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Old 28.04.2010, 04:30
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Re: kids in swiss school

I'm sure this will depend on where you live. In our small village we'll be "new" for years! Our kids are on the outside since most of these kids have been in the same class since Kindergarten.

I've only had one negative experience with a Swiss parent because I don't speak much German. She didn't want her child to play with ours. Her English is excellent and our children communicate well in German. I'm not letting one rotten apple spoil the barrel.

There will be idiots no matter where you go. You speak Swiss German and your child will grow up with it too. My children love the freedom they have here. The learning environment has been excellent. I feel that Switzerland is a great place for children to grow up.

Sometimes you find what you seek.
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  #242  
Old 28.04.2010, 04:38
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Re: kids in swiss school

jenni, thank you for your reply.

i do not know if we would live in a village or the city. if it would have a significant impact on my daughter's educational experience, i would move to a see in search of "diversity."

and i should correct my original post. my listening skills are quite good in swiss german, but my speaking skills leave much to be desired. however, my high german is quite effective .
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  #243  
Old 28.04.2010, 09:02
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Re: kids in swiss school

We have not experienced any difficulties with my 6 year old son or 10 years old daughter going into Swiss school except for language difficulties. My children are White, native English speakers and in my sons Kindergarten class there is an array of colours! There are two boys from India, a Chinese Girl and a Girl from Cambodia - as far as I know they are all treated the same and are treated fairly by the teachers. With regards to being invited to play I do not see much of this happening or maybe it is that my son IS being excluded! He has never mentioned it to me and in fact we have our first play date arranged tomorrow but this has been organised by me. Playdates and Birthday party are a big thing in the UK / USa but I personally do not think such a big thing is made of it here. My 10 years arranges who she is meeting up with at the weekends, checks it with me and off she goes with her packed lunch and returns at the agreed time! You have a huge plus point in that your child is already speaking Swiss German whereas this has been a huge mountain for us! Are are almost halfway there and the children are so happy! Parents are pretty happy too! Good Luck

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i am concerned about the prospects for our child if we move to switzerland. if we moved, it would be with no intentions of moving back.

although our daughter is half swiss, i am concerned about how she will be treated. she is non-white and i wonder, based on comments in this thread, if she will always be treated as an other. we already speak swiss german to her and because of her young age, i expect that she will achieve perfect fluency in swiss german...

but will that be enough to have friends? to be invited to play? to be treated fairly by her teachers?

this thread has really made my enthusiasm about maybe moving back wane .
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  #244  
Old 28.04.2010, 22:52
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Re: kids in swiss school

My kids love school, and I love the fact that they can walk there, safely, are clearly learning heaps, quickly but sustainably, and they are happy. In first class, age 6, they start school with tonnes of general knowledge from kindergarten, and no reading or writing skills. Then within 6 months they are reading and writing. All of them. Even my totally non-linguistically talented son - who hated picking up a pencil til now.

They speak English with me and high German in class and Swiss German in the playground. I am not even sure if they realize they are switching languages. It's all good. Just do it.

Lisa
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  #245  
Old 17.05.2010, 10:53
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Re: kids in swiss school

I read through this very long thread with great interest. I think that alot of the comments are perhaps made by people who were not outsiders as children themselves. I spent 90% of my childhood in english speaking countries (and I am mother tongue english) ALKL countries exclude the foreigner to a certain extent. As one writer early on said - there is a point, which for me was about 13, when suddenly my differences became an asset not a hinderence. I alos read during the times of exclusion at school and academically I then came into my own and suddenly socially I was the centre of a large group of friends - some of whom had not been interested when I was an outsider only 12 months previously.
It is not Switzerland it is a world wide occurrence. In America you might get invited a to a birthday party because the whole class is invited but you can still be excluded when you are there. In England you have a different accent or play rounders as if it is baseball you are also excluded. In Ireland you dont have a brides dress for first communion - uh oh weirdo and friends are just not there for you.
Give Switzerland a chance and just as a responsible parent learn the way things are done here - it helps integration for your kids.
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  #246  
Old 01.06.2010, 09:59
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Hi,
My kids age 10 and 8 joined Swiss local school in April after spring break. So far the experience has been positive. The school has offered my children a welcome class in French for minimum 2 years.
My daughter, Anum, age 10 is great with languages and is picking up French nicely. My son, Zayn, age 8 finds languages difficult, but is eager to learn so he can communicate with the teacher and students better.

It was a difficult decision putting the kids into locals schools, since we do not speak French. However I think this is the best way for the whole family to become fluent in French and integrate into Swiss society.

Hope this helps other parents in the same situation as myself.

Mobeen
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  #247  
Old 16.06.2010, 22:41
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Re: kids in swiss school

Hi there, i moved here in april after my husband got a permanent job here,he had been contracing here since deceber 2008 my daughter is 4 and starts kindergarten in august, she can only say hello, goodbye and thank you in german the now. How do foreign children get accustomed to the kindergarden and the language in schools do they go to a seperate class, do they get help or are they just left to get on with it, i live in munchenstein now and from what i hear as it is so close to reinach will have a few ex-pats in it. Jessica is bored at the moment as she has no freinds just now although we have met a couple of your neighbours and they seem to like my two kids. I am slightly worried that jess isnt going to fit in, even though she talks to everyone (even on the trams) and is very outgoing, which i am not, i am quite quiet until i get to know people properly. I am in the same boat as the
OP i really need to meet mums and other people as i am stuck in the house with the two kids the now, any suggestions for me around munchenstein ( sorry for the hijack), any help would be great.
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  #248  
Old 17.06.2010, 06:35
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Re: kids in swiss school

There are play groups and coffee mornings around. E.g. http://www.crossroadsbasel.ch/web/content/view/9/18/

My daughter went into Kindergarten with no German. She soon picked it up - only hindered by a lad who kept translating everything the teacher said into English for her! So, yes, they're just left to get on with it, but it isn't a big deal.
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  #249  
Old 17.06.2010, 18:09
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Re: kids in swiss school

You can also contact BCT and attend one of their meetings ,they also havea local parent in the areas to arrange coffee and chat,this would be helpful to you. From what I know the children who attend the local kindi settle okay but if you see whats around for support for you it will be helpful
Good Luck
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  #250  
Old 17.06.2010, 18:29
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Re: kids in swiss school

I only read the first page, so I don't know if this has been said, but a few things I would like to say:

-switching to international school: NOT a good option in my opinion. Your child will end up being an outsider in their own society.

-have your kid join a sports team: this is one of the best ways for your children to stay active, have a hobby and meet lots of people. It also has other advantages, such as keeping your child fit and giving them the possibility to pursue something that may stay with them for life. Also, once they're part of a team they won't be too worried about not having an active social network at school because they already know lots of people outside of school).
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  #251  
Old 17.06.2010, 23:36
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Re: kids in swiss school

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i really need to meet mums and other people as i am stuck in the house with the two kids the now, any suggestions for me around munchenstein ( sorry for the hijack), any help would be great.
Just wanted to second the BCT - do come along to a BCT playgroup or two - we have a group on Friday afternoons (actually not this week but it'll be on next week) for parents with kids 3 to 6 years, so would be ideal for you. And several of us who go there have kids in Swiss kindergarten too (as well as international schools, bilingual schools, we represent all options!)

Info on the BCT is here -> www.baselchildbirthtrust.com - the playgroup for 3 to 6 years is called "beyond bruises". (I didn't get whether your other child is older or younger - but it's anyway no problem to bring other siblings to playgroups).

My son started Kindergarten last August and although he had a bit of German from one year in bilingual school, he really couldn't speak so much when he started. But now his language is incredible - he speaks Swiss German AND high German and distinguishes between the two as well. He is basically fluent (well, 6 year old level fluent iykwim). He has many Swiss friends and has never been made to feel like an outsider at all. I do think though that the Basel area is a very good place to be a foreigner - there are so many nationalities here and that's reflected in the schools too - Swiss, French, English, Turkish, Italian, Nigerian and Slovenian - all these nationalities are represented in my sons local kindergarten of 20 kids.
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  #252  
Old 18.06.2010, 00:18
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Re: kids in swiss school

Hi - we have been in the opposite position: Swiss family with kids in the English system. Our experience has been great - but it has taken time. Let me point out some of the things we did... both children play cricket and I do the tuck shop occasionally. We sometimes help out single moms in my children's classes when their childcare breaks down. The whole family plays tennis in the local club and I play in the sunday morning league. We shop locally and make it a point to chat to the butcher, hardware store chap and fishmonger. I go to the pub with the dads in my kids's classes even though I don't actually enjoy that so much to be honest. But I only ever drink real ale here - Swiss beer when back in Switzerland. We both like cooking and I keep inviting people and so on and so forth. It took forever before we got invited back for the first time.

I should say that we live in one of those middle-classy, leafy suburbs and have this brilliant little primary school around the corner. But the school has yet to acknowledge that it regards foreign children as anything other than a burden. My kids get an occasional rant about foreigners; the afterschool club has a sign up where the euro is decried as devil's deed and boy oh boy the anti-german songs in school drive us up the wall, but hey, we literally keep calm and carry on ;-) On balance, my children sound very English having gone through nursery, reception and now a couple of years at school.

After ten years (children are 8 and 6) of Britain, we still feel foreign. When the men talk about football, they never want to hear about Swiss football (unless when we have just beaten Spain that is). There is an almost complete ignorance of anything outside of the British isles and there is a sort of a benevolent tolerance that can be quite oppressing. But the children are about as English as it gets - my wife and I feel foreign here and always will, my children feel special. They have learned not to wear their Swiss football shirts to school where only Rooney and his lot have any street cred. Neighbours say that visiting our house is like going abroad and children who come and play at ours never eat much of our food - despite our best attempts it's way too foreign for them.

The baseline is this: it takes time - and we are talking years here. Chance encounters aside, I'd say that it took us five years of hard work to integrate and find partners who wanted to integrate us. But that process is never complete: we are always the last ones to find out about this party and that seaside outing. Activities make friendships - the cricket's been fab, but any other sports/arts activity will do I am sure. The PTA's been great too - I know how many mum's here feel about this, but as one of a very small number of dads I have been able to meet people very quickly. I think that really helped: when people share a joke with you, they find it harder to ignore you afterwards. Oh and we always bring really nice wine when invited to someone else - whatever they say about us, but they always like to drink our topple.

I am writing this as we are getting ready to relocate back to Switzerland at the end of the year. After ten years in England I still feel an alien sometimes, but I also had a great time here. This is not black and white I think, but you have to keep working. Oh and before finishing, I should say that I feel equally alien when back in Switzerland just for different reasons. Once you give up the safety of your immediate home, it gets difficult. Mobility is great when you are young, but it comes at a price: that sense of homeness, of belonging, of being right where you understand everything, that sense is elusive once you have lost it. Would I emigrate again? Yes. Was it easy? No. These things take time and hard, hard work and you cannot expect that it ever feels plain easy and straightforward. The doubts and the occasional loneliness will remain.

Fred
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  #253  
Old 18.06.2010, 07:23
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Re: kids in swiss school

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...I do think though that the Basel area is a very good place to be a foreigner...
Totally agree.

Fred- I'm sorry about your experience in the UK. You've obviously settled near people who read the Daily Mail. Though to be honest, I found things pretty much the same when I lived there - and I am English!
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  #254  
Old 18.06.2010, 08:36
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Re: kids in swiss school

Hi to Fred
great mail and I think that is life- I am a Brit and live in a small Swiss Village. eldest in 2 kindie about to go up to primar schule and youngest about to start kindie.
I have a few mums who are happy to listen to my painful German and a couple who like to speak English. We have done muki turnen (with youngest) and my eldest does kinder turnen.
Youngest will hopefully join the local football team in 2nd kindski. We have been here 6 months and so far all good. Kids have been invited to few parties, seem happy with the other kids and all the neighbours smile wave and say hi.
Unfortunately my hubby is away alot so I cannot participate too much in the local women groups at the mo but am hoping to once he is around a bit more.

I don't expect the other mums to take me in though. I still have all my expat friends and a life outside the village. I understand that when people grow up together and speak the same language it is not natural to bring someone lsse in who is not only new and different but doesn't speak your language.

it will come but still have down days

caz x
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Old 18.06.2010, 09:45
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Re: kids in swiss school

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There is an almost complete ignorance of anything outside of the British isles and there is a sort of a benevolent tolerance that can be quite oppressing.
I'm sorry to hear about some of your negative experiences in England which I can well imagine. I think a lot of English people living in Switzerland also have difficulties relating to family and friends back home for the same reason.
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  #256  
Old 18.06.2010, 09:50
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Re: kids in swiss school

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I don't expect the other mums to take me in though
Why not? You live in the village and are a mother like them. I do know that it's not so easy though
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  #257  
Old 18.06.2010, 18:48
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Re: kids in swiss school

Can I just reiterate: we have been happy here in Yorkshire - and it's a Guardian suburb if anything. What I am talk about is *my* sense of feeling foreign - I don't describe negative experiences, but my own critical emotions. And I also firmly believe that it was worth to join as many activities as possible. I am not doing all these things just to get friends, but that's a side effect which I happily accept. We have always said that we wanted to give our children the best chance to feel as British as possible and still retain aspects of their Swissness. We will probably need to do the same when back in Switzerland I am sure. I cannot expect anybody to be interested in the reasons why my Swiss German sounds very 1980s. It seems to me that integration in whatever circumstances is a work in progress involving not just your family but the environment we have chosen on a broader basis.
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Old 18.06.2010, 23:21
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Re: kids in swiss school

Yorkshire? God's own country. And any folk who aren't Yorkshire are foreigners. Could have been worse though - you could have been from Lancashire, or worse, Manchester.

( Me, Barnsley, born and bred. Strong in the arm, thick in the 'ead ).
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  #259  
Old 19.06.2010, 00:07
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Re: kids in swiss school

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Why not? You live in the village and are a mother like them. I do know that it's not so easy though
Because I am the newcomer and it is up to me to make the running and I do not speak their language. I have to say that they do make an effort but I am not expecting to become someones new best friend just for turning up.

It is enough for me that the kids are welcomed in to others homes and that the other kids want to come to us. That makes me very very happy.

I am not ashamed of being the foreigner and have hung my flags proudly.

caz xx
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Old 09.08.2010, 17:39
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Re: kids in swiss school

Wow! There is a lot of great information here, though some dates back a few years.

I have a job offer to move to Zurich (from the US), but the package does not include International School tuition. The tuition is so high, that we could not live on the proposed salary... so, our dilemma is whether to enroll our children (6 and 8) in the local school, or to not move at all.

We do not speak a lick of German (though we are working on that). The move would likely be at least 3 months off or more (visa procurement, relocation logistics, etc). The new school year will have started in the meantime.

I see that there have been several of you in similar circumstances. I may PM some of you directly, but in general, have things worked out for your families?

My kids are pretty out-going, but I would think even the friendliest, adventurous child might be intimidated. Both play soccer (football) and would enjoy joining a club.

I guess I have a hard time envisioning showing up mid-year for 3rd grade, not speaking the language and suceeding at anything... am I overly pessimistic?
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