If students can read well and understand what they are reading, half the academic issues are sorted there itself. We are not an English speaking country / state or city. From std 3 onwards, the academic material starts increasing sharply in difficulty level. If English reading / understanding is a problem, then tuition classes are needed as the children get older. Then, they end up doing everything twice (once in school, once with the tuition classes) and run out of time for additional learning. It also makes the children hate studying. This holds back the child’s progress overall.
As the children become better readers, their vocabulary and fluency also increases and they become more comfortable using the language. Then their comprehension skills, expression ability in English also improves and they can even have better conversations in the language! There is a huge difference in the reading ability of the kids who have grown up in Walnut right from the beginning and in those who join in higher classes!
We invest a lot of time in developing the reading skills of the children and we do it right from Nursery itself. We have even changed the sequence of the alphabet when we teach it to them in Nursery. The first 6 letters we teach are a, c, t, b, m, r. Right after the first three letters you can form the word cat. Then bat, mat, rat. So within three weeks of starting school the kids figure out that letters have sounds, sounds form words and they can read! They start trying to read everything that they see around them. Their brains start processing letters that they see around them. They learn basic phonic sounds, then blends and clusters.
We use UK’s banded books for our reading program. With the early start, they get ahead on the learning curve pretty quickly and our Sr KG students start reading at grade 2 level! If a reading weakness remains (like in other schools) academic problems go on increasing after Std. 2 and it becomes more and more of a struggle.
See how confidently our students read by following this playlist on YouTube.
ENGLISH AS A CORE SUBJECT
We give special attention to reading and understanding. From std 4, for English, students also use a novel as a textbook. That makes the classwork and home assignments really meaningful and interesting. There is a better story build up and also more scope for creative assignments. The novels that we use are part of a series, so if they develop an interest in it, they can explore the rest of the series as well! They also get exposure to the conventional textbook and instead of focusing on rote learning here, they get a lot of personal opinion questions to answer.
Students create original works – just like an artist – but by using just their skills in the English language. In the 1st and 2nd standard, they observe the parts of a story, how characters and plots are created and details are added. They develop their own story and at the end of the year, parents have a published book to read that their child has written.
Students do a lot of creative writing as a part of their home assignments. As they grow older they have more and more personal response questions and have to create original content and present it in many different formats. They also have assignments where they are analysing movies and giving a critique, writing a review or twisting the story in a certain way.