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Old 19.10.2010, 18:56
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...and how about the homework of the children?

Hello everyone J

I truly wish that someone put my mind at rest by giving me a hint as to how to deal with the great issue of the “devoirs”, the homework. Since I can communicate only the basics in french and my husband will be travelling frequently, you see why the homework of the children can become challenging…

My family (a boy 9, a girl 7, my husband and I) are to move permanently to Switzerland in 15 days. I am greek (so do forgive my rather simple english) and my husband french, both British universities graduates (as a matter of fact my son was born in the UK) and at home we speak english. The childern have joined from the beginning the french educational system at the French Lyceé in Anthens with excellent results. We plan now to register them to the local elementary which happens to be 20 meters from our house in Vufflens-la-Ville near Lausanne.

Now, as honest and organised a 9 and 7 years old can be, I believe that they need guidance and control through their homework. In Athens this was beautifully settled with the precious help of a swiss private tutor. However, how about the homework of the childern here, in Switzerland? Is it organised by the school or maybe locally by the community? Are there study groups? Is private tutoring common –and how much would it cost? Any ideas?

Thank you!
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Old 19.10.2010, 19:12
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

Hello

My children (aged 7 and 8 years old) have been in the local Swiss school since August. They spoke no french before starting school, I have a very basic understanding of french and to be honest found the homework challanging at first. The maths was very easy, probably what my children were doing 2/3 years ago in the UK but the french comprehensions were tricky. However, my children now go to an afterschool homework club, "coup de Pouce" (I think is the proper name). They go twice a week for 45 minutes straight afterschool and there is either a teacher or willing parent there to help with the homework. The kids seem to really enjoy going! and nearly always manage to complete the written homework, giving me the opportunity to work with them on their vocab and grammar. We do pay for the sessions, I can't remember exactly how much but it wasn't expensive (yes something in CH which hasn't made me exclaim - How much) but we did have to sign up and pay for the full term. I think these kind of sessions run in several school in CH?

Before homework club - Mr google translate and my french-english dictionary were my friend, plus emails and texts to my french teaching sister in the UK.

Good luck with the move and I hope you all settle in quickly.

A
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Old 19.10.2010, 22:39
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

I am so grateful for your answer!! My husband will call the school tomorrow to arrange for a meeting with the directress . Amongst other things, he will talk about the afterschool classes you mentioned and (fingers crossed) should she confirm it for her school, then this is the solution . I believe that the combination of the interest of the kids themselves, the control (when possible) from their father and the afterschool classes can be a good base.

Thank you for your wishes, hopefully everything will come along fine, the same I wish for you and your family!
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Old 19.10.2010, 22:42
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

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However, my children now go to an afterschool homework club, "coup de Pouce" (I think is the proper name)... I think these kind of sessions run in several school in CH?
I think the sessions - called 'devoirs surveillés', supervised homework - are fairly standard, they certainly have them at my kids' school. They are a great option for parents who are worried that their own language skills might hamper the kids, and can often be almost private tutoring; a friend's son at our school goes, and he is one of four in the group.

The supervisors often tend to be teachers, current or retired, or other education professionals such as foreign language tutors picking up extra work hours. The ones I know of certainly play an active role rather than just sit there reading in a 'don't bother me, children' way! The price is usually extremely reasonable by Swiss standards, much cheaper than private tuition, and the kids do seem to view it as more of a social club and hence much more fun than doing extra lessons at home on their own.

Don't worry too much - we found primary homework, and schooling, to be all very gentle. Which is nice, as you will have a year to settle in before the homework nightmare that is 5th grade starts.

Best of luck for your move.

kodokan
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Old 19.10.2010, 22:45
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

we have here in lausanne an after school homework program called "devoir surveilles" . my son attends most days and they have an adult there to help the children with their homework. you can also ask the school for info about tutors or teachers who offer tutoring or look for your own tutor, which typically will run between 45 to 65 chfs an hour depending. or, you can get friendly with neighbors and see if you can hook up a deal where they can help you little ones and pay them or swap services.

typically, homework should only be a sort of review of what has been done in class and therefore your kids should be able to complete the homework on their own- that at least is the purpose of homework in general, not all teachers stick to that rule.

good luck, with the experience they have already in french, i think they'll be fine!
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Old 19.10.2010, 22:45
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

It's very funny, I had opened a similar post as I was also worried about homework in a foreign language, but some members and teachers told me that kids were expected to be independent and not rely on adults to help them with their homework..that it was considered cheating . Now i find this post very reassuring seeing that there is guidance and support after all..
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Old 19.10.2010, 22:58
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

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It's very funny, I had opened a similar post as I was also worried about homework in a foreign language, but some members and teachers told me that kids were expected to be independent and not rely on adults to help them with their homework..that it was considered cheating . Now i find this post very reassuring seeing that there is guidance and support after all..
Well, I hope it's true for your area too, but we're all in Suisse Romande which on these boards frequently turns out to be culturally different... Anyone from the German-speaking cantons here to chime in with how it's done in their schools?

On the plus side, as I recall your child is quite small still - my 6 yr old gets homework like filling in missing numbers on a number line from 1 to 20, or join the dots, or cutting out 10 words with the sound 'ou' in them and sticking them beneath the correct picture. Given a dictionary, it's nothing that couldn't be worked out in seconds, at least at first. And the rest - verb tenses, vocab, school instruction words like 'underline', 'add', 'circle', etc - you can learn together over the years. I don't know about German, but the French-speaking kids here only learn the present tense until 3rd grade, so it's not a very steep learning curve.
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Old 19.10.2010, 23:27
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

I personally think it would benefit the children more if they get whatever interesting lessons or tutoring, but be left to do the homework themselves. My children (1st and 3rd grade) do learn a lot but trying to solve whatever they get from school themselves - that teaches both problem solving, and, maybe even more importantly, to be able to work alone and unsupervised. If they do something wrong, then either I correct that or the teacher - learning and getting things done oneself is the point of homework, and not to deliver 100% good homework every time, whether it is parent or child. An average child will rrely ask about advise anyway.
In my home country the institutional/charital help with homework is for children coming from families where they're not taken care of, or as tutoring for the ones performing much worse than average. And, of course, there is a lot of tutoring financed by well off parents to increase the chances of children passing exams and getting to better schools. And in Switzerland it is no different in this regard. So I start saving for that right now.
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Old 20.10.2010, 00:11
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

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I personally think it would benefit the children more if they get whatever interesting lessons or tutoring, but be left to do the homework themselves. My children (1st and 3rd grade) do learn a lot but trying to solve whatever they get from school themselves - that teaches both problem solving, and, maybe even more importantly, to be able to work alone and unsupervised.
I too am personally on the 'it's their homework, not mine' end of the spectrum, for the benefit of their education and my free time. But most if not all of us on the thread so far are talking as parents of fairly newly-arrived kids who are being educated in a foreign language.

Mine are in their 3rd year, itsme's their 3rd month, amaraya's his 2nd year, I think... these aren't kids to whom you can delegate sole homework responsibility. The 'problem solving' skills they would need are beyond the level of 'not quite understanding Question 4', to often 'not remotely understanding the whole lesson today in which they explained column multiplication in French'.

My son used to bring home worksheets on a maths concept he hadn't yet encountered in the UK (or one time when they taught him a totally different and in the UK archaic method for column subtraction from the one he already knew). Or perhaps it would be a grammar rule, like adjective gender agreement, that doesn't even exist in his own language. And we would sit down and run a little dining room table home school going over the rules, principles, step-be-step processes, etc. Once he'd got 'it' straight, sure, THEN he could do the sheet on his own.

Kids also need help with the constant drilling and testing of memorised stuff here - verbs, weekly spellings, poems to recite and so on. And presentations was also another big thing for us in Grades 3 and 4; 8 yr olds don't know how to distill a set topic like 'dinosaurs' into a 5 minute script with reference to visuals but it's a great opportunity to go through things with them like brainstorming, mindmapping, and then not droning down to the paper, point to display board at key moments and add little off the cuff comments, perhaps ask a rhetorical question of the audience, etc. I would lay money that none of these 'soft' skills are being taught in class, not at this age at least, but my small, shy, barely French speaker actually came to like doing presentations because he could see that the other kids were enjoying his talks (and the good marks he got helped jolly him along too).

We were very lucky with timings as it turns out by arriving a couple of years ago, because primary homework was perhaps an hour a week tops, whereas 5th Grade homework is usually 1.5 hours, sometimes 2 hours a NIGHT. Only now his French is good enough that he can tackle most of it himself, and just rely on me for the odd explanation (not answer) and to test him on the rote learning bits.

I am, and shall be able to be, a lot more hands-off with my just-entered-1st-Grade daughter, because she's had the benefit of becoming fluent in enfantine before starting school. I'm hoping that when she's learning a past tense, it'll just be learning how to record/ spell something she already knows, not the steep mountain of 'right, let's see what you've got on this sheet, then... so here's the difference between perfect and imperfect, here's how they're used in English <gives examples>, here's how they change depending on the subject pronoun, such as 3rd person plural... what's '3rd person plural'? And a 'subject'? And a 'pronoun'? Well... <takes a deep breath and mentally cancels all plans for the rest of the week>'

Hopefully just a 'remember you can't always hear the written endings, darling' as I drift past to make a cup of tea should suffice with her.

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Old 20.10.2010, 08:16
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

We arrived in CH (Basel) over eight years ago with no German. Kids aged 10, 6 and 4. We managed fine with google and a german dictionary, and helpful teachers. ( We had to tell one to make sure that our daughter understood what she had to do for homework ).

After a year, our children were fluent enough to explain to us what their homework was, and we could help them there. Also, we encouraged the children to discuss the homework task with their peers. This was also encouraged by the teachers.
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Old 20.10.2010, 14:51
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

Thank you ! Merci!

itsme, kodokan, amaraya, yacek, NotAllThere, I trully thank you all from the bottom of my heart, for responding so soon, in such a complete, friendly and reassuring manner!

Once we have all the details from the directriss and the teachers, I hope that a nice blend of personnal interest (from the side of the pupils primarily and after the parents of course), good communication with the school, "devoir surveilles" sessions as a must and, maybe, extra private tutor sessions once or twice a week, will do the trick!

Olympe I think that you were right to be somewhat surprised by the way this thread was going. I checked your thread on “homewrok in a foreign language…” I admit I sympathised with you feeling uneasy to “abandon” your child in a “swim or sink” situation (as you, so accurately if you allow me, described) … My understanding is that parents no matter their origin need (and ought to) protect and guide their children especialy when these children undergo challenging situations that were not their choice the first place.

Once again I thank you all for your warm wishes, we already feel so welcome in swiss!!
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