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Moving from USA with 10 year olds

Posted by rjzkb-908316 - Created: 5 years ago
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5 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 5)

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Posted by NicolaasM-275338 - 5 years ago

We have had excellent experience with Mougins School in Mougins. The headmaster there and the secretary are very resourceful too and offer excellent help. I suggest you give them a call. We came from the US under similar circumstances about 15 years ago and our kids still have contact with their friends. Our recommendation would be to have them on Mougins school for a couple of years and then maybe move them to an entirely French school or CIV. We had all our kids first in Mougins school and thereafter we moved the youngest to the French system and the two older ones to CIV. All told they had an excellent experience and are well educated. They understand the French culture very well and all three spreak French fluently, while keeping their English as their mother tongue.

If your objective is too have more of a "French Culture" influence right away, then CIV might be the better choice for you.



The kids will like Mougins school better, but it is more English, CIV is more French. Both offer a very international environment. Feel free to drop us a private E-mail and we can chat over the phone so you want.

The Mougins/Valbonne area is a very good "international" area, with Cannes close by. However this region is not inexpensive!

Glad to help and wishing you good luck.


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Posted by sally30 - 5 years ago

Just to share a more positive experience:

We moved almost 2 years ago with 8 & 6 year old kids. They didn't speak any french (despite having spent 6 months going to a little french club in the uk and trying the learning DVD's at home and using the 'holiday' text books the french use to prepare the kids for the next school year) and they went into our little village (Chateauneuf Grasse) school. The school were very helpful - they did suggest our 8 year old went down a year, but we said we preferred to give him a try in the right year and see how he got on and the school were fine with that. They both got extra french lessons with another teacher during the school day and did extra french practice when the rest of their classes were doing english lessons. (This is a school with relatively few foreign kids - there are only about a dozen all together, of all nationalities). They were not expected to pass the assesments with the rest of the class while they didn't have the language level. But after about 4 months their french was amazing and they stopped following their extra classes and did exactly what the rest of the class did - and we have never looked back! They definitely benefitted language wise from that total immersion in French - there weren't any other english speaking kids at school so they had no choice but to learn fast! The french schools are different from the UK Schools (I don't have any experience of US schools) - they are stricter and the kids are expected to work hard. In my opinion this is a good thing! But there is also plenty of sports, lots of 'other' activities (creative stuff, trips out etc). And most importantly....my two have both loved it and are really happy at school!

Good luck whatever you decide to do!


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Posted by TDellaca - 5 years ago

I suggest that you and your family start going to Alliance Français to start learning french and the french culture. They have a branch in most major cities in the US.


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Posted by kiwogs - 5 years ago

Please be aware that the French Education system is absolutley nothing like yours. 

If you put your children into a Fench state school they will be taught as if they are 10 year old French children with little extra assistance to help them with the language.

French school is very strict & your kids should start learning how to write in French Script now, because our personal experience is that there is no other way to write in this country.  If they cannot write acceptably in the French Script font then they will have to do extra lessons at lunchtime - unfortunately this does not include language lessons, just  writing lessons.  Your childrens work will likely not be marked if the teacher deems their writing untidy.

The days are much longer than your kids will be used to, 8.30am to 4.30pm and at 10ys old don't be suprised if they have up to 2 hours of homework a night & weekend homework as well.  

Really work hard on getting a good level of French because our experience with our 8y old has been awful.  We went from having a child who adored school to within 3 weeks here absolutely hating it.  I was told that they expect kids to take a year to get the language and so they don't do anything extra in the classroom for them until that year has passed.  It is then likely they'll have to do that year over again.

There's not much in the way of positive encouragement either.  The staff in the 2 schools we tried out all said that if children are made to feel ashamed that their work is not good enough then they'll work harder to make sure they're not shamed in front of the whole class again.  After only 3 weeks in French school our 8y old got 8 out of 10 of her spelling words right but was told that was not good enough & 2 marks would be taken off because she forgot the accents.  Not a single word of encouragement or praise for the fact she got 8 out of 10 right.  She was yelled at by a teacher for refusing to get up in front of the class to read from a book in French after only 5 weeks in French school.  I know that I would have outright refused as well.  She was going to be made out to be a complete fool infront of all her peers for not being able to read the story and then have to live with more teasing than she was already getting in the playground.  Our 4y old was bullied by his teacher because he wasn't writing neatly enough and the comment written on his work for us to read was 'this is the work of a pig!' - Charming.

Try to talk to as many expats with kids in French schools as you can to find a good school & get as much French under your belts before you come.  If you can get into a bi-lingual school I would highly recommend it.  

If I had any idea what school was like here compared to what we had experienced at home in NZ then I would at the very least got them into a bi-lingual school or not come at all.

This of course is just one experience - but just be aware that if you have a great, open, positive school it's going to be a major culture shock when you get here.

All the very best.

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Posted by nissalabella - 5 years ago

Hi, to be really accurate, a few details need to be known :

- Do you know where you will be working, if so?

- Do you prefer to live close to the sea or a bit further away - 10-20 min car ?

- As regards your kids, do you want to have them join the French educational system, or will you want them to remain in the "international/English" education system?

- Do you prefer a big town, a medium size town or a village, all being close to commodities?

It is very good of you to plan - including learning the language - a long time in advance, on the contrary a lot of people land on the CA and they expect everybody to speak their language - mainly English - which is far from being the case.  Based on your answers, if you want to do it, I'll then give you my recommendations (I was born in Nice so know the area quite well!).