La Maternelle

maternelle2.jpgAutumn has arrived here in France, and for us a monumental event: our 2½-year -old has officially started school at the local public Maternelle, and it has only now started to dawn on me how serious this all is. From now until she is 18, the French state is taking charge of her education!

In her class there are 22 kids from all walks of life supervised by 1 teacher and 1 teacher’s aid. This class is actually relatively small as most classes in Paris have about 28 kids in them. Can you imagine 28 two-year-olds with 2 adults supervising them?? Sounds crazy to me, but it seems to work!

The main aim of the Maternelle is to teach children social and motor skills (I think it is hilarious that the state feels responsible for teaching its little citizens these skills). The classrooms are actually really cute; there is a playdough table, a puzzle table, a gold fish tank, a toy garage and a toy kitchen. During the day the kids have free play time and also listen to stories, sing songs and play in the outdoor courtyard. Most stay from 8.30 – 4.00 pm and have lunch and a nap at school. Maternelle is not compulsory (that only starts here from 6 onwards) but I don’t know anyone who does not send their children. The Maternelle is a French institution as much as the croissant is!

The school also takes the kids out for field trips. They go to the cinema, the museum and the zoo. They mostly all travel by public transport. It is quite a site to see 22 two-year-olds with 2 adults supervising them, jumping onto a Parisian metro and crossing busy boulevards. To be fair I have never heard of a child being lost and left behind.

My daughter seems to have taken to it like a pig in mud. I did get a big lump in my throat when I saw her trundling off with her little cartable on her back, ready to join the big children’s world.

– Emilie


Comments (7)

September 10, 2008

Oh gosh Emilie, even I get a lump in my throat. What a big girl she already is!
This morning I made a lunchbox for Sara for the very first time. Wow!

September 10, 2008

my daughter Sofia started school last week, she is four. Her big eyes seemed to get bigger as we got closer to the school, with a look of excitement and” scaryness” all rolled into one. I was the same.

The start of a big adventure for us both.

September 10, 2008

and my nearly 10 year old son is quizzing me with with questions about the birds and the bees! how they grow up so fast. i still remember his first day in school and how he cried to be away from us (boys….)! and now he wants to know exactly how he was made! oh dear…

September 10, 2008

Tommaso started “scuola materna” yesterday, he loved it!
Today he ran into the class without even looking back. I guess his social skills are already developed!

September 11, 2008

I can’t believe our kids are SOOO BIG!

September 12, 2008

I know, it just goes too fast!

October 13, 2008

[…] a child at the Maternelle means that I have been spending my precious evenings occupying myself with a generation-old task. […]

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