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Maternelle: Preschool–Kindergarten

Children playing with sand

We refer to the Preschool - Kindergarten program at FASRI as "La Maternelle," and it is organized into 3 distinct sections:

1.) Petite Section = Preschool: 3 years old by September 1st;
2.) Moyenne Section = Pre-Kindergarten: 4 years old by September 1st;
3.) Grande Section = Kindergarten: 5 years old by September 1st;

The Maternelle – known as Cycle 1 in the French curriculum – acts as an integral foundation for the elementary level.

When a student at the French American School reaches the age of 6, they have already spent 3 years in our Maternelle program and are beginning to express themselves in both French and English.

For 3 years they learn in 2 languages; the skills they acquire in one reinforces their learning in the other. Children at this age may not even realize that they have begun their bilingual journey.

Our Maternelle curriculum is divided into the following 5 areas:

Using language in all of its dimensions

Language is a set of activities carried out by individuals when they speak, listen, think, try to understand, and gradually read and write; therefore, language has two dimensions, oral and written.

Oral language
One's native language begins to develop from early childhood; it is a long process and an essential part of the first learning that is accomplished in Maternelle.


  • Willingly taking part in communication.
  • Understanding and learning.
  • Exchanging and reflecting with others.
  • Beginning to think about language and building phonological awareness.

Written language
It allows everyone to share a common culture, to identify different types of writing and their functions, to begin to produce writing with adults' help.


  • Listening to and understanding written text.
  • Discovering the function of the text.
  • Beginning to produce writing and discovering its function.
  • Discovering the alphabetic principle.
  • Starting to write independently.

What is expected of the children at the end of their three years of Maternelle:

  • Communicating with adults and other children through language while making oneself understood.
  • Expressing oneself with precision and correct syntax; reformulating to make oneself better understood.
  • Practicing diverse uses of oral language: telling, describing, evoking, explaining, asking, offering solutions, debating a viewpoint.
  • Reciting from memory, in an expressive manner, several songs and poems.
  • Understanding written material through oral language for help.
  • Showing curiosity about writing. Being able to repeat the words of a written sentence after it is read aloud by an adult, or of a known title of a book or document.
  • Verbally participating in the production of writing; understanding how written language differs from spoken language.
  • Finding patterns in language.
  • Manipulating syllables.
  • Distinguishing sounds (syllables, vowel sounds, some consonant sounds besides occlusive ones).
  • Recognizing the letters of the alphabet and knowing the correspondence between the three ways of writing: cursive, print, all capital letters; copying with the help of a keyboard.
  • Writing one's name in cursive without a model.
  • Independently writing a word using letters or groups of letters taken from known words.

Acting, expressing and understanding through physical activity

Practicing physical and artistic activities contributes to the children's motor, sensory, emotional, intellectual and relational development.


  • Acting in a given space, within a certain time, on objects.
  • Adapting one's balance and movements to varying environments or constraints.
  • Communicating with others through actions with expressive or artistic purposes.
  • Collaborating, cooperating, facing an opponent.

What is expected of the children at the end of the three years of Maternelle:

  • Running, jumping, throwing in different ways, in certain spaces and with varying materials, with a specific purpose
  • Adjusting and continuing a series of actions and movements, taking into account the arrangement of objects and the need to overcome obstacles.
  • Moving with ease through varied natural or arranged environments.
  • Building and retaining a set of actions and movements, in relation to partners, with or without musical accompaniment.
  • Coordinating one's gestures and movements with those of others during circle games and song play.
  • Cooperating, fulfilling different compatible roles, facing opponents, elaborating strategies towards a common goal or effect.

Acting, expressing and understanding through art

This area of learning refers to visual art (painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, cinema, comic strips, graphic art and digital art).


  • Developing a taste for artistic activities.
  • Discovering different forms of artistic expression.
  • Experiencing and expressing emotions, formulating choices.

In fine and visual art creations:

  • Drawing.
  • Practicing decorative drawing styles.
  • Producing both 2D and 3D creations.
  • Observing, understanding and transforming images.

In the domain of sound:

  • Playing with one's voice and acquiring a repertory of rhymes and songs.
  • Exploring instruments, using one's body to make sounds.
  • Refining one's listening abilities.

In the domain of dramatic arts:

  • Participating in some theatrical activities.

What is expected of children at the end of the three years of Maternelle:

  • Choosing different tools, media and material according to a project or instructions and using them by adapting one's gesture.
  • Practicing drawing in order to represent or illustrate, faithful to either reality or a model or through invention.
  • Creating personal compositions with a repetitive decorative pattern; creating new designs.
  • Producing artistic creations, individually or in small groups, choosing and combining materials, using previously learned techniques and procedures.
  • Memorizing a varied repertory of rhymes and songs, performing them expressively.
  • Playing with one's voice to explore variations of intensity, timbre, pitch and nuance.
  • Identifying and reproducing, bodily or with instruments, simple rhythmic formulas.
  • Describing a picture, talking about a musical passage and expressing one's opinion or one's perception using relevant vocabulary.
  • Offering solutions when presented with problems or when participating in projects or creations, with one's body, voice, or noise-making objects.

Building the first tools for structured thought

Building number sense includes understanding the notion of quantity, its oral and written codification, and mastering the oral numeric sequence, as well as counting with a purpose. Throughout the three years of Maternelle, teachers support the gradual development of each of these dimensions and contribute to the notion of numbers. This is an essential step in children’s development that will prepare them, in a challenging environment, for the learning that will occur in elementary school.

Throughout the three years of Maternelle, children will also develop their knowledge and their points of reference concerning certain shapes and sizes, of which they already possess intuitive awareness. This development also relies on language.


  • Constructing the concept of a number to express quantities.
  • Reinforcing knowledge of small numbers.
  • Using a number to designate a rank or position.
  • Counting by rote.
  • Writing numbers using digits.
  • Counting with one-to-one correspondence.

What is expected of children at the end of three years of Maternelle:

Using numbers:

  • Evaluating and comparing sets of objects using numeric or non-numeric procedures.
  • Creating a set of objects for which a cardinal number is given. Using counting to compare two quantities, to create a set of a given size, or to create a set of the same quantity as a given set.
  • Using numbers to state the position of an object or person in a game, in an organized setting, in a row, or to compare positions.
  • Using verbal or written conventional or non-conventional analog symbols to communicate oral and written information about a quantity.
  • Deploying analogic symbols (verbal or written, conventional or non-conventional) to communicate oral and written information about a quantity.

Studying numbers:

  •  Understanding that cardinal numbers do not change when the spatial positions or types of elements change.
  • Quantifying sets of a minimum of ten: composing and breaking them down with hands-on manipulation and then mentally.
  • Stating how many need to be added or subtracted to obtain quantities of ten or less.
  • Breaking down numbers in order to explain them.
  • Counting by rote to thirty.
  • Reading numbers up to ten, written in digits.
  • Exploring shapes, sizes and organized sequences:
  • Grouping objects according to shape characteristics.
  • Naming certain plane figures (square, triangle, circle, rectangle) and recognizing certain solid figures (cube, pyramid, ball cylinder).
  • Classifying or arranging objects according to criteria concerning length, mass or surface area.
  • Reproducing an assembly using a model (puzzle, tessellation, assembly of solids).
  • Drawing or reproducing plane figures.
  • Identifying the way a pattern is organized and continuing it.

Exploring the World

As soon as they are born, children intuitively perceive certain spatial and temporal dimensions in their immediate surroundings through exploratory activities. One of the Maternelle's objectives is to gradually bring them to consider time and space as dimensions that are independent in relation to the activity currently taking place.

Children also possess mental representations that provide them with points of reference in their everyday life. To help them discover, organize and understand the world around them, teachers establish an essential experimental process, which will allow the children to observe, formulate questions, construct relations between observed phenomena, predict outcomes, and identify characteristics that are likely to be categorized. The children begin to understand what distinguishes living and non-living things; they manipulate and create in order to become familiar with objects and matter.

In the domain of temporal and spatial relations:

  • Stabilizing time markers.
    • Introducing social markers.
    • Consolidating the notion of chronology.
    • Familiarization with the notion of duration.
    • Experiencing space.
    • Representing space.
    • Discovering different environments.
  • In the domain of the living world, of objects and of matter:
    • Discovering the living world.
    • Exploring matter.
    • Using, making and manipulating objects.
    • Using technology.

What is expected of children at the end of the three years of Maternelle:

  • Situating oneself in time and space:
    • Situating experienced events in relation to one another by placing them throughout the day, week, month or season.
    • Arranging a sequence of photos or pictures in order to explain an experienced situation or a fictional story, indicating succession or simultaneity in an exact manner.
    • Using adapted time markers (then, while, before, after, etc.) in stories, descriptions or explanations.
    • Situating objects in relation to oneself, to each other or to landmarks.
    • Situating oneself in relation to others or to landmarks.
    • In a familiar setting, completing a path or course using its representation (drawing or code).
    • Creating the first attempts of a two-dimensional representation that can be communicated (constructing a common code).
    • Correctly positioning and using a sheet of paper, book or other writing surface, according to given directions, a goal or a specific project.
    • Using adapted spatial markers (in front, behind, right, left, on top of, at the bottom of, etc.) in stories, descriptions or explanations.
  • Exploring the living world, objects and matter:
    • Recognizing the main steps in plant or animal cycles, when observing a real organism or when looking at pictures.
    • Knowing the essential needs of certain animals and plants.
    • Locating and naming different human body parts, on oneself or on a representation.
    • Knowing and following some rules for personal hygiene or for a healthy lifestyle.
    • Choosing, using and designating certain tools and materials adapted to a circumstance or to specific actions (fold, cut, glue, assemble, activate, etc.)
    • Building constructions; constructing simple models following a blueprint or instructions.
    • Using technology: cameras, tablets, computers.
    • Considering the risks present in a close, familiar setting (dangerous objects and behavior, poisonous substances).

While the curriculum is structured, students at the French American School also enjoy:
• regular outings to parks, museums, & cultural events
• free play time
• music, poetry, & art
• socialization with peers and teachers from other countries.

Teachers use songs, games, movement and hands-on activities to help them achieve academic proficiency.

Language learning is monitored and guided carefully throughout the day. Games and manipulation foster the acquisition of mathematical concepts.

Throughout the Maternelle, the subjects remain largely integrated, and the social emotional component continues to be developed.

In addition to the five main areas in our early learning program we also emphasize the following skills:

Learning to work together and becoming a student

Our primary objective is to teach children how to interact with one another and to begin to learn basic norms of social interaction. They will assume responsibilities, learn the importance of accounting for their actions and listening to others. They will develop language skills that will enable them to better exchange ideas and feelings.

Skills include  

  • Respecting others and respecting the rules of everyday life
  • Listening, helping, cooperating; asking for help
  • Demonstrating self-confidence and controlling one's emotions
  • Demonstrating autonomy in daily classroom tasks
  • Using language to communicate with others
  • Participating in a conversation while staying on topic

By the end of their time in the Maternelle program our students know how to:
• participate in a respectful school environment;
• cooperate with others;
• when to listen, when to help and when to ask for help;
• how to exert control over their emotions and develop the confidence that comes from that;
• have a high level of autonomy in their daily routines;
• learn how to participate actively in their own learning.

Maternelle School Schedule

School hours are:

Early drop off:
7:30am to 8:15am

Maternelle School:
8:30am to 2:45pm

Afterschool program:
2:45pm to 5:30pm

FASRI essentially follows the calendar of the Providence Public Schools except for a one-week break in October.

“I am blown away by how they pick up the pronunciation. She is counting in French all the time and singing all the songs.”
~ FASRI parent