Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool

Our School

Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool was established in 1965 as an outreach program of the Highland Plaza United Methodist Church. In June of 2010, it became a ministry of Hixson United Methodist Church.

As the oldest Chattanooga licensed morning preschool program north of the river, Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool holds a license from the State of Tennessee Department of Human Services serving children ages 2, 3, 4 and 5. 


Our foremost goal is to provide a loving atmosphere and safe environment based on Christian principles, so that, partnering with families, we can nurture and support each child in his/her social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual development. Children of all faiths and nationalities are welcome and accepted.


  • We believe in a strengths-based approach to education where we are committed to see the competency of every child.
  • We believe that each day should be filled with joy in learning, wonder, curiosity, and engaged investigation.
  • We believe children need time to acquire play skills so that they can learn to investigate, invent, and problem-solve with complexity.
  • We believe children need to develop the positive approaches to learning of enthusiasm (interest, pleasure, and motivation to learn) and engagement (focused attention, persistence, flexibility, and self-regulation). Positive approaches to learning are supported by attentive, intentional teachers.
  • We believe that the whole child, - body, soul, and mind, - should be nurtured and challenged.


  • To provide an early educational experience where children come to believe in themselves, their worth, and their ability to have an impact on the world around them.
  • To enable children to see that they are creative, able, critical thinkers.
  • For the classroom environment to honor learning styles.
  • For the teachers to use a variety of strategies to engage the learner.
  • For teachers and families to work together in partnership for the good of all children.


Our Core Values guide and inform our work in the classroom, state our intentions for daily life in our school, set the tone for relationship-building, and provide a framework for us to be our best selves within our community of learners. Our Core Values define what we believe children, families and staff not only need, but deserve.

  • Respect
  • Relationship
  • Collaboration
  • Community
  • Time
  • Pursuit of Quality


Our philosophical approach is an amalgamation of:

  • the theories of Abraham Maslow and Erik Erickson, which show that children must have their physiological and psychological needs met in order to feel safe, to feel a sense of belonging, to have respect for themselves and to feel respect for others. We use a variety of resources from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) to bolster children’s developing relationships and growing competence in social interactions.
  • the research that shows play is a critical resource for learning and has a strong relationship to future academic success. Teacher-supported play builds many foundational skills and complex cognitive activities such as memory, self-regulation, oral language abilities, symbolic generalization, successful school adjustment, and better social skills (Bordrova and Leong). Functional, constructive, and dramatic play opportunities engage children’s senses, encourage active exploration, and require creativity, imagination, reasoning, negotiation, and motivation (Smilansky). Play is an essential learning tool for young children.
  • the theory of multiple intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner - that children come to us wired for ways of learning (linguistic/verbal, logical/mathematical, musical/rhythmic, spatial/visual, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist) and it is our goal to strengthen all ways of learning through encouragement, enrichment, and support.
  • the theory of social constructionism - that children are active constructors of their own knowledge and that knowledge is constructed through curiosity, investigation, and experimentation (Piaget). Individual knowledge is constructed, deconstructed, and consolidated as a result of exchange with and in relation to others. Children learn best when supported and challenged by a community of likewise enthusiastic learners (Vygotsky).
  • the inspirational educators of Reggio Emilia, Italy, who believe that early childhood education should be based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community. 


Our curriculum emerges from the ideas that have sparked our children’s interest and focus. 

Independence is encouraged in an atmosphere that supports developing self-discipline. Children learn responsibility through classroom jobs such as leading the group, reporting the weather, being the classroom inspector or the snack helper, all of which build leadership skills. 

Each day offers independent explorationteacher-scaffolded opportunitieswhole-class and small-group experiences.

Social-emotional development is fostered through role-playing sharing, making-friends, and taking turns, and participation in values-based Bible stories. Intellectual, physical, social and emotional, artistic, and spiritual growth are each promoted at our preschool. 

Drawings and other representational work by the children give us glimpses into their understanding of the world around them and how they are “making meaning.”

Study is cultivated through thoughtfully proposed experiences with many unique and unusual materials. We use Learning Together with Young Children - a Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers, by Margie Carter and Deb Curtis, as a guide for planning curriculum and for building our relationships with children and families. To quote from the book, “We find value in curriculum models that are environmentally based, see children as active learners, offer children choices, encourage teachers to build curriculum from children’s interests, and use ongoing observations with a focus on strengths for assessment. We believe curriculum should strengthen children’s identities as thinkers and responsible citizens as well as creators of a life-sustaining culture. Curriculum should be developed in conjunction with children’s families and communities and be respectful of their culture and home language.” Our goal is to “offer a way to think about the teaching and learning process that is emotionally and intellectually engaging for teachers and children.” (p. 7, 8)

While learning standards and developmental sequences serve as a guide, they are not used as a checklist of “must-sees” to evaluate a child’s worth. Children are already competent, ready to explore, create, question and build. We utilize assessment tools that emphasize credits, not deficits.



Never hurt anyone on the inside or the outside.