ESD embraces a balanced literacy approach, combining explicit phonics and word study instruction with a reading and writing workshop model to grow decoding, fluency, grammar, and comprehension skills for all readers. ESD’s literacy program draws from numerous curricula, which allows for differentiation based on students’ needs. Reading and writing are taught in tandem using whole group instruction and guided literacy groups. All students are immersed in different genres and exposed to a vast array of authors and illustrators.
The ultimate goal of ESD’s Lower School language arts curriculum is for students to read, write, speak, and think critically. Students experience the power of language as they communicate with others, express themselves, and engage in inquiry discussions with their peers. Reading and writing are the tools that help children find out what they want to know and are the platform upon which critical thinking skills are built. At ESD, literacy goes beyond basic skills and includes the higher-level abilities to think critically and creatively; to reason carefully; to inquire systematically into important matters; to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information; and to communicate effectively to a variety of audiences in a variety of forms.
Students with a diagnosed reading disorder receive reading instruction from two certified language therapists. Therapists push into kindergarten and first grade classrooms, working with small groups and looking early for reading challenges. Students in grades two and three receive the Take Flight curriculum specifically designed for students with dyslexia.