Child Development Center cultivates curious minds

March 7, 2014 Feature Print Print

Lab Supervisor LeeAnn Townsend said the children at OCCC’s Child Development Center and Lab School have been busy studying about families, simple objects and recipes.

The children at the center range from 6 weeks to 3 years in the infant and toddler classes and older 3-year-olds, and 4- and 5-year-olds in the preschool classes.

Townsend said the Child Development Center uses the “Project Approach” in its curriculum. She said each class has a specific project to follow.

“[We] take things that the children have already had some real-life experiences with and then, find out what they already know about it,” Townsend said.

“The research shows that if children are studying things they already know a little bit about, [it’s] meaningful knowledge that they’re learning,” she said. “They’ll retain it because it’s something they can [already] sort in their brain.”

She said one toddler class is currently completing a project over simple objects, such as balls, while another class is studying families.

She said the toddlers working on the family project are beginning to recognize they have families both at home and at school.

Child Development Teacher Heather Pierce said the projects are based on the childrens’ interests. “So, we see what they’re interested in in the classroom and we try to go more in depth with those interests.”

Pierce said a student in her class has a new baby sister so studying families seemed like a good idea.

“So we’re talking a lot about family, like, how families are different, how they’re the same, where they live, things that they eat, things that might be different, — how everyone’s family is different,” Pierce said. “ … We’re also talking about our school family — how there are different kinds of families.”

Child Development Teacher Connie Pidgeon teaches a preschool class. She said the center is much more than a place for children to stay while their parents work.

“ … They can enroll here when they’re 3 or 4 or 5 months old, and then end up coming to me when they’re 3 years old and staying with me until they’re 5 — until they age out and go to kindergarten. So basically, they could stay with me for three years.

“Continuity of the care is really important — for them to have the same teacher.”

Toddler Teacher Carrie Sitz said she tries to help her class understand the importance of being helpful.

“[In infant and toddler classes], we probably may focus a little on the toddlers also looking out for the little ones and helping the little ones if they need it — be kind of a big helper to them.”

Pierce said not all of the learning takes place indoors either.

“Looking outside, you’d see what you may call a playground,” she said. “In fact, the staff refers to this as the ‘outside classroom.’

“Research shows that children this age learn through play. So that’s what we do.”

The CDCLS is located at 6500 S Land Ave. in the Family and Community Education Center.

According to its website, “The CDCLS is recognized as one of the nation’s outstanding centers. It is licensed by the State of Oklahoma with a three star rating which is renewed annually. The Center is also accredited nationally by the Academy, a branch of the National Association of the Education of Young Children.

“The teaching staff is experienced in working with children of various ages and backgrounds. The Child Development Teachers hold Bachelor Degrees in Child Development, Early Childhood Education or a related field. A number of our Child Development Teachers also hold Master Degrees in these fields.” OCCC’s Child Development Center and Lab School provides services for community members as well as scheduled childcare exclusive for OCCC students.

For more information about the CDCLS, call 405-682-7561, or visit

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