The first years of life are the best time to ensure a strong future for all children in Santa Monica. Early education advances equity and is essential for thriving families and communities. Whether children are starting to care for infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, Santa Monica is home to a wide range of early learning programs, with varying schedules, times, and costs.
Safe and nurturing care should be offered to all children, regardless of income, need, family race or ethnicity, or the languages they speak. Connections for Children, our local child care resource and referral agency, can help you find a program that meets your needs and determine if you qualify for funding to help pay for it (connectionsforchildren.org or (310) 452-3325).
Our communities are stronger when every child is healthy, safe and engaged in early learning. Read on to learn more about the passionate and diverse professionals who do this important work in Santa Monica. This is part 6 of a series.
Program name: Santa Monica United Methodist Church’s First Preschool
Program Director: Dee Menzies
Age of children served: 2 in kindergarten
Business hours : 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., with extended care option 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Brief history: Santa Monica Preschool’s first UMC was established in 1948 by church member Verna “Ruth” Naylor Zimmerman, who saw a need for child care. in the community. Jthe program today is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), became more than 100 students, and always strives to serve working families.
You are mentionningD the objective of fostering a peaceful environment, free from judgment and intolerance. What does it look like?
All children are treated with unconditional love and respect. Children are encouraged to play cooperatively while adhering to the core values of kindness, respect, trust, honesty and cooperation. Teachers accept individual differences by welcoming a part of each student’s culture of origin into the classroom and sharing it with all. Teachers incorporate diversity, be it culture, race, religion, age, ability, etc., through classroom displays, story selections and lesson plans. Each class has a library corner where many books reflect the cultural, religious and racial diversity of our pback to school and the world around us.
As children prepare for kindergarten, they learn about different countries and customs around the world. They take “imaginary” trips and have special days where they dress up Clothes and take part in the food of the countries they study.
You mentioned your core values above. How do you to integrate those in your course?
Every day, teachers incorporate and talk to children about being kind, respectful and gentle to each other. A fun example is thvery child receives a school T-shirt with Core Values written on it, and teachers talk about Core Values as they hand them out. Children wear them throughout the year cultivating positivity. As administrators, we discuss and incorporate how we are instillation core values in everyday life. Another example is that of children who attend chapel for 15 minutes each week, during which the pastor reads stories focusing on the virtues of kindness, respect and equality. Our chapel is focused on core values, rather than any specific religionbecause we emphasis on ecumenism.
Can you share your sustainable gardening activities and shared meals?
For years we had a designated teacher or volunteer who develops gardening and composting programs with children. Last year wWe were lucky to have a city representative come and tell us about green waste. Each class also has an outside garden Region. children, as well as the recommendations of the teachers, select what they would like to plant, such as flowers or vegetables. They take care of your plants (with the help of teachers and parents) and watch them growing up. When the vegetables are ripe, the children harvest them, wash them and eat them, learning that the plants come from the ground.
We also provide organic food – two snacks per day and one lunch for children family style. Ahe the food is prepared here, and most of it is organic. They say a Acknowledgement grace before they eat their meal together. It also encourages children’s family unitys because children usually have lunch together here and encourage their families to eat together at home.