United Methodist Preschool (UMP) is a child-centered program on the campus of San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church in Alamo. We are a Christian preschool with an eclectic curriculum inspired by Montessori, Reggio Approach, Project Approach, and more. “Developmentally Appropriate Practice” (DAP) as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children guides the way we work with children. Click the link to learn about “DAP” http://www.naeyc.org/dap/preschoolers. We strive to provide a curriculum that supports children’s holistic development: spiritual, intellectual, social and emotional, physical, and creative.
Environment as Teacher: We understand that a great deal of learning during the early years occurs in the context of self-directed play which leads to self-directed learning. Learning that occurs in this fashion (self-directed) is powerful and lasting. Given our awareness of the benefit of self-directed learning, we provision our school with the highest quality materials, and we ensure an ever changing environment both indoors and outdoors offering new challenges and varied learning experiences daily. The resulting effect — our environment is a teacher.
Play-based or Academic? Parents often ask, “Are you play-based or academic?” Our response is, “Both!” The knowledgeable early childhood teachers at UMP understand that preschoolers are not yet “abstract thinkers”. Math or alphabet worksheets will not make a young child smarter and can often turn off a young child from school. Learning at this stage of development should be hands-on, concrete, and optimally, linked to a child’s daily experiences. For example, children learn about number (math) in the context of measuring ingredients when cooking or counting seeds to be planted in our school garden.
Teacher-Directed and Child-Directed time: We balance teacher-directed and child-directed time to ensure both types of learning — self-directed and teacher guided learning are a part of each school day. Teachers will provide age-appropriate learning experiences in math, science, and language arts in the context of projects and theme-based curriculum. For example, in September children enjoy delving into the wonders of apples and fall. They will weigh, taste, sort and graph favorite types of apples, sprout apple seeds and water our school apple tree. Finally they will make apple pie in class from peeling to mixing ingredients to filling pie crust. Finally we enjoy the “fruits” of our labor at our annual Apple Pie Night.
Small Class Size and Low Child:Teacher ratios: Small class sizes and low child:teacher ratios are critical during the early learning years. Given this stage in a child’s development when all domains of learning are in their beginning stage of development, large class sizes are not conducive learning environments. The noise and chaos of a large class of young children interferes with their concentration, thinking, and learning. Our Pre-K classes have a maximum of nine students in a classroom and our other preschool classrooms never have more than 12 children per class with two teachers
Outdoor Education: Nature is a great teacher! With this in mind, the learning environment at UMP extends beyond the confines of the indoor classrooms to our large, nature-filled outdoor classroom. Interest areas abound in our outdoor classroom! Not only are there a variety of activities that will nurture your child’s physical development, but your child will discover their “creative genius ” in the Make-It Center and Mud Kitchen and learn about the wonders of plants and growing things in the Greenhouse.
The Arts, Music, and More! — Besides traditional learning experiences, teachers understand the value in helping their students to develop problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and self-help skills. We strive to nurture the “whole child”; our weekly morning music program with Ms. Beth will expose your child to the joys of singing and music making. We also offer an afternoon program including: Lunch Bunch, Extended Care, and a variety of Enrichment classes that vary from year to year — like Art, Cooking, Science, Yoga, and more!
Readiness! — Each year of a child’s experience at UMP, they will be exposed to increasingly challenging concepts in all developmental domains. We stay abreast with the state’s Kindergarten Standards and ensure our Pre-K program prepares children to meet the rigors of today’s more academic kindergarten classroom. At UMP “Readiness” includes knowing letters and numbers, exposure to scientific thinking and experimentation, developing self-help and social competency skills, exploring one’s creativity and spiritual development, and building interpersonal skills like self-advocacy, sharing, empathy, and helping one another.
At United Methodist Preschool, we hope to instill a love of learning in each of our students through our dynamic curriculum and school environment. We invite you to schedule a tour to see us in action!