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  • Writer's pictureKelly Dharamshi

French Immersion Kindergarten: Three Ways to Set Your Child Up for Success

French immersion kindergarten success tips
Three Tips for French Immersion Success

Bonjour, my fellow French immersion parent! If your child is currently in French immersion kindergarten, this may be new territory for you as a parent, and it can be tricky. Of all the things we parents doubt ourselves on, French Immersion seems to be a big one! It can be worse than agonizing over screen time.

 Is it the right decision? 

Will your child succeed? 

Is it French immersion worth it?

While it is true that French immersion is not the best fit for every child, there are steps you can take to set your child up for success.

Read on for three tips to help your child succeed in French immersion!

What is French immersion kindergarten?

Many Ontario school boards offer early immersion which starts in kindergarten. The Toronto District School Board starts its early immersion program in junior kindergarten (JK), which means that students start learning in French from the very first day of school!

In French immersion kindergarten, the expectation is that all instruction and communication takes place in French, allowing children to become immersed in the language from an early age. This approach helps children develop their language skills naturally, as they are constantly exposed to and encouraged to use French in various aspects of their daily activities.

French immersion kindergarten programs typically follow the same curriculum as regular kindergarten programs but with an added focus on language acquisition. Children learn through a combination of interactive activities, play, and structured lessons, all conducted in French. 

Learning French from an early age has great cognitive, linguistic, cultural, and economic benefits. Being able to speak, read, and write in French and English will be of great benefit in our bilingual country. 

How to set your child up for success in French Immersion kindergarten

One of the reasons French immersion kindergarten is growing across Ontario is that we parents know the benefits of being bilingual in Canada’s two national languages. We can easily see the benefits of French immersion. So, why the doubt? Why are we constantly questioning if we’ve made the right decision by putting our child in French immersion? 

Probably because we all know at least one (or more like five or six) families who have taken their child out of French immersion and put them in the English stream. Why does this happen? How can we prevent it?

#1 Be Realistic

French immersion kindergarten is not for everyone. Here in Toronto, we are fortunate to have two entry points into French immersion. One is kindergarten and the other is Grade 4 (in the TDSB). I recommend that you consult with your local school board about when and how to enroll your child in your school board’s French immersion program. 

You know your child best. If you think that there will be some difficulties adjusting to school when your child enters kindergarten that is beyond the normal adjustments that all children experience when starting school, then you may want to consider starting French immersion at the next entry point your school board provides.

#2 Don’t Forget About English! 

When I explored research and advice from educators on teaching French immersion kindergarten students to read in English, I encountered an interesting response. Many educators advise that reading and writing skills are transferable between French and English and not to worry, French Immersion students will “just pick up” reading and writing in English. We don’t need to do anything. 


That may be true for some students, but it is certainly not true for all. Many of my tutoring students are or were in French immersion. While they may be reading at grade level in French, they are often at least two grades behind in English. Why would you just “wait and see” if your French immersion kindergarten student “picks up” reading and writing in English? What if they don’t? Anecdotally, a lack of reading and writing skills in English is one of the main reasons I see parents take their children out of French immersion. 

There is a very easy fix here - teach your child to read in English! Start in kindergarten. Spend ten minutes every day using a structured reading program, or enroll your child in an extracurricular activity that makes reading with a structured literacy program fun! This is why I started Kelly’s Reading Club. Phonics is fun. Reading is social. Best of all, we do not need to spend a lot of time learning to read. If we start early, a few minutes a day is all it takes! 

#3 Network with other French immersion parents

Get to know the other parents in your child’s class. This way you can share experiences and resources. You can also set up playdates for your child with classmates, which will help foster a sense of community and belonging at school. Your fellow French immersion parents will be your greatest support network on this journey.

How can you connect with other French immersion parents?

  • Start or join a Facebook group for your child’s class and school.

  • Get involved in parent council at your child’s school.

  • Volunteer to help out on field trips or special days at school, like pizza lunch.

  • Drop off and pick up your child from school if you can and get to know the other parents in the schoolyard. 

Enrolling your child in French immersion kindergarten can be an enriching experience for both you and your child. By setting your child up for success, you can ensure they reap the numerous cognitive, cultural, and linguistic benefits that come with French immersion education.

Remember, every child is unique, and French immersion may not be the best fit for everyone. However, for those who embrace the journey, the benefits of French immersion kindergarten can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of language proficiency, cultural understanding, and global opportunities. So, embrace the adventure and watch your child thrive in the world of French immersion!

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