Homework in France - Maternelle/Elementai
We are moving to France in September where my kids will be attending the local school. They will be going into Moyenne Section, Grande Section and CE1. They don't currently speak French.
Out of interest, do children at this age get homework? My elder two do (they are in Reception and Y2 in the UK) but it is minimal. The main focus from the school has been daily reading. Someone told me that French kids get a lot of homework and it's every night, but I forgot to ask her how old her kids were!
Definitely the one in CE1 will get homework every night. I don't know about the younger ones as mine only started in September. I've got one in CE1 and one in CM1 and they get more than their older sibling in college. They are expected to go over things as well and learn them. Regular testing. How good is your French? Unless they are getting extra help at school with homework (staying for garde) you will be helping them a lot. Good luck with your move.
My French used to be pretty decent (Uni level) but is now rusty. I have lived in France before but this was before I had kids.
What is staying for 'garde'. I assume this is when kids are looked after after at the end of the day? Is that standard?!
Would you mind letting me know the sort of homework your child in CE1 receives? And what sort of tests? Are we talking spelling tests/timetables or something less rote-learnt e.g. a maths test based on what they have learnt?
How much time does it take each night?
Yes garde is after school care and may include help with homework depending where you will be/what the school offers. My DCs don't get extra help so they don't go. School days are long enough here imo.
My CE1 DD gets a 'lecture' to read and answer questions on every night (about a page and a half of A4), some maths to do, some words to learn, or grammar. They may get handwriting too. Very big on the swirly whirly cursive. Tests can be on anything but yes times tables, words, poems. Used to take about an hour per night per child when I was translating every
bloody word for them. Now it's quicker as they can do most of it on their own.
Sorry for the radio silence! I've been offline for a few days.
Thanks Castlesintheair. That's really helpful. An hour is quite a lot, isn't it. To be honest my only real concern is that my eldest's confidence and self-esteem will be knocked. Learning a poem in a language you don't yet speak will be a challenge! However, I suspect the teachers will know that and either she won't have to do it or they'll just encourage the little bits she can do. Was that your experience?
I think they should be accommodating of your DC but I can't say for sure. I presume you are going to live somewhere where they are used to expats? We live in an area where there are none and the schools have no experience of children with French as a foreign language. My 10 year old says that her teacher used to not make her recite the whole poem to the class, instead she could just read it. Everything else though they are expected to do. No leniency! And very rigorous marking.
An example of the lack of leniency (here) is in a test the instructions (all in french of course) said underline the incorrect word and my DD1 not understanding, put a line though it. Even though she got most answers correct she scored zero marks. In one test DS just wrote his first name (not surname followed by first name as all french kids are used to doing but he was not when he first arrived) and got 7 marks deducted, out of a total of 20 ! Seems bizarre to me but it's the way it is here.
I've had to do an awful lot of esteem building (through gritted teeth!) as my DCs are used to the more positive style of UK teaching.
Hope that doesn't sound too negative. There are lots of good things about the education in France but it's always best to have as much info as possible imo. There is a really useful FB group for parents if you are interested.
That's very helpful. Thanks.
We are moving to a non-expat area where there are very few foreigners. The admissions lady at the town hall did not know of many children who had arrived from elsewhere. That's OK with me, but as you say it's best to get as much info as possible. We are going to be there for 2 years and we will just have to pick it all up as we go along.
The schools sound very different from the schools I'm used to here in the UK. We live in south-west/west London and there are many children who come to the school with no English but from observing from the side-lines the teachers take a softly-softly approach with the language acquisition of new arrivals and cultural adjustment.
Yes, I'd be very interested in the FB group. How do I find it?! I'm not on FB, do I need to be?
You're the same as me then morethanclueless - come from same area in London, going to a non-expat area. We are also here for 2 ish years. The FB group is called Parents in France and yes I suppose you do have to join FB to access it! Really good luck with your move. It can be challenging at times but it is really worth it. Your DCs will thank you for it. Mine are very happy. PM me if you ever want to
In maternelle children do not get homework ever, AFAIK.
In primary DC do get homework but it is mostly reading/revision/learning by heart rather than writing.
Thank you both.
Yes, Castlesintheair, it does sound like we are in a similar situation. If you don't mind me pm'ing you, that would be great (just need to work out how to - and of course, it seems I need to join the modern era and to get onto FB too!)
I think it depends on the school. Ours a small local one and I don't find the homework (from CP onwards) overwhelming.
DS2 is in CP/CE1 and only has homework about twice a week.
I would say it takes about 10 mins each time.
For Thursday for example he has to revise his addition (number bonds?) and multiplication tables 2 & 3.
Sometimes he has a sentence or 5-7 words to learn.
DSS is in CE2 and has homework every night. It always seems to take at least 30m, but I think he is quite slow. It's often memorising things - poems, facts, times tables.
Quite often the tasks seem ridiculous to me - the other week he had to learn a list of facts about the features of city centre vs suburbs, he didn't even understand what half of it meant but seemingly the point was to memorise it rather than to understand it.
He is also doing a lot of grammar now: has to identify subjects, adjectives, verbs (and their tenses) in sentences, reconjugate them into the past / future etc.
Written homework at Primary level is actually not allowed in France, & you are usually given the option to refuse it if it is given (though I don't know anyone who ever has) as others have rightly said it is given from CP and is usually memorising times tables, verbs & poetry etc. Having DS1 now at college it appears to be in preparation for the large amounts of work that needs to be learnt off by heart at secondary level.
ime most primary schools (even tiny ones) have some form of "soutien" (support at lunchtime or after school) for any pupil who is struggling with the work or homework.
Good luck - often the stressful planning and anticipating of something is worse than the reality!
jenpetronus - your last comment is very true! I am sure that in all reality everything will be fine and pretty straight-forward. I do stress about unfamiliar situations. My husband is the complete opposite and is relaxed about it all.
I would say see how it goes. The French system sounds very similar to the Belgian one and its inflexibility re marking drives me bonkers. Dd had a biology test and lost two marks because she forgot to agree an adjective with the noun (la veine cave supérier and la veine cave inférieur - forgot the e both times). This was supposed to be a biology test not a French test! She's 14 and just started three weeks of exams. She is SO stressed knowing that if she doesn't do well she will either have resits or worse have to redo the year. This started at the age of six and I feel that she and my ds's didn't really have the fun childhood I would have wanted for them because they were so busy learning for tests all the time. I've had 23 years of this now, well minus 3 years for ds1's maternelle years, and I can't wait for it to be over!
And yes, jenpetronus, the learning by heart, never mind if you understand it or not! I tutor maths for the IB, European Bac and A levels and had a bit of a run in with dd's maths teacher when she was in 1st year secondary. I couldn't see the point of her spending so long learning pages of definitions off by heart for maths. No other system I know of insists on this. It shows no maths ability whatsoever and it's not as if they don't get the opportunity to show their ability to learn off by heart (without necessarily understanding a word of it) in other lessons.
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