Frequently Asked Questions

How does the French School differ from the typical American preschool?
The French School incorporates many of the elements of typical preschool familiar to Americans. However, the French School goes a step further by actively developing the skills necessary for both academic and social success. There is a healthy balance of playtime and instructed learning in which art, music, mathematics, science, and literature are explored in a deeper capacity. And the children are doing all of this while acquiring a second language.
Is 2-3 years old too soon to start school?
Absolutely not. The French School, being an école maternelle, was specifically created to welcome this age group and all activities are developmentally age-appropriate. Language acquisition is more natural the earlier a child is exposed to a second language.
Will it be stressful for my child to be in French School if they do not already speak French?
Hearing French does not faze young children. They easily adapt to their new environment and within weeks, they are comfortably following directions and responding to questions in French.
How will my child transition to American school after French School kindergarten?
All skills and concepts learned at the French School are transferable and applicable to traditional schooling. Children in our immersion program tend to be better prepared than their counter-parts as they have already acquired many other skills, such as cursive writing, and are well ahead on the foreign language component.
What are the advantages of an immersion program?
An all French-speaking environment enables your child to learn French in the same manner as his/her native language. At the French School, French is not a separate subject, rather it is the language of instruction for the entire curriculum while exploring concepts in math, reading, science, etc. This method enables your child to directly associate words and concepts in French while establishing native fluency. Learn more about our benefits.
What is école maternelle?
École maternelle is France’s three-year educational program for young children prior to elementary school. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes France’s école maternelle as one of the foremost young child learning programs in the world. Learn more about école maternelle and our curriculum.
What if more than one language is already spoken at home?
Children have an amazing ability to acquire new languages. Often times, children who already speak another language have a better capacity to learn additional languages. Our total immersion program allows all children to successfully learn French, even if more than one language is spoken at home. Through continuous exposure to the language, children learn to associate words and concepts in French while learning proper pronunciation and intonation.
What happens after children complete Kindergarten at the French School?
Kindergarten graduates are invited to join our Continuing Education Program. Continuing education classes meet twice a week during the academic year to build on their French language skills while deepening friendships with fellow francophones. Learn more about Continuing Education.
Are there French classes for parents?
For those who wish to embark on the language journey with their children or to brush up on their high school or college French, the French Institute of the North Shore offers beginning to advanced level French lessons for adults. Many classes are conveniently scheduled while children are at the French School. Learn more about the French Institute of the North Shore.
How will learning a second language affect my child’s English language development?
It will have a positive effect as research indicates that children who study a foreign language develop a better understanding and command of their native language. Read more about the benefits of bilingualism.
Do children who attend the French School need to go to another pre-school or kindergarten?
The French School provides a complete education for your child that includes a comprehensive curriculum. Therefore, sending your child to another half day preschool or kindergarten is not necessary.
What if neither parent speaks French?
The majority of our parents do not speak French. It is not necessary to speak French at home in order for your child to successfully acquire the language as our program meets five times a week for at least three hours. During this time your child is totally immersed in the French language. The frequency and repetition of the language, along with the one-on-one attention your child receives at the French School provides the necessary reinforcement.
How can I reinforce my child’s French language at home?
At the French School, we have a variety of resources available to bring French to your home. We have books, films and classic French television series on DVD that are complementary for our families.
How will I know what’s going on at the French School?
To ensure that parents stay connected, the French School offers various communication vehicles including weekly summaries, theme outlines, quarterly newsletters and email reminders from administration.
How will I know the progress my child has made?
Parent-teacher conferences are held twice a year to discuss your child’s progress. Additionally, at the end of each theme, the Cahier de Vie, a compilation of songs, nursery rhymes and student’s work, is sent home for parents to see their child’s progress throughout the year.
How can I get involved?
We encourage all parents to be involved in our parent association, Cercle des Parents, which organizes social events throughout the year. Parents are also invited to volunteer to assist with art and cooking projects, school celebrations, story time and cultural presentations. Learn more about family involvement.
Does the French School offer any summer programs?
The French School offers summer camp in June and July. Summer camp is a great way for children to continue building on their French language skills while enjoying the outdoors. Learn more about Summer Camp.
The French School was the best choice we made for our son. It was important to us to give our son an education in French to prepare him for the 1st grade and the possibility of continuing his education in the French system.
- Mila D., Chicago