École maternelle

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The École Maternelle is the French pre-school . It teaches children from three to six years old, with children of one age group within a group. Sometimes two-year-olds are also allowed to participate, if places are available.

The école maternelle has been compulsory for 3-year-olds since September 2019. It is free and secular. The Ministry of Education is responsible for this. The state oversees the training of educators who are trained teachers (instituteur or today professeur des écoles). Since 1972, your state educational mandate has been: Integration into society and preparation for school.

Since no child from 3 years of age can be denied a place in the Maternelle, children with a diaper have also started school since September 2019. However, parents are asked to work with the child to get clean as soon as possible. In some schools, children under the age of 3 with a diaper are also accepted.

The children are taught according to a timetable .

The maternelle is divided into three levels:

  • Petite section for children aged three to four (group life and language)
  • Moyenne section for children from four to five years of age (first contact with writing)
  • Grande section for children aged five to six (reading, writing in general)

Sometimes a "toute petite section" level is introduced for the smallest children if a sufficient number of two-year-olds attend school. In the case of very small groups (e.g. in rural areas) there are sometimes cross-level groups; however, this is an exceptional case and is seldom the case now.

When the children come to “école primaire” ( elementary school ), they can usually understand and tell stories, “write” a letter by dictating it to an adult, and recognize a few letters and around 30 words. They can also draw lines, circles and loops and count to 30. The children learn to sing, dance, do handicrafts, paint, etc. In contrast to kindergarten , less emphasis is placed on free play. Creativity and playful behavior are usually put under a certain motto. French preschool children learn at an early age to paint pictures based on and based on models from well-known painters (e.g. Miró , Picasso ). In addition to this insight into art history, the children are also introduced to the subject of literature in a playful way. In maternelle , the children learn to adapt to rules, which makes it easier for them to start school.

The pattern of weekly school days differs from school to school. A large number of schools teach on weekdays except on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the morning. A few teach on Wednesdays mornings instead of Saturdays and still others teach on Mondays to Fridays except Wednesdays, in which case the holiday period is shortened. The pattern of the respective school days partly also represents the motivation for choosing a private école maternelle or an école maternelle in another district.


The École maternelle has five learning objectives:

  1. Learning the language
  2. Living together
  3. Physical training (e.g. gymnastics)
  4. Discover the world
  5. Sensitivity and imagination (musical education)


Unlike in German kindergartens, for example, it is also taught frontally. The daily routine is very structured and order and discipline are very important.

Allocation of places and acceptance

From their third birthday, the child or parents are entitled to a place in a state maternity leave within the respective district or quarter . If you opt for a private maternity leave, you can choose this relatively easily in any part of the city. A state maternity leave in another part of the city, on the other hand, can only be visited with a special permit ( dérogation ). This is accompanied by the consent of the city administration ( mairie ), the director of the maternelle in their own district and the maternelle of the intended district.

Almost all children from the age of three in France attend the Ecole maternelle.

See also


  • Prisca Bachelet, Liane Mozère: The French école maternelle. Premature formalization of educational processes? In: Wassilios E. Fthenakis, Pamela Oberhuemer (Hrsg.): Frühpädagogik international. Focus on educational quality. VS, Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-8100-3378-2 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jean-Michel Blanquer (Minister of Education): La loi pour une École de la confiance . Ministère de l'Education Nationale et de la Jeunesse. August 27, 2019. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  2. ^ Karl-Heinz B. van Lier: Politics for family a la francaise. What can we learn from our neighbors? . Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V .. March 26, 2004. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  3. Stéphanie Lemaire: Scolarisation en maternelle dès 3 ans: et si mon enfant n'est pas propre? . France TV Info. September 2, 2019. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  4. https://www.education.gouv.fr/cid166/l-ecole-maternelle-organisation-programme-et-fonctionnement.html (last accessed on September 16, 2019)

Web links