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Things you need & need to know about starting Maternelle school

I felt I was flailing around in the dark - for a little while - still do after only 2 weeks of school - some things I've learned: (BTW, my daughter is not yet 3 years old (birthday at the end of November) and although she can be rather shy with new people is definitely bilingual French / English).
  • Signs on the creche wall back in March alerted me that we needed to register Alicia at school. We called to make an appointment with the head (directeur) and took along a paper we got from our mairie (we had previously taken her birth certificate and an EDF bill there to obtain this form - why it couldn't have been all done at the school I still can't tell.) We took along Alicia's carnet de sante to prove her vaccinations had been done. We were told the first day of school would be the 4th September (watch the board at the end of June or the end of August for the details of a parent's meeting and time to start on the 4th.)
  • We were only told the day before at 1430hrs by poster on the school gate at what time to take Alicia the following day. (We know that the local private school had provided this information to their kids 2 months previously along with an extensive list of things you needed to buy i.e. blankets and pillows for their afternoon naps - aprons and so on. Actually I don't know the actual price of tuition at the private school - I must go and inquire - just out of interest - I've been told it's much less expensive than an equivalent school in the UK.)
  • The private school has 16 kids in the equivalent class. Alicia's class has 27.
  • Alicia's class has 1 teacher and 2 helpers. They call them by their first names.
  • We have had to take out assurance scolaire - an addition to our household insurance with MAAF at Euro18 a year. In case she knocks out somebody's teeth - or somebody knocks out her teeth!
  • We also provided 4 passport sized photos - one of them is for her coat peg - which also has her name and a pocket into which all the notes to parents and adverts for school insurance are put.
  • We took a box of tissues too and a plastic bag of pants and a change of clothes that stays hung up on her peg.
  • The school year is Jan to Dec i.e. if she had been born in January - she would be one of the eldest in her class. She was born in 2004. If she had been born in 2005 she would have been entered in the passarelle section (i.e. a class for kids between creche and maternelle age). She is actually in the petite section. The only point I can see to enter your child in the passarelle rather than keeping them in creche is that it's free. The creche is worked as a very small percentage of your salary (they want to see a tax bill.) 0.05pc I think.
  • The first day of school she stayed only 1.5 hours with just half of the class - and the second half of the morning they welcomed the other half.
  • As Alicia is so young she is only going to school mornings arriving at 0850hrs and leaving at 1150hrs - this is my choice as she still needs a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.... for those who have to stay as their parents work - they place mattresses on the floor for their hours rest.
  • Currently our school can only accept kids to stay for lunch when both their parents work full time - as they don't have the funds for their kitchen staff.
  • We had to sign forms to say they can take her to the hospital in an emergency - also that they can take her on school trips.
  • We had to sign forms to say that they can take photos of her and record her voice for the internet and magazines and so on... for projects I suppose.
  • Her first school trip is next Tuesday to see a puppet show at our village's theatre.
I'll add more to this list and blog when I think of other points on the maternelle schooling.

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