Smith Street Maternelle



Choosing a preschool is a big decision. Choosing a language immersion program is an even bigger one. It is not only the foundation of your child’s education, but it is also the first step to opening the door to a lifetime of bilingualism and multiculturalism. It is one of the most wonderful gifts to give your child, and it is an entry point to a new and diverse community of friends that will last a lifetime.

We hope that Smith Street Maternelle will be at the heart of that community for you. We offer:

  1. an incredible group of bilingual educators who are continually designing and re-adjusting curricula adapted to your child’s needs

  2. a beautiful, modern, bright, clean and playful newly constructed space with every design detail intended to foster a child’s growing independence and happiness

  3. expert-led talks, and fun events for you, your kids, and the whole family together


We have developed a teaching philosophy based on the fundamentals of language immersion education that blends influences from Reggio Emilia, Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner and the Developmental-Interaction approach.

At Smith Street Maternelle, children are encouraged to play and explore. They become active learners and critical thinkers. We are happiest when children leave us as confident, curious, fluent French speakers who are ready for their next school adventure.

À très bientôt!

Mission & Philosophy


Smith Street Maternelle is a French immersion preschool program grounded in the fundamentals of progressive education and experiential learning.

In our classrooms, you will find a nurturing environment where children feel loved, heard, and understood. We do everything we can to instill a sense of security and openness in the classroom so children can explore, learn, and develop at their own speed.

In our fast-moving world, childhood is a precious time. We work hard to preserve the essential time and space for children to grow to be creative problem-solvers, life-long learners, and confident global citizens. We want to give them the best possible chance to meet the challenges and opportunities that life will bring, today and into the future.

Read more about the Smith Street Maternelle Educational Philosophy by clicking below.


Smith Street Maternelle is licensed by the New York City Department of Health. The school is a member of the the NAEYC, and our full accreditation is pending for 2020/2021.

Our school has applied to become a member of the Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY), and will be eligible for full accreditation in September 2023.


We completed the renovation of our preschool space at 607 Henry Street in June 2018. Everything is brand new, from the ceiling beams to the floor joists to the sprinkler system. It was a labor of love, realized by our dear friend Bastien Halard of Halard-Halard Design. The space is open, full of light, and designed for the independence and happiness of the children and teachers.


Our teachers are the heart of our program. Not only are they brilliant, deeply committed to their practice and to the mission of the Maternelle, but they are also the warmest, kindest, and most lovely people you will ever meet. Each lead teacher is a native French speaker with an advanced degree in Early Childhood Education. To learn more about each individual teacher, click below.

Toasting the opening of the new school building!

Toasting the opening of the new school building!

(2 – 5 year olds)

Our Toute Petite, Petite and Moyenne Section classes provide a gentle yet immersive introduction to French and to school life.

Toute Petite Section
(Young 2s; born in 2018)

The most important work for our two-year-olds is the separation process and, of course, language development. Children form relationships with teachers while parents or caregivers stay close by until the separation occurs naturally. Soon, they are more independent, and become quite industrious in the classroom with paint, clay, sand, and blocks. Most often, they engage in parallel play, but they enjoy coming together as a whole group for snack, songs and stories, and slowly begin to see themselves as important members of the classroom community.


Petite Section (3s; born in 2017)
As the children move towards three, they become more interested in the social world of school. Their work with art projects or block-building grows more collaborative. During choice time, the 3s will stay longer at any given activity and begin to plan their block buildings or have an idea about what they would like paint. They think not only about process but also about an end design. In the doll corner, they begin to take on more specific roles and play out a collaborative scene, recreating the world around them. 

Moyenne Section (4s/PreK; born in 2016)
At the age of four, the students make the amazing transformation between preschoolers and kindergarteners. Four-year-olds feel a strong sense of ownership of their classroom and thrive on structure and predictability. Morning meeting takes on a new importance as they use the schedule to think about the activities of the day. Classroom jobs are equally important, and students feel a sense of autonomy and independence as they navigate the classroom and make deliberate choices about their work.  They may even arrive to school with a plan in mind for a block building and work on it throughout the week. Mastery of the materials and the French language gives the 4s a sense of accomplishment and confidence that they carry with them to Kindergarten and beyond.

Life After Smith Street Maternelle

2019 graduates!

2019 graduates!

When children begin with us as young 2-year-olds and leave as 5-year-olds, we see them pass through all of the early developmental milestones. By the time they are ready to move on from our program, most students have a nearly native level of French fluency. This year (spring 2019), each rising Kindergarten student who applied for admission to a dual language or French immersion Kindergarten program was accepted as a native speaker (even those who do not speak French at home!). Our students moved on to Dual Language programs at PS 58 (7 students), PS 133 (1), and The International School of Brooklyn (3). We also had acceptances at Speyer Academy (1), Success Academy (1), and PS 321 (2).

In addition to the language development, children leave the Maternelle with a strong sense of self, a love of learning, and the understanding that school is a welcoming, warm, and fun place to be. They are aware of their own strengths, and they engage in cooperative play with peers. Above all, they have developed a sense of empathy and an understanding of how their actions effect others, and carry this with them through elementary school and beyond.