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Old 20.09.2010, 12:58
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I'm in a dilemma: children's education

I am shortly going to be joining my husband in Basel, living in the Oberwil area, and have spent many hours on the site reading about experiences with schooling.

We have three girls aged 13, 10 and 5 and to be honest the more I read the less sure I am of how to school them. We were intending to place the older child into International School, the youngest we were intending to put into local school and are undecided about the (very bright) middle one.

Having read all the comments about non-integration of foreigners into local schools am I going to be doing the wrong thing? We have friends who have moved families to Amsterdam and Geneva and their children seem to have made good friends in local schools so is this just a Basel/Swiss thing.

Is there anyone out there who can allay my fears or offer advice on what I should be doing.
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Old 20.09.2010, 13:04
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

It does depend, IMO, how long you are going to be here. If for only 2-3 years, stiff upper lip and hope the private English school fees don't bankrupt you.

If longer, then you really need to think about local schools and how best to maximise the integration of your children.
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Old 20.09.2010, 13:04
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

we sent our son to the local school, he picked up the language in just a few months and has got on fine, lots of friends in the village, settled in fairly easily etc.

if you send them to international school then they probably won't have friends wherever you live, and you'll be a lot poorer

personally I'd send them to the local schools
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Old 20.09.2010, 13:05
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

I can't speak about your 2 older children, but I have a 6 year old.. We moved to Bern last year and she is now doing her 2nd year of kindergarten. She did not speak German when we moved but now, a year later, she is totally integrated and speaks the language well. She has so many friends sometimes she just plays outside for hours with all of them and we have the door bell ringing constantly..But I know that it has been more difficult for some of the foreign kids that we know here..We have a very sociable girl who did not care not to speak the language at first, she just imposed herself.. and maybe we are lucky were we live..
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Old 20.09.2010, 13:06
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

My son was ten when we arrived here. He went through the Swiss system, and is doing fine. So your 10 and 5 year olds shouldn't have too much trouble. The 13 year old - IMO, no brainer. International School.

Oberwil is a pretty decent area.
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Old 20.09.2010, 13:23
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

We moved her 2 years ago with our girls aged 9,5 and 3 they all attend local schools and I couldn't be happier. All their classmates live within walking distance and they are all fluent now in both German and High German. My only criticism would be the short school hours!
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Old 20.09.2010, 13:38
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

Hi Claire,
I would have the two youngest going to the local school/Kindergarten.

I´m not so sure about your oldest daughter. If you intend to stay for several years, I would send her to a local school as well. Best in the long run I think, even if it might be a tough start. Good to have friends in the area and be totally integrated when she finishes school. She might have a better chance going for further studies in Switzerland and/or work as well. How good is she at Swiss German and High German?

Good luck with whatever you choose,
I´m sure the kids will get new friends and everything will work out in the end .
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Old 20.09.2010, 13:44
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

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It does depend, IMO, how long you are going to be here. If for only 2-3 years, stiff upper lip and hope the private English school fees don't bankrupt you.

If longer, then you really need to think about local schools and how best to maximise the integration of your children.
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My son was ten when we arrived here. He went through the Swiss system, and is doing fine. So your 10 and 5 year olds shouldn't have too much trouble. The 13 year old - IMO, no brainer. International School.

Oberwil is a pretty decent area.

Being someone who moved around a lot as a child and so switched schools (and school systems ) a lot, this would be my advice as well.

13yo going in to "high school" age and with the education structure in many "English speaking" areas, most likely although friendships would be handier in local schools, the education system mismatch would likely be a problem. From what I understand of the local system, this is a crucial stage for determining their future - whether they'll be educated with an eye toward university attendance or not. Lack of language skills in German could be a problem with this placement... better not to risk it imo.

The younger children will have a better opportunity to learn German before reaching such a crucial stage with more opportunities to shift things one way or the other (and for you to help them) to ensure they are headed the "right way."


On the other hand... if you're only going to be here for a couple years, it is much easier to feel comfortable and confident when given the opportunity to socialize as well as learn with educators and peers for whom a transitory life is also seen as fairly normal. The curriculum for the schools most often match up better and their classmates will be "more like them" in many ways.

Heck, even now, as an adult, I tend to get on better with folks who got around some rather than living their "whole life" in one area.
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Old 20.09.2010, 13:55
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

Thanks for the more positive replies received. It is good to hear that people have had positive results with local schools. Anybody know of any in the Oberwil area as I am having trouble locating any on-line.
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Old 20.09.2010, 14:02
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

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we sent our son to the local school, he picked up the language in just a few months and has got on fine, lots of friends in the village, settled in fairly easily etc.

if you send them to international school then they probably won't have friends wherever you live, and you'll be a lot poorer

personally I'd send them to the local schools
I will second that.
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Old 20.09.2010, 14:05
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

Try this map You may wish to switch it to English. There's some checkboxes on the left hand side, which will highlight schools, playgroups and kindergartens.

Oberwill school websites here.
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Old 20.09.2010, 14:06
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

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Thanks for the more positive replies received. It is good to hear that people have had positive results with local schools. Anybody know of any in the Oberwil area as I am having trouble locating any on-line.

you can't choose the local school they go to, they go to whatever village you live in's local school. not sure how it works in big towns / cities with more then 1 school. So first you have to find a place to live, then pop along to the local school and have a word with the headmaster
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Old 20.09.2010, 14:30
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

Academia language school in Basel used to run a programme called 'step in' that taught new arrivals German in very small groups and then integrated them into the local schools. I think they liaise with the local school board to ensure a smooth transition. I haven't used it myself so can't recommend but I think if I had known that this was an option when we moved here my middle child (who was in grade 5/year 6 on arrival) would have gone through the programme and then into local school.

My youngest will go into the local kindergarten next year, but be prepared that it is very different from the English system.

if you are absolutely sure that you will only stay for a short time then the international school will keep them at the same level as in the UK.
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Old 23.09.2010, 10:34
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

My 2 boys (6 & 9) have just started in the local swiss school and are coping fine. School has small classes, excellent teachers and all their friends live locally.
As others have said, I would consider the internation schools for the oldest. A difficult age especially if her knowledge of the language is not good ! Good luck whatever you decide!
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Old 23.09.2010, 11:11
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

Hi
I have 3 girls aged 6,9 and almost 11 and will be moving to Zug at Christmas. After a huge amount of worrying about what was best ( and some really helpful tips gleaned from this forum so thanks very much to all posters on this topic ) I have decided to send them to a bi-lingual school. I hope that this will be easier for them to start with than a local school (they have zero German) but will at least leave open the possibility that they will pick up the language to sufficient level to enter the State secondary school system. I recognise this is more likely to happen for the younger ones than the eldest who may end up going to International school for secondary anyway. Your eldest is a little older but did you look into bi -lingual schools in Basel as an option? The fees seem to be lower than International schools as well.
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Old 23.09.2010, 11:17
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

I have to say I think it would be a mistake to send them to a bi-lingual school, they won't pick up the language anywhere near as quickly as in a local school where they would be forced to use german / swiss german the whole time. in break times etc they will revert back to english, then if you do send them to local schools etc later they will still be way behind the other children. Swiss german and high german are quite different, when my son goes into swiss german I don't understand a word he's saying.

Our son was 6 when he came over, had no german at all but picked it up within 3 months, he had no choice, none of the children in his class spoke english.
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Old 23.09.2010, 11:40
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Re: I'm in a dilemma: children's education

I agree regarding bi-lingual schools. My daughter is in the swiss system and loving it, but I have friends (German/Swiss) who sent their kids to a bilingual school so they would be fluent in English (reverse situation). This never really happened. They could speak some English but it was by no means fluent, even after a couple of years. I really think immersion (in whatever language) is the best way.

Kate
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Old 23.09.2010, 19:27
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Re: I'm in a dilema and don't know what to do!

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I hope that this will be easier for them to start with than a local school (they have zero German) but will at least leave open the possibility that they will pick up the language to sufficient level to enter the State secondary school system.
Agree with the others - a bilingual school will in no way whatsoever prepare them for German language secondary. If that's the plan, for cultural integration or financial reasons, then truly, truly better to bite the bullet now - they'll get over the shock after the first week. My son's just gone into secondary after two years in his French-speaking school, and is just about coping with the demands of multiple teachers, multiple classrooms, sometimes multiple school sites for gym lessons, IT, etc. The demands of organisation and the workload are tremendous for a 10 yr old (might be 12 in other cantons), and there would be virtually no chance of pulling it off well and getting into a high academic stream with anything less than fluency.

Of course, if it's a short term thing, then bilingual school is an excellent compromise between opportunity and keeping the kids in a comfort zone.

It's always a difficult one, the schooling, especially with slightly older children. Good luck for your move, and I hope they settle well into whichever school you pick.

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Old 23.09.2010, 19:37
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Re: I'm in a dilemma: children's education

The ability to speak two languages fluently is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids. It is so much harder to truly learn a 2nd language later on.
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Old 23.09.2010, 21:10
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Re: I'm in a dilemma: children's education

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I agree regarding bi-lingual schools. My daughter is in the swiss system and loving it, but I have friends (German/Swiss) who sent their kids to a bilingual school so they would be fluent in English (reverse situation). This never really happened. They could speak some English but it was by no means fluent, even after a couple of years. I really think immersion (in whatever language) is the best way.

Kate
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I have to say I think it would be a mistake to send them to a bi-lingual school, they won't pick up the language anywhere near as quickly as in a local school where they would be forced to use german / swiss german the whole time. in break times etc they will revert back to english, then if you do send them to local schools etc later they will still be way behind the other children. Swiss german and high german are quite different, when my son goes into swiss german I don't understand a word he's saying.

Our son was 6 when he came over, had no german at all but picked it up within 3 months, he had no choice, none of the children in his class spoke english.
I would agree as well... as long as there is English around to act as a crutch, they will not really get to grips with the foreign language...

I think it is the same for adults BTW, I spent the first few years here working in an English speaking environment while trying to lean German and it never went anywhere. It was only when I started working a Swiss German office that I started to really make some progress on the language.

Jim
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