At UAS, we firmly believe that play is a vital tool for fostering self-regulation while promoting language, cognition, and social competence. Through play, children learn essential skills such as taking turns, negotiating with peers, problem-solving, coping with disappointment, and practicing active listening and empathy. Furthermore, imaginative play stimulates higher-level thinking, cognitive abilities, math, and language skills.
Our core belief at UAS is that development and learning thrive when children are actively engaged and face challenges. We also recognize that each child develops at their own unique pace, experiencing stops, starts, regressions, and transitions along the way. Consequently, our teachers deeply respect the varying learning rates of students, diligently monitoring their progress and offering additional support to ensure a comprehensive understanding of concepts and skills.
Children develop best when they have secure relationships with responsive adults and positive relationships with peers. For this reason, each Early Childhood classroom has a highly qualified specialist teacher and also a fully certified teacher’s aide.
Children’s experiences shape their motivation and approaches to learning. When teachers design learning experiences, they take into consideration students’ age and developmental stage, individual needs, and characteristics, as well as what is culturally important for each child.
The most natural tendency of children is to play. At UAS we harness children’s love of play to learning. The Early Childhood uses the Pyramid Project Program, which embeds instruction and planned play activities into students’ daily school routines and is a comprehensive curriculum framework that includes: the development of the whole child, using effective teaching approaches, designing safe physical environments that foster active learning and proper behavior, teaching academic and social skills and design schedules and activities that maximize engagement and learning.
Students in Early Childhood learn the core academic subjects within interdisciplinary units of study. Each unit of study is called a project that lasts approximately 4 to 6 weeks and features an orientation, a demonstration, a broadening, and a deepening of the knowledge and skills. Each project follows a three-year sequence; we introduce the theme in Nursery, explore it in Pre-Kindergarten and finally study it in more depth in Kindergarten.
In the UAS Early Childhood Center, all students take Spanish daily. We differentiated Spanish language instruction to support Spanish language learners. The units of study integrate with the unit projects by exploring different aspects.
A FOCUS ON THE WHOLE CHILD
The UAS Early Childhood program attends to children’s academic, physical, social and emotional development. Students are exposed to a variety of experiences to spark their curiosity and creativity and to promote wellness. All of our Nursery and Pre-Kinder students have at least five hours per week of arts, music and Physical Education. Beginning in Kindergarten, students have art, music, drama, and computer science classes with specialist teachers and continue with Physical Education classes twice a week. All of our Early Childhood learners visit the Media Center twice a week for reading aloud and to explore our book collection. Besides offering stimulating learning activities and chances to collaborate and build language skills, these additional classes cultivate an appreciation of health, beauty, and creativity in our youngest learners.
THE UAS LEARNER PROFILE
To be successful in the ever-changing world into which they will graduate, our students need to possess more than academic skills. Nowadays information expands exponentially, existing careers evolve, and unknown new careers await on the horizon. It is no longer sufficient to teach students knowledge and facts. Students need to learn how to learn and develop dispositions that will transfer to many different careers, cultures, and countries.
The Learner Profile, created with the input of students, teachers, and parents, identifies the dispositions or “soft skills” that UAS instills in students. We intend that all UAS students leave the school as emotionally intelligent, creative, critical thinking, collaborative and globally aware people. The UAS Learner Profile informs our programs, practices, and instruction and prepares the student for success today and beyond graduation.
OUR AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES & ATHLETICS
When the academic school day ends, UAS encourages students to stay after school to participate in an activity or sport. The After School Activities program enriches our students’ education by providing a range of fun and exciting activities in a safe environment. Early Childhood students can participate in modern dance, swimming, tennis, arts workshop, karate, and other activities. Students have a chance to explore their interests and to develop a passion or skill they never knew they had.
Our Early Childhood facilities are designed specifically for young learners. Spacious classrooms flooded with natural light contain multiple learning centers, each well appointed with resources designed to stimulate students and promote their learning.
The Early Childhood playground area, which can be accessed directly from the classrooms, is full of equipment and games designed to spark students’ imaginations and to encourage physical activity. In order to create a safe play environment, the area is covered by sun shades and physically separated from other outdoor areas.
For the Early Childhood age group, UAS offers a Daycare Program staffed by UAS teachers and aides. During the 1.5-hour period, children participate in activities that promote play and social-emotional development in a safe, nurturing environment. The Daycare Program serves as an excellent transition to our Early Childhood Program.
To join the program, students must have successfully completed the Nursery Adaptation period; be able to separate from parents smoothly; relate positively with teachers and peers; and be able to express their basic needs.
FINE MOTOR SKILLS SUPPORT PROGRAM
Besides learning academic and social skills, Early Childhood students are also rapidly developing their dexterity and coordination. UAS has a Fine Motor Skills Specialist to assist this process. Our specialist pushes into Nursery and Pre-Kinder classes to support students as they learn fine motor control for writing, cutting and manipulating objects. UAS provides a year-long, weekly pull-out intervention for students whose screening shows they are below age-appropriate development.
This post is also available in: Spanish