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Montclair Community Play Center (MCPC)

5815 Thornhill Drive
Oakland, CA 94611

(510) 339-7213


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

Curriculum Our curriculum at MCPC emphasizes play and hands-on experience. We endeavor to create a stimulating learning environment that balances sensory activities, cognitive skill games, and fine and gross motor activities. The curriculum revolves around a monthly theme, with planned daily activities that build upon the theme. Some of these activities include: Child-centered art projects, easel painting and play-dough Children's cooking and food-preparation projects Outdoor play, such as climbing, digging, running and ball games Science and nature projects, including a magnetic sand table and animals to observe Reading books in our library area Musical activities and instruments Fantasy play Movement and dance Sand, water table and seed table play Building toys and manipulatives, such as puzzles, blocks and trains Carpentry projects Guest visitors and field trips Through these types of play, our programs develop and satisfy a child's natural desire to learn, so s/he may gain: Self-reliance Independence Respect for others and the environment Cooperation Logical thinking Hand-eye coordination Problem-solving skills Readiness for formal learning

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
  • Sorting, pattens, building
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
  • Anything children dream up and want to explore.
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
  • Hatching chicks, simple experiments
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
  • Singing, movement, rythm exploration
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
  • Too many to list.
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught Conflict resolution. Parents and children learn the skills they need to resolve discord at both school and home.

From the Director:

Parents are encouraged to add to the curriculum based on skills and interests.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

MCPC is a non-profit, parent-operated, cooperative preschool. Founded in 1933, we are a supportive community of 25 different families, working together to facilitate our children's development. Our focus is on creativity, socialization, independence, cognitive growth, and sensory-motor development. Our objective is to create a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment, in which our children can learn to build self-esteem, and to value diversity. The programs at Montclair Community Play Center are based on three key principles: Developmental Model of Learning Emphasizes free-choice play and hands-on experience that satisfies our childrens' needs, interests and abilities. Parental Involvement Daily interaction supports learning for both parent and child. To promote parental involvement, we offer parent education on a variety of child-rearing topics throughout the year. Focus on Conflict Resolution Parents and children learn the skills they need to resolve discord at both school and home. Our programs are also mindful of different races, abilities, religions, gender, social class, and family structures. Our anti-bias orientation allows children to explore the differences and similarities between peoples, in a safe and open environment. We have designed our programs to help our students develop the skills necessary to identify and counter the hurtful impact of social bias.

A Typical Day

Daily Schedule 8:40am On-duty parents arrive with their children to set up the planned activities under the guidance of the Director. 8:50am Meeting for on-duty parents and Director to discuss what has been going on in the childrens' play, ideas for engaging the kids, and any concerns. One parent is assigned to care for on-duty parents' children while meeting takes place. 9:00am Children arrive at school. Free choice of play activities, indoors and outdoors. Children prepare and eat snack at their leisure with adult assistance. 11:00am Age-combined circle time. Children act out stories they have dictated earlier in the morning, sing songs, learn fingerplays, and talk. 11:15am Balloon Groups: Combined-age children break into small groups and focus on Movement & Dance, Gross Motor Activities, or hands-on Discovery (science projects). 11:30am Children continue outside play. 11:45am Closing circles. Children are divided into 2 circles by age, and have time to discuss important events or issues that came up during the day, hear a story, and then say good-bye in a special song. 12:00pm School ends for children. Meeting for on-duty parents with the Director to discuss the day. Children of on-duty parents hear stories while they eat a brown-bag lunch and share conversation.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Because of the co-op setting, parents are aware of child's progress. We also have conferences mid-year and paren education opportunities through out the year.Teachers will advise informally.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Home visits by teachers
  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

Extra attention is given to child and parents are not forced to leave until they are comfortable dong so.