Aux Petits Soins, founded by Paris native and Lansing resident Gaëlle Cassin- Ross, is a French language immersion class for babies and toddlers designed to take advantage of that fact.
“My French culture is a very important part of my identity, and I think it’s important to impart that identity on my son,” Cassin-Ross said. “I’ve noticed a lot of Americans are enamored with French culture, so this is an easy way for them to get into it through their children and to share something special that they can’t get anywhere else.”
The goal of this program is to provide an environment where babies and toddlers are immersed in the French language. Cassin- Ross teaches 10-week French immersion sessions where she engages with children through singing songs, reading books and leading activities completely in French.
“My 0-3 class is a very interactive class,” Cassin-Ross said. “Babies don’t speak, so I make the parents speak a lot.”
Teaching children was not always in Cassin-Ross’ plans. After earning a Ph.D in molecular biology in France, Cassin-Ross moved to the U.S. in 2009 when she landed her first job, at MSU as a postdoctoral associate researcher at the Plant Research Laboratory.
Cassin-Ross is a new mother, and when she was on maternity leave last summer, she would take her son to various baby-centric activities around town.
“I started to go to all of those mom groups and I would speak to my son only in French,” Cassin-Ross said. “I would speak to the other babies in French because it’s much simpler for me.”
The other mothers heard Cassin-Ross speaking to her son in French and approached her about teaching their children French. After enough requests, Cassin-Ross opened Aux Pettis Soins in March. Aux Petits Soins is a French idiom, roughly translating as “giving tender attention.”
Cassin-Ross’ longterm goal is to build a French-speaking community in Greater Lansing. She plans to organize events, such as French cooking nights or movie nights, to create a more immersive environment for parents who are also interested in learning the French language.
“Aux Petits Soins is the first part of what I see as a long-term cultural investment in my community,” Cassin-Ross said.
Kelly Toland is the mother of 5-month-old Charlotte, a student of Cassin-Ross. Toland majored in French in college and hopes to speak French with her own children. She travels from Grand Rapids to attend the class.
“I lived in France for a year,” Toland said. “It was important for me to speak French someday to my children as much as I could, but I had never imagined I could share that with her when she was that young.”
Cassin-Ross is wrapping up her first Aux Petits Soins session, and she hopes to expand in future sessions by involving parents with the 0-3-year-old session and helping the 3-6-year-olds become more independent in their French immersion experience. She will also continue to teach private lessons.
“It’s not just about language, it’s about culture and creating a French community,” said Cassin-Ross. “That’s what will get people to be bilingual.”
Classes are held at the Willow Tree Family Center and Mother & Earth Baby Boutique. More information is available at facebook.com/auxpetitssoinsllc.
Aux Petits Soins Demonstration
Events (all events FREE) 10 a.m. Saturday, June 20 Mother & Earth Baby Boutique 1212 Turner St., Lansing
10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 25 East Lansing Public Library 950 Abbot Road, East Lansing
10 a.m. Saturday, June 27 Mother & Earth Baby Boutique facebook.com/auxpetitssoinsllc
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