Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you use the Carden Curriculum?  The Carden curriculum works - that is why we choose to use it. The Carden curriculum develops the whole child - academically, socially, emotionally and physically, teaching children to think and to express themselves clearly and successfully. It teaches children how to learn, rather than focusing simply on what they should know. 

Originally developed in 1934, it has been used in hundreds of schools, both public and private, across the nation. There is a strong emphasis on academic subjects, which are taught in small groups.  The learning builds from one year to the next, so that children are taught what they are ready to learn each year.

Subjects are inter-related, joining poetry with science and language with numbers.  Language Arts integrates listening, reading, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, critical thinking, composition, and comprehension.  In Math, Language Arts, Science, and other subjects, children develop the ability to explain what they are doing, and teach it back to the teachers.  The teaching method leads to independence and accomplishment in study.

What do the students learn?

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Spelling
  • Speech (clear enunciation, fluent expression)
  • Vocabulary (program for every grade level)
  • Comprehension Techniques
  • Writing (penmanship, printing, cursive)
  • Grammar
  • Critical Thinking
  • Composition (guided and creative)
  • Literature (classics, prose, poetry, drama)
  • Mathematics (thorough, conceptual, applied)
  • Geography (California, USA, world)
  • History (American, Californian, Western Civilization, Ancient History, Biographies)
  • Science (concepts, experiments, observation, field work, Science Fair)
  • Physical Education (physical fitness, sportsmanship)
  • French (beginning in Pre-K: vocabulary, grammar, conversation, songs, drama, special celebrations)
  • Music (sight singing, major and minor keys, rhythm and phrasing, performance)
  • Art (appreciation and application)
  • Poetry (listening, composing, reciting)
  • Drama (plays including all students)
  • Latin (beginning in the 7th grade)
  • Self-discipline
  • Ability to learn independently

What extras does The Howard School offer?  The Howard School offers a well-rounded program that includes extras not offered at many other schools. The fine arts are emphasized, with strong programs in visual art, music, drama, French, Latin (in upper grades), computers, and physical education. Students participate in annual art and science fairs, which are open to the public.  We offer field trips throughout the year for all grades, and older students take an annual trip to a special location, such as Boston, Washington, D.C., Yosemite National Park or the Grand Canyon.

Why do you teach French?
The study of French enhances the comprehension of English.  “YourDictionary.com” explains, “The invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066 and the subsequent 200 years of French conquest resulted in the English language replacing almost half of its vocabulary with French words.” (In this last sentence, invasion, conqueror, subsequent, result, language, and vocabulary are all borrowings from French.) In addition to studying the language, the students enjoy learning French music and customs as well, including the annual “Galette des Rois” cake festival.

How are parents involved at The Howard School?  
Parents are encouraged to become involved, although we do not require volunteer service.  The school is governed by a volunteer board of directors, many of whom are parents.  A parent group oversees the Hot Lunch program and organizes or assists with special events, including all-school picnics, science and art fairs, theatre productions, fundraising events, school trips, and other activities.  Individual parents also chaperone field trips and help in the art classroom.  We value the professional abilities of our trained teachers, and our class sizes are small, so parents do not teach in the classrooms. 

How is reading taught?
The Carden method is a phonetically-based reading program. The Pre-Kindergarten students learn the names and sounds of the letters and the Kindergarten students begin the process of putting the sounds together. The Carden method emphasizes comprehension, the rhythm of reading, and the development of a mental picture of the words that are read.

Are students under a great deal of pressure to succeed? 
At The Howard School, to succeed is to learn and to enjoy learning. The school culture avoids pressure and rivalry. It encourages stamina and good sportsmanship and the development of personal responsibility. We avoid nervous strain and tension because competition is not a part of the learning experience. In addition, we believe that learning should be a joy, and that children should have fun while at school.

Is there a lot of homework for students? 
No. Classroom instruction is focused during the school day. Homework begins in the 2nd grade and increases from year to year as students increase their stamina and ability. However, except when special projects are due (such as preparing for the annual science fair), it should rarely take as long as an hour to complete. We believe that school time is for learning, and if students are to have a balanced life, they should not have to use their “free” time for additional schooling. 

Are computers part of The Howard School program? 
Students begin their study of computers  in Kindergarten.  In addition, middle school students are instructed in financial literacy in the computer lab, including budgeting and the cost of money.

How does The Howard School compare to other local private schools?  How are the facilities? 
First and foremost, we believe The Howard School offers the best value in private education in this area: a world-class education at a tuition level roughly half that of other schools. Our facility has a full-sized gymnasium, a well-equipped art room, technology in each classroom, a teaching kitchen, and plenty of outdoor space for recreation.  Additionally, the facility is surrounded by playing fields and a large park. We lease our space from Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, providing a win-win-win situation for the School, Girls Inc., and the community.  Because we share the facility, our expenses are lower than if we had to maintain it alone, allowing us to keep tuition low. 

Do you have a diverse student body? 
Because our tuition is more affordable, and because we offer tuition assistance, our students come from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, and locations – from Camarillo  to Goleta. 

Do you offer opportunities for community service? 
Absolutely. We feel it is important for students to understand their world beyond the schoolyard.  Students are taught leadership and responsibility in the community through participation in community restoration projects or hosting senior citizens at school performances.  They also participate in educational programs that promote relationships with local businesses and non-profit organizations.

How is the success of The Howard School’s program measured?   
The development of our students and the satisfaction of their parents are the key measures of our success, but we have "outside" indicators as well. Our Stanford Achievement Tests (SAT 10s) are a great indicator of our school’s achievements. Students who have been with The Howard School for two or more years test well above the national norms. In addition to academics, our students receive many awards, both locally and statewide, for their academic and artistic achievements.  A few examples include:  First place, statewide California Coastal Commission art contest; First place, Jason Project art contest for Carpinteria K-12th grade students; First place, S.B. County Daughters of the American Revolution history essay contest; First place, S.B. Symphony essay contest. Our students have gone on to succeed at top-rated high schools, both private (including boarding school) and public, and also attend excellent colleges throughout the United States. 

What qualifications do your faculty have?
Our teachers are required to attend regular educational programs conducted by the Carden Educational Foundation, which maintains, develops, and updates the curriculum to insure that it remains current and effective.  All teachers receive on-going instruction in both educational theory and methods, and in practical classroom application. Teachers are required to be just and consistent.

Is The Howard School affiliated with any religious group?
No. While we allow school prayer, it is our position that religious practices should come from parents.

Does the school accept students during the academic year?
Children are sometimes accepted during an on-going school year if there is room in the class and it is determined that the child will make a successful transition.