October 21, 2021

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Little Agnes Nursery: Bilingual immersed in French and English

This story is the story of a lifetime: Yuriko and Frederick are among the many French people who fell into the spelling of the British capital. Three years ago, they welcomed a little Agnes, who already wants to provide a better education for Little Agnes Nursery. Laurent, a friend and colleague I met while working as an Assistant Cultural Consultant at the French Embassy in the United Kingdom, was included in this beautiful family project. Laurent, an active promoter of multilingualism, is with Frederick, one of the founders of the French Bilingual College London (CFPL) and most recently with Lycee International de Lundres Winston Churchill (LIL).

Born to a Franco-Japanese mother, Agnes has to become bilingual if not more, and thanks to her parents, offers her a future full of promise and possibilities. The “Little Agnes Nursery” kindergarten, as the name implies, is a cultural heritage of a mix of nationalities, cultures, exchanges and sharing.

LePetitJournal.com London spoke with Laurent Butt, Yuriko Cagodani and Frederick de la Bardari, who have been firmly convinced of the benefits of bilingualism in education since the age of three. Here, they tell you about their project and explain why immersion early in bilingualism is a significant benefit in children’s development.

Can you tell us more about the origins of the Little Agnes Nursery Project?

How and when did the idea come up? Our daughter Agnes tried several nurseries, one of which was called “The Little House Nursery” in Pimliko. We found that this establishment is very good even though it does not have a “bilingual” feature. But last year, due to the specific economic and health environment, the owner of “The Little House Nursery” was unfortunately forced to close his company permanently. We lived for three months from March to June 2020, both locked up at home, both working, with a little electricity everywhere and needed more attention: the nursery was an essential need for us. We could not go on like this! It was not “just” asking for the services of a nanny because we loved our daughter and asked her to interact with the other children as well. Based on our various experiences with school projects, most of them are bilingual, and we wondered if it was possible to create something at this point. We are in July 2020.

At that time, we took our project with the cooperation of some staff of the old family and were very much in tune with its family situation and we reached the point of finding the place. After some disappointments, at the end of October 2020 we fell in love with a place in the center of Vauxhall County. The only drawback: previously used for offices, we had to completely change the function of the room according to our plan. After several months of delays in getting approval from Lambert Municipality, we arrived in February 2021 when the lease was firmly signed. Work began immediately and lasted until mid-April. Then, we had to think about the structure and layout of the nursery system, the different awareness rooms and the educational and pedagogical aspects. On June 10, an offshore inspector came to inspect our establishment and the founder’s ability to run a crutch; So it was only after this date that we were officially authorized to welcome the children.

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Can you briefly recall what the concept of “nursery” is in the UK?

This is not really a nursery school. Depending on the company, a nursery in the UK can accommodate babies from a few months, usually up to 5 years old. This is actually similar to UK maternity leave, which is often less than French. So here we have a mix between nursery and nursery school, which goes from the beginning of child care to preparing the child for primary school. Thus nurseries supervise children of different ages, which include different educational profiles and sports activities. To Little Agnes Nursery, we welcome three month old babies with the perfect title “Nursery & Preschool”.

According to the official British EYFS (Early Year Foundation Level) program dedicated to early childhood, the nursery will be divided into three age groups, each with its own educational objectives: 0 to 2 year olds and 2 to 3 year olds starting learning, then 3 to 5 years per “preschool” area It should be said in the transition between the end of nursery school and the beginning of primary school. So this is not a simple daily routine: children have real learning, education and fun content.

Is it equivalent to school programs?

They are not exactly school plans, but rather “guidelines”: without strictly speaking plans, there are clear guidelines and goals to be achieved based on the learning and development of the child’s abilities. For example, we have seven main areas of learning that are “learning areas”: “communication and language”, “personal, social and emotional development” (social communication, but also the freedom to learn to manage one’s health, for example, the individual and the general). Motor skills “(holding a pen, or walking, running, jumping), of course” mathematics “,” reading and writing “, but also” understanding the outside world “(awareness of cultural differences, discovery nature) as well as everything related to the arts … each of these In the section, you will find learning objectives that each child should achieve according to age and ability.

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What are the differences with the day care policy in France?

In France, crச்che and nursery are separate from kindergarten, which actually has a school program. In most formal French nursery schools, you have one teacher per class: In nurseries, not all speakers are required to have teaching diplomas, even if they have early childhood certificates. The big difference is also concerned with the fluidity between age groups: in the UK, they are not as segregated as in France. Here, each child is considered unique regardless of their age: so they develop at their own pace, more or less fast, hence the adaptation of the “program” to each one in the nursery. We have all the guidelines we have told you before, but they change the evolution of each child according to his preferences or facilities. Overall, we can say that we have a mixed English nursery between the nursery and the French Nursery School.

Are there any ratings?

Yes, of course an informal assessment is done regularly, but formalized the assessments on 2 year, 3 year and 5 year caps. Finally establishes change with elementary school.

Can you tell us more about Little Agnes Nursery?

We are actually in the concept of an English nursery, with a specific component of bilingualism, i.e. immersion in both French and English. All of our added value lies in this heart. Our ambition is not a simple nursery, but to create a place that can stimulate children to grow under the good and careful guidance of adults. In addition, an introduction to the Japanese should be provided in the coming months.

How to stick bilingual to such small children?

When you learn a language with your parents, that is to say by inserting them. Both languages ​​are spoken naturally by the speakers: the staff is made up of native English speaking instructors on the one hand and native French speaking instructors on the other. Even if the child responds in another language, everyone is encouraged to speak with the children only in their own language. For example, if you ask a child a question in French and he answers you in English, you should continue to speak with him in French. Remember that even if he answers you in a different language, he will still understand your question in French. Although it may seem “mixed” to an adult, from a child’s point of view it is still two distinct languages ​​under construction. The characteristic of one or another language makes this distinction easier for the identified practitioner.

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Due to the essence of the EYFS program, it is difficult to guarantee equal expression for each child in each language, although adult-led activities are 50% -50%: sometimes in English, sometimes in French.

So we offer real double immersion for children in both languages. Some schools only offer bilingual from the age of three: we value immersing children as soon as possible because the brain then develops into a full construction. Therefore, as soon as this assignment of the two languages ​​occurs, the child will be able to integrate them quickly, as automation and reflexes will be generated. Of course, giving children bilingualism leaves an incredibly wide and open field for their future studies!

What language do children usually speak to each other?

You need to know that children, especially at a young age, are chameleons. When you have a mainly French speaking group, almost everyone will embrace Moliere’s language. It is so incredible, this ability to transform, at such a young age! Furthermore, some studies show that bilingual children, on the whole, are better at math than non-bilingual children. This will improve the child’s intellectual abilities in some way, or make certain parts of the brain less stressed in monolingual children.

When do you open your doors? Do you have maximum reception capacity?

We will be officially open from July 5th, we can accommodate up to 55 children, but there are different measurements depending on age. Since the child protection rate is different, the number of staff will vary depending on the number of children under the age of: For example, for children and children up to 2 years of age, there should be one adult for every 3 children. Here again, it shows more personalized supervision for younger children than “classic” French kindergartens.

An open day is scheduled for Saturday 10th July, you can already book your arrival time by email or phone. To learn all about Little Agnes Nursery, visit the website: littleagnes.co.uk!