New expat parents often worry about how their children will fare in a foreign education system, and how they can keep their home culture and language alive for their little ones as they grow up.
Here are some tips for bringing up your bilingual children in Paris.
Meet other anglophone parents and children
There many ways to ways to meet other like-minded expats in the French capital. By doing this, you can allow your child to mix with children of the same mother tongue.
One excellent resource is Message Paris – a support group for parents or parents-to-be in the Paris area. It is English-speaking and includes people from many different countries. It is a social and supportive network with resources, regular activities, events, advice, and information.
You could also join The English-speaking Mums of Paris by signing up for free on their Meetup site. The group is open to any English speaking parents in Paris – members come from all over the world. All members can create meetings or suggest activities. They also offer mother and child yoga, music classes, and other events.
Hire an au pair or nanny
When looking for an au pair of any nationality you should regularly check the magazine Fusac (available online or pick up a copy at the American church).
If you prefer the security of an agency, there are many reliable ones a googlesearch away. Try Au Pair World or aupairparis.fr.
Nursery schools – English or French?
If you plan on sending your child to a French nursery school (ècole maternelle), you can do so providing your child will be two years old at the beginning of September, and is propre (potty trained).
French nurseries accept children aged two to six and are free, but register your child as early as possible to get a place because demand in Paris often exceeds the number of places. Most maternelles offer before and after-school childcare for a fee.
You may decide that the French system is the best option to help your child integrate, and it is generally the cheapest option too. These nurseries will strictly follow the French curriculum, preparing for collège, and then the lycee.
You can get a list of maternelles from the Mairie of your arrondissement.
Alternatively, if you feel strongly that you want your child to attend an international or bilingual school, the French capital offers a huge variety of them. These schools are largely privately run and so you will have to pay, but they do follow different philosophies of education, and you can pick one that suits your background and culture.
Primary and Secondary School
Competition is tough between the major international and bilingual schools of Paris. There is The American School of Paris, and the British School of Paris, which follow the model of independent schools from their respective countries. As with private education anywhere in the world, fees are high.
The École Active Bilingue provides a fully bilingual curriculum for French and international students. English is taught both as a native and foreign language.
All the major international schools offer the International Baccalaureate program.
The American Church (65 Quai d’Orsay) is a base for many expats, and there are lots of activities for your children to get involved with, including sunday school, a youth choir, and even the Angels Cheerleeding Squad for 8 to 12 year olds.
The American Library in Paris (10 rue du General Camou, 7th) is the largest English-language lending library in Europe, and a great place to meet other expats.
The Bus Bilingue for 3 to 11 year olds offers interactive classes to help bilingual children develop their language skills.
Kidjam offer weekly music class for babies up to 7 years old, led by a professional opera singer, trained early-childhood music teacher and mother. Singing is in English.
Paris d’enfants in the 10th arrondissement organises treasure hunts and excursions for parents and their children, as well as guided tours of the capital in English.
Trinity Tots is a non-profit association run by volunteer parents that helps english-speaking children aged two to four years old to develop both their language and their cultural awareness . They offer a variety of artistic and educational activities. It is open for 2 mornings a week, is not expensive, and is based at Holy Trinity Church, 15, Avenue Carnot, 78600 Maisons Laffitte