Students with young children may want to check out the OCCC Child Development Center and Lab School.
Located just minutes from OCCC, the center offers both traditional all-day child care open to the community, and student-scheduled child care divided into sessions in order for students to accommodate the student’s class schedules.
Barb Carter, Child Development Center and Lab School assistant director, said students from all colleges — not just OCCC — are welcome.
“We are constantly enrolling,” Carter said.
“Our center is licensed for 140 children; however, we usually enroll a little bit over that because not all children will attend the same session at the same time.”
She said to accommodate the growing interest in the program, the center has recently expanded and added new classrooms.
“Right now we have a total of eight classrooms that are open: five traditional schedule and three for the student schedule program,” Carter said.
Depending on the semester, the center can be open anywhere from 7:30 a.m. to as late as 10:30 p.m. she said.
If enrolled, youngsters can expect to participate in many educational activities including literacy, science, math, social studies, and cooking.
Carter said the classroom is set up so children are able to experiment and discover things.
“We are constructivists to our approach to education so we help [our children] build knowledge and understanding of the world around them,” Carter said.
“We don’t do worksheets and we don’t sit them in front of TVs. We build our curriculum around a project approach,” she said.
Examples of this approach most recently included a discovery of bugs.
Toddlers in the spring semester housed caterpillars in classrooms, watching them develop. When the caterpillars turned into butterflies, the children released them on the playground.
The Child Development Center and Lab School is the only one of its kind in the state. It is three-star certified and nationally accredited with a specific student schedule childcare program center in the state of Oklahoma.
Teachers who work at the center must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, child development, or a related field.
Teacher and Lab Assistant Lisa Jones said the best part about working at the child center is watching the kids learn and interact with each other.
“I love seeing the light bulb go off in their heads when they finally understand something and make that connection,” Jones said.
“[Children from the] different classrooms play together on the playground and interact when we do projects so all the children know each other.
“It’s a lot of fun.”
Carter said the program also has been significant for student retention at OCCC.
“Usually families who enroll for one semester usually come back for a second,” she said.
“Many parents have commented they could not go to school had it not been for this program. It’s a great program. If I had children this age, I would want them at this school. They wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
For more information on the center or how to enroll, call 405-682-7561 or visit www.occc.edu/childdev.
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