Preschool

I have always been kind of clueless when it comes to certain things in France, like their education system for instance.

In April, the daycare director asked us if Nathan would be coming back after the summer break.  I thought this was an odd question.  "Bien sur, he is coming back.  He is only 2 1/2!"

That is when the nice daycare director informed me that children in France began school, not after they turn three years old, but in the year they turn three.  Which means 2012 for my little guy (I'm still in shock that I have an almost 3 year old).

Of course that sent me into a complete panic because I had no clue where to begin to find a school.  Word on the street (or rather the French people in my office) told me that you usually had to sign up at least a year in advance and usually in your neighborhood.  Awesome.  I saw another disaster looming like the one we had to find a daycare.

When you are an expat in a foreign country, choosing a school becomes an even bigger pain.  This notion of "good district / bad district"; "public school" ; "private school"; "bilingual school"  take on an entirely new meaning.

Since my company is pretty big in this tiny little city.  They have their own international bilingual school for the children of expats.  It is a private school and like most private schools the list is a mile long.  Since there aren't too many bilingual choices around here many French parents send their kids there too.

Then came the decision about whether that school was really the best for Nathan or not.  I mean, he is pretty bilingual already.  We speak English exclusively at home and he speaks French exclusively at the daycare - would it really be so bad to have him in a French public school.

Ultimately we interviewed (or rather were interviewed) several ecoles maternelle.  There were so many decisions to make.

Would he stay in the cafeteria for lunch or would someone have to pick him up for the 2hr break?

What would we do on Wednesdays (when all French schools are closed).

What about the before/after school programs since Cornel and I both work.

Would he be potty trained, because schools do not change diapers. 

Would we even be able to get on a waiting list.

Could we send him in January instead of September when he's a little bit older. (Schools here do 1/2 terms).

We weighed all the options and put our names on several lists.  Finally we decided that our company's international school was the best choice for Nathan.  It doesn't hurt that many of his "friends" from daycare will also be going there, and as an added bonus it is right across the street from our offices.

The best part?  He got accepted for the "re-entree" (re-entry) in September.

My kid in preschool.  How did this happen?


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20 comments:

Sonya said...

That would be stressful! At least now you have a place for him:)

Natalie said...

Whoa that just made my head hurt! That's a lot to decide on...I'm glad you were able to figure it out :)

chickster said...

Congratulations on "passing" the interviews for your big boy to get a spot at the private school~! What are the plans for him on Weds? I'm always curious how working couples handle that day in France, and it irks me that moms always have to take off work if they can't find an open day care or if they're sick.

jeands said...

wow, that looks like a lot of hard work, thinking, and deciding. good thing you were able to find him the perfect place already.

and seriously he's already going to preschool in a matter of months? kids now seems to grow up to fast.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

That would seriously stress me out. So glad you found a spot for him in a place you like!

Adrienne said...

Schools were the hardest part of being in France for so long...in addition to the newness of it just from being a mom who'd never done it all before, we're in a foreign land. Where nothing about the system seemed intuitive to me at all!! There were bloopers and blunders for sure...but by the end of it all I actually was elected (2 years in a row!!) to be the president of their version of the PTO!! HAAHAHA! How funny is that!!?? The best thing is that once inside the system (we did French public) we met some extraordinary people - the teachers and administrators were among my favorites from our whole stay in France!!

janie said...

i can somewhat relate to this. children in singapore also start nursery 1 the year they turn 3. hence the decision to enroll my daughter this term (3rd term already). she's turning 3 in nov too! i

glad that you found a suitable school for him already. =)

Amanda said...

They get "big" WAY too fast, don't they?

The Anecdotal Baby said...

Deciding about school is HUGE. I'm already being asked about this and Lovebug's only 15 months! I can't imagine being in another country and making all those decisions. So glad it's working out for you.

Michelle said...

Oh, I totally feel you. We haven't even gone there yet and I don't want to think about it in the slightest! (And yeah...they grow up so fast...)

Jen said...

Holy cow, that sounds stressful! And schools are closed on Wednesdays? So, is school only in session four days a week? I think I could get used to that!!

Kate R said...

I remember when my niece started school in France at that age. It seemed so young! I'm sure Nathan will love it! Looking forward to hearing how it goes in September :)

Cam | Bibs and Baubles said...

that sounds like it could be crazy overwhelming! glad it worked out for you guys.

you've got a big boy on your hands. where did the time go?

JDaniel4's Mom said...

Wow!There were so many things to thin through. I am glad you will have him close by.

Kim said...

It's so crazy all these beginnings. I wonder too sometimes why more people besides me don't make a bigger deal about them. I worried about all the same things when Deaglan started JK - he was a bit older than Nathan at 3.5.

Our Little Bubble said...

What a relief after all that :)

Jessica said...

Wow. What a process for preschool. I'm glad you got it all figured out.

I'm still in shock I have a 3 year old.

Hungrigyrl said...

Wow, interesting! French schools are closed on Wednesday? I am also intrigued by the start of school at age 3 and that they must be potty trained at that age. Glad at least you know where he'll be going!

Emmy said...

Holy cow that is young! Glad you found out though and were able to get him in. That would be hard to figure all of that stuff out.

Quiana said...

What a whirlwind! I am fascinated by schooling abroad and would like to hear more about his experience once school starts. With Wednesday being closed are the other days longer? I'm glad you were able to get him into the school you wanted!

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