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Old 21.02.2008, 16:42
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Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Hello, everyone, we live in Zurich.

Our daughter was born on in May 2003 (just days ater a cut-off date of 30 April for Kindergarten entry). This year she can start official state kindergarten. She also could have started Year 1 of state Kindergarten last year, as children born between 1 May and 30 July could be also considered for start in August of that year. But we did not apply for a state kindergarten last year, as she was (and still is) going to a private English/German bilingual preschool full itme where they follow a combination of UK and Swiss curriculums. This year we plan to send her to state kindergarten as she needs to learn Swiss German prior to school (we are Russian speakers). We would like her to go to Year 2 of state kindergarten straight away.

And this is where we have a problem, as Zurichberg authorities are very stubborn. They say, that she should go to Year 1 and then they will see how she is doing, and may later move her to Year 2 in the same year. Year 1 and Year 2 children stay in the same group with he same Kidergartnerin, but Year 2 children also come for two afternoons a week, whilst Year 1 children only come in the mornings.

Seeing how stubborn authorites are, I hav a big concern that if our child goes to Year 1, it will be next to impossible to move her to Year 2 in that year, because they do not want to give her a chance to try Year 2 straight away. She also does not speak Swiss German, so it will take her some time to understand and start speaking, but in that period of time of course the Kindergartnerin would not be able to access our daughter's potential fully due to lack of communication.

Also, by missing Year 2 afternoon sessions, she will miss additional opportunity of learning Swiss German, will lag behind the program of Year 2, which will make her transfer to Year 2 difficult or impossible.

Kindergartnerin will decide whether the child is ready or not, and this is my other concern, as, for example, I went to see the nearest kindergarden after children finished their activities, and the kindergartnerin there was very unfriendly, she said she has no time for me. When I asked her when I may come she said: “Never, I have no time. Just send an official application and your child will be allocated a place”.

So, I have to leave my daughter's future to a Kindergartnerin, who does not even want to talk to me!

It will already be a fallback for our daughter to have school only in the mornings, because she likes different activities and gets bored without new things. She is also quite advanced: she reads in Russian, starts to read in English, speaks English and German (although German is not in an advanced stage, but is building up rapidly).

If she does not go to Year 2, she will lose a whole year just because her birthdays is 5 days later then cut-off, and she will only start school at 7.5 which is really late!

I've offered the authorities to bring her portfolio of work from the current school , or child psychologist recommendation, but they've said they do not want to see any of these, as they do not care: the Kindergartnerin is the only one who will decide my daughter's fate next year.

Our daughter can continue with her current private kindergarten, but she has no exposure to Swiss German there. And even when she finishes Year 2 programme there next year, her transfer to school will not be automatic due to her birth date, althought the teachers said they they will write a recommendation letter etc. etc, but it will still be up to the local authorities to make a decision.

What should we do? I feel totally helpless. Any ideas are very welcome.

lana
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Old 21.02.2008, 23:30
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to YEar 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

I also have a daughter starting kindergarten this year, and so also have friends whos children are 1 school year ahead.

My advice: let her start in "year 1", then about November/December you ask to have a talk to the Kindergarten teacher, about how she thinks your daughter is doing. If the teacher feels she could move into the next level. I know of 2 people who did this this year, and 2 the year before. It is not uncommon.

Remember that if she is to do her schooling in German, it would be a good idea that she can speak and "feel" the language. It will be an extra challenge for her to be learning say, math in a 2nd or 3rd language.
And, if she doesn't have any freinds at school, because she can't communicate with the other kids, it is not going to be easy for her.

I have heard of many people only doing 1 year of kindergarten, but none "skipping straight into" year 2.

If you plan on staying in Switzerland, during you daughters' school carreer, trust the system. AND make sure she learns both German and Swiss German - for her sanity and so that she has it easier at school.
Or pay for private schooling..

The thing isn't really to worry about "starting school at 7.5" - you can always have her do extra reading and writing classing from the many english schools around, if she is bored and needs extra stimulus... the thing to concentrate on, is to make sure she gets "A's", or be the best in her class when she is AT school - (an advantage being the eldest, and possibly the most mature) that she can get into the right secondary school, and be allowed to go to university - if that is your goal for her..

With regards to the Kindergärtnerin who doesn't want to talk to you... 7 of the 10 people i know whos kids are born in May, have the same thoughts. The Kindergärtnerin hears the same story every year, from at least 2 parents..

With regards to accessing your daughters full potential - remember that if she goes into a german speaking school, her potential is only as good as the german she can speak (!)

In saying all this, I also send my 4 year old daughter to reading and writing classes. She is doing well. In New Zealand, where I come from, school starts at 5. My daughter will also be 7 when she starts school here. i also make sure she mixes with lots of Swiss kids(!)

I will trust the system, where I have to (choose to?) use it, and try to support her, where I think she needs more.

Of course all our children are genii!! (us, i, o, um, o, is, orum, is, os, is) - who is going to correct me here?????
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Old 22.02.2008, 00:20
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Hi Lana,

Having almost got two kids through kindergarten now, it strikes me that perhaps you need to have a fresh look at things.

First of all most kids start school at about 7 years old, so having your child start at 7.5 years is not going to be such a big deal and of course she will not be the only one! Secondly, there is not much of a difference between the first and second year in kindergarten, other than the amount of time they put in, so again it should not be a big deal to switch between one and the other.

Most foreign kids need the extra year in kindergarten to really master the language, so if she needs the extra year so be it. At the end of the day a year one way or the other will not make a difference in the over all plan of things.

During the school year you will have several chances to meet with the teacher and discuss your childs progress and what you both think is best for her. I had to deal with at least 6 kindergarten teachers over the past while and it has been my experience that in the end they always try to do their very best for the childern in their care. So have a little faith, I'm sure it will work out just fine.

One thing I have found is that the teachers do not like to hear much about the child at the start. They prefer to work with the child for a while and then at the first partent teach meeting, get to know all the back ground stuff. In the first meeting with the teacher they ususally set out what they have found out, their impressions and so on and then ask you if that matches up with your knowledge of the child, after that they go on to discuss how they expect the year will work out and what your expectations for the child are - it is at this point I would bring up the idea of only doing one year in the kindergarten and see how it goes.

Now before you say I'm mad, let me tell you that I am the father of a problem child - the experts can't agree on what the problem is, other than that there is a problem. I experienced my child going into the KKD, only to be follow by a period where they compressed 1 year of school into 6 months and pushed him up two classes and then having him stay back a year. Over the period I've met with all kinds of officials from the education department, so perhaps I have a different attitude that others might have on this.

I hope I have not offended you, but I really think you should chill out and stop pushing so hard. It will all work out in the end.

Best Regards,

Jim
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Old 22.02.2008, 12:42
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Jim, hello, I am not offended, althought it is hard for me to chill out and completely trust the system, because the system is different from the ones I experienced before. But I hear similar opinion from many people who have spent time here, so it must be the case.


Two questions: when does the first teacher-parent meeting take place? Someone mentioned to me that the issue of an earlier transfer to school can be raised in February, or do you think I can bring up this issue earlier?

What is KKD?

thank you
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Old 22.02.2008, 14:56
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Hi Lana,

Kindergarten is very much about the social side of life rather learning the ABCs and 123s, yes they do some of that too, but not so much as you would notice! Some of the objectives were:
- Walk to/from kindergarten on their own
- Being able to dress/underss etc... for the Gym class without help
- Buy stuff in a shop
and so on.

The first meeting for new kids in Bern is usually in November or early December and in our case the decision to go for school or stay another year is in late Feb. or early March. I get the impression that after that the teacher really pushes to make sure the kid is ready for the big move.

I don't remeber what KKD stands for, but it is a class for special needs childern - slow learners, hyper active and so on...

Best Regards,

Jim
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Old 22.02.2008, 16:13
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Quote:
View Post

I don't remeber what KKD stands for, but it is a class for special needs childern - slow learners, hyper active and so on...

Best Regards,

Jim
Konferenz die Klassendelegierten.

It is particularly set up to help problems and find solutions and is focused on helping schools incorporate problems into mainstream education. It is not simply focused on problem children but also changes in curriculum, problem teachers etc.
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Old 22.02.2008, 16:24
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Lana,

I think I would suggest you go back to the drawing board and think about what you are trying to achieve. There are many ways to crack a nut...

The Kindergarten system in Switzerland is all about social skills learning and not really academic. As such it does not really make a huge difference if your child attends a Swiss kindergarten or some other form of preparatory education. However, your children will encounter some small difficulties at the start of school if they attend a state school as their classmates will speak Swiss German with each other even if the lessons are primarily in high German.

So I guess the question is really how many Swiss speaking friends do they currently have. If the answer is less than 3 I would suggest quite strongly biting the bullet and following the system. If on the other hand they have quite a few friends "from the neighbourhood" I don't see why you should not just send them straight to school.

Note the early entrance to school is a multi-component assessment. The components consist of social skills, psychological and academic tests and references. This test is rather against the child, but it is quite comprehensive and fair so if your child is bright there should be no problem. Note that the ability to read and write is not particularly relevant but cognitive development is. A child needs to demonstrate being at least in the transition to concrete operational stage. eg a test to sort rings in order on a stick to form a cone etc

But in any case you have no need to rush and I would strongly advise spending time talking to kindergarten teachers and even going to the kindergarten for a day.
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Old 22.02.2008, 20:28
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Richard, thank you.

Re visit to a kindergarten: my first attempt was a total failure, as I've mentioned in my post, the lady had no time and desire to talk to me, neither on a day, nor at any other time. This is not even saying about spending a day there observing. When I asked a lady in charge of kindergarten entry in our district why I've got such a hostile attitide from the kindergartnerin, she said to me: This is not how things are done here, you have no choice of kindergarten anyway, so no point to visit them. Imagine if all parents come to see kindergarten, she would have no time for children. We (the authorities) therefore we prohibit such visits, there is nothing to talk to her about at this stage. This was quite a shock to me as back to UK one can visit state and private kindergartens without any problem (at least from my experience).

Re language: she has no swiss speaking friends and this is the main point why I think we should switch her to a state kindergarten. She is only 5 days behind the cut-off date for Year 2 anyway and I still can not understand and accept that 5 days are more important for entry than the child who is now attending Year 1 of private (but canton accredited) kindergarten anyway and will be in Year 2 in August, if she continues.

best,
lana
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Old 25.02.2008, 17:30
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Hello lana, I think it is important that you understand that there is no stigma whatsoever associated with joining elementary school at 7.3 years old, this is a normal age and if you wish that your daughter starts at 6.3 you'll have to prove she can handle this. You will have to wait for a couple of months to start the procedure which, like many things here, is formalised. (On the other hand it is uncommon or impossible to start with the second year of Kindergarten).

Your daughter's future isn't at the mercy of a kindergarten teacher alone, but her opinion will be factored in. The law that regulates this is cantonal and is called Volksschulverordnung,§ 40 and 51 according to an abstract I found online. You'll have to ask for it in writing, the kindergarten teacher and a school psychologist then will be asked for their opinions and based on this, the responsible authority (Schulpflege) will decide.

So you'll have to give your daughter some time to get used to a Kindergarten and her future teacher to form an opinion. What you can do now is to educate yourself as much as possible about the school system. The official information meeting for parents with children who are about to go to kindergarten has already passed in Schulkreis Zürichberg on 7 February, but if you have missed it I could point you to the same meeting in neighboring school districts of the city where it happens later.

Once your daughter is in kindergarten, there will be a parent-teacher conference (Elternabend), probably in autumn. Maybe there will be an official open doors day, too.

You have mentioned that one of the reasons you'd like your daughter to attend the afternoons is that she can improve her German faster. The city offers additional German lessons for kindergarten kids with foreign mother tongues. However they probably aren't offered everywhere and require that you inform the authorities in advance of her mother tongue. Also, even if your daughter can't attend the afternoon classes, she possibly could spend some afternoons together with her new colleagues from kindergarten?


I think it will not be easier to get a permission for your daughter to join elementary school sooner if you leave her in the private kindergarten for another year, compared with the alternative. Even if it were, this would be outweighted by the benefit of learning (Swiss and High) German sooner at a public kindergarten. At least in this concern I completely agree with your gut feeling.

Last edited by Nathu; 25.02.2008 at 19:01.
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Old 25.02.2008, 18:24
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Nathu,

thank you very much for a very detailed post, it's very helpful. You did not finish your sentence:" Also, even if your daughter can't attend the afternoon classes, she possibly could spend ..."

I have been to parents' meeting on 7 Feb, that's where the Zurichberg Frau in charge of Kindergarten entry reiterated her point that child should go to Year 1 first. I am still a bit puzzled why in her private state accredited kindergarten she can be Year 2 and in the state one she can only be Year 1.

Also, do you know by any chnace why a meeting for foreign speaking parents of Zurcihberg children takes place in Oerlikon ?

Open days are scheduled for middle of March, and I will definitely go there, although I do not understand why they are not scheduled before the application due date.

When you say that entry in Year 2 is uncommon or impossible, is it based on your experience, or some procedures? Is it due to age? I suppose if the birthday was 30 April, then would automatically put her in Year 2, right? Or would they still ask her to go to Year 1?

I do not worry about stigma of going to school at 7.3, if we stayed here forever. But it is a late start, compared to many other countries, and it is also a very gentle one, being pretty much similar to kindergarten (at least this is what I was told by other parents), so moving abroad becomes quite difficult due to these two factors.

Thank you
lana
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Old 25.02.2008, 19:49
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Oops, corrected that.

Because of the absence of documentation I draw the conclusion that skipping the first year of kindergarten or elementary school is very uncommon when joining the public system, but if you want to be sure if the rules prevent it, you have to read through the Volksschulverordnung yourself. In your conversation with the decisive kindergarten official you saw that age is the most important criterion for them.

Are you sure that your private kindergarten is officially approved? If you can document this, this might be of help in a couple of months or even now. I ask because mandatory kindergarten is something new and approvals are not required yet or maybe the city even didn't hand them out until now. Also some other children go to playgroups before kindergarten so your daughter's career isn't entirely uncommon.

If I were in your shoes I'd probably send her to year 1 of the public kindergarten for now and request a promotion to year 2/elementary school next winter... This way you are covered if your daughter has some language problems or you move sooner than you anticipated. Also forget about the decisive lady for now and focus on the future kindergarten teacher, it might well be a different person.

No idea why the meeting was in Oerlikon, perhaps a couple of school districts organised this event together.
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Old 20.03.2008, 00:43
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Hi Lana !! I know this got posted several weeks ago, but I was just reading through all these threads, and I was wondering if I could ask you something. I think we are going to have the same problem... My daughter was born May 14th 2004. Do you have any idea if she will be able to start Kindergarden 1 ??? I really don't understand all this cut-off...You said in your message that children born between May 1st -July 30th could be considered for enrolllment. Did you mean for Kinder 1 or 2 ?? Thanks for your help.

Graciela
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Old 20.03.2008, 00:56
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Better not to attempt admitting the child into a higher class. Everyone gets stressed: the child, the teacher, the admin and finally the parents.

Better for the child to be best-of-class than worst-of-class. Hence, pick a lower class.

If the child is very gifted, then it soon becomes apparent in class. You can then explore the possibility of consulting a child psychologist. Based on that expert's report, you can request a mid-year promotion or leapfrog a class at the end of school year. But, the worst-of-class risk remains.
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Old 20.03.2008, 01:54
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Graciela,

in Zurichberg the deadline for submission of applications for KG was 29 Feb, but it maybe different where you live. If the child is born 1 May-31 July, parents can still apply for KG Year 1, and authorities decide whether to give a place or not. From what I understand this depends on the availability of places.

Our case is different because we did not apply last Year for Y1 KG (although if we did I think she would have been given a place), but this year we applied for KG Y 2(as she was bourn in 2003), and this is where the problem is as they do not want the chld to go to KG2. Funnily enough if she was born a week earlier, she will be in Year 2 without any questions.

So, as a comment to Goldtop, age wise our daughter is much closer to Year 2 that Year 1. If she (born May 2003) goes to Year 1, where there are also kids born in July 04, I can not see how they can have the same amount of experience and knowledge. I do not entirely agree with the comment of being the best in the class or worst in the class. It's not a run, kids have different abilities in different areas. One can be the best in drawing but the worst in reading, etc. I personally do not think that being the best just because of the age is a right thing to do, as this is not reflecting the true potential of a child as the child is not stimulated enough for his/her age.
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Old 20.03.2008, 06:15
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Hi Lana !! Thanks for your quick reply ! I agree with you. If it was my daughter I would be very mad if she had to be with kids one year younger just because a stupid cut-off !!!! We are actually going to be living in Basel next year, I'll have to find out how it is there...

Unfortunately, many countries have a weird cut off like that. Here in the USA ( California) they have the cut-off at the beginning of December. Mu younger daughter was born in December and is going to have to be one year behind if we get back !!!! Crazy !!!

Anyway, hopefully within a couple of months you'll be able to move your daughter up !! Good luck !!!
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Old 23.03.2008, 13:58
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Lana,

My daughter's in similar situation like yours. She was born on May 1, 2003 and will therefore go to year 1 of Kindergarten by Aug. this year. But like what people have posted here, I will not be worried at all about my daughter starting school at 7 point something. I think for children at this age, other skills like socialisation, communication, interations with other kids, etc. are as important as academic achievements. No matter how many languages she speaks, other kids will only be motivated communicating to her when she speaks Swiss German. We all want our child to be smart and outperforming but we also don't want her to be without friends, do we? And a small delay in starting school doesn't mean she will be behind other kids later. For a whole school life of so many years, a few months delay is nothing. Good luck!
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Old 23.03.2008, 20:31
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

The disadvantaged (new to Switzerland, not fluent in dialect etc.) is better off being older than the classmates. Otherwise he/she may be bullied and/or be at the bottom of the pecking order.
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Old 29.03.2008, 23:19
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

What can I say? My husband has a Swiss colleague at work (hiw wife is not Swiss). His son (born in Siwtzerland, native Swiss speaker) went to gymnasium in a suburb of Zurich. He was bullied because he was considered a foreigner (despite all of the above: Swiss father etc), so his parents will move him to a a gymnasium in the more international part of Zurich. Conclusion: you can be half Swiss or (I suppose 100%) Swiss and still be bullied. I suppose you can also be a foreigner and not be bullied. It all comes to a child, a class-mates and attitudes of therir parents to foreigners/ bullying, an attitude of the teacher to this issue etc. I still believe that being a year older does not help the problem of bullying, should such arise. If anything, it will be an "old" foreigner.
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Old 01.04.2008, 16:48
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

We are in a similar position as you, but have a very different outlook. Our son is a fluent English/Russian speaker and was enrolled in a private english speaking pre-school at ages 3-4. When we received the invite for the Swiss kindergarten, we explicitly wanted him to go for both of the 2 years of Swiss kindergarten and took him out of the english school, in order for him to intergrate here better.

At the english school he was definitely learning more (came home with little arts&crafts projects, they taught the alphabet and writing exercises, etc.) compared to the Swiss kindergarten (now he rarely brings home any drawings or makes anything, they never learned the alphabet, or numbers, etc.). But the Swiss kindergarten is all about social skills and learning to play together and communicate. And since 1/3 of his class is foreigners, that communicating part is really important!

We still teach him at home reading and counting and things like that, but think the social and intergration skills he learns in the Swiss kindergarten are far more important for him at this age. And we for sure wanted him to get both of the 2 years before progressing to the first year of school.

Actually, alot of the other foreign kids in his class had german-speaking play groups previously and can speak some german (or Swiss-german), so our son is just learning now and is alittle behind most of the other kids. But he's learning, and having fun there. And by the time he finishes both years of kindergarten, we're sure he'll have a much easier entry into the first grade.
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Old 01.04.2008, 18:27
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Re: Advice is needed: how to get a child to year 2 of Swiss Kindergarten?

Esto, thank you for replying.

I suppose it all depends on the child and the parents' outlook and plans. And I do not mind her to spend 2 years in the kindergaten if time shows that she is not ready for school in a year. She is also learning the social skills now in her bilingual preschool, it's a mixture of English and Swiss curriculums, although I can see now that there is no formal teaching of reading and writing takes place there.

What I do not like though is that the child is not given opportunity to go to the second year of KG because of 5 days later birthday (what is the point then to have a system of transitional 3 months?). Also, she speaks German, although it is not native, so I still believe that she will be fine in Y2 (especially given that they spend most of the time with Y1 anyway).

What disappoints me is that the system in the place where we live does not look at the individual child. But then again, friends living outside Zurich who had similar issues, did not face these problems because their local authorities were more accomodating. Of course it is not the end of the world, but it is not great either.
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