The Lower School at Ann Arbor Academy serves students in grades K-6 who need intensive, differentiated learning instruction with a small student/teacher ratio. The Lower School is divided into two learning areas - our Early Learners classroom is for students in grades K-3, and the Lower Middle School is for students in grades 4-6.
The Lower School is designed to meet the needs of learners through individualized instruction, cooperative learning opportunities, social skills supports, and a high level of student engagement. The curriculum builds on the strengths of each young learner, and identifies and remediates areas of need.
Reading instruction is phonics based and sequential via the Wilson Program (an Orton Gillingham based system), vocabulary building, fluency practice, and comprehension support to help students understand and take ownership of their own learning. Mathematics is skills based, sequential, and multisensory. Students read and write daily, and are instructed at a level that helps them move forward in their reading and writing skills. Art and music are daily parts of life for our youngest learners.
A Focus on Strengths First
In a one size fits all world, many students can fall through the cracks between their developmental journey and the expectations of a rigid school system. Divergent learners have many strengths which are often ignored in favor of a focus on their challenges, and this can grind down self esteem and make it feel like progress will never happen. Ann Arbor Academy students thrive because of a focus on strengths first, with needed remediation happening within the structure of a nurturing, developmentally appropriate classroom structure.
A Nurturing Environment
The Lower School uses differentiation, a skills based curriculum, multiple approaches to comprehension, and a nurturing environment full of social skills support and the arts to build student skills and teach content. Building on success establishes a strong foundation for learning, and connects students to their own educational outcome.
Learning Through Play
Young learners gain so much through play, both at recess and at lunchtime. Play within the classroom is also encouraged, and used as a learning strategy. Play time and games teach students many helpful things, particularly students who struggle with appropriate social interactions. Supported play time helps young learners connect to their bodies and brains, explore their world, make connections, practice social skills, and apply problem solving strategies in real time.