The West Valley College Child Development Center Lab School (WVC-CDC) is a program dedicated to supporting the needs of children and families of West Valley College students, staff/faculty, and the larger surrounding community. The non-profit, on-campus WVC-CDC fosters an environment of respect and understanding that supports the development of the whole child. This is accomplished through low adult-child ratios, educated teachers, and a focus on diversity. We are licensed through the Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Title 22 regulations. Title 5 regulations are also followed as the WVC-CDC receives funding for tuition subsidy for low-income families (children are enrolled according to admission and eligibility policies or waiting list procedures established and monitored based on State Department of Education funding requirements – see Supplemental Section for more details). Additionally, the WVC-CDC is part of the West Valley College Child Studies Department and serves as its lab school and is uniquely involved in the academic life of the college by serving as a research-based teacher training and observation site for students. The program is operated on a non-discriminatory basis, according to equal opportunity for access to services and employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, or sexual preference. No religious instruction of any kind is provided. Our early childhood program consists of classrooms designed for children two to five years of age. The program operates daily, Monday through Friday, 12 months a year. We have an open-door policy* that supports strong parent involvement in all our classrooms. Communication and participation are very important and will enhance a feeling of a partnership in the education of your child. Our staff are dedicated to working with you to provide learning opportunities, both at home and at the center. It is important that you share any family changes, questions, or concerns with us as they arise. *Open door policy has been modified due to Covid19 restrictions and are subject to change. The program follows the State Department of Education’s Title 5 requirements for adult/child ratios and staff qualifications. We have a one/four ratio for our two’s children, and a one/eight ratio in our 3–5-year-old mixed age class. Our center is staffed with qualified early childhood senior specialists (master teachers) and student worker teaching assistants. Children deserve to be in an aesthetic environment that respects and understands the process of growth and development of the child. We believe play is the natural medium through which growth and development can best be realized for each child. Therefore, we reflect an emergent developmentally appropriate curriculum in a natural setting. See Appendix for classroom daily schedules.
Play and Emergent Curriculum
While children play, they put their ideas into action. They learn to communicate effectively. They discover how to get along with other children. They make things happen and enjoy a sense of competence. Play allows children to experiment, and problem solve. It fosters the ability to focus attention and to concentrate for long periods of time. Play provides opportunities for children to express their thinking and feelings. It requires authentic learning experiences, fosters imagination, and encourages children to generate creative ideas.
Learning experiences are developmentally appropriate and are matched with the age of the child, their individual interests, their abilities, and their temperament. Workbooks, coloring books, and pre-cut art materials are ready-made adult models for children that provide little or no opportunity for individuality and creativity. A rich array of natural materials and authentic learning experiences enables the child's involvement in a full range of activities.
Learning experiences are child-directed rather than teacher-directed. Children are presented with many opportunities for selecting materials, initiating activities themselves, participating in activities others have chosen, and following through to satisfactory completion. Children are given ample opportunity and time to discover, invent, create, feel, taste, touch, and enjoy a full range of activities within the classroom and college campus.
The curriculum is ethnically diverse, non-sexist, and anti-biased as demonstrated by use of appropriate learning materials, books, pictures, foods, and how teachers respond to children’s individual needs. We have a diverse staff and are often assisted by our parent and student groups in providing ethnic and cultural experiences, food, dress, and celebrations. It is our goal to create an environment and foster interactions that provide children with the opportunity to:
- Understand differences and similarities among children and adults
- Foster a spirit of inquiry and critical thinking through an emergent, play-based curriculum
- Appreciate nature, the outdoor environment, and the outcomes of sustainable practices
- Develop a positive self-concept and healthy self-image.
- Establish and maintain relationships with teachers and peers based on mutual respect and trust through a developing understanding of the social and cultural environment
- Commutate effectively
- Build physical strength, skills, and muscular coordination
- Practice safe and healthy nutritional and self-care habits
- Develop problem-solving skills and to think creatively
- Manage emotions and express feelings appropriately.
The physical environment and general atmosphere of our early childhood programs are designed to be safe and to encourage age-appropriate behavior from young children. The limits or rules set by the teachers for the children are simple and consistent. A positive approach is used with children in ensuring their safety and social-emotional well-being while in the program. Depending on age, temperament, and individual needs of a child, the following techniques and accommodations are used to foster cooperative, peaceful, and safe behavior of children in our programs:
- Modeling and recognizing acceptable behavior.
- Recognizing each child’s individual needs.
- Structuring or modifying the environment and schedules as needed.
- Anticipating and eliminating potential problems.
- Planning routines to allow children a successful mix of choice and structure.
- Engaging children in purposeful activities.
- Recognizing and encouraging children’s attempts at solving their problems.
- Identifying and discussing what a child might be doing and feeling.
- Stating what a problem is and discussing ways to respond.
- Giving choices.
- Encouraging children to use oral language and social problem-solving abilities.
- Redirecting a child’s attention to another activity or area of the room.
- Using natural or logical consequences.
The expression and practice of time-out is not used. When consistent unsafe behavior persists, the child’s actions will be stopped. For example, this includes instances of physical and verbal aggression towards other children or teachers, bullying, inappropriate throwing of objects, kicking, biting, and hair pulling. When necessary, the teacher helps the child move away from the existing situation and directs the child to another activity in the room. When children are asked to leave a play situation because of unsafe behavior, the teacher gives a simple explanation of the situation and the reason why the child is being asked to leave. The child can return to the play situation as soon as both the teacher and the child feel the child has calmed down and can behave safely and cooperatively.