In Elementary School at the French American Academy, our bilingual curriculum gives students a proven path to academic and personal success. First, it includes measurable progress in core skills like reading, writing, math, and science. Second, but equally important, it provides students with superior cognitive development and social-emotional growth through various aspects of academic life.
The Elementary curriculum develops bridges between the French Ministry of National Education program and the US Common Core to ensure students build a strong foundation for success in middle and high school and beyond.
Two Tracks Available in Elementary School
This is the natural continuity of your child’s bilingual elementary education received at the French American Academy or at another French-American School. Students can speak, read, write and count in both languages at the 6th-grade entrance level.
Accelerated French Track
In this track, students are not required to have prior French language and can start without any French Knowledge. This track can also be the natural path for French-speaking families who didn’t choose a bilingual education during elementary years but would like to deepen their child’s ability in French.
Elementary School Curriculum
Language Arts: Language skills are at the core of the elementary curriculum. In both languages, we want our students to explore and strengthen all areas: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Mathematics: We work collaboratively with Math and the City, a national center of research so we can provide a strong curriculum in computation, algebra, geometry, and data organization.
En Route to Algebra 1
Mathematics are way more than memorization of facts and techniques. Most importantly, it’s about having children engaged in inquiry, proving their thinking, and communicating it to their peers. In order to achieve this, we set up activities and routines in every classroom that build number sense and encourage students to take different paths to solve problems.
Ultimately, our goal is to have our students take Algebra 1 in 8th grade.
Our students in grades 3 through 6 compete in Math League competitions in NJ and win prizes!
Mathleague.org runs the largest network of local and state math competitions at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in the United States and abroad. Students can participate in local contests challenging their mathematical abilities in four rounds of competition including Number Sense, Sprints, Target Problems, and a Team Round. These timed rounds allow students from various local schools to compete with one another for a number of individual, team, and school prizes based on their number of correct answers. Winners can then advance into the State Championships and eventually a National Championship.
Starting in elementary school, we start teaching mathematics using the Singapore Math pedagogical method. Click here to learn more.
We want our students to become confident readers and writers.In both French and English class, we choose the Readers and Writers workshop approach. In this case, each session begins with a mini-lesson. Then, teachers work with small groups or with individual students to explicitly teach strategies that address each child’s learning needs.
Elementary school’s French and English teachers teach together to help students build bridges between the two languages. Through the method MAK developed by Marianne Verbuyt students will take the time to study the structure of each language and compare them. Marianne Verbuyt has included visual tools in her method to make that learning easier, funnier and more efficient. With this well-designed and thoughtful approach for syntax, punctuation, and prosody the students develop a stronger mastery of each language.
Oral language is still really important in the elementary curriculum. So it is fundamental for children to develop their oral language skills to enrich their reading and writing. During their time at the French American Academy, students have different opportunities to improve these competencies.
For instance, here is a quick overview of moments when they practice, but also show all their talent as speakers.
- French language workshop to target specific oral language skills.
- Bilingual oral presentation starting in 1st grade
- Plays performed at the “End of the Year show”
- Student council : students are encouraged to convey ideas effectively so they can have an impact on their school community.
The Science curriculum focuses on the three branches of science: physical, life, and earth sciences. We provide students with bilingual co-teaching classes, where there is both a French science teacher & an english science teacher instructing the class in a bilingual fashion.
Our French and English teachers work together to strengthen students’ analytical thinking skills. We want students to be able to come up with different solutions and introduce research and analytical thinking. We expect students to become better writers who analyze reports.
Project-Based Method used in teaching Science The science curriculum aims to foster excitement and enthusiasm for learning science concepts through inquiry-based and student-active experiences.
For example: FAA’s seventh graders drew upon their knowledge of science, coding, and math to create hypothetical models showing how human behavior can affect a disease’s path through the general population. Drawing on real-world data, the students applied what epidemiologists have learned about the effects of masking, vaccination, and isolation. They created computer programs that would forecast a disease’s severity based on those different controls. Beyond requiring students to synthesize science, coding, and mathematical knowledge, this project showed students how proper data science can be used to combat misinformation and lead to better practices in public health.
The French American Academy has STEM teachers and programs for both middle and elementary school. While we have dedicated classes and curriculum for science and math, STEM is a separate class that focuses on collaborative projects and frequently includes coding. These projects frequently call upon students to reinvest knowledge from their science and math classes, using critical thinking skills in order to solve a problem or meet a challenge. In middle school, students are at a critical stage in their development, and they are starting to think more seriously about their future academic and career paths. This is why it is crucial to expose them to STEM subjects early on, so they can develop an interest in these fields and build a foundation for their future studies and career choices. Let’s look at a few of the STEM projects that our middle school students have recently undertaken.
The French American Academy started offering coding classes to its Elementary and Middle School students in 2018. As the years have passed, coding has been integrated into our STEM curriculum for younger and younger grades, and this year, for the first time, even our kindergarten students are learning the basics of analytical thinking and problem solving in coding class. Coding classes are an opportunity to engage all learning styles and ability levels, activating multiple skill sets and establishing the base for continuously developing digital literacy.
Testing in Elementary School
“Sometimes, the most brilliant and intelligent minds do not shine in standardized tests because they do not have standardized minds.” – Diane Ravitch
– FAA Testing Philosophy –
Testing at the French American Academy serves as a benchmark to demonstrate the effectiveness of our bilingual approach.
We chose MAP Assessment in English as it stands for Measure of Academic Progress, emphasizing the importance of progress versus achievements.
We do not solely focus on preparing students for assessments, as tests do not prepare students for the real world. However, we recognize the importance of preparing our students to take tests and manage the stress that comes with it. While testing is a part of life, it does not measure fundamental qualities like curiosity and empathy, which are essential for a child’s growth.
Encouraging children to take calculated risks, learn from their mistakes, and understand that growth comes from failures is the best way to set them up for success in life.
English – MAP Growth Assessment
What is MAP?
What is MAP? Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a computerized adaptive assessment program in English that provides FAA educators with the information they need to improve teaching and learning and make student-focused, data-driven decisions.
To who and when are MAP assessment given?
Students in grades 1 through 8 are tested two times per year in math, reading, and language usage. Students complete their 1st assessment in October to establish their starting benchmark.
In June, students complete the 2nd MAP assessment to measure how much they have progressed over the year. Educators use the growth and achievement data from MAP to develop targeted instructional strategies and to plan school improvement.
Why is it useful?
What matters for us at the French American Academy is to see students grow and reach their full academic potential. Therefore, choosing MAP testing came as a natural choice. After each assessment, teachers are provided with accurate, actionable evidence to help inform instructional strategies regardless of how far students are above or below grade level.
French – French National Evaluation & DELF Exam
French National Evaluation
As a private school accredited by the French Government, we are following the recommendations from the Ministry of National Education in terms of standardized tests. Therefore, in September, 1st and 2nd graders are taking a test in Math, Reading and Writing like any other 1st or 2nd graders who live in France.
What is DELF? The DELF exam assesses four language skills: listening comprehension, reading comprehension, speaking skills, and writing skills.
How is it taken?
3rd, 5th, and 8th-grade students at the French American Academy take the DELF exam (Diplôme d’études en langue française). Official diplomas are awarded by the French Ministry of Education for proficiency in French as a Foreign Language
Learning beyond the Classroom
Examples of past trips:
The 2nd and 3rd graders spend three days and two nights in the Catskills or in Connecticut. Animals and habitats, sustainable development, recycling and compost, and the “Flying Squirrel” are among the highlights of the trip.
The 4th and 5th graders travel for a complete week. In other words, they are out for 5 days and 4 nights. Typically, we alternate between two trips :
- A one-week trip to Quebec, Canada, for the cultural connection
- A historical trip to Boston and Plymouth for the social study curriculum.
“This was the best time of my life” was a repeated exclamation from participants upon their arrival back in NJ. Read more on field trips by visiting out field trips page.
Benefits of Field Trips
Educational Trips are a lot of fun! But beside this obvious benefit, there are many others that come into play. Among them, you can find :
- Developing cohesion among the group
- Building confidence
- Developing a sense of autonomy and responsibility
- Proposing different ways of learning
- Living an unforgettable adventure with classmates!
Discover, Play, and Learn
Our after-school enrichment program offers elementary students a variety of activities to discover new interests and have fun. From gymnastics and chess to piano and lego robotics, we aim to nurture a love for learning outside the classroom.
Discover what's new in Elementary School
Elementary School FAQs
In Elementary school at the French American Academy, French proficiency is not a requirement However, for students in 1st grade and up, we offer two French language tracks to choose from! The Bilingual Track does require some prior knowledge of French, while in the Accelerated French Track students do not need to know any French. But don’t worry, we understand that language learning can be challenging and offer additional support to ensure all of our students succeed. Plus, our nurturing environment is perfect for helping students thrive and reach their full potential.
In Elementary school at the French American Academy, all of our French teachers are from countries where French is the official language and speak French as their native language and all our English teachers are native English speakers.