In Language Arts, our goal is to equip students with critical thinking and communication skills needed to be successful in the 21st Century. At every grade level, our program encompasses reading, writing, listening, speaking, and critical thinking skills. Teachers incorporate differentiated curriculum and instructional strategies in lessons to reach all learners at their developmental levels and unique learning styles.
Westlake Christian School’s Language Arts program concentrates initially on the literacy components necessary for emerging readers. The elementary grades utilize a comprehensive program which includes reading, spelling, grammar, and writing. Reading strategies, comprehension skills, vocabulary enrichment, and introduction of literary terms are taught through an anthology comprised of rich text. Leveled readers are also included for meeting students’ needs in small groups. Essentially, Westlake Christian School reading instruction encompasses best practices in teaching reading, and all of the areas highlighted in the National Reading Panel’s recommendations for optimal learning: phonemic awareness, phonics, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
In kindergarten, students focus on pre-reading skills such as phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, and the alphabet as they build necessary skills for beginning readers. With excitement and pride, they read mini-books to the administration, their parents, and to each other. In the primary grades, students continue expanding reading skills through direct phonetic instruction, whole group reading lessons, and guided reading groups. They acquire independent reading strategies, recognition of sight words, and practice fluency to assist them in the reading process. As the students move through the upper elementary grades, they read for depth and meaning, practice fluency, and learn comprehension skills including the use of schema, inferring, and synthesizing. In addition, Accelerated Reader, a computer-based reading comprehension program, is used in the elementary grades to monitor the understanding of students’ independent reading.
Instructing students in learning and developing their written communication skills is an important, school-wide component of Westlake’s Language Arts Program. Utilizing the same writing program and instruction throughout the entire school, our writing experiences start as early as kindergarten with continued mastery expected throughout the elementary school years. The curriculum calendar offers instruction in narrative, informational, persuasive, and poetic writing that fits into a spiral curriculum for work that crosses students’ school experience. Our instruction enables students to work in each of these fundamental modes with increasing sophistication and with decreasing reliance on scaffolds.
Further, our Language Arts Program emphasizes both spelling, grammar, and vocabulary features that impress on students the need for correct spelling and grammar combined with the knowledge and ability to use adequate words for oral and written communication.