restricted to Switzerland

Is there any one on the forum who has opted out of the local system and decided to go international, even while intending to stay in Switzerland for the foreseeable future? what were the challenges you/ your child faced or is facing?

I know there are loads of threads and so on, and also lot of information on the net, but have not come across this specific example we are intending to be ---

any comments that will give us some perspective are much appreciated
We have a slightly different situation so are looking at private schools (rather than "international schools"). While I can't advise on IS what I can say is once you step away from the local schools to private/international is there is a lot of variance in the offerings in a good way. This is in fees, teaching styles, language and class sizes. It is a bit of work researching the schools and what they individually offer but knowing what your options are (in your area) will help your decision making. The other "problem" with local schools is with them not being day schools the cost of lunch and after school care adds up pretty quickly if you are both working full time and there is not much flexibility to change these arrangements if circumstances change. A dual language day school might be the answer imho to have a foot in each camp.
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Old 18.04.2016, 16:13
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

Quality - probably about the same. Preparation for the future - probably about the same. Costs of IS - probably considerably more than any childcare costs.

Seems a no-brainer to me if
a) The kid has not yet started school or only just begun
and
b) You're intending to stay in CH during the critical years (10-18 say).
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Old 18.04.2016, 19:09
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

If you have the choice of international or local then I think your decision depends on your philosophy of education and on what your future plans are for your children.

I have limited knowledge of the Swiss local system but know about international schools. Most international schools in Switzerland are International Baccalaureate schools. The teaching is in English, but students also study French and/or German to quite a high level- so there is the possibility of some interaction locally. Very few international students speak English only; and students can't pass the IB without speaking another language proficiently. Languages offered usually reflect the language spoken in the host country.

Most international students will not go on to university in Switzerland; otherwise they would have chosen the Swiss school system.

Have a look at the IB curriculum and the local school curriculum- that may help with your decision.
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  #32  
Old 18.04.2016, 20:42
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

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Is there any one on the forum who has opted out of the local system and decided to go international, even while intending to stay in Switzerland for the foreseeable future? what were the challenges you/ your child faced or is facing?
A friend of mine has just taken his boy (9) out of local school, he was born here and both parents are fluent in German/English and put him into SIS (Swiss international School) they are beyond pleased with the switch, they both work full time and so this is a great solution for them. The school follows the Swiss education system NOT the UK/USA one, so kids go on to do the matura etc. They are especially pleased with the style of teaching and the general 'world' approach to life, activities and such. I guess this maybe a solution for those who intend to stay long term as they learn both English and German simultaneously. Having began his education in the swiss system he has made all his local friends joined all the teams whilst being a 'local swiss kid' so the integration is obviously not a problem.

If I only had one child (I have 3) I would have considered this solution too. My 3 all go to the local schools (6,8,10) they are fluent and integrated within the community and consider themselves 'swiss locals' but the idea of a worldwide perspective education that international schools provide is something i will have to provide for them as there is no chance we can afford all 3 in a international school.

Last edited by zurich99; 18.04.2016 at 20:51. Reason: forgot to say something
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  #33  
Old 18.04.2016, 21:10
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Re: International school vs local: it's a question of lifestyle

We chose the middle ground, a bilingual Swiss-owned Montessori school, and we are extremely happy with our choice. The first 2 years the Troll went to the French school in Dübendorf, but once we started thinking about staying for good we switched him and never looked back.

We feel we get the best from both worlds, in addition to extremely dedicated teachers and a great pedagogy:
- A real bilingual English-German school, with the teachers speaking High German and the assistants speaking Swiss German to the kids. German being the main language of teaching, it goes way beyond the "bilingual" stream at the French school
- French classes 2 days a week
- We follow the Zürich calendar and the days follow roughly the normal Swiss schedule (something the Lycée didn't do)
- Lunch at school, not at home
- Although the kids can leave after lunch (number of afternoon varies according to age), the school offers full-time day-care from 07.30 to 17.30, Monday to Friday
- They also have holiday care (including camp for the older kids) and are only closed 5 weeks/year
- Swimming once a week
- Kids who are all day Wednesday go in the forest on Wednesday afternoons, those who stay on Fridays have an excursion every week
- French immersion camp for the older kids in the spring
- Most of the kids come from bi-national families and are bilingual at home as well, not necessarily German and/or English
- Excellent class environment, good kids and reasonable parents

My only reservation is that very few kids speak Swiss German during playtime, but at least the Troll understands it; if he wants to speak it one day he'll be ok.

Next step for us will be the local school from 2017 if I don't get a job. I'm pretty senere about it. I didn't go to an international school and yet I speak 4 languages, am married to a Norwegian, have left Canada in the late 90s and have lived in 5 countries already. I think there are loads of opportunities to raise an "international" child without sending him/her to an international school.
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