Prague, Czech Republic Report of what it's like to live there - 07/25/14
Personal Experiences from Prague, Czech Republic
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
Nursery and Reception (preschool and kindergarten).
3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
Government - U.S. Embassy.
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
We chose this because of the classroom atmosphere (early years is housed in its own separate campus allowing the 3-6 year olds to fully explore their environment without the older kids around. It allows them to gain confidence and ownership of their environment) as well as the student teacher ration 1:6 (at most) and the amazing staff. It wasn't intimidating and allowed our girls to fall into place and grow immensely.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
One of the strong reasons we chose the school - the family like environment. The students and families are accepted as "one of their own". Everyone is family and everyone supports each other. This is true if you need help within the school or are looking for help outside of school with getting to know the town, etc.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
Nursery and reception are very loving, warm and nurturing environments that encourage children to learn through free play and structured play. They are encouraged to try new things, express themselves creatively, and are given multiple opportunities for success in all areas.
2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:
I saw teachers and parents equally responding to each child as if they were their own.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
The teachers are easily reached and very available to communicate with.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
I don't know about this area as we were not in need of it. They do have an English program for students who don't speak English as a first language.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
Each term, the students are given the opportunity to participate in a wide range of after-school activities ranging from music club and creative design club to ballet and karate club.
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
8. Teacher-student communication:
9. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?
10. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
11. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
12. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
The school will take several trips a year throughout the city or just outside of town. A private bus is chartered for these events and usually parents are asked to pay a maximum of US$5 to help cover additional fees. I think these are completely reasonable, considering the level of care given to students and parents. The most we have paid additional out of pocket for class trips is US$10. Some after-school clubs require additional payment because they are an outside school providing a service to Riverside (aka - ballet is from the International School of Music and we paid an additional US$200 per term).
13. What activities do you feel are missing?
Additional languages would be nice to start at this age such as French, Italian, etc. This begins in the primary level however.
14. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
15. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
There is a library dedicated solely to early years level books and students are expected to and encouraged to bring a book home every night to share. During reception, the students still bring home a library book for the parents to read as well as a Jolly Phonic book for the student to read to the parent.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
Can't give an accurate grade on this as the program doesn't start until Year 1. However, the Early Years classrooms are equipped with several computers, iPads and an interactive projector screen.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Fantastic! My girls were exposed to so many sports during the school day in addition to free play in the garden. There is a very strong emphasis in staying active and staying healthy.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
There are 2 classes per grade level that are combined in one class. Essentially there are 4 adults to a max of 24 students. 2 teachers and 2 assistants.
6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
During the school days, students are given opportunities at this age to participate in swimming, sports, horseback riding, rock climbing, canoeing and numerous other activities. They also are responsible for class pets. They also participate in plays each term as well as teas/shows for the parents throughout the year.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
11. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
Its ability to create a family environment that is inclusive and accommodating while challenging the students to the best of their own individual ability. They face failures with curiosity and support (group and individual) so that students don't fear failure and only rise from it and celebrate individual achievements with great pride.
2. Would you choose this school again? Why?
In a heartbeat. We are sad to be leaving and wish our youngest had the same opportunities to grow and learn. Our now 5-year old is light years ahead of her friends in the States.