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 guide the framework of our curriculum, teachers develop those units in a way that integrates Biblical truth and connects various subject areas. Our kindergarten is a hybrid model that allows for both half-day and full-day, with the option to transition from half-day to full-day each quarter (see below for details). 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, students continue to grow in their academic skills and their discipleship and are expected to assume more responsibility for learning. We strive to provide a strong academic experience as strong or stronger than any other area school while infusing it with genuine and meaningful Christian faith integration.
Kindergarten: Half-Day and Full-Day
We understand that both half-day and full-day have great appeal for different families. As a result, we wish to offer a hybrid model to provide both options.
In short, the first half of the day will consist of more core subjects and topics that will prepare them well with critical skills for first grade. Students who attend half-day will be picked up at 11:45am. Students who stay for the afternoon will have lunch and engage in additional curriculum-based activities, such as science, social studies, and enrichment in math and language arts. Additionally, the afternoon schedule will include specials (physical education, art, music, Spanish, and Chinese), afternoon recess, a rest time, and purposeful play. By moving “non-core” curriculum to the afternoon, we will also create a more balanced pace for the morning class. Additionally, at least one of the specials will take place in the morning along with recess to provide balanced breaks from the core academics.
For our purposes, language arts, mathematics, and Bible will be referred to as “core” subjects for our kindergarten.
Our current plan is to offer natural entry points for families who begin half-day but wish to transition to full-day. At the start of every quarter, families will have a chance to make this transition. This also allows the teacher to make the needed adjustments each quarter to welcome friends into the afternoon.
For consistency reasons, there will not be a “drop in” option or the option to mix half days and full days in a week. For students in half-day kindergarten, we offer an optional aftercare program in the afternoon until 3:15 p.m. Aftercare includes various activities and a rest time, but is not a formal extension of kindergarten.
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.
Science units include animals, plants and trees, insects, the human body, space, simple machines, and electricity. All students are invited to participate in the school’s annual Science Fair.
We recently transitioned to a new science curriculum based on the Next Generation Science Standards.
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, multi-sensory, and powerful method for teaching reading and spelling using phonological (sound) and orthographic (symbol) processing for students of all abilities.
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.
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.
Knowing that young minds are ripe for language exploration and that the stretching of the mind benefits other areas of learning, students in grades K-5 spend a semester in Spanish and a semester in Mandarin Chinese. These two languages were chosen because they are the most “future oriented”. While learning Spanish and Chinese, the students learn about important cultural aspects related to each language in order to develop a fuller appreciation of our broader world. In addition, it prepares students for the work of spreading the Good News to more people.