The ability of children to express themselves will in writing is a major goal of the Lower School curriculum. Students in all grade levels are given many opportunities to write in a variety of formats and across all subject areas.
Students are taught a process of writing which encourages them to generate ideas, order thoughts, develop an idea, and make appropriate word choices. Teachers develop units of study that focus on a range of writing genres such as personal, narrative, non-fiction, or memoir. Each unit is designed to develop specific writing skills. In each unit of study, students choose one or more pieces of writing to “publish”, revising and editing their work so that it is the best is can in content, structure, and mechanics.
Separate lessons and materials for spelling are offered.
The Lower School program adheres to the philosophy inherent in the developmental approach to education. Whole language, which recognizes that language is learned best through its use (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) in authentic contexts, is balanced with the teaching of letter recognition and phonics.
From Kinder 3 to grade 5 students are exposed to a variety of children’s literature to develop English vocabulary, comprehension skills, and to foster a love for reading. In addition, whole and small group lessons are used to teach phonics and other grade appropriate reading skills. The students are given time for independent and guided reading using stories from textbooks and popular trade books that promote their progress as readers. Reading is often related to topics being studied in social studies and science.
Children learn the D’Nealian alphabet in Kinder 3. The transition to cursive handwriting begins in grade 2.
Legibility is encouraged at every grade level. In grades 2 to 5 keyboarding and word processing sills are also practiced.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Beginning early in their school experience, students are taught the importance of being good listeners; speech is developed through a variety of classroom activities. We encourage and develop the children’s abilities to express themselves orally. From relating experiences and retelling a story or book read, to participating in group discussions and giving orals reports, Lower School students’ verbal skills are constantly being practiced and polished.