First day at school?

Just a week to go to the rentrée and for hundreds of children this will mark their first day at school.

Even if they have already been to the maternelle, real school is a major milestone (for the children too!)

Read what child experts advise, including child care guru Penelope Leach, in order to make the first day, and weeks, pass smoothly.

the Pregnancy Diaries (15) by Victoria Jelinek

“Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight.” Marcus Aurelius

Prompted by my husband’s planting an apple tree in our garden for our lost baby,  Appleseed,  I wrote about this miscarriage in last week’s column. 
While I’m American, and therefore prone to “vomit” my whole life upon the floor to anyone I’ve just met,  I’ve lived in Europe for almost 15 years now and have learned (am learning) to hold myself back more and to think before I speak…so to write about something so personal filled me with ambivalence and trepidation.  
However, the stories told to me by other women as a result of this piece have touched me greatly and confirmed for me that it was right that I wrote about Appleseed.

an affordable (and stress-free) rentrée

Aide à la rentrée grants (allocation de rentrée scolaire) should be hitting your bank accounts tomorrow (20 August) so it is time to hit the supermarkets for the mad rentrée shopping bonanza.
This is an annual trolley-dash event that children find incredibly exciting – can't wait to get home and pack all those new pencils and exercise books into sparkly new cartables – but leaves parents close to tears as they grapple with lists specifying the exact size of lines, margins and squares and how many pages each different exercise book must contain.
However, the good news is that, despite rumours that school equipment prices were set to rise by up to 25% they are in fact staying pretty stable, according to a study of 5,800 hypermarkets by the independent research group GK. 
In addition, the rentrée grant has gone up 25% this year.
But it is still worth shopping around and both Carrefour and Auchan are offering refund the difference price match guarantees this year.
Here are our tips on keeping your rentrée affordable – and stress free!

the rentrée and the left handed child

If you have problems finding rentrée equipment for a left-handed child – such as scissors and pens – check out the Paris based website: under catalogue, then Ciseaux pour gaucher and Le gaucher à l'école.
Tel: tel: 01 60 69 28 73

the Pregnancy Diaries (14) by Victoria Jelinek

Part of the reason for the ugliness of adults, in a child's eyes, is that the child is usually looking upwards, and few faces are at their best when seen from below. George Orwell

Relief I’ve made it 17 weeks
belly rounded and swelling
ten pounds more weight on my body and counting

16 August: UK university clearing

If you applied to UK universities for 2012 (or deferred 2013) entry and your bac results weren't good enough for your first or insurance choice, remember that Clearing starts this Thursday (16 August), following publication of the UK A level results.

Joys of Judo - more than just a sport

What a fantastic Games! And for those suffering from post-Olympic blues, now is the perfect time to consider what activities to take up this rentrée.
And, argues Megan Bright, judo – France’s second most played sport – has given her daughter far more than increased fitness levels.
It all began in the summer of 2004 which was rather wet meaning the children watched a lot of Olympics. Since, having moved to France only twelve months previously, we only had French television at the time (to accelerate French learning) they saw a lot of judo which is incredibly popular in France.

Signs of boredom? Put the children in charge!

If you're run ragged trying to keep everyone entertained and only getting sulks and 'I'm bored' by way of thanks, it's time to turn the tablesLet the children organise the rest of the holidays. Put them in charge!

The advantages are manifold: you won’t be chief nagger as you didn’t set the timetable and it won’t be you saying 'no' to another ice cream. Your children will learn a fistful of life skills and you may be pleasantly surprised by your their maturity. And remember,  just as children are more likely to eat a meal they have prepared themselves, nor will they be able to mooch about with long faces if the day's activities were their idea in the first place. 

the Pregnancy Diaries (13) by Victoria Jelinek

How we apples swim. Jonathan Swift
My husband planted an apple tree in our garden this week in honour of our first pregnancy, a tangle of atoms that we called Appleseed… my column this week is a page from my diary, written in 2009:
It’s not just the little group of cells that’s lost. I’ve had a miscarriage before. I was attached to this child. 

French and British rubbish at languages

French pupils are the worst in Europe at foreign languages – bar the English!
A major study carried out by Cambridge University has found that only 14% of French pupils are good at their first foreign language, English. The only country where language learning is worse is Britain, where only 9% are good at their first foreign language, French.

Secret summer learning

Whether or not they favour the long summer vacation, UK educationalists are nevertheless agreed that a significant amount of backsliding happens over the summer break with many children slipping educationally backwards, particularly in subjects they are already struggling with. 
If this happens during Britain's 6 week holiday, how much more likely is it to affect children in France who are away from their lessons for over two months.
One solution is, of course, holiday tuition, particularly in their weak subjects. But if you feel that inflicting schoolwork over the holidays is too mean – or too expensive – it is very easy to slot stealth learning into the holiday timetable without children being aware of it.

the Justin's House app

The Global BBC iPlayer is launching two new genres dedicated to family viewing on the app, available on iPads, iPhones and iPods. 
The new CBeebies genre gives parents a one-stop shop destination for all programmes for children in kindergarten and pre-school. 
The new Family genre will give older children CBBC favourites like Newsround, Deadly 60, classic shows like Rentaghost and films like The Snow Queen
Both genres launch today on the app across Western Europe.

Molly Innes: Bored is Good!

Each generation marvels at the ability of their children to be bored.
Our parents, apparently,  had nothing but a hoop and a spinning top. We had books and board games, bicycles and Lego, family outings (to a local stately home, usually), wet weeks in Wales and a whole hour of children’s TV.
Today’s, of course, have package tours and kids’ clubs, in-car entertainment, mobile ’phones and media centres in their bedrooms.
And still they’re bored!
Thank goodness for that: boredom is essential to a child’s self-development.