The UCECP’s mission is to inspire a love of learning by nurturing respect and compassion, challenging children to think deeply and purposefully, and motivating children to work toward a better world.
PHILOSOPHY ABOUT HOW CHILDREN LEARN AND OUR CURRICULUM
Our teaching at the Union Church of Hinsdale Early Childhood Programs (UCECP) is driven by a belief that children learn by active engagement through their play. We nurture the development of the whole child: emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically. Our school is influenced by the collaborative and child centered philosophy of the Reggio Emilia curriculum. As a school we utilize the framework of the project approach, a curriculum brought to the United States in 1989 by Lillian Katz, to organize our in-depth studies with children.
IMPORTANCE OF PLAYFUL LEARNING
Play is a powerful gift to children and essential to their development.
Brain research has proven that play promotes neuron growth which lays the framework for lifelong learning.
Child-initiated play facilitates school and life success through its development of:
- Language skills
- Physical skills
- Problem solving
- Creativity and imagination
- Academics (Math, Science, and Language Arts)
- Healthy self-esteem
Hands-on, experiential, playful learning helps children incorporate and understand their world.
HISTORY OF THE UCECP
Union Church created a preschool program in 1954 as part of its community outreach. Over the years, we have grown into the Union Church Early Childhood Programs, which offer programming for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years. UCECP and the Union Church of Hinsdale have a shared mission to minister to the needs of the whole human family within our congregation, our community, our nation, and the world.
The UCECP views family involvement as an essential part of our school. The collaborative effort between families and teachers takes many forms, including, classroom visits, parent committees and volunteering in and out of the classroom. Our school is a community for families both past and present where common values are shared.
Our learning environment is designed to inspire creativity, encourage independence, and support communication. We view every area of our school, including our outdoor spaces, as an extension of the classroom. Throughout our school, you will see learning made visible through documentation of the children’s work and progress.
CARING AND COMPASSION
The UCECP emphasizes character development, promotes care and concern for others, and works to instill a sense of respect and gratitude for the people and blessings in our children’s lives. We celebrate and welcome families of all faiths, and we support all families in sharing their religious traditions. There are no direct religious teachings in our curriculum at the UCECP, but there may be religious references made during the holidays.
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION AND OUR TEACHERS
At the UCECP, professional development is based on reflection and connection with resources in and outside the field of early childhood education. Recent professional development opportunities have included: visiting cultural institutions, presenting at local and national early childhood conferences, and attending and hosting continuing professional education workshops. Each teacher has the privilege of pursuing credit hours annually to further their education. This commitment allows us to reinvent methods of teaching and apply the latest brain research and practical classroom experiences. These experiences validate, inspire, refresh and renew our practices.