The language arts program teaches students to read confidently, write effectively, and communicate in an articulate manner. The program strives to develop competent readers who appreciate literature, as it lays a foundation for creating life-long learners.
The curriculum is based on traditional ideas about the subject matter of literature, grammar, spelling and writing. Language arts skills are taught in every grade daily, for varying amounts of time depending on the grade level, and are designed to maintain the student’s confidence at his or her ability and performance level. The foundations of reading are taught in Kindergarten through third grade by using a modified whole language approach with a strong emphasis on phonics. The students are offered numerous enrichment and remedial activities to supplement the curriculum according to individual needs. From fourth grade through eighth grade, the emphasis is less on word attack skills and more on content using various type of literature and its obvious forms (poetry, short story, novel, fiction and nonfiction selections). Basals, trade books, anthologies, Junior Great Books, novels and other appropriate materials are used as resources.
The writing program stresses the importance of following a recursive sequence of brainstorming, thinking and planning, rough drafting, revision, proofreading, and final composition. The program of sequential writing skills builds throughout the students’ experience, beginning at the Kindergarten level and culminating in eighth grade. The overall goal of the writing curriculum is to foster and encourage focused and clear thought and to convey it through concise, effective and vivid prose and speech. All students are published every year in one of the school’s literary magazines. The Lower School’s print magazine, Cougar Cub, is published twice a year, and the Upper School’s online magazine, Cougar Online, is published four times a year.
The language arts program strives to create a balance between reading, grammar, writing, spelling, and vocabulary and is closely integrated throughout all subject areas at all the levels in the school. Thus, there is fostered an appreciation of learning in addition to an understanding of the close relationship between the disciplines.