Early Childhood Development Center, Inc.

ECDC is a nonprofit early childhood program offering preschool, Kindergarten, and child care (daycare, day care) with full time and part time enrollment during the school year. A vibrant summer day camp (summer daycare, day care) with full and part time enrollment schedules is also offered.

Our Schools: ECDC offers two programs for young children, one on the beautiful Saint Mary’s College campus (ECDC-SMC) and the other on the lovely University of Notre Dame campus (ECDC-ND).

  • The ECDC-SMC program serves families affiliated to Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College as well as families from the Michiana community that aren’t affiliated to ND and SMC.
  • ECDC-ND serves families affiliated to Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, specifically ND and SMC employees, students and alum.

Both ECDC programs operate with the same governance structure, philosophy, teacher credentials, accreditation, licensure, curriculum, college student involvement, and parent involvement. Both ECDC programs are NAEYC Accredited & Indiana Paths to QUALITY™ Level 4 (the highest quality level attainable).

Ages Served: The ECDC-ND program serves children who are 2 years old through Kindergarten during the school year and ages 2 1/2 through 10 during the summer program. The ECDC-SMC program serves children who are 3 years old through age 5 during the school year and ages 3 through 10 during the summer program.

  • School Year Enrollment
    – For ECDC-ND, children must be 2 years old by September 1st.
    – For ECDC-SMC, children must be 3 years old by their enrollment start date.
    – For Kindergarten, children must by 5 years old by September 1st.
  • Summer Camp Enrollment
    – For ECDC-ND, children must be 2 1/2 years old by June 1st.
    – For ECDC-SMC, children must be 3 years old by June 1st.


The Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC), provides the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and the South Bend/Mishawaka communities with high quality, NAEYC Accredited early care and education for young children and their families. ECDC implements Best Practices that foster the children’s healthy social, emotional, physical, cognitive and creative development. ECDC’s active learning environment fosters the development of respect, responsibility, resourcefulness and responsiveness and includes highly qualified teachers, low teacher child ratios, child centered emergent curriculum and collaborations with families. ECDC is a model program for professional development, college student practicum experiences and research for faculty and students.


The ECDC program seeks to enhance the development of each child. The learning environment, activities, and daily schedule foster social, emotional, physical, cognitive and creative development through experience-based, hands-on activities and play. A central goal is the promotion of children’s self-confidence and the love of learning. ECDC provides a nurturing environment within which young children grow and develop. We view ourselves as an extension of each child’s family. As such, we strive to develop a supportive relationship with parents throughout their child or children’s ECDC involvement. ECDC enrolls children with differing social and ethnic backgrounds from the Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame communities. We are committed to providing all children enrolled with a multicultural curriculum and experiences. ECDC welcomes students of any race, color, religion, gender, and national or ethnic origin.

What Makes ECDC Unique:

Degreed Teachers
ECDC employs degreed teachers. Lead/Co-Lead Teachers have Bachelor or Master’s Degrees in Education or a related degree (e.g., psychology). Associate Teachers have Associate or Bachelor’s Degrees in Education or a related field. Quality in early childhood programs is directly correlated with teachers who have the knowledge, education and skills to teach young children. ECDC teachers understand child development, know how children learn and the most effective curriculum for young children to develop knowledge, skills, attributes and a disposition for learning now and into the future. ECDC teachers are committed to fostering a love of learning in the precious children entrusted to us in addition to fostering friendships and a happy childhood.
Project Approach Curriculum
ECDC provides a unique educational experience. Children engage in meaningful learning through the Project Approach and Creative Curriculum. Teachers plan intentional integrated, emergent curriculum (literacy, math, science, fine arts, fine/gross motor) throughout the project. Quality children’s literature is used as the basis of our activities. Children are engaged in hands-on activities with concrete materials throughout their day, learning about a variety of subjects in a developmentally appropriate learning environment with excellent teachers. A few examples of the many projects that children engaged in are Community Helpers, Families, Animals, Pumpkins and Harvest, Multicultural Farms and Markets, Construction, Art and Artists, Name Study and Winter/Snow.
College Student Involvement
ECDC is a college lab school with college students completing practica in Education, Psychology, Communicative Disorders, and Social Work. ECDC works with a variety of local colleges/universities including Saint Mary’s College, The University of Notre Dame, Indiana University South Bend, Bethel, Ivy Tech, and Southwestern Michigan College. College student involvement allows ECDC to exceed both NAEYC and State Licensing recommendations for adult to child ratios. College students provide extra hands, laps and adult friends to support children’s activities, learning and play. Our college students participate weekly, building relationships with the children. They read to children, push them on swings, help with art activities and share their special interests, talents and hobbies with the children.
Approach to Child Guidance
Teachers and college students are trained in Rudolf Dreikurs’ non-authoritarian approach to child guidance based on the work of Alfred Adler, which is a positive approach focusing on choices, encouragement, and natural and logical consequences. Class meetings and the democratic problem solving process are also key to the approach. Teachers are also trained in Conscious Discipline. Conscious Discipline teaches children to name their emotions, regulate them, and then solve problems. Teachers problem-solve with children during the child guidance process supporting the children’s involvement in making helpful and friendly choices. Sessions are provided to interested families about the ECDC approach embracing topics such as sibling rivalry, bedtime routines, mealtime routines, and supporting very active children.
Daily Family Communication
Teachers share daily emails that include a summary of the day’s activities and events in addition to ways parents can support their child’s development at home, and also share the early childhood foundations (early childhood standards) they are focusing on for the current week.
Summer Day Camp
ECDC offers a summer day camp program for children up to age 10. Children ages 4 and older go on walking trips on campus and participate in recreational sessions. All children have special activities scheduled throughout the week. Special activities include soccer, yoga, creative dramatics, sing-alongs, picnic lunches, recreational games, gardening, creative dramatics and Spanish. A variety of part time and full time schedules are available during the ECDC summer program at both ECDC program locations.