The UUM Preschool curriculum is developmentally appropriate for each age group, with an emphasis on the development of good social and language skills, which are essential to academic success in later years. This includes critical thinking skills and the ability of each child not only to be an advocate for him- or herself but also to be successful in social settings. The curriculum in each classroom is organized around a theme that teachers select or that children “suggest” through their interests. The low student:teacher ratio allows for one-on-one time as well as small- and large-group activities.
Components of the program include creative process art experiences, science, French, music and movement, fine and gross motor opportunities, number and reading readiness activities, and good children’s literature. Preschool children have some of their most important learning experience during play and interacting with peers. It is through all of these experiences that children acquire the skills needed to move on to kindergarten and beyond.
Two- and Three-Year-Old Program: Tiny Twos
- Student:Teacher ratio is 7:1.
- Child must be two years old by the previous fall.
- Toilet independence is NOT required.
The Tiny Twos is a two-day (T/Th) program, 9–11:45 AM that starts in January for two- and three-year-olds who were too young to start school the previous fall. This is a wonderful, low-key introduction to preschool where children have fun while developing the skills they need to function in a group of their peers without the presence of a parent. This class includes themes such as “on the farm” and “transportation” around which our art projects and stories revolve, but much of our time is spent learning basic social, self-help, and simple skills, such as walking down the hall and the stairs in a safe way, sitting in a regular chair and drinking from a regular cup at snack time, throwing away cups and napkins after snack, sitting still in a group to listen to a story, and, perhaps most important, taking turns and sharing. We also help many of the Tiny Twos transition out of diapers. Over the course of the semester, the children blossom as they begin to discover the joys of interacting with others and making friends.
Two- and Three-Year-Old Program: Balloon Room
- Student:Teacher ratio is 7:1.
- Child must be two years old by April 1.
- Toilet independence is NOT required.
- Two- or Three-Day Options
The Balloon Room is a two- and three-year-old classroom that starts in September, 9–11:45 AM, that offers either a two-day (T/Th) or a three-day (M/W/F) program for children who have turned two by April. The teachers provide a welcoming atmosphere, offering children opportunities to make choices, be creative, and engage one another in play. The children explore a wide range of manipulatives and participate in dramatic play as well as enjoying access to sand and water tables, painting at an easel, art and science activities, and good children’s literature. Through play and thematic units, the children develop listening, language, social, and cognitive skills.
Three- and Four-Year-Old Program: Rainbow Room and Sunshine Room
- Student:Teacher ratio is 8:1.
- Child must be three years old by July 1.
- Toilet independence is required.
- Three-Day Option: The Rainbow Room
The Rainbow Room is a program for three- and four-year-olds that starts in September and meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 to 11:45 am. We feel that the children in this class are the perfect age for preschool—curious, energetic, and capable. Our class is organized around themes such as “the five senses” and “Dr. Seuss,” and therefore our books, art projects, and morning meeting discussions all revolve around our current theme. In October, one of the teachers begins speaking only French to the children in this class, which accelerates their grasp of the language. We have lots of fun doing art projects, talking about science, singing, dancing, doing pre-reading and pre-math activities, and, most important, playing together both inside and out. Our main focus is on play, developing social and language skills, practicing sharing and taking turns, and all of the other interactions that are so important for children to develop at this age, as we know that children whose social and language skills are well developed in preschool are prepared for future academic success.
- Four- or Five-Day Option: The Sunshine Room
The Sunshine Room is a four- or five-day program, 9–11:45 AM, that starts in September for three- and four-year-old children. The teachers and theme-driven curriculum provide an environment that promotes language development, social competency, curiosity, and friendship through play, art, science, French, music, and literature. The teachers believe that warm beginnings encourage lifelong learners.
Four- and Five-Year-Old Program: Super Star Room
- Student:Teacher ratio is 9:1.
- Child must be four years old by August 1.
The teachers welcome all children to the Super Star classroom and strive to know and cherish them individually. The Super Star year continues to build upon the experiences of the three- and four-year-old classrooms. There is such tremendous growth with young children, and we help them along to a greater degree of independence, self-confidence, and understanding of their world. We work to ready the children for kindergarten in terms of their social skills, reading readiness and pre-math skills, phonics, and recognition and understanding of letter and number concepts. Each day in the Super Star Room we have open choice time, story time, outdoor play, and morning meeting, for which the children divide into small groups with a teacher. Our once-a-week specials include music and movement, French, and science. The classroom has five tables for arts, crafts, manipulative games, puzzles, and building toys as well as a book corner, dramatic play area, science counter, large group easel, and floor play area.
Music and Movement
Music and movement are innate to human beings. Before a child can speak or even walk, he or she can respond expressively to rhythm. A well-rounded early childhood education recognizes the importance of these fundamental connections that develop the whole person. The music and movement program at UUM Preschool aims to foster each child’s natural affinity for sound and movement while promoting important physical, social, emotional, expressive, and cognitive development. In UUMPS’s weekly music and movement classes, taught by Holly Seitz Marchant, children sing songs, play instruments, and explore movement with coordinative skill, expressive play, and social interaction.
Although science ideas and experiences can be found throughout all of the UUMPS classrooms, the three- and four-year-old and four- and five-year-old classrooms meet weekly with our science specialist, Stacie Zink-Duda, for a more in-depth experience. While investigating various phenomena and concepts, the children learn to observe, ask questions, and make predictions. These lessons are a mix of presentation and hands-on experience. In addition, the classrooms often feature ongoing displays of growing plants, bug habitats, and vermiculture earthworms.
The French program at UUMPS is taught by Kristin Soifer and starts in the three- and four-year-old classrooms and continues in the four- and five-year-old room and it meets once per week. Songs and games are used frequently for learning and review. The goals of the program are (1) to expose children to the concept of a foreign language—that people in other places speak differently than we do, (2) to teach children high-frequency words and phrases (colors and numbers, for example) that they can potentially use in school situations, and (3) to provide children with opportunities to have fun with language.
UUMPS offers several add-on optional programs that give parents the ability to customize their child’s day; they can be used on a regular or drop-in basis. There are sign-up sheets outside the main office.
Before Care: 8:00–8:50 am
With the before-care option, children can arrive early for extra play time or to accommodate parents’ schedules. Sign up for drop-in spots must be done the week before participating.
Stay and Play: 11:45–12:15
The stay and play option gives caregivers a little more time before picking up their children and gives kids a little more time to play with their friends.
Lunch Bunch: 11:45–1:45
Lunch Bunch is a multi-age program that includes free play, lunch with friends, story time, games, and many other activities.
Yearning for Learning: 11:45–1:45 one day per week, February–May
Yearning for Learning is a special class that meets during Lunch Bunch time for children who have turned 4 by January of that year. The focus is a little more academic and challenging in the areas of math, literacy and science.
Yearning for Learning Camp (late July–mid August)
The Yearning for Learning camp for four- and five-year-olds prepares children for their return to school, with each of the three weeks of camp focusing on a different theme. Kids participate in a variety activities that, while lots of fun, are designed to increase their knowledge of science, language arts, and math.