Greetings from Aix-en-Provence, France!
I have had the opportunity to work at an after-school program/club that offers a number of different classes in English ranging from pottery to yoga classes. Traditionally French children did not attend school on Wednesdays to have a day to practice religion at home since France is a secular country. Now many schools continue this tradition and therefore the program where I am completing my student teaching holds classes all day Wednesdays for students who are out of school.
Each week I go to my placement on Wednesday morning and observe two classes. The first session is a parent-child class with children ages 2-3 years old. During the 45 minute session, my Cooperating Teacher goes through a number of different songs in English as they practice colors, numbers, and a different vocabulary focus every few weeks. After singing, they continue into an arts-and-crafts where the parent and child work together to complete the desired project. This session, in particular, is extremely different from anything I have observed or participated in because the parents are present for the entire time. It is a completely different dynamic as the parents typically speak to their children in French while my CT speaks almost completely in English.
The second session I observe is an older class of students ranging from 5-8 years old. This session is similar to the first parent-child session on Wednesdays, but it typically involves a game in English and the art they complete has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary and the “lesson” for the week. I have a much larger role in this session because there are fewer adults and more students who need assistance. The teacher for this class uses more French during the session as the range of language abilities of the students is much larger.
These first few months I have spent at my placement have been very interesting, and I continue to notice and observe different aspect each week. Being able to observe two different types of sessions allows me to gain a better insight into the French culture and expectations as I can watch parent-child interactions and how children behave in a somewhat classroom environment.