Elementary School Curriculum
Elementary teachers at Ann Arbor Christian School have developed innovative ways for children to learn through an integrated approach to the curriculum. While benchmarks set by the state of Michigan generally determine science and social studies units, teachers develop those units in a way that integrates Biblical truth, math, reading, and writing. Our kindergarten is a half-day program (with an optional aftercare program in the afternoon). In grades K-2, teachers help students build a solid academic foundation, learn to love Jesus, and learn to care for others. In grades 3-5, kids continue to grow in their academic skills and their discipleship, and are expected to assume more responsibility for learning.
Mathematics is one tool by which we better understand the way that God designed the universe. Students come to value God’s sense of order and precision as they learn to think mathematically. They are encouraged to be mathematical problem solvers while developing skills in number and operation, patterning, geometry, measurement, probability, and analysis. Although our balanced math curriculum provides ample opportunities for hands-on experimentation and problem solving, teachers also ensure that students develop strong skills in basic mathematical operations. Application of mathematics knowledge is essential to our instructional methods.
At AACS, students begin to develop a passionate interest in and sense of wonder about God’s creation from the day they walk in the door. Teachers use hands-on activities and technology in new and innovative ways, and integrate reading and writing projects to reinforce the scientific concepts being presented. For example, when the third graders study Light & Sound, they read a book together about Helen Keller, do a creative writing project about a person who is deaf, talk about what it means that Jesus is the Light of the World, and observe the contrast of light and dark in a piece of art. Within this framework, children are encouraged to compare and contrast and explore the relationships between subjects.
Language is a gift from God and should glorify and serve Him. Our language arts program balances both phonics- and literature-based approaches, which creates life-long readers, confident researchers, and writers who demonstrate clarity, logic, persuasiveness, creativity, and accuracy. By combining phonics and whole language, the curriculum addresses the needs of the new reader and the advanced reader and various learning styles. It provides opportunities for both kids who are still learning to decode as well as kids who are reading proficiently or above grade level. Students learn to use Scripture as a basis for analyzing what they read, write, think, and say. This approach helps students appreciate the diversity of human experience, culture, and values, and to evaluate spoken and written messages.
In addition, the school is very excited to implement the F.A.S.T. curriculum system this year. Short for Foundations of Analysis Synthesis and Translation, the F.A.S.T. system is a very systematic, multisensory, and powerful method for teaching reading and spelling using phonological (sound)and orthographic (symbol) processing for students of all abilities.
Developed in 1988, the program has demonstrated astonishing results. Students tutored and taught using the FAST system were making significant gains in a much shorter period of time than with other methods.
While FAST was originally established as an intervention program, it has proven to benefit all students to learn to read efficiently and effectively. Students taught using this systematic process gain a highly reliable method for decoding and spelling (encoding) unfamiliar words.
Book Character Day has become an important way that the school celebrates literature and authors.
Students develop an understanding of how God’s hand works in history, and how Christians can make a difference in their communities and the world. Language arts is integrated into social studies units, so that students are often reading a book or writing an essay or story that relates to the subject area. The curriculum is designed to start with the familiar and expand beyond that each year. Therefore, students learn how a community functions, then about Ann Arbor, then Michigan, and are introduced to U.S. history by studying Pilgrims, the American Revolution, and Westward Expansion.
Our main Bible curriculum provides a systematic study of the Bible that will lead students to discover that God, who manifested Himself in the Old Testament, is eager to manifest Himself today in the lives of children who will enter into fellowship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. Students are led through the study of the Bible in a way that encourages them to process Biblical truths and apply Biblical principles to daily living. Students learn to depend on the Bible as perfect, complete, and as relevant today as when it was first written. They also are challenged to develop an informed Christian worldview, cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus, and rely on the Bible to provide a daily foundation for life.