The importance of Grades K-8 language instruction cannot be overemphasized. For millions of Americans, these years offer the only formal education they will ever receive.
Grades K-3: Children learn to recognize speech sounds and to write the letters that represent them. Children learn how to hold a pencil and write legibly. They learn to identify nouns and verbs, when to capitalize and to put periods at the ends of sentences. They learn to spell the words they use the most.
Grades 4-6: Children perfect their reading skills and build a fund of general knowledge by reading for many hours outside of school. Children talk and write about their reading, supporting their opinions with references to the text. They continue to build vocabulary and spelling expertise. By the end of the sixth grade, they can write a legible paragraph free of elementary sentence-level errors.
Grades 7-8: Students are ready to address more mature reading and writing topics. They continue to build vocabulary, general knowledge, and a mastery of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. And yes, they receive practice in writing the five-paragraph essay. By the end of the eighth grade, they have achieved a level of basic literacy, a most important consideration in light of the one-in-four US dropout rate.