The day can be as long or as short as you want. Many mums will chose to have a short day when their child starts. You may find that 9:30 to 3pm suits you perfectly.
However, we try to give you maximum flexibility. Our fees are all inclusive, and we are open from 8 am to 6 pm. So if you work, or if a longer day at Les Trois Oursons suits you better, you can drop off your toddler at 8 am, and come for pick up just before we close at 6pm – all at no extra cost.
Once we have agreed which days you will attend each week (we ask for the same days per week for the whole term), you can arrive and leave when it suits you best. If you have a usual time and want to come early one day, just give us a call when you’re on your way, so we (and your toddler) can be ready for you.
If you need more flexibility as to which days you want to come, we suggest you take a full time place and use it as you wish (many parents do this at our other settings).
For non-French families, if your budget permits, we suggest coming for 5 days/week, even if your child stays for shorter hours: daily exposure to a foreign language works wonders!
Children are assigned to one of three classrooms when they start, according to their start age.Each classroom has several staff members, which allows several activities to occur at the same time in each of the rooms. We carefully consider the children to provide the appropriate range of stimulating activities for them.
The same or similar activities can be pitched at quite different levels by the key people. For instance, a very young child might simply enjoy looking at the pictures in a book, where as an older child might be doing phonics work when s/he looks at books. Similarly, construction blocks can be a question of practising gross motor skills, or could involve arranging, sorting and more sophisticated balancing. They key for us is to ensure we know the children well so we can pitch the right activities in the right way for each of the children according to their abilities.
We encourage and give space to the children to develop at their own pace. Children learn to walk, or potty train at their own pace and not necessarily in sync with their other learning and development. This is perfectly normal, and we will change the room, the routine and the way we encourage each child to ensure s/he feel motivated during this process.
A child’s interest is also of vital importance. We use the following example to explain what we mean by this: we had a little boy who had no interest in counting or any maths activities. However, he was very interested in vacuum cleaners. So his key person obtained a few pages filled with vacuum cleaners from a catalogue. The boy enjoyed the fine motor skill exercise of cutting out these Hoovers. He then enjoyed sticking them onto colourful cards. At this point, the key person took three cards and left all the others for the boy. She slowly started counting hers. She had three. With no further prompting the boy wanted to count his. By engaging his interests, counting was suddenly relevant to him.
Our philosophy is that by engaging a child’s interests, we will support (or “scaffold”) their learning. This combination of knowing the children, taking their level of development and their interests into consideration, allows us to support children to thrive. This approach is used in all the classrooms, and is the most influential factor of how we care for them children and teach them.
The exact division of the classrooms is determined simply by putting the oldest group of the children in the Lions room, the middle group in the Penguins room, and the youngest group in the Bunnies. Usually our rooms are full all year round, so a child will usually stay in the room all year.
Some years we have little movement (for example, if the previous year was very young overall, then few if any of them will leave for Primary school at the end of the year). In these cases, children will probably stay in the same group for more than 1 year.
Occasionally if a few parents happen to move (e.g. back to France) at the same time, we can suggest for the same number of children to move from one class to another. We would take in a wide variety of factors such as confidence, the days the child attends, bonds with key person and friends-groupings to suggest the change to achieve the smoothest transition possible. We would not wish to overcrowd any classroom, and so we do not move up large groups of children when there is not the space to do so. Furthermore, it is not always in the best interests of a child to move up as quickly as possible, as that child might advance more in their current room – and moving up is not necessarily a sign of a child being more advanced. In all cases, after careful consideration, we would always involve the parents’ in this decision.
In all these different cases, the children do well in our care because of our focus on each child’s individual interests and abilities as detailed above. This is the most important factor – irrespective of the classroom, each child will always have age appropriate activities presented to him/her.