This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
French Immersion School Of Washington4
Posted December 02, 2014
- a parent
My child has been at FISW for four years, from moyen through second grade. Good things about the school: Small class sizes, some excellent teachers (both English and French), the foreign language immersion of course, the cost is lower than many other private schools, they hold the children to very high behavioral standards (which the kids do well with), and they do really seem to care about my child. Less than good things: the aloof and unfriendly demeanor of the headmistress and many of the French staff can be very off-putting, they do not encourage parental involvement, they beg you for money every other second, and they take unnecessary holidays (or close school due to half an inch of snow) every chance they get. We have kept our child there because he is undoubtedly thriving and it is so rare and special to have him be truly fluent in another language. However, the other French school on Mercer Island gets very high marks, as well, and has attracted away a lot of our FISW families lately. It costs quite a bit more but my friends whose children go there all say that it is better organized with more opportunities for the kids. Also they have a bus from Seattle.
If you are an english speaking family avoid this school at all costs. We have a 1st grader enrolled in the school. The french homework came home without a translation. Being a non-French speaker I was unable to help my son with the homework. When I approached the teacher to ask for a translation of the homework she grabbed it out of my hands and said she would do it in class. This school bans parental involvement in the classroom. With the skills of the above referenced teacher I now understand why they don't want parents to observe the teachers interacting with the children.
FISW is a great school, my only difficulties are with the communication & the way teachers and administrators deal with suggestions. Due to the French influence of the school, parents are not consulted as often as they would be in an American school. Sometimes this is nice, but it can also be frustrating since you can't volunteer in the classroom - it can make it hard to know what is going on with your kid. That being said, we are in year 3 and our kid is really loving it and learning lots!
Our two kids are doing great, learning a lot, and enjoying it, all in a foreign language! The French national curriculum builds skills progressively and makes learning fun and achievable -- to a high, international standard. The local public school frenzy for rankings and test scores is not an issue here; the focus is on learning, with French benchmark tests given but not obsessed over. The school is a nonprofit and offers scholarships.
We attended FISW for eight years. The staff was friendly and organized. When we started, FISW had only been open a few years. By our class, I feel like they had worked out the kinks. I loved the detailed attention and focus on different learning styles in early grades. They have excellent teachers but many stay only for 3 years due to visa limitations. Some get permanent residency. FISW polls parents annually. I see an increasing focus on listening to and addressing concerns. I love that in immersion schools they cannot replace natural attrition at the higher grade levels as easily as in typical school. With decreasing class size, you get more attention and deeper curriculum. We had 11 students in 5th. The girls are fluent in French. One daughter had the highest score the teacher had seen. Their 4th and 5th grade evaluations were fantastic. Their class trip to France assured them of their skill. Both girls tested above grade on the MSP and the IEEE last fall. Subject matter sequence differs, but ultimately, if you follow the cycles, they are usually ahead for MS. I am thrilled with the quality education. The staff and student body are close knit. I would make the same choice.
I love FISW. The community (teachers and parents) are supportive, nuturing and helpful. Our daughter is in her second year and speaks French impressively with a native accent. When she had trouble last year, the teachers and administration took the time to help us work through it, both in and out of school hours.
Preschool was great and the teachers were really nurturing. When we moved our son from 1st grade to 2nd grade in a public school, we found out that he was actually behind not only in English (which we expected) but also in Math. There seems to be so much emphasis on French that Math and English really fall behind. My son had to do a lot of catching up.
It does a great job of being a fully immersion french program and follows the curricullum in France to the T. However, if you are looking for good academics, I am not sure this is a place that challenges the bright kids. The focus is so high on French language in the early years that they are actually behind wrt to the public schools on other subjects such as English and Math until you reach 4th grade. In 4th grade they try to catch up and eventually in 5th grade they meet up or exceed some average public school standards. However, paying for private school you expect a bit more than just an additional language. The middle school that most 5th graders seem to move to is Tillicum because a private teacher teaches adv. French before regular classes start. Tillicum is not a good gauge.
This is a wonderful school with a warm, nuturing environment. We have been at the school now for 6 years The teachers we have had, without exception, have all been excellent. We do not speak French at home but my child speaks like a native. At all levels it is a very rich curriculum. The class sizes at the upper levels are also very small which is something we like.