Preparing Boys for Life

Lower School introduces Superkids literacy program

The Lower School Superkids literacy program, introduced this year by Head of Lower School Dr. Pam Greenblatt, is tailored to the needs of students in the foundational pre-kindergarten through second grade years. 

In a single day, kindergarten students experienced several different Superkids lessons. First, they continued their study of the letter “d” by learning about Superkid Doc, who likes to “dibble and dabble” around, fixing old broken toys. They went to the Design & Engineering Studio for a special lesson with the Upper School woodworking and design teachers to learn about basic tools and fix-it strategies.

Later, the boys completed the Daily Routine which focused on identifying words with the ending sound /d/, and practicing handwriting. During the lesson, they focused on listening to words that use the letter “d,” sounding out the letter “d,” and blending the letter "d" with previously learned letters to read words like “odd” and “dog.” The Daily Routine reinforces skills that are crucial to providing a strong foundation for young boys, including: phonemic awareness, dictation, and handwriting.

We have noticed a tremendous improvement in the boys’ abilities to identify beginning, middle, and ending sounds during the phonemic awareness segment of the Daily Routine. Erin Helfrich

“We have noticed a tremendous improvement in the boys’ abilities to identify beginning, middle, and ending sounds during the phonemic awareness segment of the Daily Routine,” said Erin Helfrich, kindergarten teacher. “They are able to hear slight differences in words, which serves as a building block to decoding and encoding skills. The daily handwriting practice has helped to reinforce correct letter formation and builds automaticity with the letter names, sounds, and formation. It's important that boys build automaticity with letter formation; in early grades, handwriting is linked to basic reading and spelling success.”

Before leaving for the day, the boys practiced the writing portion of the Superkids curriculum, creating their own "ouch" stories about a time that they've been hurt or injured. They drew a picture, labeled the sounds of the objects in their picture, and then presented the picture to the class, practicing public speaking, eye contact, and presence.


As a faculty, we are implementing research-based practices that align with what 20 years of research tells us about how the brain learns to read. Dr. Greenblatt

“As a faculty, we are implementing research-based practices that align with what 20 years of research tells us about how the brain learns to read,” said Dr. Greenblatt. “One of the first steps in learning to read is tuning into the sounds in our language, so we instruct students how to differentiate sounds in a word. For example, we emphasize that the word “cat” is made up of three sounds. We then work with the students to be able to manipulate that information so that they can map letters onto sounds as they progress.”

Superkids lessons integrate all aspects of language arts: oral language, auditory processing, phonemic awareness skills, letter naming, decoding, reading fluency, vocabulary development, encoding, writing mechanics, and the writing process.