School! What to do?


(Sarah Cotton) #1

I’m not sure if this is the right place to post! I’m really worried about my daughter, she’ll be four next month. When we moved over here we put her into the local French school, with the best of intentions, but now we are both finding it hard. She is a very, very bright little girl - this is not just proud Mummy speak :slight_smile: she is actually awesome, her vocabulary, comprehension etc etc is way ahead of where the ‘average’ child should be. Last term her teacher was a lovely young guy who was really positive about how she was settling in and said he was speaking less and less english to her, this year she has a different teacher who this morning complained that she keeps speaking English in class - she will listen to French and understand but will speak in English. I’m just really concerned that putting her into this environment will knock all the fantastic shiny confident bounce out of her.

When I took her back after lunch on Tuesday there was another little girl from her class going in and she just kind of smiled at my daughter - didn’t speak - and it really hit me that if she was in an English speaking school that little meeting would have been very different.

On a purely selfish note, I feel like I’m missing out massively too. Since we moved here I’ve only been to the English Mums and Tots group 3/4 times. It’s a bit ‘cliche-y’ (or whatever!!! can’t think of the right spelling) it’s one of those groups where Mums come over to speak to you, find out where you live, where you were from, what position in Airbus your husband has and then blank you next time. In a nut shell I feel lonely and a bit isolated. My French is so limited it’s almost not worth a mention - so speaking to the Mum’s at Rhianna’s school isn’t possible at the moment. The other option for schooling is the local international school, where my son goes, although he is in Yr9!!! There is a massive emphasis on teaching not only French but Spanish and German as a lot of the kids come from all over Europe. It has a great reputation and would be paid for by my partner’s employer. I just absolutely don’t know what to do for the best. My partner is full on that she needs to be at French school - I’ve not shared all these feelings with him - and I know what he’ll be like trying to tell him, but he isn’t the one taking her into school and picking her up. I feel under pressure to make a decision because IF we are going to move her then I’d rather do it soon so she can make a start with all the other little ones. Why can’t life be straightforward?? :frowning: xx


(Sarah Cotton) #2

Thank you all so much for your responses and support! It was really unexpected! Some very wise words too, thank you all. I do feel a little better about it all now, it was a classic ‘knee jerk’ reaction to seeing my little girls unhappy and the teacher’s misplaced comment and shrugging :wink:
We have been invited to our neighbours later today, they are having a BBQ for a group they are involved with called Mums of Pre-schoolers. All english speakers and various time spent here in France. I cannot say how much I’m looking forward to it and next door? How handy?!
I will definately be a regular visitor and poster to this site.
Thank you all again, bon weekend! xxx


(Liz Clark) #3

Hi Sarah, I know how difficult this must be for you and I think your feelings / lack of language are possibly impacting things as well. Our son came over here speaking almost no french and has just started in seconde at lycee and wants to study medecine here in France. He to found it difficult initially because of his lack of language ) but with the help of the school and free french language lessons for both hubby and me from the local commune we are started to intergrate. Try and perseevere with the French school it is the best way for your daughte rto intergrate and find local friends. But also check out your local provisions for language lessons, check out local clubs - perhaps some keep fit or even Zumba whch seems to be all the rage - a lack of language there is not such a big deal. Whatever you decide you need to feel happy with things and need to settle here and make friends as it’s hard when one partner is working and the other not and feeling a bit isolated. All the best and sending you a cyber hug Liz


(Nikki McArthur) #4

Hi Sarah, really sorry to hear your feeling low. It was foolish of the teacher to mention about your daughter speaking English in class - of course she’ll be speaking English, they’ve only been back 1 week and she’s only 3! My daughter is exactly the same age (she’ll be 4 at the end of this month) and the teacher told me that she doesn’t speak at all in class but understands all that’s said to her. It’s normal, 2 of my other children started school in France at 3 and it took 18 months before they started speaking French in class. Real friendships didn’t really form until they were between 4 and 5. They never got invited to parties until I started the ball rolling by inviting some friends to their birthdays. So try not to stress too much - keep an eye on it of course, but I’m sure she’ll be fine.
If you’re feeling down yourself it can make you feel negative about all sorts of things. Again it’s normal to feel a bit lonely at times. Maybe you could try and start your own mums and tots group or perhaps an interest group rather than going to a bigger established one. When we moved here (7 years ago) I was so busy in the first 18months having a baby and sorting out my other children etc that I didn’t really make any friends at all. When I started to feel lonely, I answered a response on another Anglo forum from a Mum looking for other mums in the area, we met up and then over the next couple of years it grew to around 15 of us meeting every few weeks and taking it in turns to go to each others houses. It was great - we all had children of varying ages. Now our children are all older and we’re all established with different jobs and activities we don’t meet so much, but it was a very important support group for me at that time. My husband and I also started a Gardening Club and we met a lot of other different people through that. You could always start blogging - it’s a good way to vent your feelings and get other peoples opinion on things. I started a few months ago and have discovered a whole community out their of parent and expat bloggers, so if you can’t find any like minded people locally there is a whole world out there to help you on the internet. You can read my ramblings on www.amotherinfrance.blogspot.com.

I’ve found the answer for me is to keep myself busy and with 5 children and a couple of businesses to run that’s not difficult! Feel free to contact me if you like - I’d be happy to help if I can. Good luck and chin up :slight_smile: xx


(Rebekah Brady) #5

Hi Sarah,

Feeling isolated is normal and even when your French improves it may still be difficult to engage with the other parent.As foreigners we are welcomed at my son’s school but kept at a distance, even though I’ve been on the parent’s association. I don’t take it personally as we live in a tiny village and people here all know each other, they have no strong desire to be my friend. I would say that having brought up my two older children, (now 14&16, but 9&11 when we moved), in London, I felt pretty isolated when they were little too as I didn’t know many mums and hated toddler groups for all the reasons you’ve stated :wink: Keep strong you will find your niche and people here (SFN) are very friendly and a lot are in the same position as you.
My story is similar to yours, I came to France with 3 boys, CM2 and 6eme and a baby. I was encouraged to send the youngest asa he was out of nappies-2 ans 3months, I know - how crazy am I!
Anyway, he hated school and it appears it hated him :frowning:
I expected problems with the older two (there were NONE) but not with the youngest. I assumed he’d ‘pick it up’ and be bilangue in an instant. He couldn’t even speak at that point…
Judy’s comment is spot on - at your daughters age children play along side others not ‘with’ others.
Often without any need for conversation.
My son has just gone into CE1 (his 6th year of school!) and he just loves it. It took a long period of adjustment - about 6 months, but it was well worth it, it’s local, he has friends (I’m still not brave enough to do after school play dates etc. which I did tons for the other two, because of the language and parents etc.) and he is doing well enough not to have to re-double, although he had some soutien scolaire early on to help with le/la and vocab.
I thought early on that changing schools was the answer but I am glad that I didn’t. It’s your call and only you know what will suit your daughter, you and your family best.
Join Franglais Kids and you’ll see us all in similar situations to you and plenty who are the other side but still need support .
I hope this helps, Rebekah


(wayne rugman) #6

I think that I will soon be in the same situation as you,My son is four in April and has stayed at home with me all exept 3 months were he was with a nanny and lost wieght,My wife is French and is working,My French is poor and I havent even been to mums and tots?can you imagine if a man turns up there ?I geuss that your husband if French ? the only thing that I can suggest throgh experiance comes from friends in uk,He is British and his wife is Spanish,they talk at home in English and when she talks to the children she talks in Spanish,the children go to Welsh speaking school although niether perant speak Welsh,they never speak Welsh to either perant but on a visit here this summer with me they were very good at speaking Welsh,My conclusion is that children are very adaptable it takes some longer to work things out than others,your daughter is bright she will always be bright and I think speak English with you,My son has only just started to make himself understood he always had a lot to say but no one could understand him although it is a reel jumble of French,English and a little Welsh he sometimes says the same thing twice but in two languages so I cant imagine what the French teachers are going to make of him I look forward to it and will face it alongside my son,we are in the Deux Serves area if you can recomend a understanding school ?? good luck


(Judy Manville) #7

Hi Sarah,
#1 - for yourself, a big ((((((((((((Sarah)))))))))))
Feeling isolated is normal in the Uk too, when you have small children. Are you brave enough to make your own conversations with people, rather than waiting for them? come in here and chat, or email me for a natter (I’ve only just moved to France)
#2 Not 4 yet and not chatting much? Don’t worry. Speaking as an ex-Early years teacher, some children will happily simply play alongside each other without any conversations. It may look painful to you, but your daughter will make herself understood when she needs to - and once she starts getting responses to her French, will use it more. Remember, her world so far has been one of gestures and sharing, giving and taking.
Sorry, got to rush off now, but hang in there. speak later
Judy XXX


(Christine Foster) #8

Hello Sarah, I know how you are feeling. My daughter started at the local french school when she was just 3, which is the normal age to start here. It all seemed to be going well but she could hardly speak yet, and so we didn’t realise she was being bullied until a year later when she was able to phrase it properly. When it got to the stage where the kids put her over the fence into the next door school I decided, against my partners wishes, to pull her out and send her to the IST. They were great, and soon realised there was something wrong with her reading and writing - hence the reason she couldn’t speak that well yet, and her teacher, and TA spent a lot of time and energy helping her adapt and catch up. She is now back in the french system because the cost of the IST is over our budget and because we live too far away now. I have noticed that the french school she is now at is much better than the one in Tournefeuille in terms of individual help for her dyslexia, and they actively pursued getting a TA just for her to sit next to her in class - which apparently it is difficult to get government funding for, so she is very lucky to be at this school! My advice is that if you are keen to keep your daughter in a french school then move further out, away from the Toulouse suburbs. I have found since being in the Gers that I have so many more friends, both french and expat, and I feel better integrated, and the children are much happier in their schools than they were in Tournefeuille. Send me a message you want to know more. Regards, Christine