| Interview by Marie Boutry-Peyron | May 2021 |
I heard that Les Petites Etoiles is opening a third bilingual nursery. Can you tell us more about it?
We are just in the process of opening a new bilingual nursery in West Hampstead in September 2021. Oliver Bertin, Amandine Alys and I have always believed in offering high quality education and care to young children. This new nursery will be bilingual English & French, Montessori and with an introduction to Mandarin. We welcome children from 6 months old.
Preparing for the opening of a new nursery is an exciting part of the project. Using the experience we have gained from opening Les Petites Etoiles at Tufnell Park and Crouch Hill, we are looking forward to welcoming new children at West Hampstead.
We have organised our first tours of the nursery with prospective parents, before we carry out the building works, and the reaction has been really positive. It’s a beautiful building – with two playgrounds.
Do all the children continue in bilingual schools after they leave nursery?
The programme we have developed covers all the contents of both the French and English curriculum, so our children are prepared for both school systems. Our children go on to French, bilingual and English schools once they leave nursery. London has a wealth of educational paths.
Les Petites Etoiles is a big believer in cultivating children’s independence or “autonomy”. Could you explain that in more detail?
Children need a mixture of adult-led and child-motivated learning. We believe in teaching children how to do activities by themselves. Independence and choice making, are important skills to develop and master. Teaching children how to make choices and how to select an activity, requires consistency from the team. We allow children to practice and repeat tasks, which gives the children a sense of accomplishment and improves their self-confidence. Teaching children to learn is hugely rewarding for us and the children.
Why did you choose West Hampstead for the new nursery?
Many families who live in and around West Hampstead contacted us saying they wanted us to open a bilingual nursery for their children. I believe every nursery should be bilingual or trilingual. Exposing children to languages when they are young has many benefits. The learning of two languages develops mental plasticity which is not possible in the same way for children who learn languages at an older age. Learning to recognise sounds and tones at a young age is very beneficial, which is why we are offering Mandarin in some of our nurseries.
Bilingualism helps children be more flexible, organised and structured in their thinking processes. These skills benefit children for life, as well as opening and broadening their minds, in turn, opening doors of opportunities in their future.