By KACIE FLYNN
Waiting until middle school to start learning a foreign language is becoming passé. Some of Columbia’s pre-elementary kids are starting now.
La Petite Ecole, a French immersion school at 1111 S. Fairview Road, held its open house and “Discovery Date” on Saturday, Feb.26. The event was designed for potential, current and newly enrolled students and their parents to come and learn more about the school.
La Petite Ecole provides alternative preschool and pre-k/k programs for ages 2-6, taught predominantly in French. The curriculum is much the same as any other pre-elementary program including lessons in the humanities, mathematics and science.
“I saw what a golden opportunity this was for children,” said Joëlle Quoirin, the founder of the school. Quoirin, born in Mons, Belgium, is an MU graduate. After returning to Columbia from Virginia where she worked for another French immersion school, Quoirin decided to establish a school of her own.
“I love this community and I wanted to raise my children here,” Quoirin said.
“On the other hand, I knew no such school (French immersion) existed,” she later added. “So, I decided to create one.”
In 2005, the school began humbly in Quoirin’s basement. After three years, the program grew and moved into a space leased by the Community of Christ Church.
The Discovery Date not only gave parents an opportunity to speak to the instructors of the school, it also let them witness their child’s growing understanding of a foreign language. In one of the classrooms, parents proudly watched their children interact, in French, with teachers of the school.
Quoirin described the benefits of learning a second language, particularly at a young age. “It helps them build neurological connections that they wouldn’t get to create otherwise,” Quoirin said. “It helps them become more creative thinkers.”
La Petite Ecole is now enrolling new students for the 2011-2012 academic year. Another open house is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. April 9.