Classic and contemporary children’s literature, along with literature connected to our Global Cultural History curriculum, is used throughout the language arts program. We believe in a developmental approach to reading instruction and our views align with current brain research which suggests that most children learn to read between the ages of five and seven. We combine a developmental philosophy with a traditional approach to reading instruction and language acquisition.

In addition to the English Language Arts (ELA) content standards set forth by the state of California, Seven Arrows’ goals for the reading and language arts program in the lower school (kindergarten through grade 3) include:

  • Fostering reading and writing independence
  • Building upon fundamental reading skills
  • Developing new comprehension strategies
  • Recognizing literature as a rich source of enjoyment and knowledge
  • Developing and strengthening phonics and spelling skills

Writing projects in the lower school include fables, autobiographies, and dramatic monologues for the Masquerade. Beginning in kindergarten, our students are exposed to print-rich literacy environments and receive explicit instruction in phonics. By the end of kindergarten, most students have moved beyond the emergent reader stage to simple primer-level chapter books.

Throughout the lower school, students learn about features of literature such as authors, illustrators, title pages, and book dedications—all of which they apply in their own writing (through text and pictures). They also work on developing “good reader” strategies such as using pictures and contextual clues to identify unknown words and phrases. In alignment with our individualized goals, students who have developed solid reading skills are introduced to texts designed to reinforce and build upon those skills and to expand their growing vocabularies and comprehension. After students enter third grade, they are increasingly asked to work on developing their ability to understand texts both literally and interpretively.

As students transition into the upper school (grades 4 through 6), they are challenged to read and think critically about more-complex materials such as short stories, novels, excerpts, plays, nonfiction, and expository and persuasive texts. Through established grammar, skill building, and vocabulary programs, students continue to deepen their understanding of language structure, grammar, and conventions while practicing reading strategies and engaging in intensive vocabulary building.

One of the goals of the writing program in the fourth and fifth grades is to help students gain clarity in expressing their ideas. They learn about and experience writing in a variety of genres, including personal narrative, response to literature, exposition, research findings, and persuasion. In sixth grade, students delve deeply into the elements of literature including universal and recurring themes and are exposed to diverse genres and authors. Literature studies in grade 6 are often integrated with the drama program as students read and analyze selections by Shakespeare (Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Winter’s Tale, to name a few past studies); their study culminates in a performance of the work.

Throughout their time at Seven Arrows, students develop a keen interest in reading and writing along with the critical thinking skills necessary to successfully compete in the 21st century. Some standard curriculum resources used at Seven Arrows include:

Lower school language arts resources:

  • Fundations
  • Handwriting without Tears
  • Units of Study for Primary Writing (Calkins et al.)
  • Units of Study for Primary Reading (Calkins et al.)
  • Core Literature and Sacred Books
  • Leveled Readers
  • Teacher Created Resources
  • Raz Kids
  • Reading Plus
  • Wordly Wise

Upper school language arts resources:

  • Core Literature (to include Sacred Books)
  • Leveled Readers
  • Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5 (Calkins et al.)
  • Units of Study for Teaching Reading – Grade 3
  • Wordly Wise
  • Daily Oral Language
  • Classical Roots
  • Reading Plus
  • Actively Learning