Maternelle and Lower School

What is the required age for enrollment in the Maternelle?

Applicants to our Maternelle program must be born on or before September 1st (3 years of age for PreK3; 4 years of age for PreK4; and 5 years of age for Kindergarten) in order to be eligible to enroll for the next academic year. The birthday cut-off for French citizens is December 31st.

What is the daily schedule at the Maternelle?

PK3 and PK4
8:00-8:40 Welcome time in classes
8:40-3:15 Class (including nap time, recesses and lunch break)
3:15-3:30 Dismissal

Kindergarten
8:00-8:30 Welcome time in classes
8:30-3:15 Class (including nap time, recesses and lunch break)
3:15-3:30 Dismissal

Before and After School Care
Childcare and special after school activities are available for an additional fee from 7:30am to 8:00am and 3:30pm to 6pm. Read more about our After School program.

How can we support our child at French American if we have no French at home?

70% of our families speak no French at home.

Parents can do much to support the learning of their bilingual children by modeling appropriate and correct language in their native tongue. When children have meaningful and varied reinforcement in all their languages, bilingual acquisition is optimal.

Will bilingual immersion undermine my child’s learning in English?

The cognitive advantages of immersive bilingualism are well researched and documented. Early on there may be some lags in reading scores and other measurable skills, but this is temporary. By 3rd grade, there is little interference or confusion, and students are able to thrive studying a single curriculum taught in their two languages.

Is our child entering Kindergarten without French at a disadvantage?

Our teaching approaches to French immersion have proven highly successful for students entering Kindergarten without
French. We have found no discernible correlation of this to academic success in later years. The presence of a majority of peers in Kindergarten classes who joined us in PK-3 or PK-4 (with newly minted accents and age-appropriate vocabularies) only enriches the bilingual environment for the newcomers.

Children joining in Kindergarten soon feel at ease and, after a short “silent period,” begin speaking French in full sentences. Additionally, a specialist teacher supports small groups of new learners of French with regular class activities without physically separating them from the rest of the class.

Does French American + International provide accommodations for learning differences?

Yes. Our teachers are used to accommodating learning differences and view this as part of reaching and engaging every student in every class. Students who have learning differences work with our counselors and learning specialists to develop personalized strategies, and are later allocated extra time on standardized tests.

What does French American + International mean by inclusion and diversity, and why is it so important?

Every one of our students benefits from interactions, discussions, and shared activities with other students from various backgrounds, including: countries of origin, cultures and religions, ethnicities and races, family structures, income levels, learning styles, native languages, physical abilities, political beliefs, gender expressions, and sexual orientations. For us, bilingualism, internationalism, and an early appreciation for diversity in all its forms are keys to understanding and communicating across other cultures. We engineer this deliberately by bringing together families and educators from a wide range of backgrounds. Together we strive to create a shared culture that develops compassionate, confident, and principled students who will make the world better.

Why French rather than Spanish or Chinese?

Since our founding in 1962, we have been proud to be a part of the global network of French schools abroad. We consider the French educational tradition to be one of the very best, as it is highly rigorous and maintains its standards by a high degree of direct control from the Ministry of Education. French citizens place a very high priority on the role of education and educators in society, and this has greatly contributed to its success internationally as well as domestically.

Middle School

What is the structure of the middle school curriculum?

In the Middle School, 60% of instruction takes place in French, 30% is in English, and 10% is in the student’s chosen third language. Students have different teachers for each subject: Math, Histoire-Geographie, English, Science, French, PE, Theater, Music, Art, and Third Language. Starting in 7th Grade, students also take Physique-Chimie, and 8th graders have two additional classes: Making Media and US History.

What language can my child learn in the middle school third language program?

Students choose between Arabic, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish. Students take the same language for all three years of Middle School and can continue their chosen language in high school whether they choose the French or International track.

Does the middle school program students for the SSAT?

The SSAT is not a requirement to apply to International High School. Test preparation for the SSAT is not part of our middle school curriculum.

Are middle school students allowed to leave campus during the day or after school?

All middle school students are allowed to sign out on their own at or after 3:30pm. Grade 6 and 7 is not allowed to leave campus during recess or lunch. Grade 8 students, beginning in December, may leave campus during lunch only. Parents can withdraw this privilege at any time.

What does the middle school program offer to support my child’s transition to and development in Middle School?

Our faculty is composed of experts in early adolescence. Our Advisory Program and our Learning Support team help students gain independence, become organized, and adapt to their new environment. Our Learning Support team works with individual students and small groups on essential academic abilities such as organization, time management, and study skills. Our Counselor teaches classes in each grade level on topics relevant to your child’s development such as peer pressure, healthy relationships, communication, self-esteem, sexual orientation, gender expression, bullying, alcohol and drugs, sexual decision-making, and more.

What is Advisory?

The Middle School Advisory Program at French American builds upon our community to strengthen each student’s sense of belonging and create a safe, fun, and engaging space for them to grow personally and socially. Our program aims to foster an understanding of what it means to be a responsible citizen of our school, our local community, and beyond. Your student’s Advisor is one of the most important people for their social and emotional development and transition to Middle School. Advisors provide academic and social coaching, advocate on behalf of their student within the school, and serve as the primary liaison between school and home.

What trips are offered through the Global Travel Program in Middle School?

In Grade 6, students travel to Washington D.C. to learn about US Civics and History as well as the Civil Rights Movement. In Grade 7, students take a linguistic trip, which in past years have included China, Italy, Morocco, and Nicaragua. In Grade 8, our students participate in an exchange program with two schools in Paris, Notre Dame de Sion and Ecole Alsacienne.

High School

Do students need to speak French to enter the high school?

No, students do not need to speak French or any other second language to enter International High School. Students in the IB track can choose to start Chinese or French, or continue those or Arabic, Italian, or Spanish.

What makes International unique?

Our students are smart, independent thinkers who enjoy academic challenges and like being around more eclectic classmates than traditional college preparatory schools provide. We call ourselves “International” for a reason. Our teachers and our student body are from all over the world. The international element is present in all of our classes and activities. Our baccalaureate programs ensure that there is never an intellectual glass ceiling. Our global travel programs are second to none. Working on a daily basis alongside other intelligent individuals from differing backgrounds guarantees that your day will never boring and predictable, and you will learn more.

What does International look for in a student?

This is the most interesting question. We recruit an astonishing range of individuals. We are not a one-size-fits-all school and we do not have a particular student applicant profile in mind. We want the best and brightest and most interesting students. To be accepted at International, you must convince us that you are ready to do the work and ready to bring all your unique qualities and intellectual curiosity without reservation.

If your middle school grades and standardized tests scores are strong and we can discern some extra, special talent or quality that will add value to our diverse, internationally-minded community, then it is likely that we will offer you a place.

If you have known all along that you are smart and curious, but your grades and standardized testing do not tell the whole story, do not despair. You can earn a spot if you can demonstrate to our Admissions team that you have the potential to thrive in our unique academic environment and are 100% ready to reinvent yourself. We have seen plenty of unconventional, late bloomers emerge as academic leaders and go on to the very best colleges. 

Whatever your profile is coming in, it will be up to you to take charge of your own destiny. Here at International we will look you in the eye and take you seriously, both as an individual and as an emerging young adult. We are exceptionally supportive, respectful and inclusive, but we do not coddle.

In summary: you can be feisty or on the quiet side, super-organized or a little dreamy; but you must be smart, be literate and numerate, have sparkle, be willing to explore your passions, and, on your best days, provoke and inspire your teachers and your peers.

How can I make friends in a freshman class that has French American students who already know each other?

Students arriving from our own 8th grade will be anxious to meet you. Many will approach you directly even on the first day and you will make new friends fast. These returning students grew up respecting and enjoying differences, and are interesting, open, and friendly. They love their school but, just like you, can’t wait to reinvent themselves in the
exciting new social arena of high school.

Our students look after each other and really value individuality and eccentricity. The kinds of things considered cool at International include: asking the teacher tough questions in a seminar class, making a wild spirit day costume, delivering an elegant oral presentation, being on a winning team, starting up an original club, or writing—and performing live—your own alternative folk song.

Why should I receive a Baccalaureate diploma?

The French Baccalauréat (Bac) diploma and International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma are considered among the most
prestigious and rigorous programs in the world. They are both two-year mini degree programs that are among the best in preparing students for college and life beyond school. There are currently more than 900,000 IB students and 750,000 Bac students globally. International is proud to be the first IB Diploma school in San Francisco and the 4th IB Diploma School in the country. We have over 40 years of experience offering the IB.

It is also worth mentioning that the IB examinations actually take place in May of your senior year, long after February, when most US college acceptances are settled. While you will be able to use the results of the IB for college credit, it is the fact that you are taking the IB and, of course, obtaining good grades along the way,  that will get you into a great college.

Does the IB Diploma somehow replace a regular high school diploma?

The IB Diploma does not replace regular high school graduation. At International, you receive a recognized 8-semester transcript, with a regular GPA. The big difference being that the course titles on your transcript look really good in the eyes of college admission, because you will be engaged in so many IB honors classes. You still get focused preparation for SATs and personalized college counseling. You still get your regular high school diploma.

What is the difference between the International Baccalaureate diploma and the French Baccalauréat diploma?

The French Baccalauréat is the diploma of choice for our students who are fluent in French, and feel completely at home in a French approach to teaching and learning. The International Baccalaureate is ideal for students who are
just beginning second language studies, or would like to pursue an international track of classes. Both diplomas are considered among the most prestigious programs in the world, and offer students the opportunity to self-direct
their learning and immerse themselves in challenging academic studies.

How are learning differences viewed at International?

Learning differences are viewed as part of reaching and engaging every student in every class by our teachers. In fact, we want all students to be fully aware their own learning style. Under the guidance of our excellent Learning Specialist, we have many successful students who routinely receive extra time and other accommodations on exams, standardized tests as well as the final IB and French Bac examinations. We cannot dilute the work but we do offer great support.

Do you have a student laptop program?

We have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) laptop program. This step was a logical progression in our modern learning program. By using a BYOD program, we are ensuring our students are prepared for college and the workplace trained on appropriate devices for writing, data processing, and computer programming.

How many spaces are available for Grade 9 applicants?

There are 45 available spaces for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Why doesn't International offer AP courses?

AP classes are great, but we specialize in the IB.

It would be redundant for us to offer AP classes because our IB classes offer similar benefits. Both programs provide college level honors classes. In terms of gaining Admission to selective colleges, and being "advanced placed" in more interesting, advanced classes once you get there, both programs will serve you extremely well.

We prefer the IB because of its integrated, holistic approach. In a single, seamless package you explore six chosen subjects, write a major research essay, satisfy the action, creativity and service component and participate in the Theory of Knowledge seminar class. Intrinsically there is significantly more emphasis on extended writing and personal research in the full IB Diploma.

The AP has come a long way in recent years but a large proportion of their assessment is tied to multiple choice questions which can be graded inexpensively by machine. The development committees for each AP subject maintain excellent standards but, as the detailed course descriptions reveal, they tend to work as autonomous entities.

What does French American + International mean by inclusion and diversity, and why is it so important?

Every one of our students benefits from interactions, discussions, and shared activities with other students from various backgrounds, including: countries of origin, cultures and religions, ethnicities and races, family structures, income levels, learning styles, native languages, physical abilities, political beliefs, gender expressions, and sexual orientations. For us, bilingualism, internationalism, and an early appreciation for diversity in all its forms are keys to understanding and communicating across other cultures. We engineer this deliberately by bringing together families and educators from a wide range of backgrounds. Together we strive to create a shared culture that develops compassionate, confident, and principled students who will make the world better.