Moving to France with Children

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Although tracking down accurate figures is nigh on impossible, we and our confrères are coming across more and more couples with kids who are thinking of moving to France, lock stock and barrel to start a new life. Invariably, these are people who either have a trade, or are professionals with transferable skills who have had enough of the rat race and are desperately seeking a more balanced way of life.

Few people need convincing that life in France, even in the cities takes place at a much gentler pace than most places in the UK. For example, we know that even in Paris, busy folk regularly take the time to break their day and eat a relaxed meal in a bistro or street-side terrace with friends or colleagues. Granted, in 2013, they may no longer be doing it every day of the week, but you can rest assured that their country-based cousins are.

Add to this, the fact that according to lots of ex-pat parents we speak to, kids seem to stay kids longer in France for some reason, than they do in the UK, and you start to see the draw. That said, it’s a real dilemma to uproot your family from all the friends, family and familiarity that you’ve had all your life to head off to France.

All sorts of questions raise their heads when you start to investigate this sort of possibility and it’s for this reason that we’re planning a range of articles for our blog that will help families with kids get their move to France right.

Things like language, schooling, healthcare, the reality of getting work, setting up a business, support mechanisms and missing the family are all likely to be high on your “worry” list right now and while we can’t take those away, we can certainly give you lots of information that’ll help you make an informed decision that’s right for your family.

Moving to France with Babies or Toddlers

Having a baby can be an emotional time; a period when everything in life is viewed through tired eyes and even the simplest of tasks can seem like an uphill struggle. Irrespective of all this, there are plenty of families who make the decision to move to France with small babies or toddlers.

The things that concern them are typically isolation, childcare and language skills. If you’re planning to move to France with babies or toddlers, over the next few weeks we’ll be talking about the childcare options available in France as well as giving you some insight into what you can do to quickly integrate and make friends. We’ll also talk about the healthcare system and insurance in France, which to be fair, impresses most Brits who move to this country.

Moving to France with Young Children

If you’re not familiar with the French schooling system, you’ll be particularly impressed by the Maternelle schools in France that welcome kids from about 2 and a half years old to age 5. Maternelle’s in France are colourful buildings where play and mutual respect abound.

Typically equipped with dormitories and canteens that serve almost restaurant standard food, these are places where kids learn to work together as a team through play and some structured lessons. It’s a kind of apprenticeship for going to ‘real’ school. Again, over the next few weeks, we’ll be back to tell you a whole lot more about the Maternelle schools in France, but if you have pressing questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Moving to France with Primary School Kids

As soon as kids get into primary school in the UK, the temptation is to think that it’s too late to uproot them and take them to a new country, but in many ways, this is a perfect time to introduce your little ones to French words and culture thru books ideally. The French primary school system is similar in many ways to the UK, but the days tend to be longer and in many locations, Wednesday is a day off. What this means for working parents is that they can have four full days at work without worrying about the need for additional childcare.

And on that subject, the great news about the primary system in France for working parents is that the early morning and evening wraparound care is both cheap, reliable and a fun way for your kids to integrate. This is also a time when kids will pick up the language like sponges without having too much pressure to achieve from an academic point of view.

We’ll be speaking about Ecole Primaire in France in detail soon, but we’re here for you if you need us to help you find answers to your primary schooling questions.

Moving to France with High-School Children

As you probably already know, high school in France is a game of two halves. The first part, collège, starts when kids are 11 years old and then after 4 years, they move to lycée where they spend the last three years of their education. As in the UK, schooling is compulsory until age 16, but France has an interesting and highly effective system called Lycée Professionnel, as well as standard high school, which allows teenagers to carry on their formal education while learning a trade or profession.

While moving kids to France during their high school education is undoubtedly more challenging than moving younger kids, it is possible and there are plenty of success stories to reinforce that. What you have to accept is that repeating a year or availing of additional support might be required because of the language issues, but if you’re ready for that, then it’ll be a much easier pill to swallow.


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