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All things school and education

Education systems can be so different depending on what country you are in.
Our personal experiences with Education in different countries
One of the most common questions I’m asked is what the school system is like for my boys. As parents we all want our kids to have the best education so they can be set up well for a bright future. During the time we have spent in Copenhagen, Brussels and now Marseille, we have seen that each place has it’s own philosophy for how to best educate and therefore very different systems in how to apply that philosophy. It’s amazing to me the variations of education with the aim to get our kids to the same place in the end.
Scandinavian education
In a lot of Scandinavian countries education is so valued that they actually pay you to further your education. They will give you a stipend to cover your living expenses. This is to give you the freedom to only focus on studies and not have to worry about a job.
Belgian school experiences
In Belgium our kids started school full time at age 2.5. They were in school from 8:30-3:30 every day, except Wednesday which was finished at noon. For me the most important aspect of their education at that age was language. In 3 months of full time school they were considered fluent. It’s hard not to envy that rapid absorption of a language.
We heard a lot of “warnings” in regards to the Belgian school system because it can be quite harsh and not equal from district to district. However, we had extremely positive experiences with the school my boys attended. My favorite part of their education in Belgium was that it included a lot of field trips, going out and learning through experiences. They also started swimming lessons in school at the age of 4/5. They learned a lot, including developing motor skills, writing skills, drawing their self portraits every month to see the progression of learned space and details. They learned numbers and letters and so much more.
Yes they start young with full days, but they also had quite a lot of breaks and holidays which always seemed to come at the perfect time. The long days never felt like too much for them because they were getting frequent breaks.
French school mentality
Now that we are in France we have experienced another shift in mentality and way of educating. Again, we were warned to be careful in choosing a school. The French education system now includes teaching on 13 different sexualities and they help children identify which one they “are”. Catholic schools, however, resist this and it’s left alone there. This is why all the other staff kids go to the local Catholic school. If you remember this was one of the miracles that took place when moving here. There was perfectly orchestrated one place available in Colton’s class and one in Ryland’s class.
As they began in their new school a very noticeable difference was in the level of education at this age. All of Colton’s class mates were already reading and further advanced in general. Also because it’s a private school there is a higher level of academics. They don’t have as many outings as they had in Belgium and more desk work. Colton has had to work really hard to catch up to the other kids and he still has some catching up to do.
They also have some new experiences they didn’t have before. Colton just had circus classes for the first couple months of school. They also play rugby and take more trips to the library. Their days are longer 8:30-4:15, but they don’t have school Wednesdays and they have longer breaks. Every 6 weeks of school they have a 2 week vacation.
What’s your experience?
Even with the drastic differences there are certainly benefits to every system. I’m curious to know, what are the positive aspects you see if the school system around you?