Language Arts

The emphasis in the language arts program is written expression. Beginning in first grade, students learn the process of writing. From pre-writing to editing a final draft, students are given opportunities each week to write in many genres like creative stories or expository essays. We strongly adhere to the premise that to improve as a writer the key is to practice writing.

Instruction in spelling, vocabulary, and grammar are taught systematically each week to enrich the writing process. The writing process gives purpose to these elements. For example, it is important for children to understand good grammar because good grammar enables writers to clarify their ideas to their audience. Similarly good writers need a well-developed vocabulary that enables them to select the appropriate word that matches the thought and feeling they hope to convey. We also afford interested students the option of studying advanced word lists or taking online courses in vocabulary development through Northwestern University. These include learning vocabulary through Latin and Greek roots, and they also include formal Latin classes available for seventh and eighth grade students.

Through years of shaping, students emerge as competent writers who can wield the power of the pen. 

The Birchwood Writing Program

Children learn to write by writing. They learn to write creative stories by writing creative stories. They learn to write descriptive compositions by writing descriptive compositions. They learn to write expository and persuasive compositions by writing expository and persuasive compositions. From Benjamin Franklin to Stephen King, writers consistently attribute their success to their practice of writing frequently and persistently. At Birchwood, students are trained to write complete compositions weekly, often completing 20 to 30 works per year. The success is measurable. Every year our teachers and parents are amazed at the improvement in a child’s performance from the first composition of the year to the last.
The joy of writing. When students write complete compositions weekly they discover the excitement of putting their own ideas on paper. Students find that their writing is an extension of themselves. It becomes an outlet for self-expression and gratification.

Universal writing competency. When students complete compositions weekly they become competent writers. While not all children will become great writers, all children can become competent writers. 

Modeling good literature. Teachers provide students good models from good literature to teach sentence structure, word choice, story structure, creativity, style, and voice. Children practice imitating the models and gradually improve their own writing.

Writing and reading. A child’s writing will also improve the more a child reads. As children become avid readers, the elements of good literature find their way into children’s compositions. Plots, characters, settings, writing forms, and styles become imprinted in a child’s mind through reading.