Athough in France Kindergarten is considered the last level of Preschool (La Maternelle / Le Cycle 1), we are including it in this section so as to coincide with the American system. Grades 1, 2, and 3 together form Le Cycle 2, the primary objective of which is to ensure students fully assimilate the academic fundamentals. At the beginning of this new stage, students discover the joy of reading, hone their verbal communication skills, begin to develop their writing abilities, and learn about the world around them. They also begin to have homework -- and grades. This is a time of transition in other ways too, for academic subjects begin to require more of their class time than the arts, unlike what they were accustomed to in preschool. This may seem like a lot, which is why it is important that they receive praise and encouragement both at school and at home, not only for their accomplishments but also for their efforts.
The curricula for the early elementary grades (Le Cycle 2 / Grades 1-2-3) revolve around the following seven core subject areas:
1. French Language Arts (c. 10 hours per week) By the end of La Grande Section, students have greatly developed their vocabulary so as to be able to express themselves precisely, listen attentively, speak before a group, and fully understand a story read by an adult. They are also able to clearly distinguish the various linguistic sounds as well as the graphic signs that represent those sounds in writing.
In Le Cours Préparatoire, learning to read is done through decoding and word identification, in other words through the progressive acquisition of the knowledge and skills necessary to understand a written text. Reading and writing, whether of words, phrases, or texts, are taught together and reinforce each other throughout the year. These lessons, although based on the oral practice of language and on the development of vocabulary, are enriched by an early introduction to both grammar and spelling.
2. Mathematics (c. 5 hours per week) Knowledge of numbers, arithmetic, and problem solving are the subject of a learning progression that develops imagination, rigor, and precision as well as reasoning. At the same time, a regular practice of mental math is essential as early habits take root. In addition to numbers, arithmetic, and problem solving, students are introduced to geometry (spatial orientation as well as recognizing, describing, tracing, and reproducing 2D and 3D shapes), measurements (length, mass/weight, volume, time, and currency), classification, and elementary data management (charts, graphs, and tables).
3.English Language Arts (c. 6.5 hours per week) Students are exposed to various cultural American staples as they are taught to read and write in English. Whether learning their sightwords or spelling from their word families, students receive a solid foundation in English Language Arts.
4.Discovering the World Around Me (c. 2.5 hours per week) While Kindergartners initially continue to approach this subject through observation and tactile manipulation, First Graders are able to draw on their growing abilities in reading and math to learn about the world in which they live. Throughout the year students develop their understanding of where they fit in time and space, mastering the corresponding vocabulary. Space: Beginning with familiar settings (their classroom, their school, their neighborhood, their city), they come to discover more distant settings as the year progresses. They also learn of the various tools used to represent these places, including photographs, maps, and globes. Time: Students learn about the alternance of day and night, about weeks, months, and the seasons. The tools they learn to use to measure time are the calendar and the analog clock.
5.Art Creation & Appreciation (c. 2.5 hours per week) Children not only continue to create their own art work, they also are exposed to other artists' work. Such cultural references help develop students' artistic sensibilities and expressive abilities. These activities are accompanied by the use of a precise vocabulary, allowing students to express their feelings, their emotions, their preferences, and their tastes. Early exposure to art appreciation improves students' ability to observe, listen, describe, and compare -- all important skills to develop in any field.
6.Physical Education (c. 1.5 hours per week) Students participate in P.E. during the regular school day, developing their physical abilities, learning about team work and good sportsmanship as well as the enjoyment of movement and physical activity. They can also choose to participate in Tennis and Soccer as part of the Afterschool Enrichment Program.
7.Civics and Ethics (varies) As this subject is incorporated into the other core areas, students learn general proper etiquette and appropriate social behavior throughout the year. They gradually acquire more responsible behavior and become increasingly independent in their work as wells as autonomous in their daily functions.