French and English students begin discovering the English phonetic system at the end of the Moyenne Section (PK4). They begin reading and writing words they know, and combining sounds to make new words. They then discover the French phonetic system in the Grande Section (Kindergarten), manipulating syllables and using what they already know how to do in English. Learning reading and writing and discovering works of youth literature continues in both languages throughout the academic program.
In CP (1st Grade), they manipulate the language, observe differences and similarities, and begin noticing that certain phenomena are repeated: the plural “-s,” the “-ons” in French verbs following the first-person plural “nous,” the “-ed” suffix for past-tense English verbs. From all these observations, students derive the rules of spelling, grammar and conjugation to be studied from the CE1 (2nd Grade) environment to CM1 (4th Grade), and even afterwards, of course. These rules are applied in various written expressions: stories, poems, instructions, etc., in both languages.
The French program provides solid foundations in the areas of number construction, the four operations, problem-solving, measurement and geometry. We add to this The Village School touch: an expanded range of numbers, more in-depth learning of fractions combined with the US measurement system, and a great deal of exercises, affording opportunities to reflect and learn.
The French and Village programs are completely integrated: students explore the worlds of materials, objects and living things in accordance with the scientific method. They build fast cars, invent water mills, take care of animals and harvest vegetables from the garden, as well as discover changes in the state of matter.
The skills to be acquired in these subjects are the same in both languages: learning to read a map, use a timeline, read a documentary text or construct a temperature curve. Differing contents afford the opportunity to connect the histories and the countries for an open view of the world.
EXPLORING THE WORLD
In small classes, children observe what is around them, they learn to gain their bearings in time and space, inside the classroom first, then in the school and finally in a larger environment. Their landmarks are defined and time and space are gradually mastered: bit by bit, children discover the world.
In the French system, children practice penmanship starting in the Petite Section (PK3), learning to draw strokes, vertical and horizontal lines and circles, then making connections, waves and loops; finally they begin writing their first names, then words in cursive in the Grande Section (Kindergarten). At Village West, our students will write using “modern cursive,” a form of writing very close to the cursive method used in France.
The arts hold a critical place in both curriculums, whether visual arts, the performing arts, dance or music. For the youngest children, they are an integral part of the daily class routine and constitute language-rich learning situations. For older students, arts are integrated into the curriculum: we do geometry while studying Vasarely, Delaunay or Jasper Jones; we study the Renaissance while researching the inventions and paintings of Leonardo da Vinci. Here, too, we add the “Village touch" under the direction of a music instructor, the children sing and accompany themselves with percussion instruments three times a week, and they learn the violin starting in the Grande Section (Kindergarten).
EXERCISE AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION
The Petite et Moyenne Section (PK3 and PK4) practice exercise every day. They run, jump and climb, throw balls and dance. They also learn to wait their turn, follow the rules of a game and therefore sometimes… lose! All these activities are also great opportunities for language in action, a big advantage in bilingual learning. For older students, from the Grande Section (Kindergarten) to CM1, classes are taught by an athletics instructor four times per week. Students follow The Village School curriculum, but also incorporate games from around the world.