Frederick Douglass said that “once you learn to read, you will be forever free”. Teaching students to read and to love reading is a main objective in their early education, because it is a lifelong gift which will afford them success and fulfillment.
Mount Royal’s curriculum places a strong emphasis on reading fluency and comprehension, beginning in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten with basic phonics and early reading. At these primary grade levels, students acquire the building blocks to identify letter sounds and decode words. These skills are built upon in first and second grade, where students begin to read more independently while continuing to gain decoding skills through phonics. As students’ progress upward through the grade levels, they learn to identify key concepts in text, form written answers to comprehension questions and read with appropriate pace and intonation, all of which forms them into better and more accurate readers.
Lower school students at Mount Royal participate in a language arts program which ties together lessons in reading, reading comprehension, phonics, grammar, spelling, writing and penmanship. Students read a new selection each week, stories which expose them to every genre of literature over the course of a school year. Because the program is thus integrated, each subject is taught in relation to the other, allowing students to learn within the context of the selection and make connections between lessons. For example, they might compose a fable for their writing assignment while reading a fable for their weekly selection, or learn a rule in phonics which is repeated throughout all of their spelling words for the week.
As much as the mechanics of reading is necessarily emphasized, it is equally vital that students are shown that reading is something to enjoy and look forward to. Whether through the availability of good books in the classroom or daily story time in the lower grades or participation in our school wide reading challenge, students are reminded that reading is a refuge and there is always a friend to be found in a good book.