First Grade (Cours Préparatoire or CP)
American Curriculum (20% of school time)
To best meet the needs of our different student populations, there are two distinct first- and second-grade programs. The first is designed for native English speakers and the other for non-native speakers who have already acquired a good level of English fluency but require targeted instruction to build vocabulary, reinforce grammar, mechanics, and develop their oral English. Following this two-year cycle, students are mixed in grades three through five.
Language Arts: Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are at the heart of everything we do. Students have many opportunities to practice these four basic language skills during every session.
- First grade (CP): The first-grade mainstream class is for children who are native English speakers. First grade is the second of a three-year phonics cycle. SRA/Open Court Phonics is coupled with Reading Workshop, developed by the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University, to create a balanced and differentiated literacy program that gives explicit instruction in phonics while developing comprehension and a love of books and reading. Through modeled reading behaviors, mini-lessons, and direct instruction on reading strategies, first graders build good reading habits, learn about the world through reading nonfiction, work with reading partners, gain reading independence, and learn about book characters and various story elements. Writing skills, grammar, mechanics, and spelling are developed throughout the program during this first-grade year.
- First grade Plus (CP Plus): The two-year Plus program begins in first grade (CP+) and continues through second grade (CE1+). The Plus class is a gentle yet intensive, total-immersion approach to English enrichment, that caters to our non-native-speaking community. The focus is to build a rich vocabulary foundation (and grammatical structure) in preparation for reading in English. The students in this program begin their reading in English in the third trimester of CP, using the reading skills they have acquired through learning to read first in French and then transferring those skills to English. Having similar student profiles in the Plus classes allows the teacher to focus on similar second-language issues, and tailor lessons to the specific needs of the class.
The following curriculum features are identical for first-grade and first-grade-Plus students:
Art: First graders participate in an art class every other week. The art program's objectives are reinforced through hands-on projects using a variety of techniques. Over five years, students are introduced to the essential elements that structure the way one creates art, namely: line, shape, form, space, texture, value, and color. Every project includes a combination of these essential “building blocks.” Students work with gradually increasing agility, complexity, and intention, as they mature from grade to grade. Each year, art expectations become more sophisticated as the teachers support each student’s increasing ability to observe the physical world, as well as their ability to better express their feelings and ideas.
Examples of possible projects and lessons include painting an imaginary garden, reproducing a 3D object by pulling and pinching clay, observational self-portrait drawings, and exploring emotional value in colors.
Library/Technology: Students are given the opportunity to think and to question as well as to connect learning to their personal experiences. In the earliest grades, students select books for pleasure reading, learn about favorite authors, and form the foundation for problem-solving. The older primary students learn to differentiate fact from fiction and to critically analyze websites in order to hone research skills. In first grade, they learn about favorite authors, as well as how to identify illustrators and authors. They learn about the pleasure of reading for discovery or just for fun through storytime and book borrowing. The library contains hundreds of nonfiction topics, poetry, and picture books for their use as well as books for emergent readers to accompany them in this learning milestone.
Character Education: Six basic human values (respect, responsibility, self-discipline and perseverance, trustworthiness, fairness, and caring) are discussed and developed whenever appropriate during the year. The teacher may choose to create a lesson around one or several of these values. From everyday experiences that lead to discussions and writing topics, to the use of mentor texts which purport happiness, believing in oneself, and being a caring, determined, and responsible child, the various aspects of our character education program are woven into our curriculum daily.
French Curriculum (80% of school time)
All students follow the French national curriculum for first grade. Besides French reading and language arts, math, gym, and penmanship are taught exclusively in French. For more on the content and skills developed in French during the year, please visit the website of the French Ministry of Education.