Our inside-out approach to caring for young children is part of what makes us unique – and one of the most critical ingredients missing in our early care and education system as it exists today. We have developed a model, The Spheres of Understanding, that integrates three interdependent developmental lines, each of which is critical to developing the whole child:


Values & Character Development

  • Trust
  • Empathy
  • Compassion

Psychodynamic Development

  • Temperament
  • Attachment
  • Self Regulation
  • Autonomy
  • Identity
  • Resiliency

Early Literacy Development

  • Oral Language and Vocabulary
  • Listening Skills
  • Emergent Writing
  • Emergent Reading

The Spheres of Understanding support intentional teaching practices. We integrate each sphere into daily practice. Within each sphere, there are key elements of children's growth that are based on developmental theory, observational research, and current brain research. Our responsibility is to provide educational experiences that are driven by best practices.

We identify literacy as the linchpin to current and future academic success for all children. UCCC offers a literacy-based curriculum which supports the social, emotional, and intellectual health of children, and enables them to have the opportunity for that academic success.  In addition to this innovative approach to literacy, the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute provides teachers with highly specialized training in the psychodynamic development of children, which, in turn, supports the social and emotional health of children. Thus literacy becomes the overlay for a deeper understanding of children.

Our approach is an ambitious conceptual understanding for teachers of early childhood, when the norm emphasizes product, not process or understanding the inner world of children. We must create a school that can heal and is emotionally responsive to the needs of children and families. Yet as ambitious as this may be, we believe it is the key to systemic family change. The integration of disciplines creates a model for early childhood education unmatched in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

UCCC uses the MO Accreditation-approved Creative Curriculum.