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EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION


Our early childhood education programs serve children from six weeks old through Pre-kindergarten (Pre-K). Each of our early education programs are accredited by Cognia, a non-profit school accreditation board formerly known as AdvancED/SACS in Florida.


Our early learning centers offer an inclusive environment that helps our students unlock their full potential both educationally and socially. Our education program is customized for each individual learner, and our early learning programs utilize purposeful play activities to help our students learn in a fun and unique way.


UCP Pre-K programs, class size, and student/teacher ratio meet or exceed all national standards for best practices (Including NAEYC). Our class sizes and staff vary based on the make-up of each classroom.


EARLY LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING CAMPUSES

 

PROGRAMS

INFANTS & TODDLERS

Our infant and toddler programs are designed to provide a warm, comforting environment where teachers are passionate about helping them develop academically and socially! We recognize the importance of a close connection between caretaker and child, so we staff our classrooms accordingly. In our infants and toddler classes, we maintain a 1 staff member: 4 students ratio to provide adequate attention and to cultivate that connection.


Our toddlers are a curious bunch and they are busy exploring the world around them. We recognize that their instinct is to discover how the great big world works, so we provide abundant opportunities for active toddlers to utilize their senses to explore their surroundings.


UCP of Central Florida’s toddler programs is led by a group of dynamic, energetic teachers who are certified to build activities around a toddler’s limitless curiosity. The utilization of both group and individual time of purposeful play allows for the student to actively engage and learn within our classroom communities.


PRESCHOOL & PRE-KINDERGARTEN (PRE-K)

UCP’s Early Childhood program that serves preschoolers and pre-kindergartners is designed to further develop what our students in our infants and toddler programs are learning. Our Lead Teachers are state-certified teachers and have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification in both the age they teach and exceptional student education (ESE).


This program continues the use of purposeful play activities to utilize their senses to learn more about the world around them. By using real materials and trying out their ideas, children learn about sizes, shapes, colors, and they notice patterns and relationships between things. Research shows that when they can manipulate and experiment with these materials and objects they will also develop ingenuity and creativity.


These purposeful play activities, led by state-certified teachers, enables us to achieve the goals of our early childhood curriculum. The most important goal of our preschool and Pre-K program is to help children become independent, confident, and inquisitive learners. Our dynamic education staff encourages children to be active and creative explorers who are not afraid to try out their ideas. We are teaching them how to learn, not just in preschool, but all through their lives by allowing them to learn at their own pace and in the ways that are best for them.


VOLUNTARY PREKINDERGARTEN (VPK)

The Voluntary Pre-K program provides the school readiness skills your child needs to be ready for a successful Kindergarten experience. This program uses engaging literacy and math activities to prepare students for the material that they are going to see in kindergarten. Beyond academics, our VPK program teaches important social and emotional skills necessary for each child to work towards unlocking their full potential.


Similar to our preschool programs, our VPK program classes have a maximum class size of 12 students with a lead teacher and a teacher assistant to keep the classroom ratio at a minimum of one instructor per six students. Our program offers 3-hour VPK days with options to meet family childcare needs; however, a registration/supply fee is required for those students that do sign up for before and/or aftercare.


In order to be eligible for this program, prospective students must be 4 years old that will enter Kindergarten the following school year (2022-2023).


BENEFITS OF VPK

  • The most important cognitive growth and development happens by the age of five.

  • The early years of development heavily impact a child’s ability to be attentive and follow directions. Structured early learning environments foster these abilities for success later in school and life.

  • Children who participate in early childhood education programs develop better language skills, perform better on school-readiness tests, and have better social skills and empathy.

  • VPK promotes good learning habits and instills a life-long love of learning.


 

EARLY LEARNING CURRICULUM


The Frog Street Curriculum is the primary program that UCP utilizes for infant, toddler, pre-school and pre-k classrooms. This research-based curriculum combines developmentally appropriate practice with specific learning targets in the areas of social/emotional, cognitive development, adaptive skills, and fine/gross motor development.

The curriculum is play based and the activities encourage active learning because, “hands-on explorations contribute not only to the understanding of abstract concepts but also to four critical thinking skills essential to learning: making distinctions, recognizing relationships, organizing systems, and taking multiple perspectives”. (Cabrera & Cotosi, 2010).

The curriculum is theme based and lessons are sequential and provide scaffolding for the next stage of development and next concept in the continuum of skills. The following components make up the Frog Street Curriculum.


COMPONENTS OF FROG STREET

GREETING CIRCLE - Each day starts with a Greeting Circle where a sense of community is built using strategies of Conscious Discipline. Because children learn social skills through modeling and practice (Sousa, 2005, Goleman, 2006), UCP believes the consistent and daily use of these strategies imprimprovesdent growth in the area of social and emotional development. Because “the window of opportunity for wiring social and emotional intelligence is between birth and four (Ramey & Ramey, 1999)” it is paramount that this connection is made to the largest possible extent.


MORNING MESSAGE - The morning meeting introduces concepts of print, phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge as well as prepares the children for the day’s activities. Because phonological awareness is a good predictor of later literacy success and targeted vocabulary should be included in vocabulary development (National Early Literacy Panel, 2008), UCP aligns with the literacy component of Frog Street curriculum.


MOVING & LEARNING - Because research states that brain function is increased during physical movement (Cabrera & Cotosi, 2010, Hannaford, 2008), UCP believes the strong embedding of music and movement activities in the Frog Street curriculum encourages optimal learning in a playful way. Singing also increases oxygen flow to the brain which stimulates thinking (Deutsch, 2010, Jensen 2005) as well as reduces stress (Jensen 2005).


READ-ALOUD TIME - Dialogic Reading (re-aloud) takes place daily within our pre-k classrooms. This reading strategy increases student vocabulary (Hargrave & Sénéchal, 2000), increases concept development and teaches comprehension strategies (Wasik & Bond, 2001). Vocabulary is introduced and developed during this time. The introduction of target vocabulary is important to both English learners, typically developing students and students with disabilities because research shows that the preschool years is when vocabulary gaps are most successfully addressed ((Biemiller, 2006) (Cunningham, 1997), having targeted vocabulary introduced prior to or during reading supports vocabulary development as well as concept development.


LITERACY LESSON - The Literacy Lesson gives further opportunities to develop and practice literacy skills. A language rich environment is supported through high quality literature, vocabulary cards and picture cards as well as 34 magnetic story board stories and pieces. Each story is written at 3 different levels to provide differentiations based on children’s current level of understanding and attention level. UCP uses Dialogic Reading and Interactive Read Alouds to deliver Tier 1 reading instruction.


MATH & SCIENCE - A mathematical foundation in the areas of number and operations, geometry, measurement, data analysis and algebraic thinking are critical to later mathematical success, Frog Street uses daily hands on games in small groups to lay the foundation for these important skills. The skills are taught in a sequential order and lessons are scaffolded to ensure success. Science is integrated into each theme with the desired outcome of teaching children inquiry skills. Through a hands on Project Based Learning model, students engage in meaningful and authentic learning experiences.

CLOSING CIRCLE - During the Closing Circle, teachers review the day's activities and events using reflective questioning..

Frog Street provides teachers materials and lessons to implement differentiated instruction into their classrooms and meet the needs of all learners. Resources are included within multiple teacher resource guides that provide teachers the opportunity to dive deeper and support diverse learners.


 

For more information on School Readiness funding (for low-income, working parents):

For more information on VPK funding (free for all 4 year olds):


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