In the earliest years, the Language Arts program focuses on the communication skills children need to express themselves. In the process of communicating with others, the children increase their vocabularies and their sentences become more complex. As their facility with language becomes more sophisticated, they are able to experience the satisfaction of the give and- take of conversations. The need to communicate leads children to recognize that letters make up words and that words express ideas. From this recognition comes the eagerness to practice the decoding skills necessary for becoming an independent reader. As visual and auditory discrimination skills develop, City and Country children are introduced to the symbol system through a mix of phonics instruction and whole-language-based techniques inspired by trips, block work, and other everyday activities.