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Business Spotlight: La Jolla United Methodist Church Nursery School adds outdoor learning spaces

La Jolla United Methodist Church Nursery School director Bridget Musante with nursery school students enjoying the day in the community garden.
La Jolla United Methodist Church Nursery School director Bridget Musante with nursery school students enjoying the day in the community garden.
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• BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT:

For more than 42 years, La Jolla United Methodist Church Nursery School (LJUMCNS) has provided an early childhood educational program that focuses on play-based and child centered learning. Here, in an incredible oasis in the center of La Jolla, parents and children delight in a curriculum that features art, dramatic play, stories, music, engineering, sand and water play, gardening, and running and climbing amid integrated indoor and outdoor classrooms where students learn by doing and play is their medium for learning.

And, as the children grow and flourish, so, too, do the school’s programs and learning environments. From a plot of land, recently transformed into The Community Garden Classroom, where students tend fruit trees and seasonal vegetables and which will soon welcome chicks to nurture, to the Outdoor Studio Classroom and a variety of play areas featuring science corners, an open-air art studio, a “mud kitchen,” fairy gardens, a composting site and engineering opportunities (think student-made gullies and structures), the newly expanded outdoor environments become a natural extension of the indoor classrooms.

The harvest from the garden, planted and tended by students, is sold during the school’s farmers market one Friday each month. All proceeds from the sale of their eggs, fruits and vegetables are then donated to Heifer International (heifer.org), which brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Donations are made in the form of animals that the LJUMCNS students choose from Heifer’s “catalog” and which are then given to families around the world to help them become self-reliant.

“Part of our teaching here is about giving back,” said Bridget Musante, the school’s executive director. “Not only to one another and our immediate community, but also to those across the globe. Our students take pride in their ability to give and we take great joy in watching their minds grow and their hearts fill with a love for giving. We’re helping conscientious world citizens develop here and we don’t take that lightly — but we do have a lot of fun in the process.”

The school’s non-denominational programming considers the developmental needs of children in physical, emotional, social, mental and spiritual growth as an interrelated and continuous process. Programs include a 2-year-old program, which encourages growth of independence and social awareness, sensory exploration and the development of physical and language skills; 3- to 5-year-old program, with an emphasis on learning through play to encourage discovery, independence and social interaction; and the pre-kindergarten program, featuring a curriculum that stimulates children’s skills in core pre-academic areas such as literacy, math, science and handwriting. Both part- and full-time flexible schedules have recently been made available to meet a variety of families’ needs.

Applications are being accepted for the 2015-2016 school year and the school maintains a dated wait list for interested parents. Contact LJUMCNS to schedule a tour.

La Jolla United Methodist Church Nursery School

6063 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla

(858) 454-1418

ljumcns.com

The Business Spotlight features commercial enterprises that support the La Jolla Light.