Language is one of the most precious gifts God has given to his people. It allows us the ability to think, to imagine, to express our thoughts and feelings, to learn and share the wonders of our Father’s creation. We use language to build Christian community and to respond to our Heavenly Father with prayer and praise.
Language involves listening, reading, writing and speaking. We need to lead our children to become competent in using all aspects of language in a meaningful way. God has made each one of us to be unique individuals with our own rate of development. As Christian teachers we value programs and teaching methods that allow for individual responses and learning styles, and will permit children to achieve success at their own pace.
Teaching of Language
Our teaching of language recognizes that the various areas are interdependent and they need to be taught that way in class. Students are taught phonics, word attack, grammar, vocabulary and spelling as part of language studies using short stories, novels, media studies, writing, drama, and poetry. We focus on reading, phonics (Working with Words) and writing.
During Reading, we focus on comprehension skills – those that help readers make sense out of the print on the page. We also work on our reading fluency – the smoothness with which we read the text. The teacher will teach the whole group a lesson about a particular skill using a story from the anthologies, storybooks, story or text usually used in another subject. Afterwards, the students practice reading in pairs or small groups. Then, the teacher again works with the whole group or groups of children to discuss what they have learned. Sometimes students do a written or oral activity as a response to what was learned. Students will get a great deal of support from their teacher, from their classmates and will work toward becoming better readers.
Working With Words (Phonics)
Students explore words, word families (patterns), spelling and phonics. They are shown how to use what they learn in their reading and writing. We focus on five different strategies:
(1) The correct spelling for high-frequency, often irregularly-spelled words are taught and displayed on the Word Wall in the classroom.
(2) Students are taught how to decode and spell one- and two-syllable words based on words they already know with such activities as Brand Name Phonics and Making Words. During these activities students use letters to make dictated words, sort the words for beginning sounds and patterns, and use the patterns to decode and spell new words.
(3) Students are taught that spelling rhyming words is not as easy as decoding them because some rhymes have two spelling patterns. In English spelling there are often two common spelling patterns with the same pronunciation. The only way to know which spelling is correct is to write it one way and see if it “looks right” or check the probable spelling in a dictionary. These lessons help students learn how to use these two important self-monitoring spelling strategies.
(4) Students are taught key words containing the major prefixes, suffixes and spelling changes and how to use these to decode, spell and build meaning for many polysyllabic words. This is based on more sophisticated patterns which require that students understand how words change in their spelling, pronunciation and meaning as suffixes and prefixes are added. Each month a specific number of words are introduced and practiced. They are often used as the Spelling program, along with other challenge words from other subject areas.
(5) Students are taught to use cross checking while reading and a visual checking system while writing to apply what they are learning as they engage in meaningful reading and writing. This is done by an activity called “Guess the Covered Word”.
During writing students learn to think about and use their knowledge of phonics, grammar and word usage to write compositions. Along with applying phonics, they have an opportunity to practice penmanship, to learn about the writing process, grammar and the mechanics of good writing. The six traits of writing are used. Students are encouraged to look at ideas, voice, word choice, organization, sentence fluency and conventions when writing. Every day, the teacher models writing to teach a skill. Students then write their own story or composition. On certain days, the students work individually with the teacher to learn to correct their errors, and they publish some of the work as special pieces to be enjoyed by other classmates.