To provide a high-quality, play-based education to young children in an environment that encourages curiosity, problem solving, and autonomy.
Le Soleil School is committed to giving all children in our care the best advantages possible to succeed in life. Our French immersion program is designed to help achieve proficient bilingualism in children—something that research has shown to promote significant cognitive advantages (as well as the obvious benefit of speaking more than one language).
Beyond language acquisition, Le Soleil staff encourages the healthy cognitive, motor, social, and other development of children through developmentally-appropriate activities. Our focus is on supporting each child’s unique journey through their early life, in tandem with the child’s guardian(s), to give them the skills and confidence they need. Teamwork between those at home and those at Le Soleil is key to our success.
Our teachers come from all over the world. We have a diverse, multicultural staff that helps teach students from a young age about embracing and celebrating differences in background, experience, appearance, and ability. Staff members hail from Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Rwanda, Switzerland, and the United States to form a team that leverages many different viewpoints to make the best experience possible for our students.
We believe in real experiences, not screen time. Aside from our optional once-a-month preschool movie night, screen time at Le Soleil does not exist. Research shows that learning in early childhood comes from engaging and interacting with the people, places, and objects around a child. Children need interpersonal interaction and big body movement for healthy development! That's why we're committed to providing a screen-free environment as part of our intentional environmental design, and it's why—despite the allure of its ease as a tool for busy, working families—we strongly recommend avoiding the use of screens like televisions, tablets, and phones at home, too. We, like you, want the very best for the children in our care.
Play-based early childhood education
We use developmental milestones rather than birthdates to indicate a student's best fit for our different age groups, though children must be at least 3 to move to our Grande section because of licensing for the building they move to at that time.
Infant care (Petite section) - 6 weeks to ~15-18 months for most children
Our infant care program is designed to make your child feel comfortable and at home, while focusing on healthy gross motor development for our youngest students. We provide a safe environment to explore and learn and dedicated, experienced staff for infants. Our staff receives training on infant growth and development and we provide parents with regular updates on the child's progress in all developmental domains.
With early exposure to French, your child will learn two primary languages at once with the ease of learning one! Research shows that infants regularly exposed to more than one language have the chance to develop more complex phonetic learning (the learning of the sounds that are associated with spoken language) and that they have the easiest time of any age group at acquiring more than one language. Language development depends greatly on regular social interaction, which is why we use nearly 100% French at Le Soleil and encourage parents to use English at home (with some ASL in both environments making the transition even easier for your infant).
Toddler care (Moyenne section) - ~15-18 months to ~3-3½ years for most children
We at Le Soleil know that your child's language, cognitive, social/emotional, motor, physical, and perceptual development are all in overdrive during the toddler years. Our programs work to support all of these important and interconnected developmental domains through hands-on, play-based activities. Research shows that guiding a child's self learning is effective and helps to boost their confidence and problem-solving abilities.
With developmentally-appropriate, open-ended activities that allow children to learn about the world at their own pace, your toddler is able to create the foundations to support their learning throughout life. Le Soleil's toddler program introduces early literacy materials at this age in order to provide the building blocks for reading and writing that they'll use in preschool and beyond. Storytelling and dramatic play are also important pieces of language and social development which are encouraged regularly.
Preschool (Grande section) - ~3-3½ to ~5 years for most children
The preschool program at Le Soleil focuses on continued support of your child's holistic development, with special focus on language and fine motor skills that are required to begin the life-long journey of literacy. With our French-immersion approach, we encourage lots of literacy practice in English or your home language outside of school so children build up their proficiency in both languages.
Le Soleil's preschool program is focused on the developmental appropriateness of activities; therefore, we incorporate literacy into our play-based curriculum in order to keep your child interested and learning in a fun and engaging way. At Le Soleil, our staff is committed to providing your child the social, cognitive, motor, and other skills to succeed in school and in life.
A typical day in the preschool program will include name-tracing (supporting early writing skills daily), work time inside or outside (art, blocks, science projects, music, etc.), reading, exploration time outside at the nearby parks, lunch, quiet time (with an optional nap), a snack, big body movement (inside or outside), and an afternoon learning activity. Throughout the day, teachers are supporting children's development and skill building in the different domains, as well as observing and documenting growth and areas where we need to encourage focus.
To support the hard work and play of our preschool students, they attend school in a second location housed inside our sister program Suntree Language Academy. The transition between the Moyenne section and the Grande section is gradual and intentional, and preschoolers visit our downtown location frequently so toddlers ready to move up are already familiar with the students and teachers. We also move up at least 2 toddlers at a time, which helps to ease the transition.
With our child-centered and emergent curriculum, we meet children where they are to teach them important skills and help them to meet Idaho's Early Learning eGuidelines (which can be found through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's website). This means our teachers are constantly noting observations and sharing milestone achievement with families to help support development in all domains, with a special focus on language and social and emotional development. As a school with an international focus, it is important that we support intercultural awareness and communication as well. The curriculum is not a set one, but rather created weekly and daily based on our teachers' observations to support children's interests and help them further explore their world.
An example of how we help support early literacy, teamwork, research, and fine motor skills: interested children choose seeds to germinate in our multipurpose learning room, then will need to work together to hypothesize about what will happen to the seeds, document the progress of their plants' growth, find if this was expected, and choose what to do to support that growth with the guidance of our teachers and with help in researching their plants. Supporting good research through media literacy is a goal that starts early!