Guide on Choosing a School in Paris
Choosing a school is a very important aspect of relocation as this is where your children will spend a vast majority of their time and re-create their social networks. There are many questions to answer: What is the student profile? Will language pose a problem? Will the school be sympathetic to a foreigner and are they experienced in helping new students adjust? Are classes and activities provided that match your children’s interests and needs? With the future in mind, is the curriculum appropriate for now and, also, for entry into higher-education facilities around the world? If possible, try to include your children in the research and discussion so that they feel knowledgeable and empowered.
Fortunately, France has a very good education system and finding an appropriate fit for your children should not be difficult. You will first decide if you want your children in a private international and/or bilingual environment; or, would you prefer that they become fully immersed in a French school? If you opt for private facilities, it is important to contact schools and put your children’s name on the usually existent wait-list before you arrive. If you have the luxury of a reconnaissance trip before you relocate, visit the schools that interest you. Above all, interacting with the administration and teachers of a school will give you the best idea of whether the school is a good fit for your child. If you will not be able to visit schools personally, make phone calls and ask questions! Try to get as much information as you can. You may even request to speak to parents of other students from your country.
If you choose the public route, it is still optimal if you can visit the options before you arrive; and if not, to speak with someone beforehand. In public schools, student to teacher ratios may be higher and they may not have all of the extra-curricular offerings that private schools may. The language barrier, if you are not yet speaking proficient French, may also make public schools challenging.
After choosing between the public and private options, other factors may come into your decision-making process such as distance from home, religious affiliation, and tuition or lack there of, to name a few. These are all personal choices and you should have a clear and concise idea of what you are looking for when you start exploring the possibilities. That said, keep an open mind and you might be surprised at your final decision.