National Presbyterian School strongly believes reading skills should be built to last and to enrich for a lifetime. This belief is the foundation of the curriculum and directs the instructional program in the five essential components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

The School provides explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics in Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade. Through Orton-Gillingham's multisensory approach, teachers use sight, sound, touch, and movement to help students connect language with letters and words. Word Study begins in Kindergarten and continues through Sixth Grade as students learn strategies to decode and understand vocabulary encountered in increasingly complex texts. At all levels, students learn that reading is an active process, and that they must use various strategies to integrate information from the text into their present knowledge base. In addition, Reading Workshop is utilized in Kindergarten - Sixth Grade as part of a balanced literacy program.

Children enjoy many opportunities to discuss and evaluate the information they gain as they read and are read to. Students are exposed to rich, engaging literature through a variety of reading experiences. You will find Kindergartners reading big books together, Second Graders in a guided reading group, Third Graders dramatizing a favorite scene in Reader’s Theater, and Sixth Graders conducting their own discussion in literature circles. Students in all classes and at all levels enjoy read-aloud books and participate in a weekly Library class to select books for personal enjoyment.

This multi-faceted approach to reading instruction develops strong comprehension skills and nurtures a life-long love of reading and literature. NPS draws from a wide range of resources to best support students in our balanced literacy model including: Zoo Phonics (N-K), Wilson Fundations, Orton-Gillingham, Fountas and Pinnell, and Columbia University Teacher's College Reading Workshop.

Language Arts

Our language arts program is rooted in the belief that oral and written communication skills are essential to helping students develop a sense of themselves and to share their diverse experiences and perspectives with others. Nursery and Pre-K students begin their journey as natural oral storytellers. Homeroom and drama teachers nurture this talent and build upon it with opportunities to reenact events or dictate ideas into a journal. As the children move from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade, teachers introduce them to the Writing Workshop model from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Writing Workshop focuses on select units of study including narrative, opinion/argument, and information writing with the goal of increasing the complexity and sophistication of student work. The school uses Handwriting Without Tears for both print (PK–2) and cursive (3–4) instruction.

Learning in Action

Students build kinaras from unifix cubes

An integrated lesson for Pre-Kindergarten students that combines Social and Global Studies, Literacy, Fine and Gross Motor Skills, and Math

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Literacy Overview


Contact Us

Colleen Ryan
Director of Studies

Laura Primrose
Director of the Lower Division
(Age 3 - Grade 1)

Susanne Rusan
Director of the Upper Division
(Grade 2 - 6)