“You really have to see our classrooms in action to understand what we’re all about,” says Hinsdale’s Union Church Early Childhood Program (UCECP) Director Jennifer Keldahl. “We don’t have a kit curriculum that we follow every year. It’s much more organic. Our teachers are inspired by their students and this guides what they teach. Teachers facilitate the possibilities for our children.”
It sounds somewhat magical to have such dynamic classrooms for preschool children, but it is exactly what UCECP strives to offer every child, from 6-week-olds to 6-year-olds, who is enrolled in their programs. The UCECP’s mission is to inspire a love of learning by nurturing respect and compassion, challenging children to think deeply and purposefully, and motivating children to work toward a better world.
The UCECP has been nurturing children in Early Childhood Education since 1955. It operates within the Union Church’s modern education wing and fulfills one of the church’s many missions. The Union Church community embraces the UCECP’s commitment to fostering the development of both child and family. “Our curriculum is based on the principles of the Reggio Emilia method of teaching,” Keldahl says. “Because we follow the children’s interests, no two classes are the same.”
This fall, Tiziana Filipino visited UCECP from Italy. Filipino is a renowned educator who strives to empower teachers and children. The Italian municipality of Reggio Emilia has earned international acclaim for its innovative pedagogy and powerful, practice-based theory in early childhood education. As a liaison and specialist from Reggio Emilia, Italy, Filipino has visited and consulted with many of the most remarkable preschools all over the world. She has worked in conjunction with universities and colleges that are on the cutting edge of early childhood education. “The environment of the UCECP is very beautiful and it is obvious that parents are valued,” Filipino says. “What makes this school different is the teachers and leadership. The teachers understand their role as facilitators of learning. They embrace the possibilities and have a strong commitment to building metacognition.”
Registration at UCECP opens December 1 and closes the last Monday in January, January 30. “I encourage any family considering our preschool to stop in for a visit. There is no need to make an appointment. Just come and see us and you’ll see that this isn’t your ordinary preschool,” she adds.
The UCECP is located at 137 S. Garfield Avenue in Hinsdale, 630-323-3314, ucecp.org.