Lower School students at AIM Academy actively engage in the process of learning through a multi-sensory interactive approach. Through our curriculum, mapped to the Common Core State Standards, aligned with IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards, and E. D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Curriculum, students build fundamental academic skills while also developing an awareness of interdisciplinary connections. As students progress through the Lower School grades, they continually develop the academic and executive functioning skills needed to meet the increasing demands of our Middle and Upper Schools.
Lower School Divisions: Primary and Intermediate Grades
The Lower School is divided into Primary Grades (Grades 1-3) and Intermediate Grades (Grades 4-5). In the Primary and Intermediate Teams, teachers work side-by-side with our Wilson teachers, department coordinators, curriculum director, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and school psychologists to maximize student academic growth and achievement.
Starting with our youngest students, we develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, and support each child's ability to thrive in collaborative and dynamic classroom environments. AIM Lower School students are taught how to become metacognitive learners, which means, they reflect on the success of the strategies they use to complete a task and discuss what works for them and why. Learning executive function strategies helps students learn how to learn and to understand their individual learning profiles. As students experience success, this increases self-confidence, encourages independence, promotes motivation, builds focused effort and hard work, and finally empowers them to take pride and ownership in their own education.
With each advancing grade level comes more and more responsibility, and with that, more privileges that give students pride in moving through the grades. All Intermediate Grade students enjoy the “right of passage” privilege of having a locker, while Fifth Grade students are presented with leadership opportunities such as managing the school store or serving as student ambassadors at Open Houses. Students in the Intermediate Grades are supported and encouraged to become more independent and self-aware individuals as they prepare to transition to the Middle School.
Lower School Program
Lower School homeroom groups include 13-15 students, lead by at least two teachers working in teams. Reading (with the exception of JUST WORDS, which is designed for larger groups), reading comprehension, writing and math groups are typically maintained at a 1:6 ratio; however, given the nature of AIM Academy's programming and dedication to addressing student progress on a regular basis, group size can fluctuate throughout the year as student programming is adjusted. The essence of having students and teachers work in teams allows for the flexibility and fluidity of our small academic groupings in such areas as Wilson, reading comprehension, writing and math.
At AIM, we teach literacy all day long. Our teachers understand the multiple layers of language that are necessary for students to develop strong word recognition and reading comprehension abilities. Our teachers are skilled at diagnostic teaching, which allows them to discover how each child learns best and how to accommodate their unique learning style. No one approach or method works with all children.
Word recognition and fluency skills are addressed through the utilization of research- based programs individualized to meet the needs of each child. These programs include, but are not limited to, Fundations®, Wilson JUST WORDS®, Wilson Reading Systems®, RAVE-O, and Read Naturally® to ensure that students develop decoding and encoding skills and build their fluency. Typically students have one 45 minute block focused on word recognition skills per day.
In Reading Comprehension, language skills, including building background knowledge, vocabulary, sentence comprehension, and verbal reasoning are explicitly taught as well as woven throughout the curriculum. Students are engaged in a reading comprehension period for one 45 minute block per day.
Written language instruction focuses on teaching students the underlying skills and processes crucial to developing an understanding and ability to be a confident writer. The writing class meets for one 45 minute block per day.
Mathematics and perceptual skills are developed utilizing multi-sensory materials, research based strategies and individualized instruction. Math skills are developed in a sequential manner which allows them to master concepts before moving on to more complex concepts and processes. Students spend 45 minutes per day in math class.
The Lower School science program is built around the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading program developed by the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Education. This allows for literacy skills to be reinforced, while also building scientific knowledge. Areas of study include but are not limited to:
Much of the social studies content in the Lower School is experienced through Academic Clubs. Additional units of study are woven into the classroom curriculum and reinforced through numerous interdisciplinary connections allowing students to generalize knowledge across their classes. These topics of study include:
Art, music and physical education in the Lower School program carry over the concepts of symbols, patterns, sequences, and problem solving, as well as reinforcing curricular concepts introduced in content classes:
Art: Art in the Lower School allows students to develop their creativity through the exploration of a variety of mediums. Student artwork, which often is a reflection of the bridge between the classroom and art, is proudly displayed throughout AIM Academy. Students meet four times on a six-day cycle.
Music: Music class engages students by exposing them to cultural diversity that can be studied through music. Students are exposed to a variety of instruments and songs while developing an awareness of rhythm, beat, and tone. AIM students are able to display their musical talents by developing their own compilations using technology programs or by participating in the Winter and Spring concerts. Students meet twice on a six-day cycle.
Health and Physical Education: Physical Education incorporates a wide variety of developmentally appropriate activities/sports to help develop basic body movements and psychomotor skills such as coordination, balance, agility and speed/power. Students participate in sports related games to help increase their physical competence, self esteem and joy of being physically active. Health and safety concepts are studied to allow the students the opportunity to stay abreast of current trends while making intelligent decisions that have a lifelong impact. Additionally, AIM Fifth Grade students enjoy a unit in ballroom dance. Students meet four times on a six-day cycle.