UCCC has the capacity for 164 children daily in a state-of-the-art facility. We have a growing reputation as a thought-leader in early childhood education and human development. Our notions of innovation and creative thinking in the classroom drive the continuous improvement of our programs. We are able to serve a large group of children within a highly diverse environment because of our ability to provide financial assistance to our families, and are successful because of our ability to put sound child development theory into practice. The 10,000 square foot building has 10 classrooms (infant to pre-k), an Infant/Toddler Playground, Infant/Toddler Herb Garden, Adventure Playground, Vegetable/Fruit/Herb Garden, Greenhouse, Trike Track, Tea House, Library for families, Reading Garden, and in-house kitchen and cook.
Everything we do at UCCC is based on the LUME Approach and gardening is no different. In our Seed To Table project we follow 5 simple steps:
1) Soil is like a home for our seeds. At UCCC, we believe that the Psychodynamic Development of young children is the driver of all other types of learning. Children need to feel safe and contained with a strong core before they can be expected to learn abstract concepts. The garden provides lots of opportunities for us to help children learn to nurture small things like they often want to be nurtured. In the garden, we can mirror back a child's emotions, such as missing home, by talking about how the soil is a home for a seed, This tells the child that they are being listened to emotionally.
2) Next we talk about what we planted. Even an activity like gardening can support Early Literacy Development. The development of literacy skills is a complex process that begins at birth. Language development is a critical prerequisite for reading and writing. For young children, conversations with adults help to build vocabulary and phonetic awareness that will support letter recognition and reading later on.
3) Once the plants start growing, we watch to see how they change.
4) When the vegetables are ready, we harvest our crops.
5) Finally, we get to eat what we have grown. YUM! Values and Character can begin to develop as soon as a baby understands that there are others outside of themselves - this is the beginning of empathy. Our approach with young children is to support what comes naturally. With the Seed To Table project, asking questions like, "Who gets to eat what?" or "How would you feel if she got a bigger radish than you?" enhance the development of empathy at a time when it is most critical.