What are the hours of the school day?

PK3 and PK4: 8:45 am to 2:55 pm

K-G3: 8:30 am to 2:55 pm

G4-G8: 8:15 am to 3:15 pm

All students may be dropped off starting at 7:45 a.m.

Do you offer before school and after school care?

Yes. Before school care is available from 7:45 a.m. to 8 a.m. After school care is available from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Do you provide buses?

The local school districts provide bus service to our students. Busing regulations are different for each school district, but typically are available beginning in kindergarten (most of the suburban areas) or first grade (Philadelphia). Distance from the school is also a determining factor (generally busing is available within a ten mile radius of the school).

We do have quite a number of families who take advantage of this service. Please contact the school for more information.

Do you offer a center city shuttle service?

Families residing in Philadelphia whose children are too young to ride the school bus may be able to take advantage of a door-to-door shuttle service provided by Precious Cargo. Please email Janet Dickman at dickman@frenchschoolphila.org for more information.

Is there a naptime?

In PK3 and PK4 the children rest after lunch. All children lie down for 20 to 30 minutes to allow for quiet time. Children who do not fall asleep may play quiet games or activities.

In the afternoon, there is a short “quiet time” for kindergarten students to relax for 10 to 15 minutes.

How diverse is your school?

We are proud of our school’s cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity. A diverse student body is what makes our school unique, and serving a multicultural community is part of our school’s mission. Overall, our families represent more than 50 different nationalities.

Our family does not speak French; can we still apply to the school?

We welcome non-French speaking students to our school in our preschool (PK3), pre-Kindergarten (PK4), and kindergarten classes. Upon entering first grade, students should have a strong background in the French language in order to integrate the curriculum, or enroll in our En Route program! Contact our admissions office at admissions@frenchschoolphila.org to learn more. After first grade a child should demonstrate the potential to do grade level work as recognized by The French Ministry of Education.

When should we begin the application process?

Most families begin the application process the fall prior to the enrollment year. You should contact our Main Office to be added to our mailing list and receive all the necessary application materials. Priority will be given to applications that are received before January 15.

What can we expect when we come for a “family visit?”

Safety guidelines permitting, we ask parents or guardians to come with your child, when possible. You can expect to arrive at the school for an 8:45 a.m. appointment. At this time your child will meet a member of our Admissions Team for a school readiness assessment. For our youngest applicants for PK3, this is a time for your child to play with age appropriate materials in a relaxed setting. We understand that at the age of 2 ½ to 3, each child is developing at his/her own pace. We are looking for age-appropriate social, emotional and pre-academic development. Through observing and interacting with your child, we can see if a child shows interest in school related materials and is responsive to teacher direction and redirection. We also look for a child who is ready for a full day program and is toilet trained.

If your child is not comfortable being left alone during this time, you are welcome to stay with your child. Generally, after a few minutes your child is engaged in play and is comfortable in the room by himself/herself. At times, a child needs the security of a parent in the room, which is age-appropriate.

Our PK4 and K applicants will also meet with our Admissions Assistant so that she can observe the readiness of your child. You can expect this to last for about 30-45 minutes. During this time, parents will meet with our Head of School. This is an opportunity for us to get to know you and have you tell us more about your child. We can share with you information about the French International School and answer any questions you may have.

Our goal for the family visit is for you and your child to leave happy, with a better understanding of our school. At the end of the visit most children have big smiles and want to stay longer. We do not want this part of the application process to cause anxiety for you or your child.

Applicants for first through eighth grade will meet with a French program coordinator to see if there is sufficient comprehension for a successful transition to our school.

Does my child need to be toilet trained?

Yes. We expect all of our preschool children to be fully toilet trained upon entering on the first day of school.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. About 49 percent of our families receive financial aid. Please be sure to check our financial aid page and/or call the school for detailed information about applying for financial aid.

Can I apply for financial aid if I am French?

For a parent with French citizenship, you may apply for French aid through the Consulate General of France.

Please call our office or visit the financial aid page for more information and specific deadlines.

When are children able to speak French, if they come in without speaking the language?

Children learn at their own rate and this includes the acquisition of a second language. Our students are learning through songs, finger plays, stories, games, and play. They will look for clues around them to understand what is being spoken, which allows for cognitive development. Each student progresses at his/her own rhythm and the program allows for the individual development of the child.

Some children will try to speak right away, and make mistakes. Others take longer to speak, but once ready, speak with fewer mistakes. Parents can expect this to take from several months up to a year or two.

How is the time divided between French and English?

In PK3 90% of the curriculum is taught in French. The amount of English increases as the children are taught through the grades. This allows the children to be immersed in French. Please know that the concepts taught in preschool and kindergarten are taught using manipulatives, allowing for hands-on learning regardless of the language.

What are the advantages of learning in two languages?

Studies recognize the many cognitive benefits of being bilingual. Researchers have shown that the bilingual brain can have better attention and task-switching capabilities than the monolingual brain.

The French International School is a place where your child will not only receive the bilingualism that will develop the brain, but will also grow as a creative individual, critical thinker, and open-minded communicator. Nurtured by teachers who are native speakers certified in their respective countries, we expect our students to become global citizens and to develop a deeper understanding of and true appreciation of other cultures.

How do I help with homework if I don’t understand French?

Homework begins in first grade. The homework given is to be a reflection of what the child has already learned in the classroom. The homework typically should be able to be completed by the child, with little help from a parent. We encourage parents to be in contact with the teacher right away if the child is having a difficult time completing the assignments.

Some of our parents register their child for our after school Study Hall sessions. There is Study Hall available (for an additional fee) where there is a French teacher available to help students with their homework.

Lower School Study Hall runs Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 3:25 p.m. to 4:25 p.m.

Upper School Study Hall runs Monday through Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Do you offer languages other than French and English?

Students in grades 6 through 8 are required to take Spanish and Latin for all three years. 

In the 2022-2023 school year, we launched Spanish immersion classes for fourth and fifth graders that will be the base of a remodeled curriculum in Middle School. The courses are taught by native speakers and offer a fun and interactive environment in which students will explore many different cultures and traditions with the aid of authentic short stories, songs, and literature sourced from across the Hispanic world.

Students are not only bilingual in French and English at the time of graduation, but are also proficient in Spanish.

Where do students go after they graduate from your school?

Students generally go on to the school of their choice. Our students in recent years have gone on to both private and public schools in the Philadelphia area, as well as international programs. Some of the schools our graduates have attended include Friends Central, Agnes Irwin, Baldwin, The Haverford School, and Germantown Friends School. Harriton High School (Lower Merion Township) and Central High School (Philadelphia School District) are two popular choices for our students since both offer the International Baccalaureate Program.

Are gifts to the school tax deductible?

Yes. The French International School is a not-for-profit independent school authorized by the Internal Revenue Service to receive charitable donations. Gifts are tax deductible, provided the donor does not receive any goods or services from the school in exchange for the donation. An appropriate receipt is issued for each donation.

If tuition and fees do not meet the cost of educating a student, why not raise tuition to cover it?

Although all independent schools must raise tuition each year to offset inflation and to provide for growth, no independent school could charge full cost without pricing itself out of the market. The school prefers to give parents a chance to make a tax deductible contribution because that is their opportunity to keep the increases at a minimum. By holding tuition levels down, we strive to make an independent school education accessible to as many talented students as possible.

What criteria do corporations and foundations use in making funding decisions?

Corporations and foundations base their decisions in part on demonstrated support within the school community itself. Thus a strong history of giving is the best way to position the school to receive corporate and foundation support.

In addition to making a personal gift, how else can individuals support the school?

There are several ways to bring support to the school that complement individual giving. Those in the business community can inquire about matching gifts and EITC and/or OSTC contributions in the places where they are employed; others may help by introducing the school to any personal contacts who are in a position to help. These contacts include charitable foundations, family foundations, government entities, and individuals.