Our daughters go to La Découverte private bilingual school in Geneva!

Choosing a learning method and a school can be a real challenge for parents who obviously want the best for their children's future. Lynsey and her husband researched, compared and exchanged ideas with other families before choosing La Découverte school for their daughters Holly and Chloe. What appealed to them? The individual approach to each child, the bilingualism, the integration into Geneva life and the human scale of the school where parents & students feel listened to, understood and respected. Strong values that the school has upheld for over 30 years!

Linsey sitting in an armchair with her two daughters standing beside her

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Lynsey, I'm 40 years old and I work as an interpreter for an international organization in Geneva. I have two daughters, Holly 7.5 and Chloe 4.5. I'm British and my husband is Irish. We moved to Geneva in 2009. Holly and Chloe were born here and both attend the bilingual private school La Découverte.

What language do you speak at home?
Mostly English, whether it's between my husband and me, the two of us with the girls, or the girls with each other. If friends come over to play with the girls and are French-speaking, we switch of course to French.

Why did you choose the La Découverte school?
There are several reasons. Firstly, we have friends whose children went to La Découverte and loved it. Secondly, I absolutely wanted a bilingual school because I couldn't see myself teaching them English after a day's work. Plus, you need a methodology that I don't have. To secure a place, Holly was just 14 months old when we enrolled her and she joined the waiting list (smile).

Had you considered public schooling?
If we hadn't received a positive response from La Découverte, we would have opted for public schooling. To get an idea, we visited a number of schools to compare them. As our plan was to stay in Switzerland for the long term, we quickly put aside the international schools, as we wanted the girls to integrate as much as possible into local life and go to a school where French would be their strong language.

Did the prices between the different schools tip the balance?
La Découverte's prices are lower than those of the other private schools we visited, and we get a discount for Chloe because she's enrolling for the second time. What's more, I'm lucky enough to benefit from financial support from my employer. So the price wasn't an obstacle, but you still have to be careful. For example, once classes are over, you have to keep the kids busy, and it's usually the after-school and other "extra" activities between 3:30 and 6:30 that cost the most (smile)! That's when we realize how much we miss our grandparents' precious presence!

What are the advantages of La Découverte?
There are many! The most important for us is that the school offers an individual approach to each child. For Chloe, who has quite a temper, this is a real plus (smile). Otherwise, the classes are small and the teachers very experienced. They take their time and listen to the children, who are free to put forward their own ideas and manage projects independently. The teachers adapt to the children's creative ideas and imagination. And, of course, the school's bilingualism was fundamental for us. This year, the children have two days of class 100% in French before switching to two days 100% in English, but this has already happened every other week.

What about the disadvantages?
Honestly, I don't see any. Inevitably, the dynamics of the class will depend very much on the students and their affinities, but the school encourages them to debate and find solutions on their own in the event of conflict. From a practical point of view, there's one small drawback: the parents' meeting times are often in the afternoon, which can be a bit tricky to organize!

What is the relationship between parents and the school?
Fluid and flexible. Both in the morning and in the afternoon, parents are allowed into the classroom to find out what their children are doing. This also enables them to meet other parents and create links between families. After all, it's in the morning, so it's quick, but it's nice to know it's possible. If necessary, the teachers are always ready to listen and available to talk specifically about their child and his or her progress.

Were the girls in nursery before La Découverte? How did the integration go?
Yes, they were both in a 100% French-speaking public nursery before joining La Découverte. Holly is a little less independent than her sister and has always been very much a "mom", so integration was a little more complicated for her. What's more, she went from nursery to school in the middle of a covid! Parents weren't allowed inside the school, which didn't contribute to a smooth transition, but with the help of committed and enthusiastic teachers, she finally found her place.

Do your daughters experience La Découverte differently?
They're very different from each other, so obviously their experience isn't the same. As we say in English, they're like "chalk and cheese" (smile). Holly has more of an English-speaking group of friends, whereas her sister is the opposite.

Have you started to think about what's next, given that La Découverte stops at the end of primary school?
Even if I don't want to think about it too much at the moment, we're starting to get information and compare the different options. Switzerland is renowned for its school system and offers numerous possibilities in both the public and private sectors, which won't make things any easier for us (smile).

What activities make the difference that kids love?
Activities change regularly. This year, there was taekwondo, dance, chess and ceramics. The children also spend a lot of time learning and exploring in the great outdoors (in all weathers!). From the age of 3, the little ones take part in a "sleepover" where they spend a night at school with their teachers, watch films and do creative activities together. From 1P upwards, the older children take part in a camp outside the school. Whether in or out of the classroom, children are always encouraged to be enterprising, to have ideas, express them and then bring them to life.

Not to be missed!
A group visit to discover the school and ask your questions is organized on
Tuesday November 7 in Geneva and Thursday November 9 in Mies from 8:45 to 10:15 am. To register, simply fill in this form.

La Découverte school logo

School La Découverte

Avenue de Sécheron 11 - 1202 Genève
+41 22 733 54 33

Chemin du Triangle 9 - 1295 Mies
+41 22 755 21 24