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Maternelle...

(41 Posts)
bettyspaghetti33 Tue 09-Dec-14 15:29:50

So after having arrived in Paris we have finally got through the endless paperwork at the mairie!!! to get DD (just turned 4yrs) a place at maternelle. Great news… except when meeting the director for the first time today, he seemed to be of the impression that children can only attend maternelle full time. I told him my DD was not a French speaker and needed time to settle in and would therefore like to only attend in the mornings for now to which I got quite an offensive response, clearly he was not impressed! But I am of the opinion that maternelle is not obligatory by law to attend at all so surely I can use DD's place for part time sessions?

Anyone been in a similar position? Anyone know any ways of dealing with thisk kind of awkwardness?

Bonsoir Wed 10-Dec-14 00:37:21

Maternelle is not nursery but school. If your daughter is 4 she will be in Moyenne Section where all day attendance is expected (though teachers are usually very understanding about doctor's appointments during school hours, unlike at primary).

Bonsoir Wed 10-Dec-14 00:39:48

Think of it from the teacher's perspective: how can she get the class through the curriculum if the DC don't attend regularly?

Your DD will be fine as long as you make clear that school is non-negotiable.

BriocheDoree Wed 10-Dec-14 08:55:04

You might be allowed to bring her home at lunchtime on some or all of the days if she needs a break or finds it tiring.

Bonsoir Wed 10-Dec-14 08:57:44

Indeed - it is enshrined in law that parents may take DC home for lunch and some schools don't offer canteen/lunchtime facilities to DC with a SAHP as there are often not enough spaces.

LaPetiteCoccinelle Wed 10-Dec-14 09:07:56

She will always have lunch breaks and Wednesday afternoons off.

My DS has just started in Petite Section (he's just turned 3), where afternoons arent obligatory. In our (private) school they also encourge you not to bring the child on Wednesday mornings if tired/upset etc.

At first we just did 4 mornings a week but found that DS was unsettled with all th chopping and changing, never sure if he was going to school or not. We switched to going 5 mornings a week and he settled better.

The first half term he didnt speak 1 word of French (despite DH speaking it at home). After half term something clicked and hes now speaking more French. He has also settled in better because he knows more children. I think if your D was the only one doing just mornings then she would feel left out of activities and friendship groups.

bettyspaghetti33 Wed 10-Dec-14 12:49:36

Bonsoir are you correct to say that Maternelle is school? After all it is not compulsory, yes it is 'ecole maternelle' but you could liken that to 'pre-school'.

I would just like to take it at DD's pace and let her get used to it before launching into full time hours. Of course full time would be wonderful for her to get used to the French school system, which is the ultimate aim. But I don't see anything wrong in taking a more gradual approach.

homeaway Wed 10-Dec-14 16:18:37

In the school dd attended they had to have a quiet time on a cushion after lunch on the long days .

Bonsoir Wed 10-Dec-14 16:46:35

Maternelle is school. There is a national curriculum, the teachers are primary-qualified and your DD will learn vital literacy and numeracy skills. 99% of DC go and those who don't have real problems in primaries.

morethanclueless Wed 10-Dec-14 19:30:06

Hmm. I do see your point and I really do understand your concerns, but I can see the teacher's viewpoint too, although they could perhaps have explained their viewpoint without needing to be offensive. I have to agree, that 'maternelle' feels very much like a school and not a private nursery (as you might expect in the UK) and so you might want to take that into consideration. I don't know if you are in the UK, but your DD would be more or less the same age as a younger child in UK Reception who would be expected to go to school every day, all day (incl. lunch) and would be taking on some considerable learning-challenges i.e. learning to read. She would have less holiday too. It may not seem so at the moment as this must all feel very new to you, but 'maternelle' is probably gentler than the UK system!

We too have just arrived in France. I have a daughter who started in Moyenne Section this September. Like your DD, she had (still has!) no French. She attends full-time but does not go to after-school at 3.45pm (it's called ALAE here, not sure if it has the same name elsewhere). She always stays for lunch.

I won't pretend that she has found it easy and that she is not tired (very tired!) but I think she is beginning to settle and to find her feet. I will never know whether going part-time would have been a better approach, but I am generally of the view that it's best to dive in and not to prolong settling-in too much. In the past, when any of my kids attended nursery in the UK the occasional day per week, they got far less out of it than when they attended more frequently (just like LaPetite said).

My daughter does get a relax-time after lunch, like a previous poster mentioned.

Good luck with whatever you decide. I'm afraid I don't know about the ins-and-outs about whether you can insist on part-time etc, but I'm sure someone will come along and advise. Feel free to PM me.

Booboostoo Wed 10-Dec-14 20:31:10

Me DD is in petite section but taught with moyene section and I could swear that some kids in both sections only attend mornings. Even the ones that do attend afternoons have a special nap room so I think the director is being a bit weird about it all.

We tend to spend time in Greece and explained this to our direct rice who was very understanding. She said that until school DD was not obliged to attend and would benefit from exposure to other cultures. She recommended we try to stay in France for CP term time though as they start learning more important foundational reading, writing and arithmetic skills.

DD's maternelle is very different from her crèche. The crèche had a lot of free form play and some directed play with the odd activity. Maternelle is quite structured, children have to listen and follow specific activities.

morethanclueless Wed 10-Dec-14 21:37:53

Booboostoo - you mentioned that your Directrice said it was a good idea to try and stay in France once your DD is in CP. I'm a bit ignorant about these matters but I assumed school was compulsory at that point and therefore non-attedance isn't an option. Is that not the case? Thanks

Bonsoir Wed 10-Dec-14 22:13:41

CP is very much obligatory!

Bonsoir Wed 10-Dec-14 22:28:01

GS covers a lot of groundwork for CP - miss GS at your peril!!

dreamingbohemian Wed 10-Dec-14 22:37:52

My DS went to maternelle when we lived in France and yes, it is school. I agree with letting her go all day as it will actually help her settle faster. We're now in Germany and DS goes to a preschool here full-time (as we work) he was really pretty settled and speaking the language after a couple of months. One of his friends did the gradual approach and he really did not settle at all, the staff had to push his mother to let him come full-time and that did seem to help a lot.

Booboostoo Thu 11-Dec-14 07:03:16

I thought CP was not obligatory but clearly i misunderstood what she told me - sorry for any confusion.

morethanclueless Thu 11-Dec-14 08:58:57

No worries Booboostoo! Despite speaking French I regularly misunderstand things. I guess that comes from not actually having gone to school in France myself.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 11-Dec-14 09:01:19

Maternelle is not compulsiry but once you are enrolled attendance becomes compulsory. You can choose not to send her at all, but can't choose to enroll her and then have her go part time.

jenpetronus Thu 11-Dec-14 09:10:27

My youngest is in CP already, so I may be out of date here, but it used to be obligatory for all maternelle to take a siesta after lunch - which should mean she is less tired potentially.
fwiw DS2 struggled a lot at first, to the point where the Maitresse said he may have to not come at all until the following year as he was upsetting the others so much shock we persevered with mornings only, but it was hard, and it was only when he did start full days the following year he really settled down and got into his stride - he's now hardly ever at home in the evenings as he has so many gouters and invites, so it did work out in the end.
I agree with the advice to talk to your DD's teachers too.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 11-Dec-14 09:13:15

And there is no way I would skip maternelle. DD1 started PS this year and DD2 will start next tear at not quite 3. They don't learn to read and write there but they learn how to be French, how to live by school rules, and lots of educational but not necessarily academic things. The three years there lay the foundation for primary, where they up the pressure considerably.

It is tiring but they nap in the afternoons if they need to. DD1 loves it.

Next year in MS she won't nap and afternoon sessions will be obligatory rather than encouraged.

All v different from nursery but they really do cope very well. DD1 thrives on the structure and boundaries and learning so much. It is gentle though. The maitresses are strict but very kind and great with the kids.

Final piece of advice: as an expat I try and avoid arguments or asking too many questions. The system works for them and they don't like being told it doesn't work for you.

I have found ways of querying things with a big smile and a "oh it's so different please enlighten me" feel and getting the information I need that way. French teachers are used to being allowed to get on with it, and they will tell you if there is a problem.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 11-Dec-14 09:14:45

And they will be very supportive if there is a problem if you ask for help.

Booboostoo Thu 11-Dec-14 10:07:01

PetiteRaleuse now that I am sure is different in our school because I just read the school's rules and they say that attendance at Maternelle is not obligatory but they would like to be informed, as a courtesy, of non-attendance reasons.

My friend's child is 5yo and goes to DD's school on a part time basis. When his mum is well enough he lives with her and attends their local school, when she is unwell he moves in with my friend, his aunt, and attends our school.

Bonsoir Thu 11-Dec-14 12:04:09

Booboostoo - I am afraid I have a very hard time believing your post below! A DC in France cannot be enrolled in two schools at once and attend each on a PT basis. The administration is very strict.

maradesbois Thu 11-Dec-14 12:39:13

Maternelle is the start of 'éducation nationale' if in state sector. Not legally compulsory like primary school (beginning at CP) but it would be very very rare not to send a child. It is not like preschool in UK where you can pick and choose hours. The teacher probably wouldn't understand where a parent was coming from asking for child to come part time as it is just seen as part of daily life and the start of a child's ft education.

Hope everything works out for you op.

maradesbois Thu 11-Dec-14 12:42:06

Would also add that your dc will learn the language in no time if you let them go ft. Think it is worth a few weeks of tiredness/adjustment as they'll need to be up to speed with the others in time for CP.

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