The Lower School is a learning environment for grade 1 to 5 students, which allows them to be challenged and successful, gaining confidence and understanding through a curriculum that is varied and complete by design.
The IB Primary Years Programme begins in the ECC and continues into the Lower School, where students and teachers design units of inquiry around six transdiciplinary themes: Who We Are, Where We Are in Place and Time, How We Express Ourselves, How the World Works, How We Organize Ourselves and Sharing the Planet. In grade 5, students prepare their culminating PYP exhibition, which encompasses their entire experience with the PYP. This process is done through the collaboration of teachers and mentors by giving students the opportunity to demonstrate the IB Learner Profile, PYP attitudes and international-mindedness.
The LS curriculum framework is the Primary Years Programme (PYP), which begins in K1. The PYP offers an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning. The aim of the program is to develop students into contributing world citizens according to the IB Learner Profile, instilling in students the desire to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. The mission of the program is to teach students to relate the experience of the classroom to the realities of outside world, making them lifelong learners and informed citizens in an international environment.
The six transdisciplinary themes provide a framework for teachers to design units for inquiry to understand local and global issues. Each theme involves inquiries that are significance, relevant, engaging and challenging for students at ASF, focusing on positive attitudes towards people, the environment and represent a pathway to build student agency. The PYP framework sets high academic standards that builds the academic and skills for the students to develop as global citizens.
Through the Primary Years Program framework, the emotional, physical, social, cognitive and aesthetic domains of each child are developed. We emphasize an inquiry-based approach to learning that focuses on prior knowledge, exploration, problem solving and collaboration. Our certified and experienced teachers provide instruction that is differentiated in order to meet the needs, interests and learning styles of each individual. Our goal is for students to find purpose in what they learn in order to build connections in their lives and make sense of learning and ultimately take actions to improve the world.
Students in grades 1-5 have two periods of instruction in Spanish that include Spanish Language Arts and the Mexican Social Studies program and support transdisciplinary learning.
Our Language Arts program follows the IB/PYP philosophy and framework and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, where language is the major connecting element across the PYP Units of Inquiry. Students are in a dual language program of instruction, with English and Spanish in all grades with exposure to a variety of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, to foster learning to read, and reading to learn, and the writing process across the curriculum. The five components of reading instruction are developed throughout grades 1-5.
ASF offers several programs to support students’ development of both the English and Spanish languages in the Language Learning Center located on the third floor of the Lower School Building. The Language Learning Center (LLC), includes systematic and explicit instruction for English as a Second Language (ESL) and Spanish as a Second Language learners (SSL). Students are assessed using criteria from such assessments as the IPT for Oral Language in English and Spanish, DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills), NWEA results and Diagnostic Reading Assessments. Based on the multiple forms of assessment a decision will be made by the LLC teachers, Academic Dean and Leadership team regarding entrance into the LLC.
Another program designed to teach basic English structures for international students is Basic Academic Skills in English (BASE), offered to qualifying Lower School students at an additional cost. Children in this program have English instruction throughout the day, both in the regular classroom setting and one-on-one instruction or in small groups with the BASE teacher in the Language Learning Center (LLC).
Students identified as needing early literacy intervention in grade 1 will work in small groups or on a one-to-one basis with the reading specialist. These students are identified utilizing the DIBELS (dynamic indicators for early literacy skills) assessment results as well as formative and summative classroom assessments.
There are two Spanish programs as part of the Language Learning Center: Spanish as a Second Language (SSL), and Spanish Immersion. The goal of these programs is to prepare students so they will eventually be part of the Mexican Spanish Program. Students are assessed on their Spanish literacy skills and oral speaking ability throughout the school year. Students will be placed in the regular Spanish class once they have met the language standards to be successful in the regular classroom learning environment.
The Lower School building provides 40 homeroom classrooms, special classrooms for art, music, hands-on-center, Language Learning Center, Library Learning Center, a multipurpose room adjacent to the building, two playing fields, a playground area, office spaces and other green areas for recreation. The colorful PA Plaza is a popular place for lunch and is the main meeting point for activities during and after school.
Counselors are involved in all aspects of student life. Programs include classroom observations, individual short-term and small groups counseling, crisis intervention and communication regarding student progress with outside professionals. LS counseling also offers parent conferences to discuss academic, behavioral or emotional needs of their children.
ASF not only cares about students' academic advancement. The arts, athletics and other activities play a key role. Sometimes there could be up to ten to twenty activities going on (or off) at campus at any given time. ASF is fortunate to have an Activity Specialist in each of the 4 divisions. The activity specialist is responsible for building a comprehensive program that focuses on student leadership and community building among students, faculty and parents. Each Division plans and oversees a broad range of activities and events that enhance the school’s overall social, cultural, service learning, recreational and educational efforts, particularly within the division. The activity specialist is responsible for overseeing all student activity organizations and social events and appoints and supports faculty sponsors and club sponsors.
Head of Lower School
Head of Lower School