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Lower School

Our Approach

In elementary school, instruction draws on children’s daily experiences and connects to the world at large with the exploration and acquisition of increasingly complex concepts. Teachers provide guidance for students to grow intellectually and socially. Students develop as individuals. They gain critical-thinking skills and move from concrete observation to abstract reasoning.
Our highly trained and experienced faculty encourage students to acquire an awareness of themselves and others. They grow to understand the basics of ethical behavior and appreciate that our world is made of many cultures, ways of life and points of view. They are on their way to becoming global citizens.


Language development is at the core of our elementary school. Children experience the many dimensions of language (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in both French and English in a motivating, safe environment. 

Over the course of elementary school, the balance of instruction between French and English shifts from French immersion to bilingual. 

Grades % French and English
1st and 2nd 80-20
3rd 65-35
4th and 5th 50-50

We emphasize oral language acquisition as a tool for:
  • Communication
    Expressing thoughts
    Acquiring an academic language for describing, explaining and justifying. 

    This practice opens the door to the mastery of reading and writing from exploration in the earlier grades, to a level of mastery that will lead to independent learning. 

Language and Academic Individualization

Our co-teaching model naturally fosters bilingualism, as students interact with the same concepts in both languages. French and English-speaking teachers support each student at their level, in language and academics. 

We offer French as a Second Language (Français Langue Etrangère) for children who need it. A dedicated French teacher provides pull out or push in support in small groups.

Our academic support (“Soutien”) follows the same model. Our low student to teacher ratio and expert faculty increase the effectiveness of in-class differentiation, and we also have push-in and pull-out support from our French-speaking and English-speaking learning specialists. 

Étude provides the opportunity for students to do their homework after school in a group setting with the help of a bilingual teacher. 


Our faculty uses research-based teaching methods to produce bilingual and biliterate students. Students build their oral language skills and fluency through daily school life, songs, poems, and theater, as well as learn to read, write, and learn in both French and English.

We follow a structured literacy approach that utilizes systematic and explicit instruction to teach foundational skills, including phonics, decoding, fluency, and vocabulary development. Small group guided reading and writer’s workshop allow teachers to differentiate for each student and provide strategic instruction in reading comprehension and writing techniques.

French and English teachers coordinate their use of instructional best practices to help students grow into engaged and independent fluent readers. Teachers have weekly co-teaching time to strengthen our students’ language development and create meaningful cross-curricular connections in both languages.


Our science program is based on the Next Generation Science Standards in conjunction with the French program. We emphasize the physical sciences, earth and life sciences, and technology, complementing students’ understanding of them through STEAM.

STEAM is ideally suited to help students draw connections between subject matters. As STEAM promotes a project-based approach, it fosters the students’ engagement in their learning. Students learn to think of themselves as scientists, following the scientific method as they engage in inquiry-based projects:

  • In art class, G3 and G4 students create artwork with various media illuminated with LED lights, allowing students to make connections between arts and science.
  • Students in all elementary grades participate in the Scientific Challenge, an initiative from the French Ministry of Education to engage students in exploring and tinkering with scientific concepts. Through age-appropriate experiments and creations, students draw on their knowledge of scientific and math principles.

    At EB, we aim to bring science to life. The garden class, taught in French, enables students to see how abstract concepts in natural science manifest. Each year, students deepen their understanding of topics such as ecology, pollution, global warming and evolution as they observe and work in the garden growing right in their school yard. 


Our math program leverages the innovative techniques of Singapore Math and Eureka Math such as the use of mathematical models when solving word problems. The integration of the two programs ensures that students gain the best of each, in alignment with the French and American standards they need to achieve at each grade level. 

Teachers encourage the development of mathematical practices and students’ confidence, flexibility, and fluency in their mathematical thinking. They also facilitate the expression of students’ reasoning in both French and English. Co-teaching time, when the French and English-speaking teachers teach together, helps to foster the connections between both the languages and the concepts for students. 

Through spiraling instruction--repeated exposure to concepts over time--students build their foundational knowledge and skills. They have a solid foundation in number sense, operations, problem-solving, measurements and geometry to be successful in Middle School math.

Physical Education

We believe that exercise in an essential component of a child’s education. Physical activity helps children to:
  • develop gross motor skills
  • gain familiarity with a wide range of sports, games, and movement (such as dance)
  • build essential social skills like teamwork, cooperation, and healthy competition
  • release energy so that they can focus and learn better in the classroom
In Grade 1, P.E. is one of several special classes led by the classroom teachers to minimize transitions and foster a dependable routine for the children. In Grade 2 and above, our dedicated P.E. specialist conducts the class. 

We also offer after-school sports opportunities. At the Lower School, these are integrated into our after-school classes, which always include activities such as dance, martial arts, or yoga. 

Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

We use the framework of Restorative Justice for our SEL program, which:
  • Fosters self-awareness and the awareness of how one’s actions impact others
  • Develops effective listening and communication skills
  • Encourages children to think how they are going to repair harm
  • Builds community in the classroom
Our bilingual curriculum for young children, Vers le Pacifique, begins in Preschool and Kindergarten and continues through Grade 2. Each year has a different theme that promotes the children’s understanding of how to regulate their own emotions and approach conflict.

Our curriculum for grades 3 through 5 deepens this understanding with a different focus for each year. 
Grade Focus
3 Conflict resolution
4 Identity
Conflict resolution, peer pressure, and bullying

By the end of elementary school, students are confident, articulate individuals, who are sensitive to the needs of others. When conflict does arise, they have the skills to emerge from it with positive relationships.


Creativity is an integral part of any child’s developing personality, and a powerful tool for learning. The visual arts, music, and theater are key components of our elementary curriculum. 

All arts are integrated into the classroom instruction in Grade 1. Students then begin to see specialists in subsequent grades for music (starting in Grade 2) and visual arts (starting in Grade 3). 

Students receive instruction in theory, history, and technique. They develop awareness of art as a means of self-expression and a window into other cultures. They begin to see the connections between the arts and other subjects as part of our STEAM program.

Experiential Trips and Service Learning

Our curriculum leverages the Bay Area’s cultural resources to the fullest extent. Classes go on frequent field trips to museums, performances, cultural centers, and everything Berkeley and the surrounding area has to offer.

As elementary schoolers mature, the students experience multi-day field trips that encourage them to explore the world around them and build their confidence and independence.
  • Grade 3 to Marin Headlands: During a three-day overnight trip, students head to Golden Gate National Recreation Area for a few days of environmental education. There, they examine macroinvertebrates in a pond, observe seals from the bluffs, and study the adaptations of tide pool creatures in the center’s state-of-the-art intertidal marine lab.  
  • Grade 4 to Coloma: During a three-day overnight trip, students go to the site where gold was first discovered in California, learning about the Gold Rush, native peoples, and the ecosystem of the Sierra foothills.
  • Grade 5 to Quebec, Canada: On a ten-day trip, students experience French immersion through many interactive activities focusing on nature and culture. History takes center stage in Montréal and Québec City as they discover how North America has changed over time. Part of the time is spent outdoors in the forest, learning about survival skills and environmental education.

    Service learning and the philosophy of giving back are a core part of how we teach citizenship. Participating in the surrounding community prepares students for an active, responsible role in the wider world. 

Students begin by helping their peers, and gradually expand the scope of their service to include the community around them. Our formal community service program begins in fourth grade.

A Glimpse

Our elementary schooler’s day begins when they race from curbside drop off onto the school yard to play and socialize with peers. They write (or co-write) a persuasive letter in French, sort geometric shapes by their attributes during a co-teaching session in math, and present to their class an art project they have completed. 

Before lunchtime, the class exercise on the grass field under the guidance of the PE teacher, following instructions in French.
They eat lunch in the shade of spreading Chinese Pistachio trees and play tag on the eco-friendly turf field. In the afternoon, they observe fermentation in the compost heap in the garden, and listen to a French story in the library, where they check out books in English or French to take home. 

After school, students may attend an enrichment class like yoga or soccer. They may also go to Etude, a group homework session by grade level supervised by French-speaking teachers, go right home and do a little homework before spending time with their family.

All Are Welcome! (Anti-Discriminatory Policy)

Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley does not exclude from participation in, deny the benefits of, or subject any individual to discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or religion. This policy applies to all programs, services, and facilities, including applications, admissions, and employment.