Originally established with a firm Montessori base, the AUCP curriculum has expanded to include not only those early Montessori roots but also concepts from current child development research and theory. The AUCP curriculum promotes the child’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development rather than focusing upon a body of knowledge that the child must acquire. The children are encouraged to express themselves imaginatively and creatively.
AUCP staff pays close attention to the individual – your child is considered a unique person with a unique rate of development.
Educational programs for all ages have specific objectives. At AUCP, our objectives are:
- Self-Confidence and Independence: Our goal is a sense of individual worth for each child. A child with a positive self-image can more easily develop positive relationships with others. When first entering school, the child has had only limited experience with non-family members. The preschool experience is the first real thrust into the outside world, and it is important that it be warm, secure and enjoyable. There should be opportunities to gain confidence, test abilities and learn how to handle new situations. Our task in this area is mainly to help the children by observing as much as possible and by facilitating independence.
- Physical and Muscular Development and Coordination: Emphasis is placed on development of both large and small muscle control. This helps develop both the body and the mind. Our program includes at least 1/2 hour of vigorous play, usually outside unless the weather is unusually harsh.
- Social Development: Young children move through a series of adjustments before they can enjoy social contacts outside the home. The classroom offers the child a place where he can begin to learn to get along and share in a group. There are opportunities for the child to work alone, observe, or work with others. The first hour of each day is devoted to free choice, a fundamental part of AUCP’s curriculum. Free choice is “child directed”. The child can choose activities to develop his social self (games, blocks, dress up) or his independence (practical life, use of manipulatives, puzzles, art). This is an opportunity for children to explore and manipulate materials independently. Children learn to choose equipment from the shelves and to return it when finished. Sharing is not required. Teachers and coopers are there to provide guidance rather than direction. The goal of the first hour is to encourage self-motivation, independence, exploration, responsibility toward equipment, and the ability to focus.
To encourage group identification and cooperation, the child is expected to participate in group activities (such as circle time, snack, lunch, and going to the playground). These activities are introduced on a limited basis in the younger classes and more extensively in the older classes.
- Circle Time: provides opportunities for children to participate in a group activity. As opposed to our “child directed” first hour, this teacher directed time is one of the few times that a child is encouraged to respond to a directed group activity.
- Practical Life: This refers to everyday responsibilities such as putting away work, washing hands, pouring juice, and putting on coats. The tasks increase in number and difficulty as the child matures. Our goal is to provide the child with the tools to develop responsibility.
- Cognitive Development: The purpose is to instill an excitement of discovery and an incentive to accomplish more. Our program covers the following areas:
- Language Arts: Listening, conversation, emergent literacy activities, size, shape, sequence, spatial relationships and color.
- Mathematics: Numbers, time and space relationships, and measurements.
- Nature: Physical world, plant and animal life, geography and ecology.
- Music: Singing, rhythms, action songs, instrumental music.
- Art: Process oriented experiences designed to foster creativity.
“The school allows each of my children to be themselves and is extremely accommodating of their needs.”
– AUCP parent
Although it varies by class and children’s ages, a typical class day may include:
- Free choice: teachers set up several stations each morning. Children can play and work at any station for as long as they like or move from area to area. Stations may include arts and crafts, playdough, tools, building materials, blocks, dolls, dress-up, play kitchen, puzzles, or the sensory table filled with water, sand, or other tactile materials.
- Snack time: snack is provided by one co-oping parent each day, except in the Panda class where parents provide snacks for their own children.
- Circle Time: teacher-directed story time, music, show and tell, sharing time, group discussion, talks, or demonstrations by a parent or community member.
- Interest center or special activity: Children participate in as many as three teacher-planned activities such as arts and crafts projects, games, specific large or small motor skill practice, specially chosen puzzles or other manipulative activities, and music, which has been incorporated into the daily classroom curriculum.
- Playground: children play on our beautiful and well-maintained playground. Often more than one class shares the playground at the same time, with plenty of adult supervision. Because children need a change of scenery and benefit from exercise and fresh air, we take them to the playground as much as possible except in extremely bad weather.
- Lunch: each child brings her own lunch. Teachers and co-opers supervise lunch and help children as necessary.