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Lycee Francais La Perouse

755 Ashbury Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

(415) 661-5232


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

From the Director:

The Lycee's Maternelle program is characterized by a high esteem for the intelligence and abilities of the preschool-age child. In a warm, supportive environment adapted to their age, children are challenged, encouraged to think independently, and to act responsibly, thus fully realizing their potential at each developmental level.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
  • Preschool library
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
  • Games
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught From the very first day of preschool, the French teacher addresses the children in French. For the first few weeks, the teacher will frequently repeat the sentence in English. Children quickly learn the meanings of common words and phrases, and before long, they begin to use these familiar terms themselves. By the middle of the first year, the teacher rarely needs to use English. Listening comprehension develops more quickly than speaking ability. Midway through the first year most children readily understand the French they hear every day at school. During their second year they begin to speak well and in 1st grade, with the addition of reading skills, most are truly 'fluent.' In addition, Maternelle students spend at least 5 class hours per week in English language activities with a native English-speaking teacher. Another essential aspect of the Lycee's Maternelle program is socialization. The school day is highly structured, incorporating specific periods for free, self-directed play. Children learn to express themselves in a manner appropriate to the time and place, and to distinguish the difference. They are taught to respect others, and to understand the consequences of their behavior. Teachers rarely resolve disputes directly - this is something the children are encouraged to do themselves, acquiring both autonomy and a sense of responsibility and mutual respect.

From the Director:

Each subject and every activity in Maternelle is linked to the others. Rather than arithmetic, science and language being treated separately, the curriculum focuses on general concepts, such as logical thinking, which incorporate something from each field. For example, recognizing that learning has a physical component at early ages, the Maternelle program includes a daily gymnastic session, in which preschoolers must navigate a parcourse of balance beams, climbing structures and crawling tubes. The parcourse is specifically designed by the teacher to reinforce a concept, such as placing oneself in space: top-to-bottom, and left-to-right. Similar motions are then practiced on a smaller scale, during graphic exercises on paper. Although it wouldn't be apparent to a casual observer, the children are learning pre-writing skills. By kindergarten, they should be able to reproduce any shape in a defined space. Once actual writing begins in 1st grade they are able to write legibly, in cursive, within a few weeks. Similarly, the gymnastic sessions can be designed to help acquire mathematical concepts. Music, art, stories, theater, puppets and field trips complement the 'academic' subjects introduced during the Maternelle years. Although reading does not formally begin until 1st grade, preschoolers learn to write their own names and to recognize the names of their classmates and familiar words such as the days of the week. Both the San Francisco and Marin campuses have extensive bilingual libraries and video collections, with a rich selection of preschool-level books and tapes for classroom and home use. Teachers frequently read to the class, and children can listen independently to their favorite books on audio cassette during free periods in the classroom. During their Maternelle years, they become enthusiastic 'readers.'

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

The French curriculum is organized as a series of multi-year Cycles, during which students must acquire specific knowledge and demonstrate given competencies. The concept of Cycles acknowledges that learning occurs in a different way, and at a different pace, in every child. For example, some may be proficient readers very early, while others, equally bright, take longer. Children begin learning to read at the start of 1st grade. By the end of 2nd grade, which is also the end of a Cycle, all should be readers.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The Lycee is an American private school with a French public school curriculum. Lycee Francais La Perouse is run by the parents, with financial responsibility residing in the Board of Directors, elected from among parents and other community leaders. Pedagogical direction, however, is provided by the Agence pour l'Enseignement Francais e l'Etranger (Agency for International French Education) under the guidance of the French Ministry of Education.

Our mission is unique, as is the cultural diversity of our student population. This produces a blend of structures and traditions particular to our school.

France's renowned Ecole Maternelle has been imitated in many countries. The French preschool is an integrated and essential first phase of the educational system. Maternelle teachers, who have the same 4-year college degree as primary teachers, have solid training in child psychology and physical development, as well as education. They begin preparing the youngest children for the work they will be asked to do later in elementary school.

A Typical Day

8:15am to 8:45am Welcome, games, playtime

8:45am to 9:45am Small group activities or motricity, whole group activities

9:45am to 10:45am Snack and recess

10:45am to 11:45am Activities such as bicycle, painting, library, games, songs...

11:45am to 12:15pm Lunch time

12:15pm to 1pm Recess

1pm to 1:45/2:15pm Naptime to 3:15pm Small groups activities, games, story time...

3:15pm to 6pm Daycare if necessary

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Open house, provision of learning goals, parent-teacher meetings, connection to services/activities in the community, biannual summaries of student learning.Our preschool is a part of a K1-12 school program.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

Children visit their classroom the day before school starts. Preschool is a part of the school, so children can see older children.