The Lower School bilingual program combines the pedagogical core requirements of both the French Ministry of Education and the framework of standards put forth by the California State Department of Education.
The Elementary School is structured in accordance with the French “cycle” system. Cycle 2 includes the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades, and Cycle 3 includes the 4th, 5th (and 6th) grades. The number of hours taught in English increases gradually from seven hours in 1st and 2nd grade to 10 hours in 5th grade. Our team has worked to harmonize the French and American programs to offer students a unique, rich, challenging, and balanced program that meets the requirements of both the French and American systems. Throughout Lower School, students at SDFAS build their knowledge, analyze, think critically, create, and use these fundamental skills to bolster future learning. In addition, because of the great diversity of nationalities and cultures that exist in our school’s community, teachers integrate aspects of citizenship and community into the curriculum.
Francis Carlier, Lower School Pedagogic Director
Students benefit from individualized programs designed to ensure positive academic progress. This support is designed to help students who are struggling temporarily, as well as to address the unique needs of highly talented pupils.
Projects reinforce the SDFAS curriculum by giving students the occasion to work on specific and concrete actions: humanitarian projects (food collection, debate about short movie…), Earth Week, Jog-a-Thon (students run a certain amount of time after finding a sponsor that will fund the humanitarian project), field trips (close to the rich environment of the school or several hours away for three days), the school gala (all classes participate in producing a piece of art that will be offered for auction), winter and end-of-the-year shows.
Evaluating student performance is an ongoing process that allows teachers to monitor progress, remediate difficulties, and confirm the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Our assessment tools function to help our students reach goals and succeed. SDFAS uses ERB and proprietary testing, as well as French Ministry standardized tests. By the end of the Lower School cycle, our students typically perform well above or above average in both languages.
In accordance with the civic and moral education program, each class votes for two delegates. The election occurs at the beginning of the school year, and delegates are elected for the entire school year. The students assume an active role in school life and play their roles very seriously and enthusiastically. Once a month, all delegates meet with the school and elementary directors to discuss ideas for improvements in aspects of the school community that they have generated or any other issues that need to be addressed. Those meetings are prepared in the classroom and provide opportunities for the students to act as engaged, responsible citizens and representatives of the school community.
Living, growing, and finding one’s place in a social environment like SDFAS can represent a challenge for some students. Teachers pay close attention to any issues that may occur during a day at school. A specific Canadian program (Vers le Pacifique) is followed in class: the teacher takes any occasion to provide the students with tools they need to find solutions to their issues.