Maternelle (Early Learning) Curriculum

U.S. Grades: PK3, PK4, Kindergarten
French Equivalent: Petite Section, Moyenne Section, Grande Section
French Immersion: 80%

Cycle 1: First steps in a gently unfolding bilingual education with a world view

Our Early Learning program capitalizes the one-time window of opportunity for the acquisition of two or more languages at the level of native fluency. Our youngest children are already on first rung of the academic ladder. They are taught by native French speaking teachers who have precisely the same undergraduate training as their upper elementary school colleagues. The children transition from the security of home—in a loving and nurturing environment surrounded by peers—to begin an individual journey towards independence. They have much to learn.

Our program is differentiated, highly kinesthetic and child-centered—tailored to age-appropriate, biological rhythms. We recognize each child as a work in progress and we are careful not to rush or push the children beyond their natural unfolding capabilities. We build gross and fine motor skills—gently priming the children for the pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-numeracy skills acquisition that lies ahead.

What the children learn

As the children develop naturally they begin to see themselves more in relation to others and think beyond their immediate emotional whims and needs.  They learn self-sufficiency as well as collaboration.  They are encouraged to speak up for themselves and express their own thoughts and questions logically as well as following directions.  They learn active listening and the importance of waiting for their turn. They get used to new routines including daily rituals around basic needs, transitioning between activities, circle time and table activities. Our six learning domains are:
  • Appropriating language
  • Discovering writing
  • Becoming a student
  • Action and self-expression using the body
  • Discovering the world
  • Perceiving, feeling, imagining and creating
Through guided and free activities the children develop fine and gross motor coordination in space, as well as sensory, emotional, cognitive and relational skills. Vocabulary, syntax and the rhythm of language are built through daily verbal interactions in the classroom, in the context of physical activities and through stories, dance and song. We recognize all young children as natural artists. Children learn to draw to express and to represent. Visual, tactile, auditory and vocal activities increase the sensory capabilities of each child. Also through artistic endeavor, children enrich their faculties of attention, concentration as well as capacity for expression.

Gently, and in incremental steps, the children socialize and develop autonomy. This is the prerequisite for the critical thinking which will come so much to the fore in later years and is at the core of the School’s Mission.

Going Deeper: Maternelle Curriculum Domains

Becoming a Student


Assessment competencies:                      

- Respects others and respects the rules of everyday life                                                   
- Listens, helps, cooperates; asks for help                                                                          
- Demonstrates self-confidence and controls one's emotions                                          
- Demonstrates autonomy in daily classroom tasks                                                         
- Uses language to communicate with others                                                                   
- Participates in a conversation while staying on topic

Standards alignment: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale
Updated: January 2016

Utilizing Language in All Its Dimensions


Oral assessment competencies: 

- Communicates clearly with adults and other children through language and makes oneself understandable
- Speaks in syntactically correct and accurate language; rewords to make oneself understandable                      
- Practices various modes of spoken language: narrates, explains, questions, offers solutions, discusses a point of view  
- Recites several rhymes and poems from memory with expression                                                                

Writing assessment competencies:  

- Understands written texts without assistance other than the spoken language
- Demonstrates curiosity about writing; able to repeat the words of a sentence written by an adult; names the most important words from a book title or from a text                                                                               
- Verbally participates in the production of a written text; understands that one does not write as one would speak
- Differentiates sounds (syllables, vowel sounds, etc.)                                                     
- Recognizes the letters of the alphabet and understands the connections amongst the three ways to write: cursive; script; and block capitals; copies using a keyboard
- Writes one’s name in cursive independently                                                                  
- Writes a word using only letters or groups of letters borrowed from known words

Standards alignment: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale and for English: Adapted from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO Common Core, American Diploma Project Network, and the following state departments of education: Utah, Maine, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Georgia.
Updated: February 2016
Authors: Ellen Burdge, Director of Teaching and Learnin
g and Andrew Brown

Establishing Skills to Structure Thought


Using numbers assessment competencies: 

- Evaluates and compares collections of objects with procedures using numbers or other methods                  
- Creates a set for a given number; counts to compare two given sets; given a set, counts to create a match  
- Uses a number to express the position of an object or a person in a game, in a row, or to compare positions
- Uses symbols, oral or written, conventional or unconventional, to communicate information about a quantity  

Number sense assessment competencies:   
- Understands that the quantity of a given set does not change when the spatial arrangement of the set changes
- Understands that any number is obtained by adding one to the previous number and this corresponds to the addition of one unit to the previous amount    
- Quantifies a set to at least ten; composes and decomposes by actual and mental manipulation; says how much to add or remove for amounts not exceeding ten        
Exploring shape, size and number sequences assessment competencies:             

- Sorts objects based on characteristics related to their form; knows how to name any shape (square, triangle, circle or disc, rectangle) and recognizes some solids (cube, pyramid, ball, cylinder)                                      
- Sorts and lines up objects according to the criteria of length, weight, or volume
- Reproduces an assembly from a template (puzzle, tiling, construction)                     
- Reproduces and draws flat shapes                                                                                  
- Identifies a pattern and continues the sequence

Standards alignment: Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de la jeunesse et de la vie associative (DGESCO) Areo Mathematics Framework  ©Areo 2011. Adapted from the California Common Core State Standards March 2013
Updated: February 2016
Authors: Ellen Burdge, Director of Teaching and Learning and Andrew Brown 

Exploring the World


Placing self in time assessment competencies:   

- Distinguishes real and fictitious events from each other and can place them in the day, week, month or season
- Uses appropriate temporal markers (then, during, before, after, etc.) in stories, descriptions, or explanations                              
Placing self in space assessment competencies:     

- Locates objects in relation to self, to each other and to landmarks                              
- Finds a path in a familiar environment from its representation (drawing or coding)
- Develops a representation of a space that can be shared (construction of common symbols)
- Uses appropriate spatial markers (front, back, right, left, above, below, etc.) in stories, descriptions, or explanations                       

Exploring life assessment competencies:     

- Recognizes the main stages of development and the basic needs of an animal or plant through real life observation or images          
- Locates and names the different parts of the human body on oneself or a representation
- Knows and implements several rules of personal hygiene and healthy living                                                                     
Exploring matter assessment competencies:

- Chooses, utilizes and names tools and materials suited for a specific situation or technical activities (folding, cutting, pasting, assembling, working, etc.)
- Creates structures; builds simple models based on drawings or assembly instructions                                                                          
Exploring objects assessment competencies: 

- Uses digital tools: camera, tablet, computer
- Takes into account the risks of a familiar environment (dangerous objects and behaviors, toxic products)

Standards alignment: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale
Updated: January 2016

Acting, Speaking and Understanding Through the Arts


Assessment competencies:

- Chooses appropriate tools and mediums depending on the project or direction, and employs appropriate gestures
- Practices drawing to represent or illustrate, from a template or a real-life example, or from imagination
- Performs visual compositions, alone or in small groups, by selecting and combining materials, reusing techniques and processes
- Plays with one’s voice to explore tone, intensity, pitch, and nuance
- Identifies and reproduces physically, or with instruments, simple rhythmic patterns
- Solves problems using body, voice or instruments to create a project

Standards alignment: 
National Science Teachers Association NSTAMinistère de l'Éducation nationale, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche - Direction générale de l'enseignement scolaire – EduscolNouveau socle commun@2015
Updated: February 2016
Authors: Ellen Burdge, Director of Teaching and Learning and Andrew Brown 

Acting, Speaking and Understanding Through Physical Activity


Assessment competencies:

- Runs, jumps and throws in different ways, in different spaces and with different materials, for a specific purpose                        
- Adjusts and links one’s actions and movements depending on the object’s trajectory
- Moves easily through different environments (natural or contrived)                         
- Builds and maintains a sequence of actions and movements in relation to other partners, with or without the help of music          
- Coordinates gestures and movements with those of others during singing games
- Cooperates and performs different complementary roles; develops strategies to aim for a common goal

Standards alignment: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale
Updated: January 2016

Establishing Literacy in English


Listening and speaking assessment competencies:

- Begins to understand and follow one-step oral directions
- Understands and follows two or more step oral directions
- Shares information and ideas, speaking audibly in complete, coherent sentences
- Recite short poems, rhymes and songs                                                                            
- Relates an experience or creative story in a logical sequence

Reading assessment competencies:

- Recognizes own name and peers names in print
- Identifies beginning/end of book and/or story
- Knows some letters
- Participates in group reading (books, rhymes, poems, and songs) 
- Rhymes and plays with sounds and words 
- Memorizes pattern books, poems and familiar books 
- Reads top to bottom, left to right, and front to back with guidance
- Knows most letter names and some letter sounds
- Reads books with simple patterns
- Begins to read independently for short periods (5-10 minutes)
- Relies on illustrations and print
- Uses finger-print-voice matching
- Knows most letter sounds and letter clusters
- Uses growing awareness of sound segments (e.g., phonemes, syllables, rhymes) to read words

Writing assessment competencies:

- Relies primarily on pictures to convey meaning                                                             
- Attempts to label drawings                                                                                   
- Writes random recognizable letters to represent words                                               
- Tells about own pictures and writing                                                                  
- Uses pictures and print to convey meaning                                                                    
- Writes words to describe and support pictures                                                             
- Copies signs, labels, names, and words (environmental print)
-Demonstrates understanding of letter/sound relationship
- Matches letters to sounds

Standards alignment: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale/Columbia Teacher's Reading Workshop
Updated: January 2016

French American International School

Main building

150 Oak Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

Ph: 415.558.2000

Early Childhood Center

1155 Page Street

San Francisco, CA 94117

Ph: 415.231.5733

An independent Pre-K through 12th grade co-educational day school in the heart of San Francisco. The school delivers a rigorous bilingual (French/English) immersion program through middle school, culminating in either French Baccalaureate or International Baccalaureate program in its International High School.

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