Upon stepping into Mission College’s new Child Development Center preschool, visitors can walk or hop onto a bunch of round colored circles, fashioned like lily pads sitting on a river stream.
“The first time the children walked through this lobby, they used the facility exactly the way we had pictured,” says Mary Ashley, the director of Mission College’s Child Development Center. “The preschool facility used to be just portables. And now, we have this new building funded through Measure H, which supported a variety of building projects throughout the district.”
While celebrating the new center’s grand opening on January 17, Ashley also expressed her appreciation to Patricia Lock and the other architects of the BFGC-IBI Group who had designed such a child and student-friendly structure. At the center, the lobby leads into an equipped observation room, or piazza, intended for child development students to observe what children are doing in the classrooms. A lecture-style classroom also allows students from the community college to observe children in a classroom.
“This center functions as a lab for our students,” says Camilla Weiberg, the department chair of Child Development at Mission College. “Its primary function is to offer our students an opportunity to observe children and train to be teachers. Almost every class in our department requires a level of observation.”
Another function of the Child Development Center is to offer a supportive learning environment to the young children enrolled in the program.
“Reggio Emilia is a region of Italy and there’s also a childcare philosophy from there based on how to work with young children,” Ashley says of the school’s teaching style and then points out a cardboard spaceship the children made in a classroom. “This building was built based on that philosophy, which is to encourage children to explore their interests.”
“We are play-based here,” says Lisa Curiel, lead teacher at the Child Development Center. “That’s where all these projects come from. Everything is inspired by the children.”
Curiel points out the rocket ship sketches, the 3D art, the natural materials collected on a walk, the watercolor paintings, and the hand-made jewelry, all of which were made by the children participating in the Child Development Center.
The center comes with two classrooms, pleasantly named the “Orchid” classroom and the “Sunflower” classroom. Each of the classrooms leads into a separate yard with a play structure and a gardening area. An “atelier” adjacent to both classrooms serves as an art room. Offices for instructors and administrators are conveniently located in the space.
The new Child Development Center preschool is specifically geared toward children three to five years of age. Another facility on campus, also part of the Child Development Center, provides care for infants and toddlers.
Mission College’s Child Development Center accepts children from six weeks to five years old. Visit www.missioncollege.org/depts/child/center.html#center for information about enrolling or wait listing a child in the Child Development Center.
Visit www.missioncollege.org/foundation/childcare.html for information about donating to Mission College’s Child Care program.