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Lower School Language Arts

From early on, we instill a love of reading and writing—so you can master the power of language, express yourself through words, and write your own unique story.

Nurturing Young Readers and Writers

The language arts program in Lower School is focused on oral language, vocabulary development, reading, writing, literature, grammar, handwriting, and spelling. Teachers strive to meet the needs of individual students by differentiating instruction to accommodate a wide variety of learners. Activities throughout the classrooms are thoughtfully planned to teach specific skills and foster a love of literature and language. As students progress through Lower School, they learn to write for different purposes and different audiences, all in the comfort of a safe and nurturing learning environment.


In pre-kindergarten, language is developed through listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Teachers carefully guide students through this process as they learn the fundamentals of print and language.

In pre-kindergarten, students may:

  • Experience a variety of literature
  • Improve their listening skills
  • Understand the rhythm of language
  • Identify letters, words, and symbols
  • Expand their vocabulary through stories
  • Acquire phonetic awareness
  • Discriminate first-letter sounds
  • Recognize their own name and meaningful words in print

In kindergarten, the pages in books come to life as students become actively involved in the stories they hear read aloud, and the stories they read by themselves. They continue to develop their language through listening, reading, speaking, and writing.

In kindergarten, students may:

  • Develop letter recognition and the sound-symbol relationship
  • Begin to put sounds together to form words and put words together to form sentences

In first grade, our curriculum is rooted in a phonetic approach, paired with a rich variety of literature.

In first grade, students may:

  • Focus on reading and language skills, and vocabulary development
  • Read independently as teachers tailor reading materials to the skills and needs of each individual
  • Listen, share, and analyze a wide range of literature each day

In second grade, students build on and strengthen the phonetic skills and comprehension strategies learned in first grade. Their vocabulary expands, and the transition from phonetically based books to literature begins.

In second grade, students may:

  • Explore numerous literary genres, authors, and writing styles
  • Complete open-ended projects that allow students the opportunity to show what they’ve learned in their own unique ways

Students in third grade focus more on current and classic children’s literature.

In third grade, students may:

  • Develop reading comprehension and vocabulary skills through world analysis and critical thinking
  • Become more independent in their writing
  • Strengthen written responses to what they are reading

In this course, students read various genres of literature, to develop skills that guide them in identifying and analyzing plot, theme, setting, and characters. Students make predictions and analyze texts for various meanings as they begin to study novels.

In fourth grade, students may:

  • Focus on classic and Newbery winning novels
  • Explore non-fiction through biographical readings
  • encourage empathy for characters and deeper understanding of story components

In fifth grade, the emphasis shifts to reading comprehension. Students begin thinking analytically about what they are reading in new and complex ways.

In fifth grade, students may:

  • Summarize abstract ideas, predict ideas, and examine the author’s purpose
  • Make inferences based on provided facts
  • Direct their own learning during literature circles and reflect their ideas during discussions and in writing

Creative Writing and Grammar

Our pre-kindergarteners learn to tell stories with words and actions. They begin to experiment with letter-like symbols, progressing to inventive spelling.

In pre-kindergarten, students may:

  • Participate in journaling
  • Manipulate all forms of writing implements
  • Write from word cards and letters dictated by others
  • Begin to write with a purpose

Kindergarten students develop skills in journal-writing and expressing their own ideas, beginning with pictures and writing phrases.

In kindergarten, students may:

  • Participate in creating classroom and individual stories
  • Tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end
  • Communicate their ideas in complete sentences

Now is when students are introduced to the writing process.

In first grade, students may:

  • Begin to generate ideas, write short drafts, and edit and publish their own works
  • Learn about capitalization, end punctuation, grammar, and correct spelling

Students begin to use the writing process with greater independence in second grade.

In second grade, students may:

  • Choose a topic, organize their ideas using a web, and develop plots as they write in a variety of genres
  • Write paragraphs with a main idea and supporting details

Throughout the year, the mechanics of grammar, spelling, and handwriting are applied to a variety of creative and expository writing projects.

In third grade, students may:

  • Participate in personal and peer editing, making necessary revisions for mechanics and content
  • Demonstrate a command of standard English principles

In fourth grade, students begin to determine the audience and purpose for their writing tasks. Using the writing process, students find their voice and produce original works in a variety of genres.

In fourth grade, students may:

  • Reinforce their mastery of basic English skills
  • Learn the value of speaking, listening, researching, and technology in the writing process

As fifth-grade students continue to work through the stages of writing as a process, they create multiple-paragraph narratives and expository compositions.

In fifth grade, students may:

  • Extend their knowledge in sentence analysis and identifying parts of speech
  • Become familiar with revision strategies for developing coherent ideas, clearly structured sentences, and effective word choices