La Petite Ecole is a part time program launched last fall on our Sausalito campus. It welcomes up to 14 very young children (2+ yrs of age) and in a warm and nurturing environment, gently preparing them for preschool.
We are talking with Claire FRANCE who is running this program. We asked her to reflect on her first year.
LFSF : La Petite Ecole was launched in Sept 2017 and you are now finishing the first year of this new program dedicated to the very young (2 years of age). How was your first year?
CF : This first year went really well! I believe our 14 students learned to love school while respecting the people and equipment around them. We enjoyed discovering new things daily as we explored nature, matter, practiced language - and more specifically the French oral language.
If the children of Toute Petite Section still have a limited capacity of attention, they have, however, the faculty to be interested by everything! Their open-mindedness, their spontaneity, and their constant questioning were springboards to put them in learning situations. And these little students are now fully ready to enter Petite Section (preschool) as serenely as possible!
LFSF : How does La Petite Ecole program fit into the Maternelle program?
CF: La Petite Ecole is part of the Maternelle program with its own specific learning objectives.
Petite Ecole students gradually discover language, the world they live in, while developing motor and social skills through observation, manipulation, imitation and creation.
La Petite Ecole in not a substitute for but a preparation to the preschool class. Halfway between daycare and preschool, La Petite Ecole class is a bridge that prepares children to become students.
LFSF: This first year in La Petite Ecole was also your first at LFSF and with such young children. How did this transition go for you?
This was my first time teaching such young children and I will not deny my amazement at the gap between La Petite Ecole and preschool! I had to adapt myself to my young students’ needs - their need for play, for rest – and especially their different ways of approaching their new social environment.
The children of Toute Petite Section are small beings in the making, who are not yet fully capable of expressing their emotions with words. So I had to kindly meet their basic needs and gently give them the right tools to express their feelings. I had to dig deep and rely on patience, imagination, creativity, empathy and kindness in order to give each one of my students the best care and attention.
This first year at La Petite Ecole was undoubtedly a rich experience in my career as a school teacher and I am proud and impressed to see the progress all children in the class have made!
Sharing the year with Odile, who assisted and supported me by adding her experience to mine also made the year very special to me.