Lyonsgate Weekly Update | Friday, Nov. 15, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Community,

We almost had our first snow day of the school year this week! Please check the “Handbook Highlight” section of this update for information on how we call and communicate snow days.

Speaking of snow, please be sure children have appropriate outdoor weather gear each day, and that EVERYTHING is labelled: mitts, hats, scarves, even boots. Many children have the same or very similar winter wear.

This week, your children’s classroom French assistants are discussing the importance of second language acquisition to developing learners. Be sure to read them all!


We survived the first big snow fall of the school year! The children have been excited to tell us all about their snow experiences as they enter the classroom. So wonderful to hear them tell us stories and have conversations with us about what they do with their families.

Language acquisition is a big part of the toddler experience. Right now they are in a sensitive period for language. The children learn language by hearing others speak around them. This is what makes having a second language in the classroom so exciting. Not only are the children learning the complexities of the English language, they are also learning this new foreign language they haven’t heard before, French. Children are forming more and more synaptic connections in their brains as they learn and make connections with the world around them. Repetition strengthens these connections, and the stronger the connections the more impact they have on language as the children grow older. The earlier we start with language, as well as introducing a second language, the stronger the connection the children are able to form.

Learning a second language in the toddler room creates many meaningful opportunities to learn alongside one another. The children are able to help each other understand what I am saying in French and are able to make connections to the words I am using through actions. It is an amazing experience being able to watch a child grasp a concept I am saying in French and follow through. The simple task of getting a tissue becomes more complex when I am asking them to do so in French. It requires them to focus and be attentive to see what I am saying and gesturing to. Once they think they have figured it out, their eyes light up and they walk over to what they think I asked them to do. Using the French language gets the children to use analytical thinking to break down what I am saying and figure out what parts they understand.

Language is a beautiful tool the children can use to communicate with us. Children are able to be more independent, use grace and courtesy, and use more complex thought when they have the language to do so. French heightens everything that the children learn as another layer is added to everything they do. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help the toddlers learn another language and to support them through their journey!

Note to parents:

  • As you begin to prep for winter, please ensure clothing items and boots are practical for toddlers. Avoid things that are too tight or otherwise complicated; avoid cloth/knit mittens as they get wet and little hands get cold; and try to leave enough time in the morning to have toddlers dress themselves in their outerwear (and let them practice in the evening).

Mlle. Noordam

Casa South

Dear Casa South families,

We’ve officially survived our first week of snow this school year! Naturally, with all the extra articles of clothing brought into the cloakroom, comes yet another opportunity for the children’s language to develop. When children learn a new language, they progress from sounds, to words, to conversation. At first, children are curious and most interested in knowing the name for everything. Understanding that a hat can also be le chapeau comes quite naturally for some. Grasping the concept that one single object can have more than one name for it isn’t always easy, but when one child knows the English and French (maybe even Spanish or Africaans) name for something, they don’t hold back from sharing it with their friends. The conversations that happen in the cloakroom are so precious, with children reminding one another to put on their bottes and their mittaines! There’s definitely some franglais that can be overheard. I can still remember one student who spoke almost always in Spanish at home; his English and French developed so rapidly when he came to Lyonsgate and it was truly effortless how it seemed for his brain to switch from the different languages. Every time he got ready for recess, he’d start listing off hat, chapeau, gorra! That enthusiasm is all it took for others to join in.

Communication through written or spoken word plays a key role in allowing us to form a connection or bond with one another. It’s what makes us human, where we can express our feelings and our needs to the world around us. Babies come into this world crying and will do so when they need something. They’re hungry or they’re tired or they need their diaper changed, but they don’t know how to tell us; so they cry. It’s frustrating when, even as an adult, you know what you need but you can’t explain it. Of course, we all know the importance of learning to speak for ourselves, and when children learn a second one, their awareness of communication only increases. In the Montessori environment, there’s a reason language (in all aspects of the classroom — sensorial, culture, etc.) is introduced at such a young age. The Toddler and Casa students are still young, yes, but between 0 and 6 years of age is when they are in a sensitive period for language acquisition. Their brains are quite commonly compared to a sponge that soaks up everything in that environment. Maria Montessori called this the Absorbent Mind. In other words, it is the ideal time to learn language. Montessori explained this to be the reason it’s more difficult to learn a language when you’re an adult. While language acquisition is a subconscious process and learning is conscious the children are privy to both in the classroom. They subconsciously retain things that they hear and learn new things through presentations. In fact, people who speak more than one language have denser grey matter, which basically means the part of the brain dedicated to memory, reasoning, and planning is larger.

This adaptability benefits them to be able to communicate with new people with new dialects around the world. Learning a second (or third) language goes a long way to setting children up for success in future endeavours, travel, or work opportunities. It’s also a lot of fun!

Merci! Bon weekend,

Mlle Paul

Casa North

Using a second language is like going on a different path to arrive at the same destination. No matter which path you take, you’ll get to where you’re headed. However, what matters most is the journey.

When we use a second language it teaches us humility and self-confidence! We don’t remember how many times we fell before being able to walk like we do, but we will probably remember the mistakes we made while using a second language (at least the big ones!), and yet we will try again and again. We are quick to discover that it is mistakes which help us grow, and that truly help us learn.

When someone learns a second language, their thinking and memory skills improve. Their thoughts become deeper and more meaningful, and it helps them to think in new ways. Having a second language makes us create new connections in the brain and develop different perspectives on the same ideas. This helps us to see the same world from two (or more) different angles. Bilingual individuals can concentrate better and ignore distractions more effectively than those who only speak one language.

Each language brings with it its own culture that enhances an individual’s knowledge of the world. The uniqueness of expressions, grammar, and where to place emphasis in each language will show many different perspectives.

Merci, M. Bouquin


Salut tout le monde! This week is about how learning another language impacts all aspects of learning. I’ll begin with some general benefits of foreign language acquisition which include: improved memory, improved decision-making skills, improved cognitive abilities, and a better understanding of one’s first language.

The children in Lower Elementary learn a new language through listening, and for most here at Lyonsgate they began this aural learning at a early age in the Toddler or Casa communities. Listening skills vary from child to child and following the child will decide when each individual is ready to begin examining sounds and blends in the written word. In our classroom, I will begin with the letters that have the same sounds in English and French so as not to confuse the child. In this way the two languages are reinforcing each other. Often in Upper Elementary, when the students study language in more depth, they develop a better understanding of how their first language works. Sentence structure can be compared and contrasted.

In our classroom, we have specific French materials which are often game-based to encourage oral communication, pattern recognition, and problem solving. However, as the children’s fluency in and knowledge of French grow I can assist them in math in French. Looking at Roman Numerals in French is an easy transition for most children who have just enjoyed that lesson in English. In fact, math can be done at all levels in French. I recently suggested to the Upper Elementary students that they give their answers in French instead of English when practicing flash cards. Command cards are a great favourite in English and as the children learn to read in French they are a great way to boost a child’s confidence. The kinesthetic element to reading and acting on what you have just read is also used in the AIM program which produces our wonderful French plays every year. This year as part of our dramatic arts program we hope to learn our way around the stage in both languages. Our cooking and food preparation endeavours are consistently performed in both languages. It is always fun when a child realizes that certain cooking terms originated in French!

As always it is a pleasure for me to be the one to learn alongside your children in French. Thank you all for choosing to make French an imortant part of your child’s learning.

Madame Egan

Handbook Highlight

You can find your Lyonsgate Parent Handbook under the “Parents” tab at

Lyonsgate takes advantage of the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board inclement weather process, which tries to post cancellation notices by 6:00 a.m. If HWDSB closes, so does Lyonsgate. If there is a snow day, we will communicate that to you as early as we can in the morning via email,“Home” page, and Facebook. For your information and reference, the process HWDSB uses to determine whether or not to close schools is in the reference section of your Parent Handbook and can be found on page 137 in the viewer.

Coming Up

Please remember to make your Lyonsgate calendar a part of your regular routine.

  • Parent Observations: for Casa and Elementary families are continuing throughout November. If you have not signed up for an observation time slot yet, please do so using the following links:



  • Parent-Teacher Conferences: take place on Friday, November 29; there are also a few afternoon/after school time slots during the weekdays leading up to the Friday. There is no school on Friday, Nov. 29, but childcare is available during your conference time. Click here to select your child’s class and a conference time.