Teaching Philosophy

A.P.E is not affiliated to any one particular pedagogic approach, but instead brings together several methods, notably those described as 'alternative', and relying particularly on certain tools created by Montessori, Freinet (discussion groups) and Decroly (outward looking), and including books, photos, and short films, tools which are present in today's society.
One of our fundamental goals is to preserve children 's individuality through small groups of 8 children with one adult leading per group. The small group sizes and the teacher to pupil ratio is one of A.P.E 's strengths and allows children to feel more secure and confident to explore the world around them.
All our children follow the National Education program <http://www.education.gouv.fr/guides-parents/>, in preparation for elementary school : language, discovery of the world, living together, mastering coordination, and arts and crafts.
At A.P.E.,we choose major themes to underpin the learning process. In this way, children are immersed in a subject holistically so that they can approach it intellectually, sensorially, by the movement of their bodies or creatively.
APE is a bilingual preschool that teaches English through an immersive and integrative approach.
English is learnt in parallel to French, mimicking the way children naturally learn language. This approach takes advantage of children's intuitive ability to hear and learn phonemes and grammar in spoken language. This prepares them for later formal study of English, and eventually, fluency.

We do this by having teachers who speak exclusively in English throughout the day with the children. English is weaved into the themes the children are exploring. For example, at morning song time, children will sing songs and read books based on the themes in both languages.
Activities are led in both languages and we also take advantage of spontaneous moments to speak English - for example singing happy birthday in both English and French.
Our philosophy places children at the center of their discoveries and their learning.
A.P.E allows children to progress at their own pace within A.P.E's daily routine and classes. The idea is to awaken their curiosity to learn and not to impose work that does not yet make sense to them.
In that respect, children are not required to be potty trained to enroll in A.P.E, and A.P.E's small group sizes allows us to accommodate this. Similarly, A.P.E. accepts children for whom feeding and falling asleep alone is not easy. At the same time, children are taught basic principles of self-care and working in a group: washing their teeth after meals, washing their hands after using the toilet, helping to tidy up, setting the table, etc.
The relationship between the parents and A.P.E is essential to children settling into the school. For this reason the headteacher and teaching staff favour close links between the school and families, and proposes regular meetings to take stock of progress over the year.
Finally, a child psychologist joins the teaching team's weekly meeting once a month to offer advice to the team and to better understand any emerging difficulties individually or collectively amongst the children.







PRACTICAL EXAMPLES OF OUR PHILOSOPHY

PETITE SECTION (age 3)

At age 3, a child is only beginning to learn language. This influences our choice of working themes, which must remain easy to learn. The principal objective is to provide a learning dynamic which is predictable and reassuring.
The integration of themes into the proposed activities is influenced by the children's interests (games, curiosity, emotions etc.)
At the beginning of the school year in September, the introduction of a red fish into its fish bowl is integrated across two work themes:

- The colours
- The form of the circle
After two months, a book which covers these two themes is introduced to the children: "Petit bleu petit jaune" (i.e. little blue, little yellow) by Leo Lionni.
Examples of integrating the work themes into specific subject areas:
- physical education : children make circles with their bodies
- cooking : children bake round shortbread cookies
- fine motor skills including drawing: children try to draw circles and identify colours

MOYENNE SECTION (age 4)

In the Moyenne Section, where most children have experience of working in groups and whose language skills are more developed, the work themes are spread across several subject areas. The beginning of the school year is dedicated to the hedgehog, for example. This theme is then integrated into all subject areas:

- artwork : the children draws lines which remind them of the hedgehog's spines.
- reading :children are immersed in many stories where the leading character is a hedgehog.
- cooking : the children prepare "hedgehog" recipes (with a hardboiled egg and cucumber for example)
- music : children learn songs about hedgehogs, such as "la chanson du herisson" from the musical story by Emilie Jolie.
- arts and crafts: children make hedgehogs from chestnuts and leaves which they found in the Jardin du Luxembourg. The hedgehog theme is also an opportunity to learn about autumn.
Themes are chosen based on the children's questions and daily events (the change of seasons, siblings, birthdays etc.)

Using the concept of the passage of time, children are introduced to numbers, counting, reading, writing, drawing, working in groups etc.
Each topic presented is adapted to the particular age group and to the abilities of the children.