Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic
Seven Oaks Classical School marks a return to the commonsense tradition of American public education. Our curriculum excels in the "3 Rs": Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.
We introduce students to reading and writing through an explicit phonics program. Beginning in Kindergarten, students will learn all 71 phonograms of the English language and the rules for their usage. Instead of relying on sight words or word families, our students will learn to decode virtually any word in the English language.
Our approach to math combines drilling in basic math facts with a curriculum that builds a conceptual understanding of mathematics. Rather than relying from an early age on a calculator or an iPad, Seven Oaks students will develop the ability to do complex mental math with ease. Rather than applying formulae without understanding, our students will learn to think mathematically.
Reading and Writing: The Riggs Method
In the early grades, we use the Riggs Institute's The Writing & Spelling Road to Reading & Thinking. This program begins with the most basic elements of writing, including posture and letter formation, and then moves to sound/letter relationships. These phoneme/grapheme relationships are taught together as explicit phonics, in isolation (without key words, pictures or letter names), as recommended in the 1985 federal synthesis of reading research done by the nation’s leading reading professors. See “Becoming a Nation of Readers” (BNR). Research suggests this multi-sensory approach is well-adapted to preventing and correcting learning disorders, and to establishing high levels of literacy in virtually all primary children.
The curriculum as a whole is language-rich. Building on the foundation provided by the Riggs program, students will learn grammar through diagramming. They will learn cursive, and they will practice writing frequently, with attention to penmanship and spelling, as well as content. Their vocabulary and comprehension will grow through constant reading and discussion of great literature. In order to unlock the the meaning of English words, third grade students will study Greek and Latin roots words. Then, beginning in fourth grade, students will study Latin, the basis of roughly two-thirds of the English language, not to mention Spanish, French, and Italian.
Arithmetic: Singapore Math
Mathematics instruction in America used to stress mathematical understanding and skill in mental math. Today, countries that have focused on mathematical reasoning are excelling while America's math scores decline. Seven Oaks has stepped outside the mainstream of American textbooks to use a curriculum that was devised in Singapore, the nation that consistently ranks at the top of the world in math. Here is a case where the time-tested is now cutting-edge.
Singapore Math emphasizes the development of strong number sense, excellent mental-math skills, and a deep understanding of place value. Concepts are arranged in a logical progression and are taught to mastery. In general, the curriculum proceeds from the concrete (using manipulatives) to the pictorial (using printed materials) to the abstract (using algorithms). This emphasis is reflected in Singapore Math's strong emphasis on model drawing, a visual approach to solving word problems that helps students organize information and solve problems in a step-by-step manner.
In this way, students gain a solid understanding of basic mathematical concepts and relationships before they start working at the abstract level. By the time students get to Algebra I (typically in eighth grade), they already will have learned to think algebraically. The algorithms they use will make sense. They will not just do math, they will understand it. As a result, more of our students will see the beauty and order of mathematics, and they will have developed the habit of thinking logically to solve problems.