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settling into school in non-english speaking countries

(15 Posts)
puddlepuss Fri 03-Sep-10 18:18:06

I posted this in chat and someone reccomended I posted here so here goes....

I just dropped my ds, 4yrs, off at school after lunch and watched him in the playground just wondering around on his own, occasionally trying to join a group only for them to turn away from him. I think this is because he doesn't speak the language very well and he's seen as odd. He's done a year in school already but we moved recently and he started at his new school yesterday. I know it's early days for him to have friends but I've never seen anything so heartbreaking as my gorgeous boy sitting in the corner on his own and I wanted to know if anyone had any advice on how they coped with this.

MmeLindt Fri 03-Sep-10 21:38:32

I had the exact same situation when we moved to Switzerland. My dd had a little clique of English speaking friends but it was ahrder for ds. Neither of them spoke any French when we arrived.

I can remember seeing ds wander about the playground alone and going home in tears ( me not him).

That was two years ago. The first year he made friends a bit with two or three of the local kids, then two British boys moved to the school and he teamed up with them.

It was hard for them the first couple of years but now they are so integrated and speak great French so can play with whoever they want.

He will be fine. Can you see if there is someone he likes and ask them for a playdate?

puddlepuss Sat 04-Sep-10 07:39:11

Thank you. It's so good to hear people get through this! I just feel like the worst mum on earth for making him go through this. I know he'll be fine in the end but logic goes out the window when you see your child alone. I think i'm going to give it another week and then ask his teacher who he sits with/plays with and then find their mum and get them over. We have good English friends here so weekends are full of fun for him but the school has never had an English child before so I guess he will be 'odd' for a while.

kreecherlivesupstairs Wed 08-Sep-10 09:53:22

Where are you puddlepuss? Our DD started at school a couple of weeks ago, she is at an International one so there isn't a language issue. the first couple of days were hard, she and a boy were the only 'new' students in a class that had largely been together for 6 years. She is fine now, has a couple of very nice girls and one who can only be loved by her mother. time is the key I think. It is hard though so be kind to yourself.

puddlepuss Thu 09-Sep-10 21:30:19

Hi kreecherlivesupstairs, sorry but I only just saw your post. We're in rural Brittany so no chance of an international school unfortunately. Things have improved today. He's made friends with a boy in his class, has stopped holding the teacher's hand at break and is starting to play with the other kids. I know I was expecting miracles so early on but my heart was being torn out watching him like that. Fingers crossed it continues to and in the meantime we're having ds-focused days when he's not at school.

kreecherlivesupstairs Fri 10-Sep-10 07:38:00

That is great, it does rip your heart out when you see your DC unhappy. Can he have his friend over for tea or just a play? The only problem with having just one friend is the intensity of the relationship. Maybe that's just girls though. I have no experience of boys thank goodnesssmile

puddlepuss Fri 10-Sep-10 08:05:31

I went into the school this morning all prepared to ask this boy's mum if he could come for tea (a LOT of practicing - I have limited french!) but he just appeared without a parent so no-go there. Still, ds went in happily and almost forgot to say goodbye so I'm taking that as a good sign smile. I think the teacher mixes the groups up within the class so hopefully he will get to know the others in time aswell. I'm just pleased that this boy seems 'nice' and the teacher seems to like him as at the last school ds' first friend was the naughtiest child in the class - grrrr!

LongtimeinBrussels Fri 10-Sep-10 09:31:16

This happened to me with ds1. It was heart-breaking but he did get used to it eventually and started picking up some French which of course helped. For ds2 I had no problem at all (he was used to hearing French around by this time and had the loveliest teacher) and for dd I literally had to peel her off me but that was more due to personality than anything as she'd heard the most French out of the three of them.

It will get better, honest!

puddlepuss Fri 10-Sep-10 19:21:56

Well, he's just completed his first full week and is now friends with a little group of boys. His teacher is really happy with him and he didn't cry when another boy poked him in the eye during story time so I guess I worried a little too early smile. I have no fears about dd, 2yrs, starting next year. She's as bolshy as they come and can already speak some french. she's a tiny little blonde thing but packs a mean punch so she should be fine grin

LongtimeinBrussels Mon 13-Sep-10 09:53:44

Good news puddlepuss

mamaloco Mon 13-Sep-10 10:09:48

It will get better. DD1 started at 3.5 without a word of romanian. She is now freind with everybody and bilingual (5.5). She is very sociable, she had everybody playing "animal game" within a week (her favorite) so no need to talk, everrybody was barking mooing... and the teacher was a crocodile wiggling on the floor grin
there is a lot of game your son can play, you can teach him some word so he can start them.

Tag= au chat et a la souris
football= on joue au foot?
race= on fait la course?

I remember being new at school and the other kids usually turn away from you even if you speak the same language, it takes a few days/weeks to integrate.

To help him try to see what cartoons the other kids are watching on tv, it does help to be recognise as one of the group and it will help his french. I preferred "la cinq" (? share a channel with "arte") for 4 years old.

puddlepuss Mon 13-Sep-10 18:11:45

Today he begged me to let him eat lunch in the canteen instead of coming home (I've been trying to get him to go to the canteen everyday!). He had a great day and lots of kids from his class were waving to him outside the school when we went home and saying "alloo Weeyam" (William) and telling their parents that he was the new English boy who could speak French. I think we're over the worst and about to embark on French child playdates - must brush up my French now! smile

MmeLindt Mon 13-Sep-10 19:51:53

Hurrah. So glad to hear that he is settling in.

linzmb20 Sun 19-Dec-10 19:12:00

Im so glad to hear he is setteling in.
I am moving to France next year and although I am not worried about me I am owrried about my 10 year old son fitting in.
I an going to run a business for my family and both my son and I speak a little french but I am worried about him starting school as there is no english speaking schools in the area.
I feel like such a bad mother (although I have asked him and he is sure it is what he wants to do) but this is a chance for us to have a life and our ownb house which we cant have here.
Its nice to hear that the children do fit in eventualy - just hope my boy can do the same as he is a bit older

whiteflame Tue 21-Dec-10 21:01:01

try not to worry too much linzmb20. i started a school in a foreign country with not so much as a word of the language. it was hard at first, but any new school is. what would have helped me is vocab - he doesn't need to necessarily be able to speak in complete sentences, but if he can get across nouns/verbs everything will be easier. maybe he could learn 2-3 a day smile

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