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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm brand new here, so thanks for any help. We're moving to Europe at the beginning of January, and originally were just going to have a family travel for 3-4 months while we're on sabbatical. But now we're thinking it would be great to enroll our two children (5 and 7) in a private bilingual school for a couple months, probably in French or Spanish (the other languages we speak, which makes it easier for daily life).

Does anyone have any specific expat-friendly schools they'd recommend that would accept students who are just passing through? In France, Spain, other French-speaking countries? Or general recommendations? We're very very flexible, since we just wanted to expose our children to other countries and cultures. Our kids are both really good at school.
 

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Europe is a big place. I guess you need to look at international schools, which may give you some continuity?? Altho I dont think theres anyway anyone can give you specific schools in specific areas of Europe that take kids who are just passing thru. Many private schools, including international schools do like entrance exams, uniforms, equipment etc to be bought. This site has a list of good "british curriculum" international schools in Spain ????? Welcome to Nabss | Nabss

Jo xxx
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Jo. We did think it would have to be private or international, and we're fine with fees and some hassles. Maybe a Montessori school might be ideal--we're not actually worried about continuity that much. It's just getting them in with other kids where they could learn the language "on the ground" would be worth whatever it costs them in other areas of their education (where we could catch them up). We've been looking at the lists of schools online (and a few sites with some reviews) but were hoping to hear from people with experience of a school they loved. What I should have asked was, does anyone have a bilingual school they love?
 

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I would just toss your kids into the local public school where you happen to be living. A great experience for them - at that age they are completely flexible - and it won't cost you any money. (The younger one might need to go into day care or preschool, which is probably easier to deal with, though you might have to pay a small amount.)

I would ignore international schools - expensive, who cares about continuity at this age, and they might not accept temporary students anyway. I would forget about bilingual, just get them immersed in the language. They won't forget English.

Our experience, as an academic family with summers and sabbaticals, has been exclusively in Germany. We put our daughter into day care at ages 3 and 4, for 2 and 3 months each. Easy to arrange, just called around, found one willing to take her, and negotiated a private rate rather than deal with the complexity of subsidies since we weren't staying long enough to have residence permits.

On the next sabbatical she did the first half of grade 4 at a local public school. No bureaucratic issues, we just signed her up. (In Germany, once you register your address, school-age children are on the books; because school attendance is mandatory, the local school is obliged to take your kid.) Similarly this year, she's doing the first half of grade 8 at a nearby Gymnasium (university-stream high school). It was very easy to arrange - I just wrote them an e-mail explaining the situation and asked if she could attend for 5 months. No problem, happy to have her.)

Re-reading your original post, I'm not sure what you're planning in terms of travel. To send your kids to school you should plan on settling somewhere for 3-4 months at least, then register your address at the town hall (which you are legally obliged to do, anywhere I've lived in Europe) at which point you can take your kids to school. (If you stay longer than 90 days you'll need a residence permit, as you know, but typically this is easy for academics on sabbatical because they have salaries and health insurance and it's clearly temporary.) You'd want to stay somewhere for that long so they have the chance to build the language and enjoy a bit of consistency.

For us, sending our daughter to regular public school in Germany has worked quite well. No need to mess about with private or bilingual schools.
 

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I would just toss your kids into the local public school where you happen to be living. A great experience for them - at that age they are completely flexible - and it won't cost you any money. (The younger one might need to go into day care or preschool, which is probably easier to deal with, though you might have to pay a small amount.)

I would ignore international schools - expensive, who cares about continuity at this age, and they might not accept temporary students anyway. I would forget about bilingual, just get them immersed in the language. They won't forget English.

Our experience, as an academic family with summers and sabbaticals, has been exclusively in Germany. We put our daughter into day care at ages 3 and 4, for 2 and 3 months each. Easy to arrange, just called around, found one willing to take her, and negotiated a private rate rather than deal with the complexity of subsidies since we weren't staying long enough to have residence permits.

On the next sabbatical she did the first half of grade 4 at a local public school. No bureaucratic issues, we just signed her up. (In Germany, once you register your address, school-age children are on the books; because school attendance is mandatory, the local school is obliged to take your kid.) Similarly this year, she's doing the first half of grade 8 at a nearby Gymnasium (university-stream high school). It was very easy to arrange - I just wrote them an e-mail explaining the situation and asked if she could attend for 5 months. No problem, happy to have her.)

Re-reading your original post, I'm not sure what you're planning in terms of travel. To send your kids to school you should plan on settling somewhere for 3-4 months at least, then register your address at the town hall (which you are legally obliged to do, anywhere I've lived in Europe) at which point you can take your kids to school. (If you stay longer than 90 days you'll need a residence permit, as you know, but typically this is easy for academics on sabbatical because they have salaries and health insurance and it's clearly temporary.) You'd want to stay somewhere for that long so they have the chance to build the language and enjoy a bit of consistency.

For us, sending our daughter to regular public school in Germany has worked quite well. No need to mess about with private or bilingual schools.
I agree actually, altho (and I dont know about other european countries) in Spain you do have to be a resident for your children to go to a state school, which means proving income and healthcare cover to get the necessary paperwork - this may not be a problem, altho if you're touring????

Jo xxx
 

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Hi,

I'm brand new here, so thanks for any help. We're moving to Europe at the beginning of January, and originally were just going to have a family travel for 3-4 months while we're on sabbatical. But now we're thinking it would be great to enroll our two children (5 and 7) in a private bilingual school for a couple months, probably in French or Spanish (the other languages we speak, which makes it easier for daily life).

Does anyone have any specific expat-friendly schools they'd recommend that would accept students who are just passing through? In France, Spain, other French-speaking countries? Or general recommendations? We're very very flexible, since we just wanted to expose our children to other countries and cultures. Our kids are both really good at school.
just one point though - what visa will you coming to Europe on?


a normal Schenghen visa is a tourist visa for just 90 days
 

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I agree actually, altho (and I dont know about other european countries) in Spain you do have to be a resident for your children to go to a state school, which means proving income and healthcare cover to get the necessary paperwork - this may not be a problem, altho if you're touring????

Jo xxx
Response to both this, and the visa question.

My direct experience is with Germany, but I expect this applies elsewhere in Europe. Typically as an academic on sabbatical you are almost automatically granted a visa and/or residence permit as a "researcher", because you have salary and health insurance from your home university, you are not going to take a job in the local economy, and you are planning to return. (The residence permit normally does not permit employment for either spouse.)

Once you are legally registered as a resident, your kids can go off to public school. In practice it may be easier, just deliver the kids and deal with the visa later. In Germany the schools have never asked for any proof or paperwork, they just admitted her as a visiting exchange student, since it was clear she was leaving again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My reply just got deleted somehow as I tried to post it. But this is really good help! We were just planning to use our 90-day Schengen tourist visa, but I hadn't thought that it might be easy to get a sabbatical researchers visa. (In the UK, it's really difficult and expensive to get a visa for more than six months, though it's easy to get the six months.) I also had assumed that for the 7 year old, it would be too hard to be full-time in the new language, instead of half the day. But that's a really good thought. I suppose I should post these questions on the relevant country boards, to see how France, Spain and other places handle this.

Thanks again for the great input!
 

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You might want to rethink this plan a little bit. The Schengen thing is a pain because you have to leave the zone (not just switch countries) for 90 days. So you'd be bouncing back and forth between the UK and France or Spain. And that amount of bouncing might mess up your kids going to school. Not to mention all the moving.

In Germany getting the residence permit for sabbatical is dead easy, there's a special category for academics. You aren't allowed to work locally, normally, so they are quite content to have you there spending your foreign money, as long as you have some kind of health insurance. For other countries, I would talk to other academics, it might be too specific a question for the other forums here. However, I imagine it's similar to Germany. As mentioned, depending on where you are, you may need some type of residence status to send your child to school (though in Germany they didn't seem to care - they never asked or checked).

With immersion, it depends on the kid of course, but in general a seven-year-old should be able to handle full days. They'll be exhausted for the first month (which is why it's important to stay longer, so they get past the initial shock and start integrating into normal life) and seriously grouchy by Friday afternoon, but once past the initial hurdle it gets much easier.

Putting a thirteen-year-old into junior high in another country, on the other hand, presents an interesting set of challenges that go well beyond merely language...

PS One thing it occurs to me to add. If you are planning to travel that may not be totally compatible with school. In Germany the attendance rules are very strict, once they are in you are not allowed to pull them out for holidays. (Strange, I know - very easy to get them into the school, very difficult to get them out.) You should see how that is handled in other countries.
 

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Note also that Germany is a special case in that US and Canadian citizens (plus a few others) can show up without a visa, and within 90 days apply for a residence permit. You can put your kids into school right away, however. The school doesn't seem to care about your status.

If it's different for France or Spain or the UK, and you need a visa ahead of time, you'd need to get on that relatively quickly if you plan to show up in January.
 

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I posted this to another thread, but I'll repeat it here since it might be relevant. Austria has an interesting quirk in its citizenship law that allows foreign (non-EU/EEA/Swiss) university professors (and their families) to obtain Austrian citizenship upon request without a waiting period and without any language or other tests. If you can land a professorship at an Austrian university -- even, apparently, a temporary visiting post (I don't see any exclusion) -- then you could have a viable, quick path to Austrian citizenship. It's just a weird little perk that Austria grants to foreign university professors. Obviously Austrian citizenship would let you stay in Europe as long as you want.

Italy is another country that has streamlined visas for visiting researchers. If one of the top ~50 research institutions/universities in Italy wants you (even for a short period of time), they can push through a visa easily and without any quota constraints. Dependents are also welcome to accompany the researcher and will also receive visas.
 

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Bear in mind that establishing residence and/or staying a "long time" in Europe can mean tax residence as well.

I thought of another option for Italy: elective residency. Italy offers an ER visa which is available to those that can demonstrate sufficient non-employment income and/or wealth. The minimum requirement is reportedly 30,000 euro per person per year. So if you've got 4 people in the household then you'd have to demonstrate legal non-employment income of at least 120,000 euro per year (or wealth that generates that sort of income, or some of both). That's a lot, but some people can do it. Consulates can require more than the minimum at their discretion, although for a household with children probably not.

If you can demonstrate such income, and if you can also demonstrate a real intention to move to Italy (i.e. selling a primary residence or not having one in the first place -- reaching the end of a lease, for example), and if you intend to reside in Italy for more than 12 months, then you can apply for that type of visa. (Note I said "intend." You're allowed to change your mind and leave Italy.) You are not required to buy property in Italy unlike some other European countries' residence programs (Spain, Portugal, Ireland, etc.) You are not permitted to take employment in Italy.

Anyway, that route is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but I thought I'd mention it.
 

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It's a bit of a stretch. The point with sabbaticals is that you're on temporary (6-12 month) leave from your home university, but you still have income and health insurance (and a return ticket). What you get from your host country is essentially an extended tourist visa with no right to work. Affiliation with a host institution can be useful, but is not necessarily necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
These are really interesting considerations. I hadn't even considered trying to go for any type of citizenship.
I was really thinking of plunking down somewhere for about two months with the kids in school, so that was why I was thinking of a private thinking that maybe international-type schools might be used to kids arriving or leaving mid-year. We're fine with not traveling while the kids are in school, since learning the language would be enough, but we would want to save some time for travel at the end (and that's where a visiting researcher extra stay would be handy). We plan to return back to the US early summer (or late spring, if we stay with our Schengen 90 day limit) regardless.
The German method seems exactly suited to us. We're not against Germany (I've been there many times and love it) but learning German is less appealing than French or Spanish. I wonder if any other countries make it that easy?
(And thanks again for the great input!)
 

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I would immediately have a look at the French and Spanish embassy sites, specifically visas for researchers or visiting scholars, and also talk to colleagues. As I've said, in Germany it's dead easy with sabbaticals.

I might want to give the kids more than two months. That's barely enough time to get over the initial shock and ramp-up. You can always pull them out of school to travel at the end of the trip - just tell the school that you're going home.
 
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