The Child Development Center at MiraCosta College serves as a campus-based child development program providing both academic instruction to students enrolled in child development/early childhood education courses and childcare services to student, staff, and community families. Providing demonstration classrooms to the college community, our program offers a model of best practice in early childhood education while providing students learning opportunities through observation and on-floor interactions with young children and their families. Parents should be aware of the teacher training and community service components of the program when enrolling their child.
At the Child Development Center at MiraCosta College, we are committed to the belief that every child has a right to be treated with respect and a right to live each day with joy and self-fulfillment. Our center operates on the belief that children are trustworthy and with encouragement will mature to their fullest potential. As teachers, we support each child’s growth socially, physically, creatively, and cognitively. We believe that children learn through self-discovery, hands-on exploration indoors and outdoors, and interaction with others; that these experiences will help them develop confidence in their own abilities; and that play is the primary medium for early learning. The environment is carefully planned to meet children’s developmental needs and to provide opportunities for successful learning.
From Theory to Practice
The orientation of the Child Development Center at MiraCosta College draws heavily from the psychodynamic theory of Erikson and the cognitive developmental theory of both Piaget and Vygotsky. The establishment of trust and support of autonomy are cornerstones of our program’s philosophy, while an emphasis upon a sensorimotor base of active exploration and experimentation serves as the basis for our curriculum development. In organizing our activities, there is an attempt to bridge the theoretical-practical gap and include a wide range of developmental concepts. Children, parents, and students are viewed as active learners, each contributing to overall program success as well as individual child and family progress. The following assumptions are drawn from theories of development and learning which integrate behavioral biology, cognitive developmental perspective, humanistic psychology, and psychodynamic theory:
Behavior Biology (Ames, Gesell)
- A child is born with unique genetic potential that influences her temperament, learning style, and rate of maturation and development.
Cognitive Development (Piaget, Vygotsky)
- A child's innate capacities in conjunction with her environment produce qualitatively different stages of learning and development.
- A child's thinking differs both qualitatively and quantitatively from that of an adult.
- A very young child learns through concrete experience; exploration of her world grows to include non-physical mental action.
- A child grows optimally when her own ideas and inventions, curiosity, initiative, and creativity are encouraged and supported by adults.
- Learning is a social activity that is facilitated by the presence of a more experienced adult or child.
- All areas of development - including physical, social, emotional, and intellectual - are interrelated.
- Learning is a lifelong process, not a product, and occurs at different rates and in different forms throughout the lifespan.
Humanistic Psychology (Rogers, Barth)
- Each child is a unique individual with her own perceptions, feelings, and capabilities.
- A child learns best when she has a positive self-concept.
- Positive self-concept allows a child to take risks and challenges, to accept and learn from her failures, and to work towards behavioral and developmental change.
- Self-initiated learning involves the whole child - her feelings and intellect - and is the most pervasive and permanent mode of learning.
- A child is learning to value and respect others people's feelings and to experience life as interesting, significant, and worth living.
- A child needs opportunities for interaction with peers, adults, younger and older children in order to begin to develop significant lasting human relationships, respect for differences among people, and a sense of mortality.
Psychodynamic Theory (Freud, Erikson)
- A child learns best in a safe, secure, and supportive environment.
- Each child is dealing with issues of trust, sex-role identity, attachment-separation, adaptation, autonomy, initiative, adequacy, self-control, and relatedness.
- A child's emotional, social, and moral reasoning is qualitatively different from adult's and produces qualitatively different stages of development.
- Play provides the vehicle for children to indirectly or symbolically reveal the conflicts they are feeling, to try out different roles, and to act out potentially aggressive or destructive feelings.
Inclusion of all children
The Child Development Center has a strong commitment to including children with diverse developmental abilities into our program. This commitment is based on several beliefs and grounded in legislation accounting for the educational rights of children with special needs and their families. Children vary widely in developmental pace and style during the early years. It is not unusual to have quite a range of developmental levels in the same early childhood classroom. Children have much to learn from one another, and accounting for differences is an important part of their early experiences.
Early childhood teachers, therefore, should be uniquely prepared to plan for such diversity and to work effectively with children at various places in their development. Positive, personal experiences shared by children of differing backgrounds and skills can be of great long-term value to children with and without special needs. When these experiences occur in natural and familiar surroundings, messages of belonging and individual worth are conveyed to all the children.
Supervising Teachers will be informed as far in advance as possible when a child of particular special needs is to be enrolled in their class. The Director will coordinate any support services to be provided by school districts or community agencies. As in all aspects of Center operations, close parent/professional partnerships are necessary to insure the success of all involved in this valuable endeavor.
The Child Development Center is committed to providing all children the freedom to be whomever or whatever they choose. We portray both men and women as nurturing, capable and feeling human beings and refrain from gender-casting jobs and roles. We also encourage active and quiet play for both boys and girls.
Supervising Teachers are aware of the ways in which language, personal interactions, program features and classroom arrangements convey information to children about their options. Non-sexist/anti-bias education is an active, ongoing endeavor.