Early childhood center stresses hands-on experience, independence

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By Shaneen Y. Johnson

The child development center was established in January 1974. It was changed to the San Antonio College early childhood center in spring 2006.

According to the center’s brochure, it is “a model training laboratory program, primarily serving students of San Antonio College, and an integral part of the department of early childhood studies”.

The misconception most people may have is the center is only a day care, but it is also an opportunity for study for those students enrolled in the department to gain hands-on experience.

The center provides students the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge necessary to work in a variety of settings involving young children, as well as their families, while under the close supervision of faculty.

The facility has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children since 1986, which promotes early childhood development at the highest level.

The focus is driven toward the education process of the child, which includes language development, independence at a young age, as well as showing the value of the child.

“Children always come first; (we) make sure when families enroll children in the center to be confident their child is learning and having

fun,” Earlene Gonzales said.

Gonzales has been the director of the early childhood center since 1998, but she has been involved in early childhood development since 1986, and has a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in early childhood specialization.

The children range from infants up to 5 years of age, who are under the careful supervision of teaching staff having either a bachelor’s or associates degree in child development/early childhood education.

The director and teaching staff go above and beyond to make sure the children have classroom activities to meet developmental needs, while at the same time building strong relationships whether it is teacher-child or teacher-parent.

Enrollment for child care is available but is limited to a needs basis, but any students interested can apply for grants.

The two grants to apply for student aid are the Carl Perkins, a federal program for professional and technical education for students, or Child Care Access Means Parents In School. Each application is available on the first floor of the early childhood center.

The center also has information available as far as brochures, pamphlets and flyers.

The staff is very family-oriented and see everyday as a positive learning experience for each child.

“We want to make sure what is happening with children is the best possible,” Gonzales said.

By building a “learning community” structured around day-to-day contact, the center is able to run smoothly and effectively.

Gonzales recalls parents that still come back to this day with their children, some who have already graduated high school.

Parents who had their children in the center noticed once their child left the facility, the transition was very easy for them into mainstream schooling and their children were at the head of their class.

Anyone interested should stop by the center at 210 W. Ashby Place, or call 733-2420.


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