Approach to Early Childhood Education
Children Learn Through Play
The teachers at the Learning Center believe that children learn best through active play. The child below has built a line of blocks and a block tower on that line. As he is building he is learning about cause and effect (bump the blocks with that car and they tip over), balance (if the blocks are not square with one another, they tip over), one-to-one correspondence (counting each block as he builds). This child is also developing a positive self-esteem ("I did it!"), small motor skills (he is picking those smaller blocks up using the first finger and thumb, which will go on to hold a pencil as he learns to write), and a sense of space and his place in that space (if he sits too close, he bumps the block base but if he sits too far away, he can't reach).
- The curriculum used by UCLC is an Emergent Curriculum. This means that the activities planned and provided by the teachers "emerge" from what the children are observed doing, expressing interest in and talking about with one another. This involves the teachers carefully observing the children and listening to them, then using their professional knowledge of early childhood education to create learning activities.
- The environment both indoors and outdoors is carefully prepared and organized based on these close observation of the children's interests.
- The curriculum is “emerging curriculum” with activities developed based on those individual or group interests being observed in young children at play
The Yellow Family Creates a Recipe
The Yellow Family children were very interested in cooking. They played cooking in their classroom dramatic play area, they talked about cooking while eating and they greatly enjoyed the a book about making pizza. So the Teacher guided the children through the creation of a recipe.
There were numerous skills learned and practiced from this week-long activity. There were other learning activities going on during this time, but the vast majority of the children chose to be involved in this project.
Activity plans (lesson plans) are written with emergent curriculum in mind. If there is not an emerging curriculum, teachers plan developmentally appropriate lessons focusing on the skills and concepts that children need to learn
Typical Daily Schedule
Each color family posts a daily schedule; this is a generic schedule to give you an idea of what types of things your child will be doing throughout the day. With the exception of meal times the schedule is dictated by the needs of the children for the most part.
|Arrival and Center Time
|Breakfast, Circle Time
Rest Time (30 - 45 minutes)
Nap Time (until the child wakes on their own or 2:00)
|Snack, Circle Time
|Center Time and Departure
Diversity at UCLC
The University Children’s Learning Center values and respects diversity. The Learning Center makes a point of incorporating diversity by having educational toys, games, dress-up items, markers, crayons, and books that reflect a variety of cultural and ethnic groups, and individuals with special needs.
Holidays and Birthdays
The Learning Center does not celebrate holidays. Why? Because UCLC would need to celebrate all holidays without discretion and without placing undue significance on any one culture, religion or tradition. Additionally, the teachers are not experts on all celebrations and do not want to risk teaching a stereotype instead of the truth. However, if your family would like to bring a specific celebration or tradition into our classroom to share with the children, that would be highly encouraged and appreciated.
Individual birthdays will be acknowledged within the classroom. If families want to do something to acknowledge their child's birthday they are encouraged to bring stickers, paint, bubbles, etc. They may also want to give a gift of a specific game or toy to their classroom family. Families are not allowed to bring outside food into the Learning Center.
Basic Rules for All
- Respect other people; hurting other people with words or actions is never allowed
- Care for the classroom materials, equipment, building, and playground by using them as they were meant to be used, being gentle with them and putting them away when finished playing
- Please keep main door to UCLC closed.
Communication between teachers and families is essential. Communication may take place face to face, over the phone, or through email. Teachers and parents are encouraged to share general information at drop off and pick up each day. If you have something specific you are concerned about, please ask your child's teachers to schedule a specific time to sit down and talk when there are limited distractions.
Occasionally, teachers will write notes home and place them in the families’ mailbox. Some teachers communicate with the whole class new via email or Facebook. Each classroom has an area that contains a bulletin board with important information, the menu, and a sign in sheet.
For Learning Center friends in the Red Family (Toddler Classroom) a quick note is sent home every day that lets you know about what your child ate, when they were changed/used the potty and how well they napped. It allows teachers to give families a quick recap of what happened in the Red Family that day. This is not routinely done in the preschool classrooms, however, if you have specific concerns talk to your child's teacher and they make some arrangements for alternative communication ideas with you.
- The Red Family (Toddler Classroom) ratio is one teacher to five children or two teachers to ten children.
- The Yellow, Blue, Green, and Purple Family (Mixed-age Preschool Classrooms) ratio is one teacher to seven to ten children or two teachers to 14 - 20 children. It depends on the ages of the children in the mixed-age classroom.
- UCLC employs highly qualified teachers that work in each classroom family.
- UCLC employs student caregivers to assist in the classrooms, nap area, and kitchen.