Saturday, 11 July 2009


We made it.

The boys are speaking both Swiss and High German.

C can do maths. He hasn’t needed to go back to the educational psychiatrist once, and is back to the mischevious, affectionate and lovable little boy that he was before the move.

They have friends in the village with whom they play on a daily basis. They walk themselves to school – and I miss the school run like a hole in the head. They can independently get themselves to where they want to go, within reason.

It’s been an exhausting rollercoaster of a ride. OH’s job takes him away on business a good 70% of the time. When he is working in Winterthur he is often not back until 7.30pm, having left at 6.45am - so I have been mostly on my own during the week, often all week, with 3 voluntary jobs to juggle around the school times. There’ve been times when I’ve laughed in amazement and bewilderment, and times when I’ve sobbed and sobbed in frustration. I’ve marvelled at Swiss practicality and the common sense of their approach, and wondered at the beautiful handwork which they value so highly in education for so many valid reasons.

I honestly think that the children have been more needy and demanding of me this year than they ever were when they were in nappies: sometimes I feel I have been homeschooling, with the amount of support they have needed – combined with clockwatching continuously because of them coming home every day for lunch. But I have tried to look up at the big picture rather than worry about what I’m stumbling over that particular day.

I have had to be very, very tough with the children, which hasn’t always been easy. In the first term in particular, the children were visibly sinking with exhaustion from the language immersion, so I had to insist on bedtime being stuck to strictly – sometimes that meant that by the time homework was finished, there was very little time to unwind before bed. By Christmas, getting out of bed in the morning was a desperate struggle for them, and when they sat at the table at mealtimes looking as if they were too tired to bother feeding themselves, I seriously wondered if we had done the right thing. But they recovered.

I have gone out of my way to foster good relations with all the teachers so that they know we are on their side and supportive parents, but without interfering. The Swiss teachers know what they are doing – so I have refused to take issue with them about anything such as homework volume, marks for tests etc. If the teacher has said that something must be redone, then so be it, even if privately I have wanted to scream.

I am mentally drained, but also strangely exhilarated. This year has taken all my inner reserves and energy, but the children have come to the end of it with local friends, extremely happy, increasingly independent, and with language skills being developed at an amazing rate of knots. So it’s been worth it, even if there have been times when the gin bottle has taken a bit of a bashing.

It’s been what the British term good character building stuff.

The sun is out, the summer holidays are here. Pimms on the lawn, anyone ?


Kimberly said...

Kate - Thanks for keeping up with this blog and inviting me to read it. It has given me a real vision of what we can expect next year. I am sure I will read it again and again as our first year in Swiss school unfolds to give myself a pep rally. I am so glad to hear that at the end of the day, it all worked out and the hard work has been well worth the effort. Great job, mom!!! Kimberly

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great blog! My family and I are back in the US now after 2 years in Zofingen. My oldest did part of 1 klasse, all of 2nd and half of 3rd and my youngest (twins) did 6 months of the local Kindergarten. Good luck with everything! Barbara

Sally Carter said...

Thank you so much for spelling it all out for us too! Just beginning the same journey - rather abruptly, but hey, there's no time like the present! Hoping my 9 year old settles in as successfully as yours...

KT said...

Hey thanks everyone for your comments, I have literally only just had a look after ages and ages.

Thanks for reading - and hope it works out for you all.

I have to say the first year was really really tough, but it all seems very easy now (still can't understand the letters from school though LOL)

The next stage is a little terrifying - J going to Sek probably and C going into Mittelstufe - perhaps I'll pick up where I left off.... hmmm

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