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French immersion preschool to open

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 17, 2013 06:00 am

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Deciding the first step in your child’s academic journey requires a lot of consideration. Now there is one more option for Airdrie parents to chew over with a French immersion preschool opening this fall.

“I saw a real need for this in the community,” said Jackie Astrom, the founder of the new school.

Astrom is a kindergarten teacher at École Edwards Elementary School and said she has seen enrolment in the kindergarten program at the school grow significantly since they began offering French immersion kindergarten classes.

“The (kindergarten) program is booming and (the preschool) is another way to support parents,” she said. “It is a way to get kids in sooner and expose them to the language.”

The new preschool, École Des Petits Amis, is for children between the ages of three and four and will be the first French immersion preschool in Airdrie.

French immersion is currently only available to children in kindergarten through Grade 12.

In the past, Airdrie parents interested in a French immersion preschool program had to take their tykes to one of the few programs available in Calgary.

The location of the new school will be determined in the next few weeks but registration is now open for the fall 2013 school year.

The program at École Des Petits Amis will be play-based, which Astrom said is developmentally appropriate for preschool-aged kids.

Children will be taught French in a “very gentle manner” said Astrom, adding techniques include singing French songs, reading French storybooks and playing French games.

“We teach French the same way (parents) teach English,” said Astrom.

The school will also have activities, such as playtime with Play-Doh and colouring to enhance socialization and fine motor skills.

The preschool will also offer classes to help parents with French basic vocabulary and information on supporting their children in the immersion program.

“French immersion (programs are) truly designed for parents who don’t speak French,” she said of the reasoning for the parent classes.

Astrom will be hosting a parent information night on Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Rotary Community Room at Genesis Place.

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