What is the Carden Curriculum?

Carden is intentional.
Carden is incremental.
Carden is unique.

At the core of our academic program is the Carden curriculum, which is a strong phonetic approach to reading and spelling, while using analytical thinking tools to better understand the written word for reading comprehension. Miss Carden’s philosophy and teachings stress mastery in content and develop problem solving skills through a structured, stimulating, and sequential academic curriculum.

The curriculum concerns itself with the development of the whole child. Carden is a highly individualized approach which meets the particular needs of the learner. There is continuity from grade to grade. The Carden vowel chart, which begins in kindergarten, is still the basis for the spelling lessons in sixth grade. Grammar is used as a tool of comprehension at all levels.

Learn more about Highlander School’s history with the Carden Method curriculum.

Mae Carden

Mae Carden

Mae Carden (1894-1977) was one of the outstanding educators in twentieth-century America. She developed an effective reading method for teaching reading, as well as a comprehensive elementary school curriculum.

Miss Carden held a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College and a Masters Degree from Columbia University. In 1934, she established “Miss Carden’s School for Young Children” in New York City. During the next ten years, she developed a distinctive method of teaching spelling and reading based on phonetics. Miss Carden wrote student’s readers and teacher’s manuals. Also during this time, she developed a comprehensive, sequential curriculum, which covered the usual subjects in an integrated way.

In 1949, Miss Carden closed her school, founded Mae Carden, Inc., and dedicated herself to disseminating her teaching methods. By 1960, ninety schools in New York and New Jersey had adopted the Carden Method. Reluctant to have her work compromised, Miss Carden shared her methods with and sold her books only to people she felt were devoted to applying her methods in a consequential manner.


To learn more about the Carden Method, please visit the Carden Educational Foundation. Link to