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La Maternelle

(Preschool, Pre-K, and Kindergarten)

La Maternelle serves children ages 3-6 years. There are many benefits to grouping children in multi-age classrooms. In France, public school begins at 2 1/2 years old, with a structured curriculum providing the foundations to prepare students for elementary school. The French Académie follows the educational structure of the French Ministry of Education, which groups preschool and elementary school into 3-year cycles. La Maternelle is Cycle 1 and is structured as follows:

  • PS - Petite Section de Maternelle (Preschool: 3 years old)

  • MS - Moyenne Section de Maternelle (Pre-Kindergarten: 4 years old)

  • GS - Grande Section de Maternelle (Kindergarten: 5 years old)

What will my child learn?

At The French Académie, we are passionate and dedicated to providing students with the highest quality, research-based education. Here is a snapshot into our pedagogical process. Please let us know if we can answer any questions about our Matenerelle curriculum.


Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is the capacity to perceive, split and play with syllables and phonemes. Our young students will start a long journey to understand that to be able to write “renard” (fox), they have to step away from the idea that they have of the animal and concentrate only on the sound code (ʁənaʁ) in French or (fɒks) in English. In our Maternelle class, we do many activities to develop this phonological consciousness.


Everything starts in preschool when we start to isolate the sounds that surround us, then through the songs and fingerplays (our comptines), we are able to discover the sounds of phonemes and play with them! In pre-kindergarten we learn to identify and manipulate the syllables and to identify the phonemes. It is only when one masters that skill that a student can find the right letter to decode the right sound. And the path to reading is wide open!


In our classroom, we have a rich collection of phonological activities to teach not only the right pronunciation from French native speakers but also to be able to write and read. Many studies show that early phonological interventions prevent difficulties in learning how to read. Guiding a child on the reading path in one language is offering them the freedom to continue to grow with that language, at their own speed, even though it is not spoken at home. 


Counting & Numbers

Different activities are offered daily to the children so they can learn the sequence of numbers : nursery rhymes, counting one by one, and then counting the students present and absent.


Counting skills start by knowing the sequence for learning the numbers “one, two, three, four, five, six…” but that is just the beginning!


Our objective in Maternelle goes way beyond. Indeed, numbers are much more powerful than a list like the alphabet song. Numbers allow us to anticipate the result of the action; this is what we call calculus. Understanding that 25 comes after 24 is very limited and insignificant knowledge. 25 is also two dozen and 5 units, but it is also 5 groups of 5 or a quarter of 100. The students who will succeed in mathematics in elementary school and then in middle school the pens who are able to make these links between quantities. Studies show that these skills have to be implemented as students make their very first steps in the amazing world of numbers.


It is this capacity to perceive relationships between numbers that we work toward in our class. This way our students are exposed to math problems involving small quantities that get larger and larger based on their individual progress. Of course, our learning experience is hiding behind a magical and fun approach for our little ones. You might hear them talk about the monster who had to choose between flying carpets, rabbits in their heers or board games such as Halli Galli!

Board Games

Board games have a strong pedagogical potential on different subjects like calculus or language. But more than that, they can reinforce concentration, memorization, logic, and last but not least, the capacity to learn how to cooperate with others. What skills are cultivated when we practice board games?

  • Respect for the rules: the child has to respect the rules of the game, like taking turns for instance.

  • Listening to others: you must be attentive to win the memory game for example

  • Emotional regulation: patience, impatience, frustration - when we lose, we have to learn to let go because we don’t always win and it is still fun!

  • Communication: some games require expression of oneself in front of others.

  • Collaboration: to succeed, we learn that we need the help and input of others.


Handwriting Development

At The French Académie, our students are guided through four research-based stages of writing development: markings, drawings, graphisme, and geste d'écriture. Here is an overview from our recent spring exhibit of that writing progression. If you have any questions about our original and unique approach to developing the motor skills necessary to write, please ask!


We practice music daily in the classroom. We explore music through our voices, songs, musical instruments, rhythm, pitches, and all musical components including musical pieces. Each year, the Maternelle class takes a field trip to the Kinder Konzert Experience to listen to a musical performance and explore instruments in their Sound Factory.

This is just a snapshot of our research-based curriculum. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

Program Schedule

Morning Greeting
Art / Science / Culinary workshops
Transition - Snack
Group time
Language / Math workshops
Group time (songs, reading, structured time)
Transition - Lunch - Nap & Rest on demand
Nap, Rest - Reading and listening stations
Nap - Individual Montessori workshops
Monday: board games & large muscle activities; Tuesday: music & puzzles; Wednesday: Naramus & large muscle activities; Thursday: science & construction; Friday: library & yoga (AM library for Petite Section)
End of the day group time

Exhibit 1: Welcome to Spring | Bienvenue au Printemps


This project was inspired by a piece of art exhibited at the Walker Center for the Arts.


Full color pictures of these four different representations of nature and Spring and their black and white version were first presented to the students.


Focusing on the overall images and also on the details, students gained the understanding of the different components of a picture: the shapes, the colors, the emotions brought up by the images.


Instructions given:

Choisis des gommettes de 2 couleurs différentes, et de 2 tailles différentes. Colle les gommettes sur les bourgeons, les branches, les fleurs et les tiges.

Choose dots of two different colors and two different sizes. Place the dots onto the buds, the branches, the flowers and the stems.


The students were very quiet during this activity, giving their full attention to their artwork, following the directions given and using their fine motor skills to place the tiny dots in the places of their liking.

Exhibit 2: Discovering Bees | Les Abeilles


As part of our theme about spring, the children learned about bees. Together, we looked at books and discovered that bees collect nectar from flowers and make honey inside their beehive. We also learned lots of new words to talk about bees and the work of beekeepers. As we were all very interested, we got to look at real pollen during circle time, and we were so impressed to see some real pollen! We all took a turn to smell it and look at it. We shared our impressions about what it looked and smelled like. The children said that it looked like little yellow and orange pebbles. They also said that it smelled like pumpkin, popcorn, mango, butter and even ice cream!


As the interest about bees did not fade, the children joined together to print bubble wrap onto the outline of a beehive. Then, they painted the background such as some flowers and some trees. And finally, they drew some bees with felt tips. As they were participating to this project, the children were commenting and were saying things such as: “look, I made a carrot, now I’m going to made some blueberries!”, “ I made two suns”, “I made a tree”, “ça, c’est la reine”, “ça, c’est le miel”. The children were very engaged and showed that they really understood what the bees needed to be happy! 


Finally, after having spent a few weeks talking about bees, we decided to create a beehive for our wooden bees. First of all, we painted all the loo rolls with yellow paint, then, once they were dry we stuck them together and finally we stuck the honeycomb inside a large box. When the beehive was ready, the children were eager to decorate it so the bees would enjoy it! The children said: “moi fait une abeille”, “un arc-en-ciel”, “ un bouquet de tulipes”, “des fruits”, “ pour Les Abeilles, du pollen”. The children really thought about what the bees would enjoy and use! They also used the real pollen to feed the bees!



  • Develop understanding of bees: what they are, what they do and why they are important

  • Develop language

  • Name body parts of the bees

  • Develop fine motor skills

  • Work as part of a group

  • Develop artistic skills

  • Develop understanding of the world

  • Develop hand-eye coordination

  • Develop spatial awareness

  • Develop one to one correspondence

Exhibit 3: Snails | Les Escargot