What to do about school?


Here's what's running around in my mind right now: what to do about school for the girls this fall.

Our options, in summary:

1. Enroll them in an all-Finnish school. This would be the neighborhood school closest to our house where all the kids in our area would be attending. They could probably walk or ride their bikes. The system there will give them mother-tongue support for the first year, but it will still be a very difficult transition for them and for us. But this option is probably the fast-track to assimilation, if the slightly rougher one.

2. Enroll them in a bilingual school. Turku happens to have a language magnet school, and there are tracks in English/Finnish, German/Finnish, and Russian/Finnish (we'd go for the English/Finnish for the girls, but maybe we'd get creative with Sterling in a few years, mwahahahaha). As a linguist with interest and MA experience in bilingual education programs, this school is like a magical wonderland to me. However, the application period is long past, and even if they did let us apply now, the assessment interview for the girls would be in Finnish. Which they do not speak yet. But they DO speak English, which seems like an asset for the program. I'm in contact with the principal to see if I can woo her to my side, though it's not looking good.

3. Enroll them in the international school. We are lucky to have this option even if it is currently not my favorite. The international school is an English-medium public school but has plenty of (mostly?) Finnish students, plus random foreigners like us. It is reportedly a very good school, but my main concern is that my kids would not learn Finnish very quickly. However, this would be a much gentler landing for them. This is also the hands-down winner should we only be in Turku for a year - but we won't know if that's the case or not until said year is almost over. Does anyone have a crystal ball? Also, this school is located in an area of town where we will probably not be living, which means they couldn't walk or ride bikes there.

The good thing is that the girls are guaranteed a spot at option 1 or 3. My favorite choice is 2, though. We could do a compromise - the international school for the first year for a softer landing and to hedge our bets against leaving after a year, and then try to get them in to option 2 for the next year if we're staying.

May 15th, outsourced

Finland