Geneva 1P without secrets

Geneva 1P without secrets

1P aka 1 primaire, or else 1st grade.

/scroll down for the back-to-school vocab cheat sheet for parents/

Your child enters Geneva public school this year in 1P?

Parentville’s got you covered.

Just remember: as everything in Switzerland depends on the canton, the school is even more detailed: everything depends on the teacher. Differences from what is described here, are very likely to happen.


You’ll need: slippers, basanes, painting apron, a change of clothes. Also in some school: a box of tissues

You don’t need to buy any books, notebooks, crayons, glue, scissors etc. – such equipment is provided by the schools.

Does your child need a backpack?
Yes. For the snack-box, the water bottle aka “la gourde”, and for the a4 sized folder aka “la fourre”. Make sure the « fourre » can fit in, especially if your child will attend the after school care – « parascolaire ». All books, notebooks, crayons etc. stay at school.

You will get a teacher-parent communication book also called a students book (carnet de l’élève) with all necessary explanations, addresses, and phone numbers. Further pages constitute an agenda. Each day of the school year has its place, where teachers and parents can put important information. At the bottom of the page you’ll find space to request a meeting with the teacher (or teacher’s request to meet with you). You’ll need to sign the book every week. It will become clear once you see how it looks like.

In the first weeks of the school year you will also receive some forms to fill (mainly asking about address, phone numbers, special health issues, languages spoken etc). Nothing complicated.


Kids are expected to be diaper-free, and independent when it comes to all toilet-related issues. They should also know how to dress themselves, put on their shoes, etc. Of course, teachers will occasionally help if needed, but the expectation is for kids to be independent. For that reason it’s best to, for example, avoid shoes with laces until the child can tie them without adults’ help.


Don’t be afraid if your child doesn’t speak French. Most probably, he/she won’t be the only one in the classroom. Geneva teachers are experienced in working with allophone children (=children who don’t speak French). Also, 1P is a playful year, perfect to learn the language. But if you do think your child will do better with some additional help, you can try a kids’ French course in one of the language schools, for example playful Spell Languages (offering both group and private lessons, as well as full weeks during school holidays).


1P is focuses on socializing, board games, songs, and as my daughter put it “that damn coloring”. Coloring is boring for many kids but the thought behind it is to master the pincer grasp, to better work with the pencil the following years. They get to learn their abc’s, count to 12, and write their name. But again, everything depends on the teacher. My daughter’s teacher added a bit of German to the mix.

1P classrooms are filled with toys, games, and colours. There’s usually a library corner, and a separate space for different kinds of play-pretend. There is a blackboard and chalk of course (or whiteboard and markers), but kids don’t have their assigned desks, and sit by the tables usually in small groups. The whole desk matter starts in 2P.


Don’t expect any reading or proper writing happening in Geneva 1P classes. This won’t happen till the 3P. To many of you it might come as a shock, but actually according to a ton of research (example of an article summing it up: here), it is a great advantage of the Swiss system. The same is done in many northern and eastern countries, especially those renown for their educational systems, eg Finland and Sweden.

(By the way, did you know there is a Swedish School in Geneva, offering an English-French language program based on Swedish methods)

They’ll do some math exercises in the form of mazes, solving easy logical tasks. They’ll have basics of geography – starting with their school setting, and maybe naming the streets around. But again, it all depends on the teacher.

They’ll also have science with experiments and learning about plants or animals. There will be a music class with singing. In other words they will be well occupied, and learn a whole bunch of things!

THE DROP OFF: 8h00-8h45

Drop off is from 8:00 till 8:45. Provide your child with a small snack for the morning recess (la recrée): a sandwich, a fruit, dry fruits, a bit of cheese or whatever you want. You’re completely free to choose, apart from the dental prevention week.

In some of the schools parents can walk in with their child only for the first 2 months of the school year (upon drop off, and to collect them). Other schools let parents in the full 1P and beyond. But in most, as of 2P you will be asked to stay outside, and your child will enter the school on his/her own.

THE LUNCH BREAK: 11h30-13h30/14h00

The lunch break is long. It lasts from 11:30, and finishes with an afternoon drop off from 13:30 till 14:00.

During lunch break, children from 1P eat their lunch, have a relax time (they lie down for 20-30 minutes, it is not a nap time). They can bring a cover, a pillow, and something to cuddle.

School lunches, « cuisine scolaire », are an option. Kids can also be taken home for this time, or go with a nanny.


Schools out at 16h:00 every day. There is no school on Wednesdays for 1P.

After-school care, « parascolaire », exists in all schools in canton Geneva. Children are taken care of from 16h till 18h. It’s not available on Wednesdays. Parascolaire is managed by GIAP, not by schools. The activities during these two hours vary a lot from one municapility to another, and even between schools in the same municipality in the canton.


Geneva school holidays 2023/2024

Holidays outside the set school breaks? Can be possibly but is measured on case by case basis. To go away for any number of days, you need to request a permission from the school. If it’s less than 4 days of school leave, the teacher will decide, if it’s more the director of teh school will make the decision. You should hand it in, ideally, at least 14 days in advance.

Exception: Jeûne genevois, that always happens in the beginning of the school year, so you can hand in the request in the first few days of the school year.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves! We have loads of time to plan for those holidays. Let’s first start that the school year!

I wish you and your kids a very smooth transition to the school life, and a very fun and playful year!




Somewhere along my parenting journey in Geneva, I went to buy scissors to cut my daughter’s hair. To the utter confusion of the saleswoman, I asked for « scissors for horses ». My daughter started laughing, the lady was still looking at me with her eyes wide open. You see, in French, the difference between hair (cheveux) and horses (chevaux) is small, especially to a non-native speaker.

Luckily I had my little one with me to help out. Needless to say, I was pretty embarrassed. All I could think about was what if that happened again, and worse, what if it was a potentially more serious situation?

Let me give you an example: my dear friend, whom I love to the bottom of my heart, gave her newborn baby vitamin D drops. All would have been fine if not for the fact that she was putting them in her eyes instead of the mouth. Just because her French was bad.


So, I tried. I did what I could. A few months after giving birth, frustrated at myself for not being able to communicate well enough with the paediatrician’s assistant, I packed the pram and decided it was time to enrol in a French course in my commune. The plan was perfect: the course was free, so I could use some of my budget to hire a nanny while I would focus on French. Sadly, due to my daughter’s poop, nap, and colicky cry, I was late and all the spots were already taken. Since all other options at the time were too expensive for me to have both a nanny and the lessons, I gave up.

I was dreaming about an online course that I could do from the comfort of my sofa, while my kid takes a nap. I didn’t find anything good, so I went on to imagine how my daughter will soon invite her friends and plan all sorts of cheekiness, without me even realizing. I didn’t even know the word for « cheeky » in French…


Luckily for you, that online course I was dreaming about exists now. Prêt à Parler is a Geneva-based online French school founded in 2015 by a fellow expat mama. She knows exactly what parents need and how little time we have to focus on ourselves.

With Prêt à Parler’s private lessons you can schedule your lessons whenever you want, reschedule easily (because sleepless nights, stomach bugs and all) and learn at your own pace. Your ‘Super Prof’ will always find solutions and adapt to your learning style and priorities, so you can learn, review, and reinforce key grammar and vocabulary points which are relevant to your specific needs.


Prêt à Parler does not only offer private lessons. You can opt in for their Premium Webinar Program (live French lessons in small groups as well as on-demand library of over 80 recorded lessons). These are perfect for busy people, as whenever you miss the live session, you can watch it online anytime you want.

There is also a fun and great online program called French for Everyday Life – it’s ideal for beginners (A0-A1) as well as intermediate French learners (A2-B1) who prefer to learn independently as it includes 200 lessons within 10 progressive modules. It was designed specifically for English speakers, with a big focus on pronunciation. The tips to improve your French « r » and other difficult sound the French invented, was created by the Prêt à Parler founder herself as Isabelle is also a professional opera singer. She knows a thing or two about diction and sounds! You can see her story here.

They also provide tons of free content on their website, Youtube channel and on Facebook. You’ll already learn a lot by simply following them on Instagram. These free tools are perfect if you need some time to decide if this methodology works for you.

My husband has been having lessons with Prêt à Parler and he is very happy. He saves time on commuting, has got more time for his family and his French improves every week! I wrote more about his experience here.

Being able to speak French will definitely boost your parenting confidence. Calling the pediatrician will not increase your cortisol levels anymore, you will make more friends at the park, and when the time comes, discussing your child’s wellbeing at creche or school will become a no brainer! Don’t wait until your kid starts translating for you, you can get there first.


Prêt à Parler:

Facebook: @pretaparlerch
Youtube: Prêt à Parler
Instagram: @pretaparlerch


Here is Smita’s testimonial, one of many moms who took French lessons with Prêt à Parler. There are more and more parents on their platform, all very happy with their investment. Take a look:

Why were our online services so helpful for you to reach your French goals as a working parent?

Prêt à Parler offers a flexible, practical option for working parents wanting to improve their French. Their website is easy to use and you can schedule your lesson according to when it is convenient for you. Online learning is the way forward and we have seen this on a greater scale during the Covid-19 crisis. Prêt à Parler was already ahead of the game by eliminating the organizational fatigue of face to face lessons and offering their excellent courses online.

 Did you find that your investment with Prêt à Parler was worth it? How so? 

The investment I made into lessons with Prêt à Parler was definitely worth it. I needed some French lessons to be able to pass the FIDE exam for my Permis-C – so I had a clear goal. The value for money I got in terms of a clear, structured set of lessons in the run up to my exam was second to none.

What would you like to tell busy parents who are hesitating to take a trial lesson with us?

If you are a busy parent and you’re hesitant to take lessons with Prêt à Parler please don’t be! You won’t regret it. They are a friendly professional team of people who genuinely want to help people learn and in a comfortable and secure space. You won’t find a better alternative so book your trial lesson now!

* This article is a result of a paid collaboration between Parentville and Prêt à Parler.

Prêt à Parler – expert in online French courses

Prêt à Parler – expert in online French courses

What do you get when a French-Canadian opera singer lands in Geneva? (No, it’s not one of those jokes!) Quick answer: an expat-oriented, 100% online professional French language school. In other words: Prêt à Parler.

FYI: yes, your feeling is right – this is a sponsored article . But, as always, it is about a company/product I know, tested, and trust.

You know the story: you arrive as an expat in Geneva on a “short contract” only to realise 10 years later that you’re still here and still don’t really speak French well enough, especially when it comes to all those online forms, doing your taxes and even applying for a Swiss Passport. Add to that the stress of finding the time to get out of the house the same time each week to attend a French-language class, and of course getting through the notorious Geneva traffic, hunting for parking or navigating TPG. All while balancing the laundry, groceries, a job and a kid or kids at home. 

This is where Prêt à Parler comes in. My husband, P, has been using it and it has been brilliant. He can go about his day, work, child-care – you name it – and once a week he simply logs in for one-hour of French lessons. On the other side of the screen is one of the ‘Super Profs’ as they call them, waiting to start a lesson that will feel more like a conversation than schoolwork, where grammar finds its way in without you even realising it.

But hey, didn’t you say there was an opera singer? What’s that got to do with teaching French?

Ah, oui! The opera singer in question is Isabelle Nicolas-Johnson, the founder of Prêt à Parler. Her opera background has helped her become an expert in articulation and pronunciation, as she attended many diction classes (French, English, Italian, and German) as part of her studies. 

Over the years, she has developed special French pronunciation tips – and I don’t know about you, but this is where my husband and I struggle the most, especially with that French ‘r’.

About Prêt à Parler

Prêt à Parler brought digital education to Geneva way before COVID-19 forced everyone to move online. Isabelle launched her online programs back in 2017 when the word “corona” was only associated with a bottle of cold beer. (Don’t you miss those days?) Before she knew it, she was training a team of top bilingual teachers as well as her communication and IT support experts. 

Prêt à Parler is a local expert in online French courses. It offers one-on-one classes, webinars, and preparatory courses for the FIDE exam (soon-to-be obligatory for those applying for a Swiss C permit, or a Swiss passport). They also developed their own learning platform called French for Everyday Life and share a ton of tips and mini-lessons on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram (handy for someone like me who spends a lot of time on those sites!), so you can give the idea of an online French class a try. 

Benefit 1: Personalisation

Isabelle always knew that a one-size-fits-all approach would not work in education. We all have different styles of learning, interests, and reasons to learn a new language. Each course is personalised and adapted to your needs (meaning no two classes are the same!) 

Need helping writing a formal letter? They will turn it into a class. Didn’t understand the programme you watched yesterday? They can turn it into a listening exercise. You basically get to turn REAL life into a useful learning exercise.

Benefit 2: The teachers

All Prêt à Parler teachers have been carefully selected for their professional, technological and personal skills. Plus, they know everything there is to know about that (in)famous FIDE exam.

After a trial lesson (super helpful), my husband was certain he had finally found a program matching his needs. He scheduled his lessons at 9 pm. Yes, you read that right, 9 in the evening. What!? How!? Well, it turns out his teacher, Sandra, is a native French-speaker who currently lives in New Zealand. 9 pm here – 9 am there. That is the beauty of online training programs – both the teacher and the student can be anywhere in the world.

Benefit 3: Comfort and flexibility

We are all different, with different lives, and different chaos (aka work-life balance), yet many language schools are set up as such so that you have to adapt to their schedule. Prêt à Parler offers a flexible solution (side note, it’s also great for introverts like me who don’t love the idea of group classes with strangers each week!)

My husband’s lessons each last 1 hour. Not 1 hour plus 40 minutes commute each way. Not 1 hour plus anything. There is no stress about traffic jams, the bus being late, or finding a parking spot. Not only does he have his lessons tailored to his specific needs, but improving his French doesn’t interfere with his work-life or his family life. 

When it comes to scheduling your lessons, it can be late at night, early in the morning, or even on a Sunday. Your private classes can be rescheduled if needed within 24h. It means that no last-minute business trip, your child getting sick or vacation will be an obstacle in boosting your French! That is, as long as you have an Internet connection, of course. 

And this is all possible thanks to an opera singer from Quebec who moved to Geneva. After all, who better to understand and cater to expats than a fellow expat? 


* This article is a result of a paid collaboration between Parentville and Prêt à Parler.

5 Creepy French Songs For Kids

5 Creepy French Songs For Kids

Do you know what your children sing in French? The tune is very joyful, the words sound sweet, but what are some of these songs really about? Read more about 5 creepy French songs for kids and find out.

Most of them are absolutely sweet and adorable. But there are some hidden gems in the French rhymes, that don’t bother to hide the cruelty of the world from the kids.

French songs for kids Parentville Geneva Children

Ready for 5 creepy French songs for kids? Let’s go from the least creepy down to the most terrifying one, so you can stop reading the moment you feel uncomfortable.

    • Une Souris Verte (lyrics to be found here). Ever thought of dipping a (green!) mouse in hot oil to transform it into a snail? Well, your child might 😉 Luckily, a chance for finding a green mouse is very limited.
    • Marlbrough S’En Va-T’En Guerre (lyrics here). An absolutely adorable song in terms of the melody, with a rhythm perfect for a long walk. But it’s a out a man who goes on a war, dies, is buried, and his wife must sleep all alone. Amazing how this sad text is sung to such tuneful sounds!
    • Allouette (for the lyrics click here). One of the most popular nursery rhymes about a little bird. If you don’t speak French, you probably thing it’s the cutest song ever. Nope. It’s about plucking feathers from each part of the poor skylark’s body. Have fun!
    • Ne Pleur Pas Jeanette (lyrics: here). If you’re a happy-end loving kind of person, it’s not a song for you. The song tells a story about Jeanette who’d rather choose death by hanging with her friend, than to mary a guy the family chose for her. They hung them on the highest branch, la la la la.
    • La Légende de Saint Nicolas (lyrics for courageous here). Oh la la. That is the most terrifying story ever. Kids get lost in a forest, a butcher offers them shelter, kills them, cuts them and puts them in the salting-tubs. Sigh. There is a sort-of-happy-ending to the story luckily.

The French have been singing these songs for generations. I hope you’ll agree there is no sign of these songs turning the French speakers into creepy adults. Thus, you don’t have to fear your child’s future. Better learn French and sing along with them!

Now, you can learn French with Parentville thanks to Frantastique – a super duper funny French teaching app, that will take just 10 minutes of your day. You can sign up for the first 30 days for free with no obligation to go further, you will not be asked for your credit card details. Intrigued? Read more about it and sign up here.


The point of this article is to shed some light, laugh a bit, and give you an insight into this so often forgot part of the culture children grow up in. Before you get scared, before the criticism starts itching your tongue, think hard about your own culture and the songs you sung. Here are some good example for native English speakers: It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, London Bridge, and more here.

10 reasons Switzerland is (not) the best place to raise kids

10 reasons Switzerland is (not) the best place to raise kids

10 reasons Switzerland is (not) the best place to raise kids

Forget the beautiful lakes, breath taking mountains, multilingualism, international atmosphere in the cities, calm and safety. These are the real reasons you should pack your suitcase, grab your kid and join us, happily raising our kids on the greenest of the grasses of the world. (suite…)

Multilingual Fears

Multilingual Fears

[bws_featured_post]I’m a monolingual parent of a multilingual child.

This is a post without tips and solutions. It is for me to check if I’m alone and nuts with my fears and at the same time, to let others know they’re not alone with their fears and nuttiness. (suite…)

Catching up with a multilingual child

Catching up with a multilingual child

Once, there was a girl praised for her writing skills, praised for her rich vocabulary in primary school. She later went through phases of being better and worse using her native language, but surely she was not bad at all.

And then she moved abroad.


Parenting away from home

Parenting away from home

Are you laughing already? Are there any advantages of bringing up kids away from home, away from our families? As emigrants/expats we tend to complain how hard our lives are, so let’s cheer up for a moment and find some advantages of expat parenting!