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Our La Maternelle Program for Ages 3-6

Les Lilas currently offers the Cycle 1 program, La Maternelle, welcoming children ages 3-6. This program includes the following sections:

  • Petite Section (PS) = Preschool
  • Moyenne Section (MS) = Pre-K
  • Grande Section (GS) = Kindergarten

Being in mixed age classrooms allows for a focus on individual development rather than grade-level standards. The classrooms sizes are small as well, which lets teachers personalize the curriculum so that students are truly engaged in their education.

At the end of primary school, students are prepared to embrace the academic challenges of middle school in either the French or American school systems.

At Les Lilas, we use the Montessori approach to introduce and teach all of our Cycle 1 lessons. Following is a brief overview of our lessons. You can learn more about the specific curriculum during our Curriculum Night.

What will your child learn?

Reading, Writing & Oral Language

At this age, children have the ability to learn a second language just as easily as they learned their native language. Before long, they are using their French to ask questions, talk to their peers, express ideas, and share feelings and thoughts. Guided by their French-native teachers, children acquire vocabulary by listening to their teacher, hearing stories or music, imitating their peers, and repetition of native sounds. Children also receive 3 hours of English instruction each week. They read classic children’s literature and modern stories to promote a love of reading.


In preschool, children learn how to count, sequence numbers, match numbers to pictures, classify and combine objects, and learn what order to apply when embracing a multi-step project. Geometry is introduced at the kindergarten level. Children learn to manipulate bands to create shapes and to plot on a grid, important steps to begin to understand measurement. While arithmetic is not formally taught until the first grade, children play games and manipulate objects to understand how equations work. To develop analytical reasoning, children learn how to group and organize objects to recognize patterns. They learn how to formulate questions and make logical conclusions based on given data.

Science / Culture

Children learn about the different forms of life, the life cycles, and habitat. They plant vegetables and flowers, handle insects and small animals. They also discover their own bodies with respect to function, hygiene, and nutrition. Children gradually comprehend the regular pattern of the timetable, the progression of time in a day, month, season, and year and gradually understand the cyclical aspects of time. Natural hazards such as fire or water are discussed in the context of safety. Children learn how to recognize unsafe situations and given tools on how to respond. Children at Les Lilas also learn basic world geography and history.


Children learn songs and develop their auditory, tactile, language, and presentation skills. In preschool, children learn French songs that they later present in a “spectacle.” The songs reinforce their vocabulary. Children explore a variety of instruments and begin to learn harmony and rhythm. In kindergarten, children recite songs but also learn how to recognize notes.


Children at Les Lilas create art projects and learn a variety of methods and materials sparking their imaginations and creativity. Thoughtful approaches to artistic techniques develop their fine motor skills as well as their analytical reasoning. The activities are organized in order to introduce the children to basic notions such as shapes, symmetry, and primary colors through the exploration of different media and techniques (cut-outs, collage, painting, pastel, clay). French painters are discussed, and field trips to museums reinforce classroom instruction.

“The most important period of life in a child’s life is the first one: the period from birth to the age of six. For this is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed.”

- Maria Montessori