When teaching about the cultures and climates of other people and places, there’s nothing quite like giving students the opportunity to experience them first-hand, for themselves. We’re extremely proud that The École’s travel program does just that—bringing our classrooms right out into the real world and putting our students’ everyday learning into a larger context.
Exploring other cultures
While The École is dedicated bilingual French and American learning, we strive to inspire in our students a multi-cultural perspective. So our Elementary and Middle School travel program includes both an annual trip to France as well as biannual trips to China and Costa Rica. This provides an opportunity for our students to put their French language skills, as well as their Mandarin and Spanish—to which they are introduced in 3rd and 6th grades—to the test in real-world situations and get a taste of the daily life and customs of cultures very different than their own. In addition to the trips themselves, students participate in cross-curricular projects—such as multi-lingual videos—that integrate their experiences into their classroom learning.
Students from 4th, 5th and 6th grade embark on an incredible one-week experience visiting famed Parisian landmarks such as the Champs Elysées, the Louvre, and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. Students also visit one of the world’s most iconic castles, Château de Versailles, and observe the French government in action at the Palace of Luxembourg, during a tour of the Senate.
The two-week trip to China includes stops in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. In Hangzhou, students are hosted by Chinese families for four days and nights where they attend school with their Chinese “brothers” or “sisters” for an insider’s experience of Chinese education.
This 8-day adventure trip for students in grades 6-8 includes excursions to San José, Monteverde, the Arenal region, and Sarapiquí. Visits to a coffee plantation and banana farm give them a first-hand look at how products get from the tree to supermarkets around the world. Students even hike around an active volcano and camp out in the rainforest for 2 nights—right beside sloths, monkeys, tropical insects and birds, and even tapir!
Understanding the environment
The École partners with Nature’s Classroom, a leader in environmental education, to give our 3rd- through 5th-grade students an opportunity to leave New York City life behind and explore science—as well as math, social studies, and the humanities—in the great outdoors. For a week each year, in one of Nature’s Classroom’s 13 New England settings, each featuring a unique combination of mountain, seashore, woodland, marshland, field, stream, lake, and pond ecosystems, students delve more deeply into the dynamic interactions found in the natural world, as well as interpersonal interactions among themselves.
During the week The École’s teachers take on the role of camp counselors, while the Nature’s Classroom staff take charge of teaching. A wide variety of experiences and exercises— examining predator and prey relationships in the local habitat or the ways in which producers, consumers and decomposers depend on each other, investigating the aerodynamics of a boomerang or the construction of a geodesic dome, or finding their way through the woods with a map and compass—are designed to help our students appreciate the value of and understand how to apply their regular classroom education.