Parenting and entrepreneuring: schools

Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

Over the last few years, I think it’s safe to say that all of us have experienced major changes in our lives: Covid 19, job changes, school changes, mindset changes; the list can go on. To my mind, change is wonderful- I much prefer change over too much stability. Stability bores me and and makes me jittery. Change can be a wonderful thing, though perhaps not in the same dose for everyone.

Young children, however, do not cope with change so well. They need stability, they need a sense of sameness to help them understand the world and they need constance. You would think that schools for young children, read: kindergartens, would understand this. Afterall, there has been much research into the topic. « To develop to their full potential, children need safe and stable housing, adequate and nutritious food, access to medical care, secure relationships with adult caregivers, nurturing and responsive parenting, and high-quality learning opportunities at home, in child care settings and in school. » (Sandstrom, Huerta 4, Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis) This seems like common sense, and is painfully obvious to any parent who is raising a child alongside life changes. Why then, don’t school boards understand this?

By the end of this week, my 4 year old son will have had 6 different teachers. 6 different people since the beginning of the school year, 3 weeks ago. He’s behaving accordingly: temper tantrums, back talk, rudeness, whining, disrupted sleep, distrust of the grown-ups around him. I can’t keep track of all the names anymore, I can’t imagine he can either. To me, the solution seems obvious: put in a permanent teacher. Instead of a steady stream of different substitutes, why not just one? Surely that makes more sense and is easier to organise?

For those of you who do not live in France, school, from age 3, is obligatory. Your child must attend. Homeschooling is very frowned upon and will soon be allowed only with specific permission from the board of education. So now with every child aged 3 and up attending school, one would think the school board would insure proper care. The reality, however, is very different.

Not only are French schools often prone to canteen, staff and teachers’ strikes, but many of them (mostly located in cities) are also run-down, underfunded and/or positively dilapidated. Last year, there were literally bits of outer wall falling off of my son’s school; inside, the walls are a yellowish-gray, the curtains old and stained; there is, of course, no air conditioning in many of them, with summer temperatures reaching up to 36 degrees inside on the hottest days- and we are in a very wealthy town: funding should not be a problem.

Furthermore, the government has only very recently taken notice of the state of the schools in Marseille, France’s second largest city and only 30 minutes from us: at least 200 schools in Marseille are in immediate need of renovation. Some of these schools have no heating, an insufficient number of desks and chairs for pupils, or even holes in ceilings with bits falling down into the classrooms. These are the kinds of environments children are expected to learn and thrive in.

These are deeply worrying matters. These changes, whether in the parade of teachers and school staff, strikes or the states of schools, impact our children profoundly. Is it any wonder that children act out? That they do less well in school? That they feel demotivated, upset, and forgotten?

My husband and I are lucky: he has a stable job and I am an entrepreneur. I work from home and, if need be, can keep my son home. I will battle the school board if I have to. But not every child is so lucky, not every child comes from a home where his or her parents have a choice. So what then? Should we just say: « they’ll be fine? » Are we only striving for « fine »?

The next step is a meeting with the school and parents tomorrow evening to discuss our course of action. Our children cannot remain without a teacher, and we will have to go all the way: write to and pester the school board, threaten them if we must, because our children deserve better.

Want to see for yourself? Have a look below:

Friday idiom: a stone’s throw

Améliorez votre anglais grâce à notre méthode régulière et ludique ! Prenez rendez-vous aujourd'hui pour votre cours d'essaie gratuit !
Scene 1

Salman: Excuse me, I’m looking for the nearest post office, could you help me?

Rebecca: Hi there, sure! The post office is just a stone’s throw from here. I’ll show you.

Salman: I’m sorry, I don’t know what « stone’s throw » means.

Rebecca: It means it’s very close by. Come, I’ll show you where it is.

Salman: Thank you so much. That’s very kind of you.

Scene 2

Two friends, Sam and Kruti, are walking down a country lane together. Sam looks around nostalgically.

Sam: You know, I grew up just a stone’s throw from that pond over there. This place really hasn’t changed a bit.

Kruti: I’ve heard that expression before, but I’m not sure what it means. Can you explain it to me?

Sam: Of course, it means « close ». I grew up very close to that pond over there, just over the ridge.

Kruti: Thanks a lot! Would you like to walk up to your old house to see it?

Sam: That’s a great idea. Perhaps the family living there now will let us have a quick look around.

Kruti: Okay, let’s go!

So how do you feel? Did you get a sense of the meaning? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or send me a message and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

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Word of the day: robust

Améliorez votre anglais avec notre mot du jour ! 
N'oubliez pas de jeter un oeil sur nos formations en ligne, nous sommes là pour vous !

Here are some examples of the word robust in use:

  • I’m so happy with my new table, it’s very robust and aesthetic too!
  • I’m really looking for something more robust, I’m not sure that little car will cut it.
  • Have you seen her new sculpture? Yeah, it looks really robust. So different from all her other work!
  • I would buy the other cupboard, it’s more robust and you’ll need something sturdy with 3 kids running around.
  • Eric said his new son in law seemed like a very robust sort of man.

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Grammar Time: present perfect vs past simple

Améliorez votre anglais avec nos astuces de grammaire ! 
N'oubliez pas de jeter un oeil sur nos formations en ligne, conçues pour vous faire progresser rapidement !

The present perfect always has a bearing on the present. It must be relevant now. If it’s not relevant now, then you should use another tense.

For example. If you’re talking about life experiences, you often use the present perfect because you’re talking about experiences that you’ve had in your life until now. So, you’ve travelled to many different countries in your lifetime. You’ve seen lots of wonderful things. You’ve read books, you’ve been to the theatre and you’ve attended music festivals. But you’ve never been skydiving, and that’s something that you’d really like to do.

When you talk about experiences, as in the above example, you talk about things that you’ve experienced until now. You don’t mention a specific time frame. We don’t know when any of these things happened, we just know that at some point until now, they occured.

If you want to pinpoint an experience to a particular time, use the past simple. For example: I went to the theatre last week. Or, I visited Mexico during my last vacation.

Top Tip: if you talk about a specific time, use the past simple. You may use words and phrases such as: yesterday, last week, last year, in 1999, on my birthday, etc.

Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

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Friday idiom: the ball is in your court

Améliorez votre anglais avec nos astuces tous les jours ! 
Découvrez nos formations en ligne, toujours ludiques, bienveillantes et bavardes.

You’ve done the research, you’ve given your opinion, now you need to say to your partner/competitor, etc, « the ball is in your court ». Basically: it’s time for you to make a decision.

If you’re waiting for someone else to make a decision after discussing the issue and giving your opinion, you can also say of that person: the ball is in his/her court. Meaning that you’ve given them all the tools to decide and/or you’ve given your opinion, now it’s their turn to make a choice.

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Word of the day: nap

Améliorez votre anglais tous les jours avec nos astuces ! 
Découvrez aussi nos formations en ligne, toujours ludiques, bavardes, et flexibles !

Oh naps, how I love them! A good old afternoon nap can really be quite wonderful! However, too long a nap will make you (read: me) groggy or cranky (make you sleepy or put you in a bad mood).

So here are some ways that people take naps:

  • Pretty much all small children take naps in the afternoon, and babies take them in the morning too!
  • Some people take power naps that are about 20 minutes long, in order to refresh and restore energy.
  • My grandfather always used to take a nap in the afternoon, my step-father does, and actually, most older men I know, nap in the afternoon. Very few women, though, I wonder why? Something to research!

So, do you take naps?

I must confess that I enjoy a good nap on the weekend sometimes, but I rarely have time for them.

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Word of the day: lobby

Améliorez votre anglais avec notre mot du jour! Pour réussir à devenir bilingue, il faut avoir la motivation mais aussi une bonne communauté d'entraide, venez apprendre avec nous !

Every building I’ve ever lived in in Canada had a lobby. Here are a few things lobbies are for:

  • It’s where the concierge can be found, if your building has one.
  • It’s where our building organised Christmas, Halloween, and other parties.
  • It’s where the elevators are located.
  • It’s where you meet people if you work in the same building or if you ask someone to meet you at your office.

Lobbies don’t seem so be very popular in France, but for anyone visiting or moving to North America, be ready for them!

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Grammar Time: present perfect (4)

Prenez votre anglais en main avec nos cours et nos astuces ! Cours pour tous les âges et tous les niveaux, en ligne. Si vous rêvez d'être bilingue, c'est jamais trop tard !

Although I know the present perfect can be tricky, there are some ways to simplify your life and to remember when to use it.

For example: use the present perfect with for and since when you talk about a length of time, or how long.

For is used to talk about a period of time.

  • I have been in France for 13 years.
  • Mary has been working for hours on her project.
  • Ida and Jack have been together for a month.

Since is used to talk about the start of a period of time, a point in time from which something began.

  • They’ve been in France since 2008.
  • We’ve been married since May.
  • Alice has been studying for her test since last Friday.

Sometimes, you want to say how long ago something happened, in this case, you must always use the past simple: I moved to France 13 years ago.

You cannot use the present perfect with ago.

Here are some more examples:

  • My grandmother died 11 years ago.
  • Ali and Gem opened their business a year ago.
  • We ordered our food 20 minutes ago.

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Friday idiom: of your rocker

Améliorez votre anglais avec nos astuces ! 
N'oubliez pas de jeter un regard sur nos formations en ligne, conçus pour vous faire progresser de manière plus rapide et efficace !

So this is a funny wee idiom.

How do you use it?

Imagine you’re watching your friend do something totally crazy, you can comment on the madness by saying to your fellow onlooker (the person who is watching with you): she’s off her rocker!

It tends to be a stand alone phrase, meaning that you don’t really use it within a long sentence. It’s more of a short expression you’d use to comment on someone’s action.

Let’s have another example:

You and your friend are at the mall and she sees a guy she has a crush on (that she likes). She decides to make a grand gesture and take control of the announcer’s microphone to declare her love for the guy. You can tell her, « Oh my goodness, you’re off your rocker. »

This idiom is generally used for funny situations rather than serious ones; you shouldn’t use it to speak of someone who has real mental health problems.

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