Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Homeschooling in France

This is the first week that is not one of school vacation here. Now we are into the "Don't you go to school?" and it is so much fun, contrary me thinks anyway. The answer, "we are homeschooled" is quickly followed by another question directed to me; "How do you do it?" or "Isn't it hard?" Mostly I just smile and say; "With lots of joy." or: "Isn't is great to be able to travel outside of the expensive season?"

Today the children are being homeschooled at their grandparents' house, all in French. The grandparents' idea of fun is playing board games like Four Horses, the Family Game, Mille Bourne, or this other game that all the kids love. It goes like this; you write down six categories on a piece of paper, pick a letter out of the alphabet and write down something in each category that starts with that letter. It is really hard, even for a native speaker, but for semi-bilingual children, it is a great challenge. They have such fun playing this game that Lily came home and sat down with two picture dictionaries to "study" last night; one with names of fruits and vegetables, one with names of professions and jobs. The categories mainly consist of those two, names of countries or cities, first names, names of objects, names of flowers or trees, names of animals, it's up to the person writing out the sheets when beginning. The way you get to any letter is to tell someone to start saying the alphabet silently until you say "stop". That is the letter you start with.

Tomorrow they will be car-schooled as we travel across the southwestern part of the country to the Midi. Along the highway there won't be too much to see, but I bet, given the choice between me reading the history of Toulouse aloud or them finding a version of the game to play, we can make up a game or two for the road, in French even! (And I'll have the history book handy, just in case.)


  1. Interesting. I'm thinking that homeschooling in France must be unpopular because their public school system is probably better than it is here in the states. That's the only reason I can imagine it would be considered so obscure.

  2. Anyone French have a take on this? (Or my friends whose children are in the French system here and think I'm crazy too?) I don't know if "better" is the right word, but certainly "all-encompassing" might be. The norm here is for a child to be in school as soon as you can potty-train them, between two and three years of age.

    School for little ones is very good, the teachers, in my experience, are wonderful, the classrooms well-adapted, and it means free day care from 9-5, with early drop-off and late stay options as well. Lily went to school when we lived here, though only half-days. Her teachers were the best. They really did not understand that she only came for half-days, but I was not ready to give her up for the whole day.

    One girl in her class started in the second year of school, when she turned four. She cried a lot, missing her parents. The teacher told me; "It's because she was not in school until now, it's not easy starting so late."

    Once they get older, I'm not so sure, I do not have experience with the system. Help me out, friends?

  3. This is such a wonderful opportunity for you and your family! What fun to connect with so many loved ones and places in France... I'm also so glad to see you journaling everything...what a great way to preserve the memories!

  4. My dream has always been to home school, with part time in another country (especially the South of France). So far, I have not figured out how to make this a real option. Have you read One-to-one, it is a wonderful homeschooling book written by a British ex-pat family living in France. Blessings on your adventures!

  5. I certainly cannot answer for France, but I am currently reading "Better Late Than Early" which C.M. returned without finishing and I checked out before she could get it again. Anyway, as we have discussed many, many times in various forums, early schooling is not necessarily in the best interest of the child. Being at home with a parent is better for all but a small subset of children, to which yours do not belong! How wonderful that their grandparents are helping them to learn their French! Here we are working on Spanish as our church is planning on going bi-lingual, but haven't gotten very far yet using Pwr-glide Jr. We have learned after introductions to ask if you have any rocks in your shoes and if you have seen a rat! I wonder what our new Spanish-speaking families will think!

  6. Hi Tammy,

    Thanks for dropping in! This has been our best trip ever so far, the need to plan things and be intentional with five munchkins has made a big difference, as well as having three months to enjoy everyone and everything.

    Hope all is well at your house!

  7. Hi Emily,

    I am betting on you figuring out a way to do this! I have read "One to One," I contacted the author to find out how to unschool and live legally in France, lol!

    A good book for making plans to leave your "other" life for a time, even all the time: "The Four-Hour Work Week." Be careful, it can sort of change your whole perspective on things!

    Thank you for stopping by, and joining the "follower" list, I appreciate it!

  8. Hi Amie,

    I agree! I was never so happy as to move to the States where all-day school for 3 year olds was not the social norm.

    Make me a list of what you want to say in Spanish, I'll translate for you, it will be the beginning of our Spanish program, I can't wait!

    Our French program makes sense for this reason; starting with everyday vocabulary used normally in a family. This would not be considered "early forced learning" by any means, just a natural way to introduce a second language.

    Thanks for dropping in! Hugs to all those cute kids.


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