Friday, November 21, 2014

Moving to France = 12 Things I Did to Prepare - #3) Research Education and Schools

Here are 12 things I did to prepare for moving to France.....and below is a detailed account of #3 -

(1)   Find the perfect place
(2)   Buy a car and get car insurance
(3)   Research education and schools
(4)   Get Irish passports for the girls
(5)   Update the children’s physicals and vaccinations
  and get up to date on my own medical appointments
(6)    Have dental appointments before leaving
(7)    Flight shop to find the best fares
(8)    Get 6-month prescriptions
(9)    Order euros
(10) Notify schools and get copies of school records
(11) Set up direct debits for bills
(12) Pack

Probably the most important thing about moving to France is my two daughters going to a French school that they are happy and content at.  I read a lot on expat forum about other people's experience with them moving to France and their children going to school here.   The general consensus seemed to be the younger the children, the quicker they settled into school.  A lot of people had stories of their children being miserable and crying every day for months at their school experience, saying stick with it, it will get better.   I can't imagine sending my girls to school and them so traumatized that they would cry all the time -- not an option for my girlies!

I was amazed to learn that there are a lot of international schools in France that cater to english-speaking but the tuition is very high, and none in our area.  Blue is 8 and is starting school on Monday in the local village school in Issac.  There are two classes in the school of 26 students and 23 students.  The teacher she will have speaks some English, is very nice and there is a little girl from England who has been attending the school for two years so Blue will have an English speaking friend.  The teacher says the little English girl has had a difficult time because the parents don't speak any French at all.  We met her and the other students and she seemed quite happy and settled in with her peers.  Blue is excited to start school and not at all nervous.  The school starts at 8:45 am and finishes at 4 pm.  They break for lunch at 11:45 am for an hour and a half and I can take her home for lunch.  On Wednesdays, they have a half day and finish school at 11:45 am.  On Fridays, they finish early at 3 pm.

For Blue, the registration process was simple.  I had to go to the mairie (town hall)  and get a form to fill in with name, address, phone number, Blue's age and date of birth and that was it.

For Jess, things are a little more complicated.  We went to the college in Mussidan, the nearest town 10 minutes away.  Neither the office staff nor the principal spoke a word of English.  At first I was told it was impossible for Jess to go to school there but they have to accomodate her because it is the law that she goes to school and they are her district school.  After calling up the professeur d"anglais (English teacher), it was a lot easier to see what the procedure was going to be with a translator.  Jess is 12 and will have to be assessed by someone who only can do it on Thursdays so they will email me a time (coz I don't have a phone yet!!!).  Then there is a long form to fill in (in French) and that has to be sent to the Department of Education in Perigueux and approved for Jess to be able to start at the college in Mussidan.  In the meantime, I am trying to find other options because I think it will be very hard to be at school from 8 am to 5 pm daily (except for half days on Wednesdays) without anyone who speaks any English.  The English teacher teaches older students so wouldn't have any contact with Jess and Jess, at the moment, has no French, at all!!!!  . I had read that there are a lot of English speaking people in France, but none in Mussidan apparently!!!!

To be we find out more!!!!!! 

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