French Elementary school education consists of five years of education. These five years are divided over two main “cycles of learning”. The first 3 years in primary school are called the “cycle apprendissages fondamentaux” (Le cycle 2) and the next 2 years is called the “cycle de consolidation” (Le cycle 3).


Cycle 2 - Fundamental Learning Cycle

During Cycle 2, priority is given to the mastery of languages. The French language constitutes the central learning item for pupils to acquire strong reading and writing skills. Through language, they learn to make connections between different subjects and disciplines and to give meaning to their instruction. In Cycle 2, students also begin to learn a foreign or a regional language. Furthermore, they are taught how to complete basic learning activities and to justify rationally their answers and approaches. Through regular memorization activities, activities that allow running approaches and basic skills automatically, and comprehension activities, they gradually access to more complex knowledge.


Cycle 3 - Consolidation Cycle

During Cycle 3, pupils reinforce and stabilize the base knowledge learned in Cycle 2, particularly language proficiency, which is essential to learning other subjects such as French, mathematics, art and body expression. Students are gradually introduced to academic subjects and their specific knowledge, language, approaches, and methods, especially history and geography, science and technology. Their capacity for abstract analysis increases and they begin to produce and structure their thoughts by taking in new knowledge.

Schools take into account the different aptitudes of each pupil. As well as reasoning and intellectual reflection, other skills are developed, such as observation skills, experimentation, sensitivity, motor skills, and creative imagination.

Official French Elementary School Program


The training provided at elementary school ensures the acquisition of basic fundamental knowledge tools: oral and written expression, literacy, numeracy and problem-solving; it fosters the intellectual development, the artistic sensitivity, manual, physical and sports aptitudes. It provides the elements of a historic, geographic, scientific and technical culture. It offers an education in visual and musical arts. It ensures the teaching of a foreign modern language and can include initiation into cultural diversity. It also contributes to digital and media literacy. It ensures the acquisition and the understanding of the respect due to individuals, for their origins and differences. It also transmits the need to respect children's rights and gender equality.

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