University City Children's Center Approach to 
Early Childhood Education

Photo by Jeffery Pomranka

In honor of Literacy Night (Thursday April 10th) at UCCC, we wanted to share a closer look at our approach to children.

  • Why do we put so much emphasis on literacy?
  • How do these three Spheres have a lasting impact on a child's development? 

University City Children's Center approach, also known as, The Spheres of Understanding, is based on a long-standing, time-tested child development theory, observational research, and is now being validated by neurological research only now possible because of advances in technology. 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:

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Psychodynamic Development – Teachers, parents, and environments support the mental health of children in and out of the classroom. Our core belief is that children’s emotional health determines their capacity to learn. An emotionally secure child is better poised for intellectual growth and academic success. Our families become more conscious of this core belief and are also a child’s first and best advocate for their child’s growth.

Early Literacy & Language Development – A rich early language environment supports emergent reading and writing. Early literacy supports academic skills and provides the footing for positive emotional and social development. Language and literacy give teachers insight into the inner world of children so that they are responsive to each child’s individual needs. As teachers and parents, we may observe a child that draws a loopy line across a page - it is our job to encourage this literary experimentation so that the child becomes a natural and positive experience for children.

Values and Character Development – The social development of children cannot be separated from their emotional and intellectual development. We see values and character as an essential element to learning how to live in society. Values and character development can also help a child understand their own emotions, and then they can learn to recognize the same in others.  We are helping to develop a sense of personhood and citizenship in each child we serve. The value and character component of our program is unique in early childhood, although experts recognize its pertinence to the overall well-being of children as they grow. 

To learn more about UCCC's approach visit this page on our website