We continually strive to integrate language arts with all areas of study.
Teaching language arts separately, but also using language arts in many other academic areas, allows the children to learn language arts skills and to apply these skills in practical ways. This approach allows children to use their reading and writing skills to explore other areas of study.
Our goals are for students to become independent and critical thinkers and to experience joy in reading and creative expression.There are clear scope and sequence in the language arts program, reflected in each child's progress report/curricular record. The curricular record ensures that children from kindergarten to eighth grade are taught the necessary skills progressively in the areas of oral communication, writing, reading, and interpreting text of many kinds
The many objectives in the curricular record are taught through various methods of instruction and a variety of presentations. The high degree of student participation in class and the positive attitudes children display toward language arts at Countryside show the success teachers have in finding interesting and exciting ways to teach these skills.
Beginning in first grade, the children are exposed to a structured grammar program teaching basic skills through the SRA series. The second and third grades use "Word Wizards" to explore grammar and language skills. The fourth and fifth grades use the SRA series and Daily Language Review to continue the development of grammar and reading skills. The middle school level uses Daily Grammar Practice. Middle School students also learn and use grammar skills through peer editing and a revising of their own written work.
Countryside School's emphasis on writing begins in kindergarten and is broadened every year. The children write not only during scheduled language arts time but also throughout the day. Children can be found writing math story problems, journaling about a social studies simulation, compiling a science report, or making an advertisement for an upcoming event. All these applications bring writing to life, give writing a purpose, and provide the children with chances to apply skills to real life experiences.
Beginning in kindergarten, Countryside School students are exposed to lessons in vocabulary and spelling. In addition to targeted language arts instruction about roots, prefixes, suffixes, spelling rules, and patterns, vocabulary study is integrated with every curricular area. Students learn vocabulary words in the context of what they are studying in science, social studies, math, world language, music, art, and physical education.
Children in grades K-3 at Countryside learn to read individually and in small peer groups of three to eight children. These reading groups are based on each child's instructional level. Children are exposed to both the phonetic approach and to whole language as they learn to read using literature books. Fourth through eighth grade classes learn the different genres of literature through the reading of contemporary classics. Throughout the students' years at Countryside, they are exposed to many masterpieces through the use of the Core Knowledge curriculum, the Junior Great Books program, and other award-winning books and novels. Children often read books that correlate with science or social studies topics they are currently studying, bringing joy, fun, and excitement to those lessons.
The school aims to instill in students a love, appreciation, and enjoyment of reading. Comprehension is emphasized as students are asked to analyze, interpret, evaluate, and discuss works of literature. These discussions are typically lively and broad ranging. They challenge students to think about diverse views of humanity. Children learn to respect the ideas of others, and through the breadth of their readings, develop a richer multicultural awareness.
While there is no formal library in the school, each elementary classroom has a large collection of both fiction and non-fiction books while middle school classrooms store books and materials related to the appropriate content areas. For example, the Middle School Lit Room houses over 1,600 books.
Public Speaking is another important part of Countryside School's program. All grades emphasize presentations in class to both small and large groups of children. Through oral presentations in class, sharing time, choral readings, and plays at an early age, science fair presentations, oral reports, and even a living history museum, Countryside provides many opportunities to speak in front of others.