Let your children explore French language, culture and learning this summer at Franc-O-Fun French for Children, which offers a unique summer French language experience here in Wilton.

Wilton resident Kimberly Fox started Franc-O-Fun in 1995 in her Sharp Hill Rd. backyard. It has since burgeoned into a flourishing program that offers weekly, after-school French classes for children ages 3-10 as well as two Summer French Camps in June and July.

C’est magnifque! This year children (ages 3-10) are invited for one week of French Cooking Camp during the last week of June (June 26-30) and/or for two weeks of Cendrillon (Cinderella) French Camp, (July 10-21), which also includes cooking and crafts. The camps will take place at the WEPCO Church Complex (48 New Canaan Rd.).

There’s a certain charm to Fox’s original method, teaching everyday French language and culture to young children, using stories and a variety of real-life themes.

“During the three weeks, the children speak, sing and breathe French with intensive learning and fun, sweeping children up into a world of fairytale fantasy, effectively and drastically helping them to improve and grow in their acquisition and fluency of  French in just a few weeks,” says Fox.

Brand new beginners to intermediate are bienvenue (welcome). All students are immersed in French with the use of puppetry, fairytale musical theatre, original song sign language, games, finger-play, arts & crafts and French Cooking;  children ages 6 and older work on reading and writing French as well. Target vocabulary is very carefully crafted so that children are exposed to it repeatedly throughout the day to build retention and comprehension. Key words and phrases are incorporated into the activities, helping children to memorize the language almost effortlessly.

Fox has selected this summer’s fairy tale story, that will be thematically woven through the two-week July camp. Based on an original French classic, Cendrillon (Cinderella) et Ses Nobles Chevaliers (and her noble knights) has much for both girls and boys. Original songs are written specifically for the students and on the last day of camp, the French campers perform in a large-scale performance for their families, complete with costumes, scenery, and music–tout en Français!

Fox says one key to the children’s success is the hands-on teaching method she employs.

“Kinesthetic learning—using sign language along with the words—really helps the kids absorb,” Fox said. “We tell stories together in French using our bodies and facial expressions. The results are truly remarkable.”

Age also comes into play in learning a language, according to Fox. Over the years she has found that children under age 10 are less inhibited, more inquisitive and enthusiastic about trying new sounds. Her observations are backed by current research, which shows that the brain’s ability to learn a new language is highest between birth and age 6, and drops considerably after puberty.

“Wilton public schools offer French and Spanish in third grade, when children are around 9 or 10 years of age. Franc-O-Fun began as a way to bridge the gap, meeting the need for foreign language to begin at an earlier age,” she explains.

Fox says that her students’ parents are most excited about the ways their children are able to apply French to their own lives. Some parents reported their children recognize French words in everyday settings, like ballet class. Others have watched in surprise as their children taught numbers and letters to younger siblings.

One parent, Julie Dustin, went so far as to put her daughter’s skills to the test in France. “We spent a month in Paris last fall, and her confidence was great,” Dustin said. “She ordered from a restaurant menu, from a butcher shop—it was just so delightful to see it in real life.” Another mom commented, “We started with the summer camp and Emily absolutely loved it,” she said. “Right away she was speaking, reciting the colors and the alphabet. We were amazed. Now, if she sees or hears a French word, Emily is quick to recognize it.”

Fox is deeply moved by former Franc-O-Fun students’ continued pursuit of their French and by their comments as they look back over the foundation they received.

Natalie, who not only was a Franc-O-Fun student beginning at age 3 and continuing all the way through to age 10, continued on with Fox’s program from age 11-13 when she worked as a “junior assistant counselor in training” at French Camp.

“Being a part of Franc-O-Fun made a huge impact on my life,” she reflects. “I started as a shy 3-year-old and grew in confidence enough that I was even able to sing a solo in one of the French plays. I had a teacher who was consistently compassionate and patient with me until I felt comfortable opening up to talking and singing. When I started taking French at my public school in 6th grade, I already knew all of the curriculum up through my 10th grade year! I truly believe that I would not be who I am today without my experience over the years with Franc-O-Fun.”

During the other 10 months of the year, Franc-O-Fun also offers not only weekly, after school classes but also “ladies’ conversation and grammar” classes, as well as a tutoring service for middle- and high school students to boost confidence, focus on pronunciation, prepare for quizzes and tests and engage in conversation.

There are still spaces available for the Summer French Camp experience, and Madame Fox awaits your call or email avec impatience!

For more information visit the Franc-O-Fun website or call 203.762.5645.