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Union Congregational Weekday Nursery School

176 Cooper Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07043

(973) 744-9069


Philosophy & Approach

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"Union Congregational Nursery School provides a developmentally appropriate curriculum. In the past 11 years UCWNS has been inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. This Approach, developed in schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, has impacted early childhood education in the United States and around the world. We believe that children learn best through their play. Learning is an interactive process. Our environment is prepared for children to learn through active, hands-on exploration and interaction with other children, adults, and materials. Our curriculum is sensitive to individual differences and is committed to learning based on first hand experiences.
Our work with the children focuses on four areas of the child's development. Those areas include social, emotional, physical and cognitive. Social development grows as children begin to make friendships, cooperate on projects, and share roles in the housekeeping area. Emotional development is important as each child tries new activities, accepts responsibilities for his/her own actions, and understands the many facets of ones feelings. The physical development, both large and small motor, grows as children use equipment both outdoors and indoors and as they use the variety of classroom materials from hammers to pegs. Cognitive development, or how one thinks, is strengthened as new information, materials and experiences are presented to children on a daily basis.
Our classrooms are set up in distinct interest areas. Young 3 classrooms are simpler and have fewer interest areas. As the children become older, the classroom is more complex and has a greater variety of interest areas. The areas found in the classrooms include block, art, housekeeping/dramatic play, small manipulative toys, library, woodworking, science & nature, writing, computer, and music. Children develop decision making skills and initiative as they make choices about materials that they will use.
Within each age group are developmentally appropriate opportunities for learning. Our curriculum can be viewed in the physical organization of each classroom as well as the activities that are teacher generated and student driven during the course of each school day. We provide opportunities for children to make decisions, solve problems, make friendships and develop independence and responsibility through active play. Activities include arts, crafts, dramatic play, small and large motor development, oral and written language, mathematical concepts, music and more.
The physical tools for learning include centers for exploring and discovering science, puzzles, blocks, water and sand tables, easels, reading corners, housekeeping corners, animals, costumes, computers and educational software and an indoor and outdoor playground.
Specialists in art, drama and creative movement bring unique experiences to the children within their classroom settings. Parents and other guests are encouraged to share their knowledge and skills with the children. Field trips are arranged as an integral part of the curriculum.
Excerpted from the preschool's website

A Typical Day

"Work time is the longest and most intense block of the day. This is the time of the day when children may choose various areas within the room in which to play. It is designed to build on and strengthen children's natural interests, capacity for initiative, decision making, and problem-solving skills.
Small-group time is reserved for children to experiment with materials and solve problems in an activity adults have chosen for a particular purpose. In this small-group setting, children use materials and encounter problems they might not experience on their own, while adults have the opportunity to observe, join, and support children and learn new things about each child.
Large-group time builds a sense of community for children. Children and adults come together for singing, movement and music activities, storytelling, and reenactments of stories and events.
Outside/Gym time is designed for vigorous physical play.
Transition Times are times when children move from one time period or experience to the next. Transitions occur as children move from home to the early childhood setting and back, and as they move through the segments of the routine in the classroom. Ongoing adult support and planning for transitions can increase the quality of these experiences.
Snacks and Meals are times for children and adults to enjoy healthy food in a supportive social setting.
Excerpted from the preschool's website