Geneva, Geneva for beginners, Staycation Guide
How long are you planning to stay in Geneva with the kids this summer? No matter if it’s one week, eight, or just a few weekends the Staycation Guide by Parentville is here to save the day again!
Since its first edition in 2017, it has been one of the best-received summer helpers for both local families and those who come here for holidays.
Staycation Guide – what’s that?
Staycation Guide is a downloadable PDF with over 140 outings and activities propositions for families. There are simple outings, awesome adventures, and places in the canton and beyond. There is something for every age and every budget.
Each outing proposition consists of a description, links, practical info, and an interactive map. Everything to make planning easy. The Staycation Guide saves your time. All you need to do is choose an outing and go. Parentville does all the research for you, chooses the best places, and voila!
Get your Guide
Click on the button below and become the expert on family-friendly destinations in and around Geneva! The price is not fixed – you decide how much you can pay. By purchasing the Guide you will help Parentville exist and continue the work. This year, 50% of the Staycation Guide revenue will be used to help kids – Ukrainian refugees in Geneva.
Here’s what has been told about the previous editions of the Staycation Guide:
Thank you very much for all these research you are doing and gently sharing for the kiddos!
I love to test new places and try to talk about it a little bit in a far less efficient way you are! Just wanted to say that it is really appreciated! Congrats!
THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!! I would like to nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize because of the anxiety you have resolved in my household for this summer. This is clearly a contribution towards world peace. Congratulations!!!
This year, for the reasons that I don’t need to spell out, we are staycationing. Initially, I planned to make some serious day trips out of the canton, but having flicked through this guide I think we have more than enough to do right on our doorstep! This will be a useful guide for the summer and beyond and I look forward to exploring these hidden gems as well as testing out some of the more well known attractions in the area. Thank you Parentville for making this mum’s planning a LOT easier!
Not just for the summer: keep the guide for fun with kids all year long – well almost. Due to Covid19, there is a heavy focus on the outdoors, so some options might not work in winter. A great mix of options for the many staycations necessary this summer.
Geneva, Geneva for beginners, Places
The first thing you need to know before reading this article is that I worked for Spell Languages for a year in the past and witnessed how amazing this school is no matter which teacher takes the class, no matter what age kids are, and no matter which language they are learning.
ABOUT SPONSORED ARTICLES
So yes, this is a sponsored article, one of those that pay my bills, but as always on Parentville, even a paid article appears here only because I believe the service or the product is worth sharing with you. As a result, every month, I turn down several paid collaborations. Either the brand does not meet my values, or I don’t think it will be useful for you.
Back to the topic.
Back in the past, I thought the one thing that was missing at Spell was the parent-child classes. But what I had in mind were lessons for kids. The idea could have not been realized back then. Now that Kasia, the founder of Spell Languages, is a fresh mom, she understood my idea and, as usual with her, took it to another level!
As a result, Spell now offers French classes for adults with kids!
MOMS WITH KIDS
Let me explain. You take your baby or your toddler, and without needing to find a creche, a nanny, or booking the grandma, you can go and learn French!
I participated in one of these classes the other day. It was wonderful! All adults and kids sitting on a colourful flow, pillows available, toys and children’s books in the middle. The teacher started revising passé composé and l’imparfait (blah), the moment she would see kids needing more attention she would switch to a kid-friendly activity – a song. Not any song though, but one that would be fun for kids, and bring new vocab to parents. A perfect mix!
Parents will also learn to read, acquire new vocab through children’s’ books that they will be asked to read to their children.
It is just fantastic! I remember advising some of my friends to start learning French via simple kiddy songs and books. They’re simple yet rich in new words, and you can find a children’s book probably for all grammar problems!
This is how the lessons go. Moms are learning, kids playing, walking/crawling around the room, bubbling with one another. Worksheets are involved, and occasionally some voluntary homework.
The end of the lesson takes the form of a casual conversation.
FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
There is one more important thing for moms/dads/nannies in this course. Lessons happen three times a week, but it is totally up to you how often you will come. You purchase a “pass” that will be valid for a certain amount of time (a month – 110 CHF, a trimester – 320 CHF, a semester – 420 CHF) and within that time you come to as many lessons as you’d like! You can join once a week for a while, then come three times a week, then change again. Alternatively, you can purchase 1 lesson at a time (for 25 CHF).
It takes so much stress away! You are not obliged to come, and will not lose the money if your baby was up all night and you can barely think in your native tongue, not to mention a foreign one. Your toddler gets sick; it’s still ok – stay in, take care of yourself and your kids and come back when you’re all in good shape again!
Current groups work up from the intermediate levels, but a beginner’s French group will start soon as well.
The staff is gentle, helpful, used to working with small munchkins so they will never be disturbed with a child crying, singing, or making a mess. They will even assure your kid is safe and sound while it’s your turn to solve a grammar exercise.
The Spell Language centre is located in Geneva Old Town, at the Place de Bourg de Four. It is an old building without a lift or a place to leave the prams downstairs, but do not worry! A smiling Spell employee will come down to you and take your pram up and then down again. No hustle.
This is how it is at Spell: smiles, help, flexibility, and a solution to every problem small and big.
I wholeheartedly urge you to try these classes and be better prepared for when your child starts school or any form of a French-speaking social life. That is not even to be able to talk to the teachers and other parents but to avoid not understanding your kids talking about you their friends… (they will turn into teenagers sooner than you expect). 😉
Geneva, Geneva for beginners
Why anyone would consider public schools in Geneva as the right choice for their children?
Many private schools in Geneva offer fabulous programs, with a rich program of high-quality after-school activities, trips to fascinating places, and individualised care.
Of course, international schools are probably best for those kids who change countries every couple of years. The international system will make it easier for them to continue wherever they go. But even for those coming here for just a year or two, the answer is not always straightforward.
For many families, this choice does not exist due to budget limits. Many dream they could place their children in one of many excellent private schools but can’t afford it without going on a 100% potato diet for life.
So why is it that so many parents in choose public schools in Geneva, even though they don’t have to?
I didn’t want to guess, so I asked the parents on 2 of Parentville’s Facebook groups precisely that. I received an overwhelming amount of private messages, and here’s a roundup of what they said (in random order).
While many private schools teach children about local history, traditions, and culture, integration means more. It means knowing locals. Public school offers precisely that. It gives parents the opportunity to meet other local parents, and kids to meet their neighbors, as they will always attend the school close to their home. It is the best integration process according to many, and it’s free.
One of the parents wrote: « I want my children to learn in a truly diverse environment, not in a bubble (as this is how I see most private schools, especially in rich Switzerland). One of my challenges as a parent is to make them aware that an average human on this planet lives in completely different conditions than they are. I want them to know that they are lucky to be born here and to have everything they could dream of. I want them to appreciate that, and at the same time to do whatever they can to help those in a less fortunate situation. »
Public schools in Geneva are good. Period. They are not great, not Swedish, not perfect – but which school is? Public schools in Geneva are simply good. Many parents refuse to pay high allowances for primary school, and instead, prefer to save that money for the university, or sabbatical year, or invest in great after-school activities. Many expats are terrified upon finding out that kids here do not learn how to write and read till they are 6-7 years old. But this has proven to be nothing but beneficial (LINK) for children (and the same has been done for years in many north and east-European countries). Here’s how Switzerland is doing in Pisa.
Children attend schools on a straightforward rule: the closest school to home. It means more probability that the way to school will be easy so that kids can try to walk on their own rather sooner than later. It also means they will meet tons of friends from their neighbourhood at the school. And that translates into hours of fun after school, on weekends, and even over the summer! At a very early age, they can become members of the local community and bring whole families closer. Strictly connected to point no 2 (integration).
School being close to home means drop offs and collection are easy. It also means neighbours can help each other out when needed! And have I mentioned making friends in the hood?
No language course can never teach you a language like life can. Teachers will teach them the official language, but their friends will show them the customs, the nuances, the kiddy slang, the teen slang. It all will make them native speakers in a very natural way.
Some of the parents participating in my research pointed out that not all private schools offer diplomas allowing them to attend Swiss universities, or even the vocational training program (which in Switzerland is quite amazing!). It does not mean it is impossible for them to get to local schools, it is just more complicated. Public schools graduates apparently have easier access to local universities, and at the same time can apply for abroad programs no problem. I haven’t personally checked that information. If you have any input on that, I will highly appreciate!
It is by no means an article pointing out which school is better. Private schools have plenty of advantages! Just sometimes they are presented to incoming expats as the only right decision. There is no right or wrong here. Each system has different strengths.
A big thank you to all those who participated via comments, email, and private messages! It was fantastic to meet you virtually and hear your point of view!
Please, do not hesitate to comment/msg/email with your thoughts, no matter what they are!
Other articles you might be interested in:
Geneva for beginners
Annoyingly, most of the times children get sick, is at night, or during the school holidays. Do you know where to go when it happens? Which pediatric emergency in Geneva can take you in? What qualifies as an emergency anyway?
When it comes to night-time/evening and holidays care, Geneva has quite a lot of options. But it’s important to know how to use them. Some are walk-in emergency wards of hospitals, others require an appointment.
if you’re not sure whether your child requires an urgent medical help, a brilliant app Info Kids by HUG can help you out (in French only). You can read all about it in this article on Parentville.
The life-threatening emergencies require a call for an ambulance over at 144 or 112. For intoxication cases help, dial 145.
Not every emergency requires an ambulance though. Where to go then?
- HUG Urgences Pediatrique. The biggest, and the best equipped emergency ward in Geneva. But because of the overload parents are asked to use it only when really in need, when urgent. Opened 7/7, 24/7. Their website is available in English, too.
- Grangettes – though it is a private clinic, its emergency ward for children will accept holders of every type of insurance. Opened all week long, from 9 am till 10 pm. Check out all the necessary information here on their website.
In these places pediatricians are available for emergency consultation. Available during the week from 6pm till 10 pm, and on weekends from 8 am till 10pm.To get help in these places call as soon as you can to schedule an appointment. They can be all reached under the same telephone number: 0844 022 022.
- Centre médico-chirurgical des Eaux-Vives. To schedule an appointment, you can also call 0227 360 611, or book online here.
Home visits 24/7.
If you want to help your child asap, but the case doesn’t require an urgent medical intervention, you can also ask for a home visit with one of the 2 companies. If they think it’s needed they will transfer your call directly to the ambulance dispatch, or tell you to go to the hospital.
- Geneve Medecins: for website and phone numbers please click here.
- SOS Medecins: follow this link to reach their website.
Sometimes, all you need is a bottle of over-the-counter medicine to control your child’s fever, or an OR solution, to hydrate him after a bad vomiting series.
- There are 2 pharmacies at the airport opened till 9 pm daily. One is located in the CFF station, the other on the departure level.
- The pharmacy on the main train station, is opened every day till 11 pm. Click here for details.
- Every day 2 pharmacies are opened in Geneva 24/7, but it is not always the same pharmacy. You can check the « pharamcie de garde » for each day on this website.
Geneva for beginners
Pregnant in Geneva, and now what?
This guide is filled with information for all of you who found themselves pregnant in Geneva and are unsure of what needs to be done, when, or where.
Geneva for beginners
Apart from using Parentville, Facebook, and Google, what are your online resources for finding places to go, brands to check out, and events to attend? You might be surprise but following certain parents on Instagram might give your more insight on the city, than any other online source!
Instagram can definitely take some getting used to. The biggest hurdle which most people face at some point is having a limited number of followers. This can be frustrating as it means that your posts will get fewer engagements (likes, comments etc.) and won’t be getting the appreciation they deserve! Some people choose to take the long route and authentically grow their follower count, whilst others take a shortcut and use a growth tool like Kicksta (although you might want to read the review at https://platypusreviews.com/kicksta/ before committing to that). However, arguably the most frustrating thing when starting on Instagram is having no clue who to follow. You don’t want to follow any old account, as you want to see posts which will actually interest you and help you. So here below is a list of Instagramers essential for parents in Geneva. All you need is an Instagram account, and click « follow » at the every account you want to follow. You don’t need to post any pictures yourself (though once you start, it gets addictive).
Here they are:
Instagram account of probably the most informative French-speaking blogger for families in the region. It’s an endless source of information, ideas, and interviews with fascinating locals.
An incredibly positive and optimistic mom of 3. Observing their journey is a joy, and her daughter’s outfits are the sweetest!
A restaurant quality label: allows you to find restaurants with the infrastructure that suits every family
Everything nature, montessori, bio: « born to be green! »
Mom of 3 sharing pretty pics of her everyday life.
A lot of inspiration for parents and children alike!
A full of ideas mom of a sweet boy, and a curious, passionate blogger.
an instagram account of a inspirational blogger: food, shopping, parenting
Behind the scenes, personal side of Parentville, kids friendly places and events, pictures of the city
Stunning pictures of a certain fairy and Geneva (especially of the architectural pearl of the city – le Lignon)
Geneva, travel destinations, kids activities.
everything about the bikes, presenting many ways to transport kids with the bike.
Hope to see you soon on Instagram, and in the meantime remember to leave your email here and never miss a post!