My Petite Frite – in French School?

Last autumn I encountered the hurricane that is school applications. It blows in, screws with you and then blows on, leaving a wake of maybe not destruction, but certainly apprehension and often frustration. State or public school? (For any American readers, public school in the UK is private school – this is confusing enough!).

For us it was state school all the way, but the prevalence of private education in our area did give me pause for thought…will our kids be at a disadvantage in the state education system?

So then there was the whole state school lotto system.  Create a preference list. But with catchments as small as 0.2 mile where we live, do I really have a choice? Oh and Ofsted has identified some ‘issues’ with the school LLC is most likely to get a place at.  Word on the street is that the school does have negatives, but that the positives outweigh them.  Plus I liked the setting. Did I? Yes, I think so? But it’s hard to tell on an Open Day full of 100+ other parents.

All I want is a safe, stimulating environment for LLC that will teach her, challenge her and ensure she enjoys learning.  I think she’s bright. I know that we teach her things at home, so do I need to stress about the school that much as she’s young and this is still primary education? But isn’t primary the foundation for the 11+ exam and wait, what is
that? I’m not from this country….what is Key Stage 1 and 2? And so on…’s a whole learning curve in itself within the general learning curve of being a parent and it’s made worse by the fact everyone goes on about it. Like me right now!

Back to the title of this post, we are not enrolling LLC in the Lycée Français in South Ken – ha! We are considering sending her to a new, ‘free’ state French primary school on our patch (if she gets a place there). It’s an English curriculum school that embraces
a bilingual teaching approach. Core skills like writing and math will be taught in English first, though French language will be used in parallel with English from the start.

LLC and LMM have both been exposed to French from an early age through our neighbor who babysits them. While neither of them run around speaking French on a daily basis, they understand a lot and have a foundation in the language.  I personally believe that learning another language from an early ages wires a capacity into the young brain for both picking up language, and approaching ‘the new’ with confidence. So after initial (in hindsight foolish) apprehension, I couldn’t be happier that my two have had the luck to learn a new language from such an early age.

Then a friend told me about this new school opening and I started to seriously consider it as an option for LLC.  It’s currently being set up, so I’ve had to apply for a place alongside the Council’s lotto system.  She’ll get a lotto place regardless, and if she gets a French school place, we’ll have the luxury of a choice.

My main hesitations:

  • I don’t speak French.  Will I be able to properly support LLC with her homework, etc?
  • It feels like a bit of punt – LLC would be in one of the opening year reception classes, a guinea pig of sorts. The leadership and teaching will all be untested.
  • Lack of a ‘school culture’ – the first pupils will help create this from scratch – can something so new feel nurturing to little ones?

On the whole though, if she gets a place, I’m inclined to want to send her there.  I like what I’ve read and learned of the proposed ethos/methods of the school and isn’t this a fantastic and reasonably rare opportunity to grow her language and learning skills through the state system at such a young age.

We’ll find our own way in the end, but I’m always interested in your thoughts…

Posted in overwhelmed, Uncategorized, US/UK differences | 2 Comments

Friday Funnies – careers aspirations and the ‘little boss’

This afternoon I was having a really nice, relaxed chat with LLC and LMM in the kitchen. They were having a late lunch, we weren’t rushing off anywhere, peace reigned….

Somehow we got on to the topic of what they wanted to be when they grew up.

LMM said: A car. Surprise, surprise…. Should I take that to mean a mechanic, or a Formula 1 Driver?

LLC said: A hairdresser.  Or a princess.  A hairdresser princess.  And a mommy.  The first two?  Typical LLC.  But the mommy - I must be doing something right then….or maybe it’s just LLC’s obsession with having ‘six’ children.  Apparently they will all sleep in her bed and life will be great.


LMM is a feisty little fire and can usually be found bashing or splashing something he’s not supposed to.  After hearing me tell him off time and time again, LLC is now donning her ‘parenting hat.’

No LMM, she’ll say.  You must not spit your water on the table.  It’s not acceptable and if you keep doing it there will be consequences.

Recently after one of her disciplinary speeches I said: LLC, thanks for trying to help LLM understand what is not good behavior.  But you must stop trying to discipline him yourself.  I’m the mommy, so let me do that.  Then I went into my own little diatribe that summed up amounted to I’m the mommy, so I’m the boss who gets to make disciplinary decisions for my children.  When you are a mommy one day, then you will be the boss.

To which LLC simply replied: Well now, I’m the little boss.  

Why did I even plant that seed?  I had to laugh though…

Posted in Friday Funnies | 1 Comment

Books we love – Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

I’m prone to telling my kids that I’ll eat them up, I love them so.  Of course Where the Wild Things by Maurice Sendak is completely to blame and celebrate for this.

This fantastic book, about the repercussions of cheeky antics, headstrong children, frustration, imagination, solidarity and love is one of our all time favorites.  My two were captured from the start when young Max runs through his house chasing his dog with a fork and wreaking general havoc (they’d never dream of doing that to Rico!….hmmmm).

Max is sent to bed without supper and enters a dreamland where he tames and rules over ‘Wild Things’ not unlike himself.  Ultimately of course he feels a bit lonely and misses his family so returns home, much to the dismay of his new subjects.  And there awaits a plate of hot supper.

We love this book because it is fun, creative and easy for my kids to relate to without them even consciously recognizing it.

Interesting accordingly to Wiki Sendak said that it took a couple of years for the book to be widely accepted after an initial critical reviews.  It went on to gain much acclaim, winning the Caldecott Medal and numerous other plaudits.

Max, you hold a special place in our hearts.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Friday Funnies – 4 going on 14

On Thursday I received the following update from our childminder:

Yesterday I told LLC we would make some cakes today. As I didn’t have any eggs she said: We Must go to the local shop to buy some eggs.

I asked her to put her coat on but she didn’t want to. I told her again to put her coat on if she wanted to go to the shop.  Her reply was that she didn’t want to put her coat on and that I could go to the shop and that she could stay by herself. I told her that I wouldn’t leave her by herself and she said: I am 4 now and I know about all this stuff...

I asked her about which stuff she knew about and she said:                                                     I remember not to touch the television, not to go upstairs…

She eventually put her coat on and we bought the eggs.


I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

Posted in LLC, wacked out | 2 Comments

All About Me

Thank you to the fantastic Alex for tagging me in an All About Me post.   I need all the help I can get to kick my blogging ass into gear!  (The idea is that I answer her questions, then think of some new creative ones and tag other bloggers to get involved.) Get ready for randomness…

1. What’s for dinner tonight?

As it’s my usual blogging hour of 11:30pm, dinner WAS a rather unexciting fishcake and broccoli.

2. Do you read a daily newspaper?

Usually The Guardian Online during the week and The Times on Saturday and/or Sunday.

3. If you could take off on a no-expense spared holiday next week, where would you go?

Probably Vietnam, for it’s beauty, history, culture and that it’s meant to have many little gems that are not yet overrun with tourists.  Or Bermuda.  I went there a couple of times as a kid and it was stunning, but expensive.

4. What was your favourite book as a child?

There are so many.  I really loved James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl and The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

5. And who is your favourite author as an adult (it doesn’t just have to be one).

Ha, I haven’t given one answer for many of these yet!  I’d probably say John Irving, or Jeannette Walls – I loved her memoir The Glass Castle.

6. Do you buy your underwear at M&S?

Not usually, thought I do have a few pants and stockings from there.  I’m partial to Calvin Klein, and still buy a bit from Victoria’s Secret though I think the quality of their underwear has declined…

7. What’s your dream career, and do you wish you’d done it?

Writer / journalist, and yes I wish I had.  I remember one of my journo professors at Uni asking our class if we were prepared to die for our job.   Always interested in history and current affairs I tended to sway towards hard new journalism so the reality of how to be top of my game in this genre gave me pause.  Then I fell into student internship recruitment.

I’m still hoping my writer dream may come true, but this would of course involve actually writing rather than pining away for this….and having the confidence to share with others what I have written!

8. Do you ever Google people you meet afterwards? (and not for work reasons).

Definitely – I google everything!

9. What was the last thing you saw at the theatre?

The Cat in the Hat at the Greenwich Theatre with the family last week.  It was an accurate and odd rendition of an odd but enticing children’s classic.

10. Do you use Pinterest – and if so, do you get the point?

Sporadically.  I haven’t totally caught the bug.  It seems like another black vortex that could suck me away….  and I already having trouble finding enough hours in the day.  But if I need an easy reference point, I seek it out and have found some good hairdo and kids party/craft ideas on there.

11. What’s been your proudest moment as a parent so far?

Hmmm.  I’d say watching LLC run through a field hand in hand with LMM.  She was taking care of her little brother and he was looking up to his big sister.  The sun was shining and it felt to amazing to see them looking after each other and to know that they’re mine.

So now I’m going to tag:

Bees on Skis

Young and Younger

Letters from your Mum

More than Toast

And I’m asking:

1. What is the first thing you do when you wake up on a Saturday morning?

2.  If stranded on a desert island, what one album would you bring with you?

3. If you could go back in history for a day, where would you go and why?

4. What makes you angry?

5. If you had the capital to start a new business, what would it be?

6. What’s your drink of choice?

7. Are you watching any shows on television at the moment?

8.  What, if any, pictures are hanging on your lounge walls?

9. What’s your favorite book?

10. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?

11. What do you think is the best thing about having children?

Posted in me | 3 Comments