The Lower School curriculum builds on the basic learning skills obtained in Early Childhood, enhancing students' creative and critical thinking abilities. Students are challenged to move deeper into the mechanics of writing, math and reading comprehension. Organizational skills are emphasized as well in order to help students become independent lifelong learners. Having obtained the basic skills necessary for reading Jewish texts, students push beyond the first layer to begin understanding the depth of Torah learning
All students participate in a daily math class, and every class learns the same core curriculum at his/her own level. Each grade has a specific set of skills that students must demonstrate complete mastery of by the end of the year. Furthermore, all students engage in problem solving to help strengthen their higher level analytical skills. Many of our students benefit from enrichment and engage in Math Olympiad and Continental Math activities.
Our students are first introduced to the scientific method. They go on to cover units of inquiry which include, amongst other topics, Rocks and Minerals, Organizing Information, Alternate Energy, Erosion, Fossils, Laboratory Skills, and Thinking Critically. Learning certainly doesn’t only take place within the four classroom walls. Our Lower School science program takes a “hands-on” approach to science, and our extraordinary outdoor classroom serves as a great extension of the regular classroom. Students receive science instruction twice a week.
Our comprehensive Language Arts program focuses on the skills of spelling, vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension through the reading of good children's literature. The students learn important spelling rules and patterns and children are held accountable for using those rules in everything they write. Vocabulary instruction involves strengthening understanding of spelling, pronunciation, parts of speech, definitions, synonyms and antonyms for given words. Students also learn to use contextual clues to complete sentences and word associations/analogies, which is excellent standardized test preparation. Grammar instruction is a major focus of the Language Arts curriculum as the students are taught to understand and master the rules of the English language to improve their verbal and written expression. Reading is of utmost importance at all grade levels, both in and out of the classroom. The ultimate goal of the program is for students to learn how to gain meaning from print and to derive pleasure from that process.
The five steps of the writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing) are stressed in Lower School. By the end of third grade, students are able to write a descriptive paragraph. In fourth grade, students are able to write an expressive three paragraph composition. As a result of the impressive rubric-driven writing curriculum we have in place, we have seen incredible strides made in our students’ writing!
Each year, the Social Studies curriculum varies, but the same vital skills of reading non-fiction text and organizing non-fiction information are stressed.
Hebrew language instruction is an integral part of an AJA student's day. Following their experience in language immersion in the Early Childhood years, the students continue to spend at least half of their day reading, writing, speaking and living Hebrew. The curriculum seeks to:
- develop fluent Hebrew readers of modern, biblical and prayerbook Hebrew
- enable students to use modern Hebrew to communicate both orally and in writing
- install a love of Hebrew as the historical language of the Jewish people.
Hebrew language unites us as Jews and brings us together.
As students graduate from their exploration of parsha and holiday stories in the ECD, they learn the skills necessary to decipher and discover the beauty and wisdom found in our Jewish texts. They learn about the siddur and begin serious study of Chumash. They experience and explore rituals, traditions and laws related related to the holidays and special days in our Jewish calendar. They are immersed in an environment of joy and challenge, thus making their introduction to Jewish learning a sweet and memorable experience.