We spend most of our energy focused on 2 areas: Literacy & Mathematics. This document will explain in detail how this progression takes place beginning with children who are age 2.
- Phonemic Awareness
- Word Analysis/Fluency
Since we focus on teaching literacy in 3 languages, we heavily focus on front-loading as many of these components as we can beginning at age 2.
While some vocabulary is developed naturally through the immersion process, students learn much more when we augment that with explicit vocabulary instruction.
Next we start with phonics and phonemic awareness. Phonics are the sounds each letter makes and phonemic awareness is basically the recognition that words are made up of different sounds or phonemes. Think about words like "you" or "are." These words have only one syllable and only one "sound." It is difficult for the early learner to recognize that these words are constructed with multiple letters. These are considered irregular and English is full of these types of words. It's important to carefully scaffold and select certain examples to teach this principle uniformly. A one syllable word like "at" is a better choice to teach this idea that words are made of up a blend of unique sounds or phonemes. This is taught by dragging out the sounds separately and then saying them together "the fast way" . It would start with "aaaaaat" then said the fast way "at." The purpose here is to teach with many examples the idea that words have different phonemes that when said in a specific order reveal the word. You would subsequently add the "m" or "c" phoneme to the beginning and practice blending the 3 phonemes together: "caaaaaaaat" --> cat; "mmmmaaaaat" ---> mat; etc. This is all done orally. Later on once we start the process of teaching reading directly (usually around 3.5) the kids have 3 out of the 5 elements that form their reading foundation in place. This is the curriculum we use for phonemic awareness which is outstanding at teaching this in a very systematic way.
The Grade K reading curriculum
we start at 3.5 years old does an excellent job on focusing on comprehension from the very beginning and with continued practice students are able to build reading fluency quickly.
In terms of writing, much of the work done in arts/crafts and other parts of the day are designed to develop fine motor skills early on. Excellent fine motor skill development is critical to legible writing early on. For our students, they must be ahead of schedule when compared to other children their age. If not, later on, they will not be able to complete the writing portions of their assignments even if they can read and answer the questions correctly.
Lastly on literacy, oral language development is an essential part of both reading and writing. We have an internally developed curriculum that we use to teach oral language. We invested a substantial amount of time and an enormous amount of money into the development and refinement of this curriculum in both Spanish and Mandarin. It is nothing short of exceptional and employs a very different approach to language instruction.