Thursday, May 24, 2012

29th month

Big news: Aelig is accepted to a kinder-garden here.
When I told her that, she was so excited and immediately wanted to go to the school. We were on the way to the sitter's place and she protested by saying: "Pati elle fait dodo, veux à l'école" (Patricia is sleeping, want to go to school). She complained when arrived at the parking lot. I had to explain that we would go in September but she didn't understand. Since then, morning and night she asked to go to the school. If only she knows how many years of school life is waiting for her...what the rush?

It is going to be a big transition for us and the sitter. First, Aelig would miss the orientation period as we will be in Malaysia during that period. She would have to switch back to French speaking environment + jet-lag then immediately living a full day school life. School starts from 9am to 4.45pm then she will stay till 6.30pm. As for the sitter, she was anxious thinking of letting go of Aelig. We found a win win situation: kids here don't have school on Wednesday so Aelig will continue going to the same sitter once a week.

She will be the youngest at school. Her daycare buddy who is born two months after her has to wait one more year. Basically, kids born in 2009 are eligible to apply to the mainly government run or subsidized structures for enrollment in the coming school year 2012/2013. kids born after 2009 could apply if there are spot available.

As for me, a whole new discovery for the French educational system. Already, there is debate between public school Vs private school. Then, the terms and system are very different compared to the Anglo-Saxon world. Here is what I understand but I might be wrong:
1. Kinder-garden from 3 to 6 years old
2. Primary school from 6 to 11 years old
3. Secondary school (they call it College here) from 11 to 14 years old
4. High school (Lysée) from 14 to 17 years old
5. Higher education: 2 years = diploma, 3 years = bachelor degree, 5 years = master degree.

Coming from Malaysia getting used to half day school life, I feel that the school hours are too long here. I mean, a little girl like Aelig has school from 9 to 5 (with 1,5h lunch break), isn't it too tiresome?. Hubby said he had classes from 9 to 6 and Saturday morning when he was in high school, that was like living a working life. Where to find time doing revisions? homework? participate in extra curiculum activities? Go goyang kaki (relaxing)?


  1. Actually Collège is 4 year (numbered in decreasing order from 6th to 3rd grade) so in your count this would mean Collège from 11 to 15 years old and then Lycée from 15 to 18 years old.

    As a side note, the fact that we call Secondary school "Collège" is a *huge* source of mistranslation for US series and movies.

    Law states that education is mandatory from age 6 to 16. So you are allowed to skip preschool (Maternelle) and you cannot drop out of school before you turn 16. Not that anyone should be interested by these options :)

    Higher education is kind of a mess since a few years because we had a system of :
    2 years = short cycle professional diploma or master/engineer preparation cycle
    5 years = master/engineer
    7 years = doctorate
    And reforms have pushed us to comply to the international standard of LMD-357.
    This means that our first post-high-school cycle is pretty disorganised even though it used to be effective and produce well trained professionals with good employment perspective.

    Lastly, about school hours, there is a consensus that they are too tiresome for the kids and things shall change quickly (for year 2013/2014).
    There are some practical concerns about having less hours per day though :

    - more free time for kids = need for cities and/or parents to pay for more childcare and activities. this can be seen as more pressure for moms to stay at home also like in Germany and Japan.

    - making saturdays school-free has been a huge improvement for family life, especially for divorced couples with alternate week-end custody, so taking this day back for school will not be easy. Preferably, the new day shall be wednesday but experts (pedochronologistes !) says that the mid-week break is important.

    - making days shorter would also mean shortening school holidays. It is often said that summer vacation shall be shortened of 2 weeks (6 weeks instead of 8 weeks for the moment), and tourism professionals are not too happy with this prospect as it would cripple their peak season.

    So all in all, a nice "débat de société" à la française :).

  2. salut je suis malaisien et j'ai vecu plus de 10 ans en france, de retour a kl je ne savais pas parler ni anglais ni malais , j'ai du continuer mes etudes au lycee francais de kl pendant 6 ans .

    in france those who have to leave school at 16 are offered to do a BEP
    bac proffesionel , a diploma where the individual learn one of the jobs proposed to him .