Reading courses offer instruction and remediation in reading comprehension and a variety of reading skills such as finding the main idea, sequencing, and cause and effect. These skills are taught through novels that are read aloud and discussed in class. At the end of each chapter, students are required to write chapter summaries and answer comprehension questions. Students further enhance their comprehension skills by applying the parts of the story puzzle map in the Project Read Comprehension Strand Program. Similarly, techniques and strategies from Lindamood-Bell’s “Visualizing and Verbalizing” program are implemented.
Language Arts/Writing courses offer instruction in grammar and written expression. The writing component includes personal narratives, descriptive essays, research papers, persuasive paragraphs, and expository writing. Graphic organizers and mnemonic devices develop a structured format for brainstorming and organizing ideas. Final drafts are published by using technology in the classroom. Students are also taught to revise and edit their own work. Another component of the Language Arts/Writing program includes grammar instruction. After concepts are introduced, students have the opportunity to practice their grammar skills through interactive SmartBoard activities, iPad apps, and applicable websites. Skills are reviewed often by completing workbook pages and other hands-on activities.
Decoding courses offer a multi-sensory approach in both reading and spelling. Based on Orton-Gillingham principles, the Wilson Reading System builds word attack skills teaching sounds and syllable types. Students use sequential word lists relevant to the skill being taught. Word lists, sentences, and stories provide the opportunity for students to practice their syllable rules. In addition, techniques and strategies from Lindamood-Bell’s “Seeing Stars” program are implemented within the decoding program.
Vocabulary courses reinforce new words that have been introduced in Reading classes. The vocabulary words are chosen from novels. Students have an opportunity to complete a variety of activities such as writing sentences and finding illustrations to visualize the definitions of these words.
The Banyan School Mathematics program offers small individualized groups and focused instruction using a variety of materials and strategies designed for students with special learning needs. Utilizing a multisensory approach, and an array of manipulatives, instructional materials are based on a developmental scope and sequence, and include basal texts, supplementary materials, and integration of technology into instruction. All levels of the K-8 curriculum are available, including Pre-Algebra and Algebra I. Emphasis is placed on the application of math skills to real life.
The Science curriculum provides participatory instruction through hands-on activities. A multi-sensory learning experience is enhanced through the application of technology. Outside presenters such as the 4H Club, an amateur astronomer and a paleontologist frequently visit the classroom, and relevant field trips are part of the curriculum as well. Annual projects include chick hatching, trout in the classroom, and our yearly science fair, at which students’ experiments are displayed on a science board that includes the scientific method. Families are invited to participate in Family Science Night and Star Parties are held throughout the year.
Our Social Studies curriculum covers a wide array of topics, including map skills, civics, current events, ancient civilizations, New Jersey history, and American history, from the Native Americans through the Second World War. Students are engaged in multi-sensory lessons that help them grasp important concepts and make real-world connections. Technology and educational videos are heavily infused into the lessons as well as hands-on projects that challenge the students to understand our past. Students learn firsthand about the election process, giving back to the community, planning activities, leadership skills, and what it takes to make important democratic decisions through our Student Council.
Students are given the opportunity to transfer skills learned in the classroom into a real life shopping experience. On a regular basis, all are provided guidance as they shop for healthy snacks and school supplies, using real money. While our inventory is generously donated by our PTO, our students are responsible for the running of the store and learn what it takes to run a business as they keep track of profit, expenses, and inventory.
Special Subject Areas
The overall curriculum is enhanced with the provision of Health and Physical Education, Art, and Music education courses.
Based upon individual needs, the related services of Counseling, Speech/Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy are all available for students. A therapeutic listening program is offered during the school day to students who might benefit from this approach.
Extended School Year (ESY)
Banyan School offers an Extended School Year program annually during the month of July. Participation in this program is IEP driven and the program is designed to maintain skills, in effort to decrease the potential of regression, which is sometimes experienced after an extended educational break. Similarly, students who might have difficulty recouping skills in September often benefit from participation in an Extended School Year program. Banyan’s Extended School Year provides ongoing instruction in the basic academic areas of reading, decoding, vocabulary, written language, and mathematics, while enhancing participation with a variety of theme based activities that incorporate social skills, life skills, and technology. School hours are 8:15 – 12:15, Monday through Thursday, during the month of July.