My Own Education (and now yours)

Last night I spent four hours at EABJM (the school) for the Reunion Parents – Professeurs (Meet the Parents/Meet the Teachers) for primaire (elementary) and college (middle school).  Two hours each.  Two hours of a thorough review of the curriculum and program for the kids in the adaptation programs.  I took notes like a crazy women except when Sarah’s science professeur was speaking because he doesn’t speak English.  Then I put down my pen and just starred blankly.  I noticed others doing the same and wanted to curse the few parents that were nodding and laughing at his apparent jokes.  I don’t like to be a step behind.   In any case, it was a tremendous evening.  These kids are going to be pushed to the limit this year in so many ways, but the experiences they are going to have; well, I’m a bit jealous.  Let me share a few highlights:

First, the school they are attending is EABJM, Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel.  The mission of the school is  “to promote international understanding through the bilingual education of a multicultural community of students, the fostering of pedagogical innovation, and the constant exploration of best practices in the context of an ever-changing global environment.”  You can check out their on-line brochure for more details

All three kids were accepted into the adaptation program.  There are approximately 100 students (K-12) in this program every year.  Sarah has 15 in her class.  Elizabeth and Julian have nine (but they are combined with adaptation 4th graders for their French lessons so that class is 18).   Their classes will be 85% French, 15% English.  The 15% English is English class (and science for Elizabeth and Julian).  The goal is they will be able to speak, read and write in French by the end of the year so that they can (if they were to stay) move into a true bilingual environment the next year:  50% French, 50% English.  Then they would also begin Mandarin, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Everything they do will be focused on the global perspective which is quite cool.  They have a few “specials” during school and lots of extra-curricular but the school is focused on developing international understanding based on education.  They believe full immersion means not just learning a language, but learning a culture.

Elizabeth and Julian are in CM2.  CM stands for cours moyen which, simply translated, means “average”.  It is the year after they have developed their basic skills in education before moving on to college (middle school).  5th grade.  Just like in the States, they are the oldest kids in the primaire school.  Here is what they have going on this year:

They have French every day for many hours.  But it’s divided into programs that include videos of everyday life in France where vocabulary is introduced, memorized work, spelling, 2-3 minute speeches in French every Monday morning on their weekend (cannot be read!), and a skit at the end of the week pulling together all they have learned. They all read aloud from a French story they are reading together and they take a field trip once a month during French class to the market, the boulangerie (bakery) and so on, to experience French in it’s setting.  They are encouraged to be in an extra-curricular activity that is in French, not English.  Both of them are playing soccer with coaches and most players speaking French, so that’s good.

Math is the same for adaptation as for the “regular” students…but all in French.  And all with a fountain pen.

They have sport twice a week.  Monday is in the gym.  Thursday mornings they walk down the street and swim for 90 minutes.  All year.

They have art on Fridays and computers begins in October.  They also keep a class blog where they are posting in French.

Their larger field trips include trips like attending the La Boheme exhibition in November and studying the painter Raphael at the Louvre.  They will have a larger field trip in June.

They have theatre every other Friday and on opposite Fridays is Geography and World/European/French History.

Their English class includes literacy anthology, dictation, vocabulary, spelling (had a test today) and several novels they will read together as a class.

Science will have a different topic each trimester:  electricity, mixtures and solutions and solar energy.

Cursive is huge here and I can see their handwriting changing already.  Both Sarah and Elizabeth came home the first day and said, “I need to print out a cursive page and practice”.  Elizabeth was so impressed by the handwriting of some of the other girls in her class.  Gives her a bit of incentive to write!  They are also loving the fountain pens.  Julian is all about the engineering of the pen and how it actually works.

Sarah is in 4eme (quatrieme) which is considered the fourth or central cycle.  They count years backwards here so next year she would be in 3eme (troisieme).  Here is what she has going:

Their French focuses on grammar, vocabulary, literacy and punctuation.  They will be doing lots and lots of copying and writing at home so that class time is left for speaking.  They believe in interaction so they will take them out of the classroom almost once a week to use and learn the language.  There is going to be a lot of creative work and theatre sketches.

In English, 4eme focuses on Greek mythology, anthology from the U.S., vocabulary and a new novel to read during each holiday (vacation), of which there are four.  They had five books to read over the summer.

In geography, they begin with the world, then Europe, then France.  Beginning with the world is easier when you are just learning French.

In history they will cover the French Revolution, Napoleon and recent history (the 1700’s).  Isn’t it funny what they consider recent??

Math is hard.  I couldn’t even begin to take notes.  Thankfully Sarah is a wiz at math.  Again, homework in fountain pens.  All in French.

Science is an integrated program with four labs each week and one theory session.  They are beginning with the solar system (because it’s simple to learn in French) but will cover topics like investigating pressure, processing data from capillarity, food chains and the combustion of glucose, the carbon cycle, ions and molecules, embryo comparison, physics and sea urchins.  Just to name a few.  In French.  Teacher doesn’t speak English.  Are you exhausted yet?

Art is heavily emphasized because they believe art is a universal language.  When they take field trips, they in integrate art history with French history with the science or engineering of a work of art with the French language.  There are numerous art extra-curricular activities and one of the art rooms is on the roof so they can “create” outdoors.

She has her own school email and access to the school website with all their homework assignments.  Parents are not to lord over this website.  In fact, students were told not to share their passwords with their parents because it is their responsibility to check the site and get their homework done, not their parents.  (There was one mother last night that was having a very difficult time with this concept.)

Sarah also has two gym days and they are full 1/2 days.  Some units are required and others they have selected.  I believe we are currently in swimming and rock-climbing.  Badmitton is later along with some others.  I can’t remember everything she picked.

Her schedule changes from day to day as far as when she gets out.  There are also some built in study sessions for French and science.  Currently all are required to attend but eventually it will just be the kids that have questions or kids that are asked to stay to get extra help.

She also has some bigger field trips incorporated into the year.  They will head to the opera, Notre Dame, many museums, Versailles and a larger trip in June.

Wednesdays are 1/2 days so everyone is done by 12:45.  Wednesday afternoons are when many have their extra-curricular activities and music lessons.  Lunch is long:  90 minutes.  College-aged kids like Sarah are encouraged to use the time to study and do homework after they have eaten.  Elizabeth and Julian’s classes go across the street to a larger outdoor area for basketball, etc.  After school most younger kids are picked up.  The older kids hang out at a cafe across the street.  It is a mob over there!

All have friends and are arranging dates and get-togethers.  Apparently the adaptation kids get very close because, especially at Sarah’s age, you are going to every class together and experiencing everything together.  A couple days ago Sarah said they all walked to the Seine with their French teacher and were all trying to skip in unison with linked arms.  I believe that is a good sign.

When I sat down to write this, I was planning to tell you about my day today.  I guess that will have to wait for another time.  It’s time for me to cross the river and walk them home.  Sarah is already coming home by herself.  Another sign of independence, I guess.

I’m quite certain the synapses in their brains are firing like crazy these days.  Ready for the weekend and a bit of down time.

Categories: Kelley's Kilometers | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “My Own Education (and now yours)

  1. Linda

    Yes, I’m tired just reading about the kids’ schedules but what an opportunity! Sarah will be so prepared for high school. Tell me about your dad. I hope he is doing well. Are your parents visiting right now? We had an all together workout with Steve & Kellie this morning. We miss you. Glad to hear the kids are being challenged.

    Keep writing.

  2. Colleen Hartman

    I think I have said wow to a couple of your blogs. This would rate a double or triple WOW! I am exhausted in reading the class expectations. I am sure that I would fail”fountain pen” to say nothing of math in ink..Good grief! and science in French. To think that at a much older age I adjusted to going to different buildings at ISTC and these kids are running all over Paris….art in the museums of France…unbelievable. I’m not sure that I approve of the parents not knowing passwords, but I am old. I’m sure that each of the kids will experience frustrations at times but what an experience. I so admire all of you and expeciallly Kelley and Tom for providing this life changing experience for S.E &J. Hugs.

  3. Mary

    Awesome! And brings back memories of my first days in French classes in Avignon. Staring blankly because I couldn’t understand a WORD and crying because I didn’t know how on earth I was going to get through and pass my classes! Amazingly, by the end of four months, I could understand most everything and could pass exams. I love sharing this journey with you as it brings back lots of fond memories. Thank Kel and Tom and kids. Enjoy every minute…and kids, when you hit a wall with language, remember to push just a little bit harder and it will come. Be patient with yourselves an take deep breaths when need them. 🙂

  4. Karen Hoffmeier

    The synapses in my brain are firing just reading this. Well, to say the least this is going to be a wonderful year of learning for those three kids. Like you, I am a bit jealous that I never had these opportunities. I am happy that they are working on the cursive writing. It is too bad that that skill has sort of dropped out of the curriculum in the U.S. Sorry that Tom missed the meeting. Hope he had/is having a wonderful time in London. Enjoy the social activities over the weekend…….I believe everyone needs some down time. Thanks for keeping us so well informed.

  5. Kathie

    Holy Cow! It sounds awesome! I am just in awe. Lots of kids wouldn’t even be able to do what you are saying. What an experience for your kids. Remind them how lucky they are. 🙂 Love ya! Keep the stories coming!

  6. This is all so exciting! I am so delighted for you all! You aren’t going to want to come back to the states after 1 year, you know!

  7. Martha and Tom Engle

    This curriculum boggles our minds. But so happy and envious that you all are having such a great opportunity and adventure. It’s good to get away from home sometimes to try something new- so, Julian, we’re glad you’ve had an ice cream cone!!

  8. Ibe Molina

    Hello, your blog came across when searching for EABJM reviews. Now 2 years after your post, I would like to know your thoughts about the school. My kids would go to 2nd and 3rd grade (US) and I had such an awful experience with a private school in the US that I’m paranoid about a new school. I understood that the adaptation program initially is lots of french and less english in order to get them up to speed with the french, was that hard for your kids? How is EABJM academically? Lots of homework?

    Many thanks,


  9. Thank you so much for writing this! I’m considering going to EABJM next year, or Ecole Victor Hugo. I really don’t like wearing uniform (EIB has a uniform) as I have a worn a uniform for the past four years. I really want to go to EABJM, but I don’t know if they have a school bus/shuttle. I don’t live in paris so it would save me some time to go on the school bus.


  10. Mark Hamill

    Hi, my kids are starting in the EJM adaption. Program in sept and i would love to hear how your kids found the experience!!

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