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New to Brussels

(5 Posts)
sasha08 Tue 11-Oct-11 20:44:33

Hello, I've just moved to Brussels (for my husband's work - 3-4yrs) with an almost 3 year old and a 1 year old. Have found previous threads regarding schools and areas to live really useful but have a few questions I hope someone can help with.

Does anyone have or know children at the Acacia Ecole in Etterbeek or the International Montessori House in Montgomery? I'm attracted to them because of the exposure to French (I'm not expecting him to become bilingual) and the fees aren't as high as the international schools (we're also considering BJAB).

At the moment we're looking to live in Woluwe Saint Pierre, either around Petillon metro or possibly Stockel (does anyone know how long the 39 tram takes from Stockel to Montgomery?).

Other than schools, I'd love to hear about any French classes and / or gyms that have a crèche attached. 

Thanks in advance for any help. It all feels a bit overwhelming at the moment. Hoping to feel better once we have somewhere permanent to live and my 3 year old out of my hair.. I mean happily settled at school. 

natation Tue 11-Oct-11 21:57:22

I know parents at all those schools, if you want to pm me.
Quickest way from Stockel to Montgomery is by metro line 1, around 11 minutes. 39 is slower but still not bad, takes around 16 minutes.
Acacia is around 5k per year, expect 25 in a class except in acceuil for children born in 2009, for 2 to 12 year olds. Montessori House Brussels is around 10k per year, smaller groups, only 2 classes for 2 to 6 year olds. Acacia is likely to give your child more French than Montessori House. Acacia has a more stable and Belgian intake and a reasonable amount of French speakers in the Fr/Eng classes as well as expat children, it is run a bit like a local Belgian school, perhaps a bit stricter. Montessori House has a high percentage of non Belgians and non French speaking expat children but has much smaller classes, quite different to a Belgian school. BJAB is very unlikely to teach your children much French, more like a British prep school. There is also BISB which is only 10 minutes from Montgomery too, by reputation a bit less pushy, but at 3 years old, I doubt that would make any difference, both BJAB and BISB are similar size, similar intake, similar fees, both English only with French second language lessons.

If you are here more than 2 years, it really can be a good choice to go for local rather than private, the more your children pick up French , the more integrated they can be and more activities they can happily take part in. You also get very cheap extra-curricular activities which would cost 2 or 3 times the price in the private sector. Plus out or hours child-care known as garderie is also going to be much much cheaper and more flexible in a local school - for example one private international school I know charges 6 euro per hour for garderie, our school charges a little less than 1 euro per hour. The local system is very very different though, lots of play to an older age to 6 years old, but at the same time lots of structure, children do as they are told and do things as a class, also children are expected to become autonomous at an earlier age, not so much molly coddling.

It depends on your budget what sort of gym you are after. Aspria has 3 clubs, Louise, Arts-Loi and la Rasante and I know la Rasante has a paying creche and minimum membership fees for one person of 1800 euro per year. There are much cheaper options, such as European Fitness next to Stockel metro, as little as 650 euro per year so almost a thrid of la Rasante price, finally there is Fitnastic which is very near Montgomery roundabout, no idea of cost but imagine European Fitness sort of price. Neither of latter 2 gyms have creches, instead you can simply use a halte-garderie then go off to a gym, the one near us charges 8 euro per morning session and has plenty of expat children in it, despite it being an ordinary halte-garderie (drop-in creche) subsidised by the commune.

natation Tue 11-Oct-11 22:27:13

A little PS
There is an English language maternelle only school, the only one of its kind in the Brussels area, all other English language maternelle level 2 1/2 to 6, are part of schools which go to age 11 / 12. It's situated in Woluwe St Pierre, in beautiful Parc Parmentier. It is very very small, I know it's more expensive than Acacia, perhaps around Montessori House price range. It's near to Musée du Tram 39 tram stop, or on 36 bus route, so you can get there from both Montgomery and Stockel areas in less than 15 minutes.

Longtime Tue 11-Oct-11 23:20:23

sacha08, there is one mumsnetter who has her children in the Montessori and another who has her child(ren) in Acacia. I will pm you.

Longtime Tue 11-Oct-11 23:28:51

Oh and another one who has a dd in BJAB. Have pm'd you.

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