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ACADEMICS

Gilbert Christian Bible

Bible

Students will hear Bible stories and interact with the word of God in meaningful ways. They will also memorize Bible verses and participate in weekly chapel with Pastor Moe.

Gilbert Christian Academy Science

Science

Teachers will utilize hands-on and investigative science methods to help students explore, appreciate, and interact meaningfully with the magnificent world that God has created.

Gilbert Christian Academy Reading

Reading

We use Fundations, a phonics-based and explicit instruction method that is proven to give students the solid foundational skills that they need to become confident and successful readers.

Project Based Learning

Children thrive when they are given the space and freedom to explore the world around them, while taking on new and interesting challenges. Projects give students the opportunity to utilize their unique gifts and apply their creativity.

Gilbert Christian Academy Math

Math

We use Saxon math, which takes a traditional approach to teaching mathematics, using a spiral structure proven to advance students steadily and assuredly to higher levels of understanding.

Gilbert Christian Academy Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking affects the way that children process and evaluate information. Teachers will provide explicit instruction in logic and critical thinking skills, and these exercises will help students to see the world in new and interesting ways.

RATIONALE

OVERVIEW

We love Jesus and we love our students. We view our work as a ministry: an act of both love and service. The education of the little ones that God brings to Light of Christ Christian Academy is profoundly important to us. Our job is to consider the spiritual, academic, developmental, emotional, and social needs of students at each grade-level, in order to ensure that we are serving God, by providing children with an exceptional Christian education.

 

Curriculum and teaching methods at all levels of education are deeply important; however, they are particularly important in the areas of reading and math for grades K-3. We understand that providing a solid foundation in these key areas has a critical impact on a child’s confidence, growth, success, and love of learning.

 

At the kindergarten level, students also thrive when they are given opportunities to interact meaningfully with new content, do hands-on learning, and develop important social skills. Having a robust reading and math program does not mean that we have to sacrifice fun, engaging, interactive, and holistic educational experiences; each of these elements can seamlessly coexist to create a rich, comprehensive, and enjoyable learning experience for all children.

 

We want every student to experience success. As a result, we are committed to appropriately challenging each child, by meeting them exactly where they’re at in the learning process, and then giving them the tools and resources needed to experience sustainable growth, fuel their inherent love of learning, gain confidence, and realize their unique and God-given potential.

 

BIBLE

Introducing these little ones to Jesus and showing them the love of Christ is, by far, the best gift that we can give. We have a wonderful opportunity to teach our students the truth about God and to share the gospel with them. We have selected Gospel Light for our kindergarten Bible curriculum, because it is rooted in Biblical truth, and it guides students into a deeper understanding of Jesus. Students will spend each day of their week focusing on a single message from their Children’s Bible, so that they gradually build a deeper understanding of God’s character. Each story is also connected with a core truth that students will be focusing on each month of the quarter. In addition, students will have the opportunity to attend chapel with their teachers and Pastor Moe, where they’ll get a special sermon on the story that they’re studying. Lastly, students will have weekly memory verses directly from scripture that are related to the core truths, so that they can carry the Word of God with them wherever they go!

 

READING AND LITERACY

Literacy is an area of particular importance, because it impacts nearly every content-area and has the capacity to significantly influence learning outcomes. This reality helps to inform the decisions we make about grade-level pedagogy, curriculum, and instructional materials. Hundreds of studies over the decades have proven that “95% of elementary students are capable of learning to read when they receive sufficient instruction on foundational reading skills” (EAB Report, 2019), and we are fortunate to know exactly what those skills are, and how they are learned, in order to achieve that 95% success rate.

 

For this reason, we have chosen Fundations for our reading program, because it utilizes an explicit and systematic approach to phonics instruction, which aligns with the Science of Reading’s best practices. We are also supplementing that program with Heggerty’s Phonemic Awareness curriculum, because “Phonemic awareness is the most potent predictor of success in learning to read. It is more highly related to reading than tests of general intelligence, reading readiness, and listening comprehension” (Stanovich, 1986, 1994).

 

Lastly, reading rich, authentic literature to students at this level is deeply important, because not only do we want our students to love reading, but we also want to provide opportunities to deepen comprehension, learn new vocabulary, practice inferencing, and develop literary analysis skills. There is great power in reading to children for academic reasons, but God has also created us with an inherent love of stories, and we want this to be part of every child’s experience at Light of Christ Christian Academy.

 

MATHEMATICS

Math is both abstract and conceptual, rather than simply existing as a concrete and tangible learning modality. On the other hand, a concrete understanding of mathematical concepts is still an important part of reaching the conceptual phase. Ultimately, we want students to be able to utilize concrete information as a way of forming abstract ideas, because this is an important process in innovative and imaginative thinking. In the end, doing math helps students to think in new ways about ideas and information, and this impacts all areas of learning. According to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, learning mathematics requires three types of knowledge: factual, procedural, and conceptual (Willingham, 2010), and having a math program that moves students successfully through each of these processes is critical to sustained mathematical achievement.

 

For these reasons, we have chosen Saxon for our math program. Saxon Math was originally developed in the 1970s and then hit the larger market in the early 1980s. It has been proven, over many decades, to be one of the most successful mathematics instructional programs of all time, and it is used by more homeschooling families than any other math curriculum on the market.  John Saxon developed his content after seeing major deficits in the college students he was working with. Three aspects of the Saxon curriculum make it successful and meet the factual, procedural, and conceptual requirements for sustained mathematic achievement.

 

First, it is incremental: “An incremental approach gives students the time to understand and practice a small concept before adding the next step.” Second, it is distributed: “Distributing skills across the year ensures that students have time to practice and master a concept.” Lastly, it is cumulative since “Cumulative practice and assessments cover ideas from earlier lessons to ensure students retain and make connections between concepts” (Houton-Mifflin Harcourt, 2022). Ultimately, “Research shows that Saxon Math consistently yields increased retention, higher test scores, and sustained performance in higher-level mathematics. Independent research, longitudinal studies, and field testing provide clear evidence that Saxon works” (Resendez, Sridharan, & Azin, 2007), and this aligns with our desire to give students the best education possible in all content-areas

 

SCIENCE

We want to give students the opportunity to explore, appreciate, and interact meaningfully with the magnificent world that God has created. We have selected MasterBooks for our science curriculum, because it helps students learn how to ask important questions about the world around them. It is also taught from a Biblical world-view and engages students in the important process of discovery.

 

CRITICAL THINKING

We are passionate about strengthening each child’s ability to think more deeply about the world around them, because this has a dramatic impact on the way that children engage with content, and it also significantly affects processing and communication. There are many tasks, inside and outside of school, that demand or require a high degree of proficiency in this type of thinking; however, this is a skill that is rarely taught in schools. Students at Light of Christ Christian Academy will learn how to effectively make inferences, draw logical conclusions, examine patterns, predict logical outcomes, and much more! Practicing this type of thinking will help students to integrate more refined evaluative and analytic skills into every content-area, and it will also improve a child’s ability to engage more deeply with what they are learning about in school.

 

HISTORY

While history will absolutely be woven into the curriculum through literature and other areas of study, we will not begin utilizing a formal history curriculum until first grade. We made this decision based on the developmental needs of children in kindergarten. It is important for our youngest students to have space in their day to do exploratory learning, extension activities, and to engage in practices that develop their social/emotional skills through play and interaction.