Category Archives: Schools

Summer Camps

Les vacances d’été are just around the corner! It’s time to organize and confirm summer plans, schedule a poolside rendezvous or too, and for the parents out there, it’s time to sort out holiday activities for the kids. Fortunately, there are several schools in Paris that offer English and bilingual summer camps. See our list below!

American School in Paris
Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel
International School of Paris (language programs only)
La Petite Ecole Bilingue
Marymount International School Paris
The Bilingual Montessori School of Paris
United Nations Nursery School

Mairie de Paris French Courses

Language schools abound in the City of Light, but it’s difficult to find a program that provides quality instruction and doesn’t break the bank or wreak havoc on your schedule. However, the language program offered by the Mairie de Paris fits the bill–knowledgeable teachers, after-work hours, and convenient locations. The best part? The semester long courses cost as little as 1oo euros. For 60 hours of instruction, it’s the best deal in town.

But, there’s a catch! Signing up isn’t quite as easy as we’d like it to be and you must register in advance. Since the courses are cheap by Paris standards, lots of folks are vying for a classroom seat. To secure a spot, you need to stay on top of registration opening and closing dates*, fill out and mail in your enrollment paperwork (Bulletin d’Inscription), and, in some cases, follow up directly at the school where you applied to take the course (classes are held in Paris’s public school buildings). After the registration closing date, you’ll receive a response as to whether you’ve been accepted or put on a wait list. If accepted, the response letter will explain next steps, including payment, evaluation, and getting your ID card. The courses are extremely popular so there’s a slim chance you may be wait-listed. Don’t be discouraged! After the first few classes of the semester, many individuals drop out and spaces open up. Keep inquiring with the school to see if you can get in.

If you don’t mind going through the motions to get yourself enrolled, these courses truly are some of the best for the price. Unlike other programs, instructors are qualified professionals who often have backgrounds in linguistics and speak multiple languages. They have years of experience refining the prescribed curriculum to meet the needs of their students and generally work hard to make sure everybody’s French improves. If you’re willing to put in the effort, so are they.

If the Mairie de Paris program isn’t what you’re looking for, read our earlier post on language schools in Paris here.

 

Head Lice: An Itchy Issue

Translation: The head lice have arrived at school!

Itchy head? Just reading those words sends my scalp into a scratching frenzy, and chances are if you live in Paris you’ve seen this announcement posted on a bulletin board outside one of the city’s schools. French, international, private, and public, nearly every school in Paris faces yearly head lice infestations. Head lice are so common in the Île-de-France they even secured a spot in a recent promotion for French news source RTL. Their prevalence has made them movie stars!

In the U.S., most schools have a policy of regularly checking elementary school children for lice and barring students with any evidence of lice from attending school (the so-called no nit policy). In Paris, the administrators take a laissez faire approach toward the pesky louse. It may be that they believe that head lice are simply an unfortunate (and itchy!) right of passage for students or because they don’t have the political will to create strict rules. Whatever the reason may be, head lice take advantage of this lack of oversight and happily jump from one child to the next.

Without established procedures to reduce instances of head lice, prevention, detection, and treatment is left to parents. For many this means playing hairdresser and doing more loads of laundry than they’d like to count. Forget the “nit nurse,” it’s all parents when it comes to lice in the City of Light.

What to do if one of those buggers makes home sweet home on your child’s head?

  • Educate yourself in head lice 101. A little lice know how can prevent multiple and prolonged infestations, and the Internet makes becoming a lice expert easier than ever! For clear, concise, and scientifically vetted information, we recommend the CDC’s page on prevention and treatment.
  • Inform yourself on what’s happening in your child’s classroom. Are younger children sharing mats for naps? Are hats being shared for dress up or theater?  It may take guts to suggest to your teacher that Johnny sleep on his own mat (one you provide) but consider the alternative of repeated infestations.
  • As embarrassing as it may be, share the news of the infestation with the parents of your children’s friends. As always when dealing with the French, you will get best results when you accept responsibility before you seek allies. So ‘fess up. Your kid has lice. You just want to be sure others know so they don’t get infected. If you don’t want your child reinfected, make sure their friends are lice free before you send them on a play date or sleepover.
  • Invest in a really good lice comb, a strong pair of glasses, and a nontoxic treatment lotion. Your neighborhood pharmacist can recommend the products you need to deal with an infestation.

Getting Ready for School

Who doesn’t love fresh clean notebooks, sharpened pencils, and a brand new set of crayons? And what could be more baffling than the list of required school supplies from your child’s school? Here’s a quick guide to the school supply vocabulary, including an explanation of some of the items that may be new to you.  These lists tend to be very specific in terms of the size, style, and color of the items.  Double check what you’ve got before you head to the register.

Writing implements

Stylo: Pen.  It comes in several varieties:  le stylo à bille (ballpoint), stylo à plume (a fountain pen).

Crayon: Aack! The word crayon is a faux ami because it’s not from Crayola.  It’s simply what we Anglophones call a pencil.  The designation H.B. is roughly akin to the American designation No. 2.

Crayons de couleur:  Colored pencils

Surligneur:  Highlighter

Porte mine:  Mechanical pencil

Stylo correcteur : correction fluid in a pen

Pochette de 12 feutres de couleur :  A package of magic markers.  Your list may specify lavable (washable), pointe fine (small point) or pointe large (larger sized point).

Feutre d’ardoise:  White board marker

Effaceur:  Eraser.   Available in the same shape as a pen or pencil to fit neatly in your trousse (see below)

Gomme:  The classic eraser

Cartouches d’encre : ink cartridges (On the supply list, this would mean cartridges for a pen but the same word is used for your computer.)

Other tools

Agrafeuse:  stapler

Ardoise:  Traditionally a chalkboard but now it’s also used to describe an erasable white board.  With this, you need feutres d’ardoise (see above) and a chiffon (a rag).

Taille-crayons:  Pencil sharpener.  If it says avec reservoir, that means it has a piece to capture the shavings.

Règle plate: a ruler.  These come in 20 and 30 centimeter sizes

Rapporteur: protractor

Équerre: triangle

Compas: compass

Art supplies

Ciseaux: scissors.  If your child is young, you probably need to get those with the rounded tips (bout rond).

Baton de colle:  glue stick

Scotch:  Yes!  It’s tape.

Rouleau de ruban adhésif sans dévidoir:  Tape without a dispenser

Tubes de gouache:  watercolors that come in tubes

Pinceaux de tailles différentes:  paintbrushes in different sizes

Gobelet en plastique, sans couvercle :  a plastic cup without a cover

Paper

Cahier:  a notebook, usually bound and stapled, rather than spiral.  And don’t go looking for one that’s lined.  Instead there are two formats:  grand carreaux, which has large squares with horizontal lines for normal writing and petits carreaux, which has 5mm squares for technical drawing and geometry.  Cahiers come in various sizes, both in terms of the size of the paper and the number of pages.  Make sure you check the list carefully!

The grand is the same size as a piece of A4 paper, which is the standard paper you would use in your printer or copier in France (slightly larger than an American 8 ½  x 11 sheet).  There are also specialized cahiers such as the cahier de musique, cahier de texte, and cahier de travaux pratiques.

Pochette de papier dessin :  drawing paper

Feuillets mobiles perforés :  looseleaf paper for a binder (see below)

Copies doubles perforées :  small sized paper (equivalent to an A3 sheet folded in half)

Oeillets: reinforcements for your looseleaf paper

Organization

Porte-documents:  A plasticized folder with plastic sleeves for papers.  You can buy these in a variety of sizes: 40, 60, 80 or 100 vues.

Chemise rabats à élastiques:  A cardboard folder with elastic bands that keep everything secure.

Classeur:  a loose leaf binder.  It can be souple (made of a flexible plastic) or rigide (made of a stiff cardboard).

Pochettes:  Usually used to describe plasticized sleeves for documents.  These can be perforated to fit in a looseleaf binder

Intercalaires:  Subject dividers for use with your classeur.

Bags

Trousse:  A pencil case and no proper French student (no matter what age) would be caught dead without one.

Cartable:  a school bag.  Traditionally, it was a satchel with a handle and maybe a shoulder strap.  But it’s also now used to refer to backpacks (sacs à dos) as well.

Other

Protège-cahiers :  See through plastic covers for your cahiers.  These come in different sizes and colors.

Rouleau de plastique pour couvrir les livres :  plastic that can be used to cover textbooks.

General notes:  Sometimes the supply list will note the desired brand (marque).

School Vacations: A Snapshot of the French School Year

Elementary and secondary schools are run by the French national government with the calendar set centrally each year.  To minimize traffic jams (both on the roads and on the ski slopes), the country is split into three zones to somewhat stagger school vacations.  Paris lies in zone C,  along with two other administrative sections of Ile de France (Créteil and Versailles) and  Bordeaux.   Most of the international schools in Paris roughly follow the French calendar although often shortening the vacations at Toussaint and in February.

The schedule typically goes as follows:

Start of school (known as la rentrée):  first week in September although not necessarily a Monday

Toussaint:  a break of 10 days at the end of October always encompassing November 1st which is All Saints Day

November 11:  Remembrance Day

Christmas: Two weeks at the end of December encompassing both Christmas and New Year’s Day

February:  Kids in Paris typically have no school the last week in February and the first week in March.  It’s a good time to go skiing although only if you make reservations well in advance.  The ski stations in the Alps (such as Chamonix,  Megève, Les Arcs and Portes de Soleil) fill up quickly; those in the Pyrenees less so.

Spring:   Spring vacation is almost always the last two weeks of April regardless of when Easter occurs.    Easter Monday is a public holiday.

May:  The month of May is riddled with public holidays including  May Day (the 1st), Victory Day (May 8),  Ascension (40 days after Easter), and the Monday after Pentecost (50 days after Easter).   

Take note!  National holidays are always celebrated on their proper date, regardless of which day of the week they fall on.  For example, if May 1st happens to land on a Sunday, there is no school holiday.  On the other hand, if one of these holidays falls on a Thursday,  people often faire le pont, taking off both Thursday and Friday.   Or if the holiday falls on a Thursday, the French schools may hold school exceptionally on Wednesdays (usually a day off  in a normal week) and then take off both Thursday and Friday.

End of the school year:  Sometime around the first of July although the exact date varies from year to year.

The French take their summer vacations in July (with the largest numbers after Bastille Day on July 14) and August.    The last weekend in July/first weekend in August is considered the worst day of the year to travel since it’s the one time when all of the country is en route, either going to or coming home from vacation.    August is quiet in Paris.  While chain stores stay open all summer, smaller businesses often close their doors for the entire month.  Pharmacies and bakeries coordinate their vacations to ensure that neighborhoods remain served throughout the summer months.

For the latest info on the school calendar, go to http://www.education.gouv.fr/pid184/le-calendrier-scolaire.html?zone=15&dept=&annee=5&cp=