The Carden Method

The Carden Method

Created by Mae Carden and maintained by the Carden Foundation

The Carden Method® is a proven teaching technique that combines rigorous academics and character development, essential components of a whole-child education.  We strive to educate our students in an atmosphere that is warm and nurturing, to provide an education that is thorough and challenging and to develop each child’s capacity for leadership.  Carden Conejo offers the tools necessary for students to become superior in reading, mathematics, language arts, science, public-speaking, literature, listening and analysis while allowing for personal expression within a well-rounded experience in the arts.  Carden allows for an awakening of both the left and right sides of the brain.  Growth begins with three-year-old children and continues through elementary school, each level reinforcing and building upon the strengths gained by the student during the previous year.

The Carden Method® is a curriculum developed to mirror the way children think and learn.  It offers the tools necessary to establish a full depth of understanding in the areas of spelling, reading, language arts, writing and reading comprehension.  Using both sides of the brain to analyze written material, form a mental image, rhythmically group words in sentences and apply rules that govern our English language, students are able to not only spell with superior skill but learn comprehension techniques that will serve them throughout their educational careers.  The Carden Method not only meets Common Core Standards for Language Arts, it surpasses it.

The Carden Language Method® presents the English language so pupils gain an understanding of their native tongue and attain the ability to use it correctly when reading, speaking or expressing thoughts in written form. The goal of the Carden Language Method is to teach pupils to think using analysis of the sounds of the English letters and the rhythmic grouping of words within sentences.

The Carden Method® introduces pupils to reading through a reading-readiness program, Learning to Listen. As the children answer a lively series of questions, they develop a thinking process: look – observe – relate. The teacher helps children:

  • Improve their powers of observation
  • Develop their visual imagination
  • Develop their ability to communicate ideas correctly
  • Enunciate their words properly
  • Improve their ability to concentrate

The Carden Reading Method® uses five components to teach reading:

  1. Analysis of words using the sounds of English letters in their many combinations
  2. Rhythmic grouping of words within sentences
  3. Identification of the keyword of each sentence
  4. Summarization by using the keyword to create a title
  5. Recalling events in sequence

Reading instruction also includes applying functional grammar and developing vocabulary. These tools aid comprehension and offer each child:

  • Security in learning
  • Development of self-reliance
  • Development of good study habits

The phonetic foundation for reading begins by training the child in listening to words spoken rhythmically. This technique awakens in the child a realization of the rhythm of the spoken word. The child is taught to listen to a word, recognize it and say the word. The teacher helps establish correct enunciation and pronunciation, verifying that each child understands the word by clarifying the child’s mental image of the word and giving the child an opportunity to communicate their thoughts.

Once the children are able to recognize reading’s phonetic foundation, consonants are introduced. Each consonant is associated with a familiar object, person or act, to help children avoid confusion in the identification of letters. When recognized, the name and sound of each consonant is introduced.

As the children learn the names and sounds of the consonants, they are taught the construction of the eight letters formed using the shape of the letter c (c, a, d, g, q, o, e, s). The children do not copy the letters; they construct them. After learning the letters formed on letter c, the children are taught the paired letters (lh, nm, ij, kf and rt) and the letters with bent legs (v, w, y, z, u and x). The letters b and p are presented following mastery of the other letters.

Children are then introduced to the vowels, and are taught to identify vowels in given words. With these letter identification tools at their command, children are taught the two-vowel rule, applied in words where the first vowel gives its “name sound” due to the presence of a second vowel, which is silent. Children are given a reader and a workbook, which uses only words following this rule, providing children the opportunity to apply this rule with security and success. As children gain confidence in their reading, they are taught spelling of words which are constructed with e as the second silent vowel.

Children learn techniques for developing rhythmic reading and correct word groupings when sentences are introduced. Teacher questioning helps children recognize the presence of a keyword or keywords within a sentence. Further questions aid vocabulary development, enabling children to organize the content of a single sentence. The Carden Method aims to enable children to read sentences, not words. As soon as children master the concepts of phonics, rhythmic reading and keyword control of sentences, they are introduced to the skill of grouping related sentences into a unit of thought. This process of developing reading competence using consonants, vowels and applying the two-vowel rule is repeated for the single vowel, the vowel combinations with r and with w, and other combinations of the vowels and consonants.

Many spelling difficulties are avoided by training children to recognize the pitch of the long vowels, which are controlled by the placement of the second vowel within a syllable. Words varying from the general rule are grouped together and their variation from the regular pattern is explained. French and Greek phonetic rules that apply to English words are explained and mastered through the use of special readers and workbooks.

In order to address individual differences, children are divided into groups, with each group proceeding at its own pace. Self-teaching enrichment material is provided for children after successfully completing the Carden material and the basic readers (of any series). Our curriculum teaches two or three classics at each grade level as a part of the enrichment reading program.

Once correct oral reading habits are established, children engage in silent reading, followed by oral and written questions. Reading speed increases steadily by combining the techniques of rhythmic reading and sentence analysis.

The skills mastered for reading become the tools by which the child learns to construct sentences, paragraphs and compositions. The writing of original stories is encouraged.

Pre-primary to sixth-grade materials consist of teaching manuals, charts, subject manuals for each grade, readers, workbooks, spelling workbooks, language books and monthly tests. Carden academic materials are available through the Carden Foundation and require annual teacher training to ensure the integrated Carden Method is taught correctly.