The recently relaunched policy of schooling children from 2 years of age is both a means of caring for young children and a measure to combat social inequalities in academic success. Firstly, we review the objectives of this national policy initiated in the early 1980s, before examining its realities through an empirical survey conducted in a nursery class in a priority education area. By combining observations of children and interviews with their parents and teacher, backed up by video montages, we show how the demands of school which young children face from the outset put some of them in difficulty, either in terms of physical discipline or their investment in schoolwork. The analysis also underlines the link between the participation of children in classroom activities and their peer-to-peer interactions, in order to show how differentiated sociocultural and gender-based responses to the expectations of school are also intertwined with the development of social relationships between children.
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