Gander Academy currently has an enrolment of 926 students and offers grades Kindergarten through Grade 6. Students are provided with an opportunity to study in the English or French Immersion Stream. The average class size is 21 students in primary and 22 students in elementary. communities of Benton and Gander. Eighty percent of our students are bussed to school.
Gander Academy has a total of 62 full time and 2 part-time educational staff which includes classroom teachers, and instructional resource teachers who support students with learning disabilities in the classroom. Our school also has specialist teachers in the areas of guidance & counselling, music, physical education, technology and learning resources/librarian, and administration (principal and 2 vice-principals). The school has 8 student assistants, who also support students in class. In addition to staff based at the school, students can access District itinerant teachers in the areas of speech-language pathology, hearing impairment, visual impairment, behavioural support, and educational psychology. Secretarial, maintenance, and custodial support services are provided.
Gander Academy offers a broad and balanced curriculum to all its students. When registering for school at the kindergarten level, students are offered the choice of English or French Immersion.
Irrespective of the option they choose, all students study the prescribed provincial curriculum. The majority of the instructional day is spent studying language arts, mathematics, social studies and science. However, all students are exposed to a very strong music, art, physical education and French program.
For additional information see below:
Bienvenue en maternelle! Welcome to French Immersion!
The Kindergarten Program at Gander Academy, as described in the provincial document Early Beginnings: A Kindergarten Curriculum Guide, is designed to support the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and moral development of the four- and five-year-old child.
Inherent in the Kindergarten Program is the recognition that children are individuals, every child is unique and the diverse needs and developmental levels of children can be accommodated through developmentally appropriate practices. The Kindergarten Program provides for integrated and discrete learning in: language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, physical education, religious education, and core French.
The curriculum in Grades 1, 2, and 3, as prescribed by the provincial government is designed to develop fundamental knowledge, skills, and values. The curriculum is a differentiated one with prescribed content and core objectives in: English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, core French, music, art, physical education, health and religious education.
The focus at Gander Academy as in all primary level schools in Newfoundland and Labrador is on the growth and development of the learner (intellectually, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically). The overall method of instruction is activity-inquiry, a hands-on, minds-on approach to learning that helps children meet each learning situation in such a way that it will have meaning for them. Making connections and developing abilities across subject areas is one way of enhancing children's understanding of concepts, values, and skills. However, there is an expectation that student achievement at the primary level will result from a combination of discrete and connected teaching/ learning experiences.
The primary school is a learning environment sensitive to each child's needs and developmental level. It recognizes that each child is a worthwhile individual with potential for growth and development. In the primary school, parents and educators are partners in the child's education.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the curriculum in Grades 4, 5, and 6 as in primary, is a differentiated curriculum with a prescribed content. Elementary school children have wide interests, are eager for information, and enjoy acquiring skills. They need a broad curriculum. The concepts, values, and skills of the programs in English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, music, art, physical education, core French, health, and religious education are within the grasp of most children of nine, ten, and eleven years of age. It is at this stage, middle childhood, that children acquire a strong foundation in basic school subjects. During the elementary years, children begin their initiation into the world of adult reasoning, concepts, communication, and symbolism; they start to master tasks requiring purpose and endeavour.
The elementary curriculum provides a stimulating and challenging environment for students. Processes and procedures that make it possible for new interest to appear and new purposes to emerge are used in the classroom. Grouping practices, the functional management of furniture, independent work activities, resource-based learning that emphasizes the child as a thinking, doing, and feeling learner are essential to elementary education.
Our aim is that students at Gander Academy will have educational experiences from Kindergarten to Grade Six that will lay a solid foundation for future learning by:
Excerpt from : Department of Education Program of Studies
- creating a love of learning;
- helping children become more effective problem solvers, observers, listeners, speakers, and thinkers in a language rich environment;
- helping children gain increasing independence through exploring, questioning, and understanding;
- providing for a balance of child-centred and teacher-directed experiences;
- providing for meaningful and appropriate curriculum connections;
- facilitating the development of the skills and concepts necessary to experience success;
- supporting the development of a positive self-concept; and,
- supporting the involvement of parents.
Kindergarten is one of the most important years of your child's school life. It is a year that will focus on your child's social development and a year that will shape your child's academic foundations as he/she begins to learn a new language. You will also play a vital role in the Kindergarten year as you work with your child's teacher to create a happy and safe learning environment for your child!
Children who come to Kindergarten French Immersion in September will have the same curriculum outcomes as their fellow students in English Kindergarten, and will be involved in the same curricular areas: Language Arts (French), Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Art, Health, Music, Physical Education, and Religious Education. In Kindergarten, work is often organized into thematic units that comprise many or all of the above areas. The main purpose of this integration is to help children see relationships among concepts and to organize their own experiences so that they are meaningful and educationally rewarding.
Evaluation takes place on a daily basis in the classroom and includes such areas as listening/speaking, reading/viewing, writing/viewing, writing/demonstrating. For the child who is learning French and is learning to interact successfully in a French environment, listening and demonstrating are of utmost importance. Over the first two to three months, most children learn to listen to the new language and to demonstrate their understanding of what is being said or shown. During this time, they also begin to build a vocabulary in the new language which they will begin to use as their comfort level increases. The teacher uses a variety of methods to ensure that the children are adjusting well while learning their second language, from creating a warm classroom environment and using hand signals and gestures when talking, to providing materials in French that the children may be familiar with in their first language.
At the end of the Kindergarten year, children should be able to understand most of what the teacher says, follow simple directions, and recognize beginning sounds and some words in French. They begin to use French words in English sentences and are capable of speaking simple sentences in their second language.
What is Immersion?
Immersion is the most effective method known for teaching a second language.
Early Immersion works well because a young child lacks self-consciousness and loves mimicry, memorization and repetition. Early immersion provides more time working in a second language and therefore more second language learning occurs.
In Kindergarten the teacher addresses the class in French, although the children often continue to use English, especially among themselves. By the end of the year children are able to recognize a large vocabulary and are attempting to use single words and a few short sentences. They are able to follow the teacher's instructions and to understand simple stories.
In grade one all instruction, including reading, writing, and arithmetic, is given in French. Speaking skills receive greater emphasis and the children get better and better at expressing themselves in French. In general, beginning at about grade three one period of each day is devoted to English language arts.
The aim of early immersion is functional bilingualism. Graduates are able to communicate comfortably in the second language while maintaining the same fluency in their mother tongue as their peers in standard English programs.
An important key to success is positive attitude in the home toward the language and the program.
Questions and Answers
Q. Does it matter if no one at home speaks French?
A. No, the program was designed for children of non-French speaking families. Teachers are aware of this when they send home notices or assign homework. Reporting is in English.
Q. Will my child learn the same things as students in English classes?
A. Yes, the curriculum must follow the guidelines of the provincial ministry of education. Materials in French cover the same basic program as in English; students work toward the same academic goals regardless of the language of instruction.
Q. Who teaches the program?
A. A bilingual teacher whose first language is French or who has acquired fluency in the French language.
Q. Are extracurricular activities in French necessary?
A. No, but desirable. Such activities provide other language models for the child to copy, demonstrate that French is a living language, and provide an opportunity for the child to practice and expand vocabulary in a non-structured setting.
Q. Won't my child's English spelling suffer?
A. Although there are certain lags in English language arts for the first few years of the program, these are almost all made up during the first year that subject is introduced. By the end of the elementary grades, immersion students frequently perform better than children in the regular program on several aspects of measured English skills.
Q. What if we're transferred to another district or province?
A. French immersion is available in most urban center of Canada. A child transferring out of immersion very early - before English language arts is introduced - may experience a brief lag in this subject. Consultation with the new teacher and some work at home overcomes this problem very quickly.
Q. Will French immersion affect my child's social development?
A. Studies have proven that early immersion students suffer no intellectual, emotional, or social impairment.
Student Support & French Immersion
Is assistance available if my child has difficulty in French Immersion?
Yes! Special education services are available to French Immersion students. These services parallel those of the English stream, however the language of instruction is French.
Assistance is available to students who have learning disabilities or to those who are exceptionally able.
We have had many children with learning disabilities successfully complete the immersion program. If students are experiencing difficulty, they are assessed to determine their learning needs. They are then placed on an individual support plan and the special education teacher provides modifications and remediation to assist them in overcoming these difficulties.
With early identification, the majority of children can succeed in learning a second language.
Do's and Don'ts
- Do read stories to your child in English, because English stories will not be heard at school for a time, you can fill the gap.
- Do encourage your child to watch French television.
- Do not attempt to correct your child if you are uncertain of the exact pronunciation or expression.
- Do not give in to the temptation to say, "Now dear, say something in French to Grandma." If your child is eager to speak French at home, encourage it, but do not make it a chore.
- Do not compare your child's progress with that of neighbours' children. No two teachers and no two students work at the same rate.
- Do let your child know that you are pleased with his/her progress.
- Do not expect your child to provide you with an account of each day's activities. Children take the routines of school for granted and often want a change of subject when they reach home.
- Do speak positively about the program, the teacher, and the school. Express any questions or concerns you might have to the teacher or principal, not to your child.