Language arts in the Lower School encompasses reading, writing, and comprehension. Our program is designed to develop the foundation children need to become successful and independent readers and writers. From the 4-5s, students are encouraged to choose books and explore them on their own, with a friend or with a teacher.
At the youngest age, children participate in a variety of activities that help them to differentiate letter names, sounds and words as they expand upon their knowledge of print and their understanding of stories. Oral language continues to be a primary means of communication for the 4-5s. As they move on to the the 5-6s students work in individual, small and large group settings to develop and practice the skills and strategies associated with figuring out words: using context and picture clues, analyzing phonics, and identifying sight words.
Writing stories really begins in the 6-7s, where children write their own words and stories and read them to others, are exposed to interesting literature, use written language for daily tasks, and directly learn the skills and strategies for reading and writing. Through a series of discussions and activities, 7-8s students deepen their understanding of the various components of a story they began learning about in the 6-7s, such as character, setting, and plot. Once these concepts are galvanized, students are asked to utilize them to create their own stories.The writing program is aimed at helping students express themselves more fluently and creatively. Children are encouraged to reflect upon their writing through their own experience.
As students enter the 8-9s and 9-10s the focus of the work is to enhance comprehension skills and develop a deeper understanding of the texts they read. The emphasis of literature discussions and assignments will be on reading critically, comprehension, interpretation and inference, and appreciation of literature.
During writing, children develop stories from their own experiences and imagination. Writing this year will be integrated throughout all areas of our curriculum. The goal is for the students to write so that their ideas are effectively communicated. They learn to strengthen their sentences by working on parts of speech, punctuation rules, and spelling. In the 9-10s’ students have a Writing Workshop twice a week. During these times children will be presented with a specific writing genre, tool, or craft to explore. Their writing journals will be a gathering place for their ideas and rough drafts. Over the course of the year, some of the units may include memoir, persuasive writing, and poetry. Writing Workshop includes teacher and peer conferencing, as well as sharing times in which students can read both work in progress and finished pieces.