Category Archives: Gradeschoolers

Play: A Necessity for the Child and the Student at Rochambeau The French International School

[Note: This is a sponsored guest post contributed by the staff at Rochambeau, the French International School.]

“Start by closing your eyes…the intensity, power of laughter, the pleasure and the joy are incomparable and unforgettable. Open your eyes, cut the sound: the joy on their faces, the enthusiasm, friendships, exploration, total and absolute engagement: pure enjoyment,” advises Fréderic Tavernier, the Director of the Maternelle Preschool at Rochambeau The French International School.

For a teacher, this small experiment is a way of reminding us that preschool and kindergarten are all about fun.  “For the child, play is a source and a vehicle for learning,” he insists. This principle is at the heart of France’s official Maternelle program and at the core of the curriculum taught at Rochambeau The French International School Maternelle for children ages 2 through kindergarten.  

While Rochambeau offers a comprehensive education all the way to 12th grade, “Maternelle is an essential step in the journey of students to ensure their academic success,” emphasizes Frédéric Tavernier. It is a school where children will learn together and live together. Here they develop their oral language and begin to discover writing, numbers, art, sciences… in both French and English. They learn through play, reflection, problem-solving, practice, recall, and memorization.

This attention for the well-being of the child, with a curriculum adapted to their rhythm, ensuring a balance between academics and recreation, meets the recommendations of American specialists. In August, the American Academy of Pediatrics sounded the alarm in a report expressing concern about the decline in the amount of time devoted to play in the lives of toddlers. “From 1981 to 1997, children’s playtime decreased by 25%. Children three to 11 years of age have lost 12 hours per week of free time. Because of increased academic pressure, 30% of US kindergarten children no longer have recess.”

The Maternelle teachers have one central goal: to ensure that the children are excited to go to school to learn, gain confidence, and develop their personality.

“Mission accomplished,” say parents like Erika Aparakakankanange. “When my children are at Rochambeau, they have so much fun that they don’t always realize that they are learning things, and for children like mine, who are not native French speakers, it makes the immersion process much easier…I can honestly say that my boys like to go to school every day and that is one of the many things we love about Rochambeau.”

“What I like,” says another parent, Sabine Durier, “is that the school combines classroom work, where all activities are intentional, with moments purely reserved for free time, where they can be children before they are students.”

Quoting Montaigne, the French philosopher, Maternelle teacher Bénédicte Le Nouën Maurice notes that “a child is not a vase that you fill, but a fire that you light”, which you let grow. “It’s important to give children free time to play, to make choices. This free time is not a waste of time, quite the contrary! During these moments of freedom, the child thinks about what he could play; he can make choices, invent, create, reach out to others. Many skills are built during this time. The child must not always be waiting for instructions, he must be able to learn to think for himself, to make his own choices, to invent, to create… and for this he needs free time.”

Preparing Global Citizens
Beginning at the preschool level and continuing through 12th grade, all students at Rochambeau, the French International School receive regular, guided instruction in both English and French, and can start a third language as early as elementary school (Arabic, Spanish).

Students represent more than 80 nationalities and communicate in over 25 different languages. As the only accredited French school in the Washington, DC, area, Rochambeau proudly enrolls children without any knowledge of French until the 4th grade. Our adapted immersion program gives students the opportunity to be part of and benefit from this extraordinary community. 

Graduates of Rochambeau go on to study at top universities in the US, Canada, UK, France, and all around the world. Students receive their US high school diploma at the end of 11th grade and the French Baccalaureate at the end of 12th grade. Starting in 2021, Rochambeau will also offer the IB dual language diploma. 

Tours of the school are offered on Thursdays and Fridays on all three campuses — register for them here. For more information about Rochambeau, The French International School, visit the website.


This post is sponsored by Rochambeau The French International School, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, Educational, Gradeschoolers, High Schoolers, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, Preschoolers, Schools, Teens

{Review!} Thumbelina at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise.]

Young theater-goers can experience the art of storytelling like never before at Imagination Stage’s Thumbelina, playing now through April 5. The classic Hans Christian Andersen tale about a girl trying to find her place in the world is reimagined with artistry inspired by Kamishibai, a form of Japanese street theater. Along with traditional acting performances, this unique production utilizes live video projections of small-scale puppetry and dioramas to bring the story of a thumb-sized girl to life.

Thumbelina employs the same ensemble of actors as Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth, a musical currently playing in repertory, in this contrasting brand of theater. [You can read the KFDC review of Zomo here.] If you happen to see both shows, the versatility of these actors is awe-inducing — once rapping and hip-hop dancing in Zomo, now maneuvering mini puppets along mini video-projected sets on right and left stage, then moving center stage for their life-sized roles in Thumbelina.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina, like Zomo, offers lessons abound for young audience members just beginning to learn about the world and their place in it. Most importantly: you have the power to create your own story, and you will eventually find your people and place, just be kind to those that are different along the way.

The multi-media aspect of the production adds a whole other layer to the lessons, as Thumbelina certainly writes its own category of theater. And look at all of the different skill-sets needed to bring it to life!

Zomo is a tough act to follow with its high-energy and audience engagement. But Thumbelina captivates with its creative production methods, flawless lead performance, a climactic act with a villainous mole, and a touching ending that’s a reminder to kids and adults alike that the rest is still unwritten.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina is playing now through April 5 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15 – $35. Recommended for ages 4+.


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, DC, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Theatre, Weekend, Winter

{Review!} Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, who saw a performance of Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth with her 3-year-old daughter.]

Come for the Adidas sweat suit-clad, hip-hopping rabbit, stay for the life lessons. I had no idea what to expect at Imagination Stage’s Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth; I had only skimmed the Nigerian folktale (which has an entirely different ending) and the brief show description online (which doesn’t do it justice!). But a special opening night showing, where many kids were likely out past their bedtimes, made me think my daughter and I were about to see something special. And indeed it was.

From the start, that aforementioned rabbit named Zomo captivates the audience with nothing but his Run DMC-inspired energy and ensemble. He engages children and adults alike in his locally-spun, ill-fated quest for power that takes him through Washington, DC — complete with Metro rides and a dash of political humor. You will find yourself compelled to immediately start clapping and foot stomping along with the beat of his rhymes, and that continues until the end as the audience participates eagerly, both solicited and unsolicited. My preschooler lit up when it was her (and every kid’s) turn to stand up and show off her hip-hop moves.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Zomo’s journey involves a series of suspenseful, young-child-relatable wrongdoings. Namely, taking things that aren’t his. We follow him to the DC Waterfront for a dance-off with a breakdancing fish, to the National Zoo for an encounter with a graffiti artist cow, and to Adams Morgan for a jam session with a DJ leopard. He does some soul searching along the way, contemplating whether or not he’ll have more with the power he’s seeking or the friendships he’s building (that now need repair). Find out what he decides — and what your children decide for him — and how cultural barrier-breaking hip-hop was born according to the legend of Zomo.

Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is running now through March 22 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15-$35. Recommended for ages 4+.

PS: Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is playing in repertory with Thumbelina, opening next weekend. Stay tuned for a review!


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Preschoolers, Theatre, Tweens, Weekend, Winter

Still Time to Register for February Break Soccer Camp with DC Way!



This post is sponsored by DC Way, however, I only promote programs, services, and events that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, Camp, DC, Gradeschoolers, Middle Schoolers, Outdoor, Sports, Weekdays, Winter