Students are first introduced to letter sounds and phonics. Constant repetition using a variety of methods helps students develop a solid foundation. Children watch educational videos which makes learning attractive and fun. A variety of books are readily available and special time is set aside each day for students to enjoy hearing stories read out loud. Not only do we include fiction literature, books belonging to the non-fiction genre are also read to our students. This encourages curiosity and interest in science, geography, and history from childhood.
The first step to good handwriting is holding the pencil in the correct position. This vital skill is taught from the very beginning. We teach letter formation, accurate hand movements, and proper body posture. Each letter is carefully written multiple times. Continuous review guarantees our students become comfortable in scripting from an early age.
The school follows the Voyages in English textbooks, as part of the curriculum. Students are taught the structure and conventions of the Modern English language with an emphasis on the basics. This includes the identification and understanding of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, subjects, predicates, and other branches of grammatical conventions. Continuous review of previously taught concepts ensures that our students become extremely confident in their knowledge.
Interactive activities make learning grammar an easy and interesting subject. We also teach students editing and proofreading for capitalization, sentence endings, usage of commas and apostrophes, and hyphens. A thorough understanding of sentence structure leads into sentence diagramming where students are taught the identification of sentence parts and the visual representation of such parts.
Aiming to enhance student’s vocabulary range, word root vocabulary instruction is incorporated into the curriculum. We teach units on prefixes, suffixes, and word endings. Learning root words enables students to decipher meanings more easily, which leads to gradual vocabulary expansion. By understanding root words, children find it easier to decipher the meanings of more difficult words. Class discussions around the contextual usage of multifaceted words forms an important part of the curriculum. Teachers provide students with ample opportunities to show their full grasp of complex words.
We expose students to quality fiction and non-fiction literature. Emphasis on reading classical novels is one of the core foundations of our curriculum. Books are chosen carefully to ensure that the thematic elements in the stories revolve around good moral values.
Students are taught how to read. We place importance on reading out loud with expression, stopping at periods, and pausing at commas. Students are encouraged to look up the meaning of difficult words. There is detailed instructional emphasis on inferential deductions and summarization, as well as author’s purpose and main ideas. In-depth discussions during literature circles encourages students to share their opinions and helps them to make connections with the characters and stories. This promotes a better understanding of the text. The culminating activity of novel studies is the production of book reports which showcase the student’s understanding of various story elements. On average, our students compile 3-4 major book reports per academic year.
We teach essay writing using a comprehensive approach with an emphasis on good organization. We believe the first step in becoming a good writer is the ability to compose essays with organized structures. Students are taught how to accurately compose sentences, write attention grabbing introductions on their topic, detailed paragraphs in the middle, and conclusions which paraphrase the main ideas in the paper.
It is imperative for students to practice and use good handwriting. Not only does this make writing on paper easier and less tiresome, but students also derive benefits from this in mathematics. Our students’ algebra work is more legible and, therefore, reduces the chance of making an error from misreading a number.
In this age of technology, we also believe it is critical our students learn the essentials of computer keyboarding. Good posture and paying attention to typing movements may appear trivial but we believe learning to be mindful of such details has long-term benefits.
We teach our students spelling strategies and patterns using phonetics. The children are encouraged to understand and think about how similar words use comparable letter arrangements. With constant review, children become excellent spellers who don’t learn word spellings through memorization, but by visualizing and sounding out letter sounds and recognizing patterns. This enable our students to read beyond the level typical for their age group and to enjoy reading good literature because it is within their grasp.
Speaking and Listening
We instruct our students in speaking and listening skills to ensure they can talk to groups, be understood, and also evolve into empathetic listeners. This important part of education is stressed during in-depth discussions in literature circles and their involvement in the junior level of the Toastmaster’s Gavel Club held regularly at the school. Our students learn to step out of their comfort zones and become confident when sharing their ideas and thoughts in front of an audience. We urge students to use good body language and powerful vocabulary words to make their points. Students learn how to frame the content of their speech in a cohesive manner and with positive reinforcement.
They also practice extemporaneous speaking during the Toastmaster’s Gavel Club meetings when each student is assigned a topic and asked to speak on it without prior knowledge or preparation. These real-world skills are critical for students to master as they move into high school, college, and later the working world.