Two ECDC Programs and the ECDC Services Offered:

ECDC at Saint Mary’s College (ECDC-SMC) and ECDC at Notre Dame (ECDC-ND) programs both offer preschool, kindergarten, child care (daycare, day care), summer camp, and summer programs for school age children for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners and school age children during the summer.

Two Locations:

Directions to ECDC-ND – ECDC-ND is located at the corner of Bulla and Leahy Roads on the east side of the ND campus, less than 5 minutes from downtown South Bend. Bulla Road is located off of Twyckenham. Turn toward the campus (turn west) from Twyckenham onto Bulla. ECDC-ND is on the south side of Bulla – the first building on the south side of Bulla. The ECDC-ND building doors are locked so press the intercom button/round button on the black box near the front door to seek assistance when you arrive. ECDC-ND’s phone number is 631-3344.

Directions to ECDC-SMC – Enter the Saint Mary’s campus from 933 at the Inn at Saint Mary’s. Once you enter campus, turn right at the four way stop (first crossroad). The road curves to the left. Take the first left at Havican Lane (there is a student apartment building at the corner). Keep driving straight ahead for a short distance until you see the playground, which has a green fence. Park in front of the fence and enter through the playground gate. The ECDC-SMC building doors are locked so press the button to seek assistance when you arrive. ECDC-SMC is located in Havican Hall at Saint Mary’s College, less than 5 minutes from downtown South Bend. ECDC-SMC’s phone number is 574-284-4693.

Fast Facts

For more information, please select from a topic below.

Families and Children Served

ECDC-ND enrolls children with parents who are affiliated to the University of Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s College in the categories of faculty, administration, staff, student and alum. ECDC-ND only enrolls children who have parents affiliated to ND or SMC except in the kindergarten program.

ECDC-SMC serves children with parents affiliated to Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame as well as families from the greater Michiana community who are not affiliated to Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s College.

Age Groups

ECDC-ND – During the SY, ECDC-ND enrolls – children ages 2 through Kindergarten (age 6). During the summer, ECDC-ND enrolls children ages 2.5 through age 10.

ECDC-ND – SY age groups – 2’s, 3’s, 3/4’s, 4’s, 4/5’s, and Kindergarten.  Children must be 2 years old by September 1st to enroll in the 2’s room and 5 on or before September 1st to enroll in kindergarten.

ECDC-ND Summer age groups – 2.5/3’s – Rolly Pollies, 3’s – Bouncing Bunnies, 3/4’s – Chirping Crickets, 4/5’s – Music Makers, 5/6’s – Forest Foxes, 6/7’s – Meadow Mice and 8/9/10’s – Pathfinders

ECDC-SMC – During the SY, ECDC-SMC enrolls preschool age children ages 3 through 5, all preschool age. During the summer ECDC-SMC enrolls ages 3 through 10 year olds.

ECDC-SMC SY age groups – 3’s, 3/4’s, 4’s and 4/5’s.

ECDC-SMC Summer age group – 3/4’s – Chirping Crickets,  4/5’s – Nature Detectives, 5/6’s – Explorers, 7/8/9/10’s – Pathfinders

Enrollment Schedules and Enrollment Capacity

ECDC-ND serves children ages 2 through kindergarten during the school year and 2.5 through 10 during the summer. There are approximately185 children enrolled at ECDC-ND with 130 children in attendance each day during the school year and 165 children in attendance during the summer.  Both full time (M-F all day) and part time preschool enrollment schedules are available. Approximately 50% of the children are enrolled with full time/full day schedule and 50% are enrolled with part time preschool schedules.

ECDC-SMC serves children ages 3 through 5 during the school year and 3 through 10 during the summer. There are approximately 135 children enrolled in the ECDC-SMC program with 90 children in attendance each day. Both full time (M-F all day) and part time preschool enrollment schedules are available. Approximately 50% of the children are enrolled with full time/full day schedule and 50% are enrolled with part time preschool schedules.

Hours of Operation and Calendar Overview

ECDC-ND is open from 7:00am until 5:30pm. Morning Arrival Times – most children arrive in the morning between 8:00 and 8:45am. Breakfast is served from 7:30-8:30am in preschool classrooms and 7:30-8:15am in kindergarten.

ECDC-SMC is open from 7:00am until 5:30pm.  Morning Arrival Times – most children arrive in the morning between 8:00 and 8:45am.  Breakfast is served from 7:30-8:30am.

Calendar Overview with closure dates and special events
ECDC is closed as follows:

> W/TH/FRI of Thanksgiving week
> 2 weeks at winter break – these dates are on the calendar
> Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
> Good Friday and Easter Monday
> Memorial Day
> July 4th
> ECDC is closed two weeks in August between the end of the summer program and the first day of the SY. These dates are listed on the ECDC Calendar.

ECDC is not closed on the following dates:

> Labor Day due to classes at ND/SMC
> ND/SMC Fall and Spring breaks
> Columbus, Veterans, President Days

Faculty and Administration

ECDC is staffed with a professionally credentialed and dedicated teaching faculty and program staff who far exceed IN state licensing regulations and NAEYC Accreditation Standards. The ECDC Teaching Staff is composed of teaching teams with two degreed Co-Lead Teachers in every activity room. Many classrooms have an Associate or Assistant Teacher in addition to two Co-Lead Teachers. Several teachers and program staff team members have been with ECDC for more than 20 years, including the Executive Director. ECDC teachers and program staff are well respected locally as well as throughout the state and nation. ECDC lead/co-lead teachers and administrators are frequently invited to serve on community and state committees/boards, have received state IAEYC awards, have received national awards (NAEYC, NCCCC), teach early childhood college courses, and present workshops for colleagues and area early childhood professionals.

College Student Involvement

ECDC is most fortunate to have college students in the classrooms learning about young children’s development and appropriate curriculum for young children as well as lending a helping hand and providing individual attention to children. College students studying early childhood and elementary education, nursing, speech and communication, social work, sociology and psychology at the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, IU South Bend, Bethel College, Southwestern Michigan College and IVY Tech participate in the ECDC program as interns, practicum students, student teachers and volunteers. College students are employed part time to support arrival/departure/lunch times of the day. During the summer, college students are employed full time in temporary summer positions. ND and SMC college students also volunteer in the ECDC classrooms providing extra attention and hands as they play with and read to the children.


The goal of the ECDC Curriculum is to foster holistic development (social, emotional, physical, cognitive, language and creative development) and a love of learning. ECDC is committed to providing meaningful and integrated curriculum based on projects and/or in-depth studies. Integrated curriculum refers to the manner in which curricular domains (literacy, math, science, social studies, art, music and movement) are woven through the various topics of interest the children are studying. Skill development occurs seamlessly as children learn about their world, not in isolation. The teachers blend elements from the following programs to meet the needs of the children: Creative Curriculum, The Project Approach, and Constructivism. Some of the Projects and In-depth Studies that the ECDC children investigate include the seasons/nature/weather, animals, community helpers, construction, art and artists, authors and illustrators, multicultural farms and markets, puppets, letters and numbers, gardening and insects, water and sand, and music and rhyme. Children learn to ask questions, explore, investigate, represent and document their knowledge while learning HOW TO learn.

Enrichment Activities

Enrichment activities are an important component of the ECDC program for many reasons – enjoyment, learning and diverse experiences that help the children learn about their world and pursue unique experiences. During the school year, optional enrichment activities include:

  • Gymnastics,*
  • Creative Movement/Dance,*
  • Ice Skating Lessons – a total of 8 (4’s, 4/5’s, and Kindergarten, requires registration but no extra fee),
  • field trips into the community (4’s, 4/5’s and Kindergarten, requires parent permission but no extra fee), and
  • special visitors/specialists who come to ECDC to share their interests, skill or talent with us (ND Marching Band, ND cheerleaders, Symphony – Brass Quintet, Symphony – Woodwind Quintet, naturalists, artists, and musicians).

* requires parent registration and fee.

In addition, speech/language, hearing, and vision screenings are offered during the school. For a child to participate in screenings, parents complete a consent form. There is a nominal fee for screenings, however, no child will be excluded due to the inability to pay the fee.

Individual and Class Photos are also taken each fall.  Parent permission is required and there is a fee for photos.

Child Guidance

ECDC’s approach to child guidance is based on the work of Rudolf Dreikurs and Alfred Adler, the founder of Individual Psychology. Dreikur’s teachings emphasize the importance of the preparation of the child for future citizenship in a participatory, democratic society. He believed the child, at the earliest age, should experience his/her own strength and a feeling of belonging, so the opportunity for achieving the fullest feeling of responsibility is possible. More recent books based on this approach are the Positive Discipline series by Jane Nelson.

The ECDC curriculum and teacher/child interactions support each child’s development of the 4 R’s, which are respect, responsibility, responsiveness, and resourcefulness. The 4 R’s are the foundation of community building and fostering competent children. The 4 R’s are supported and strengthened as teachers recognize children’s rights to their feelings, ideas, and opinions and as teachers model the 4 R’s through their interactions with the children, team members, learning environment, and curriculum.  Discipline is viewed as a process of guiding and teaching rather than as a control mechanism.  The activity room is a positive, accepting, and encouraging environment promoting independence in all aspects of the child’s daily school involvement.

> Respect includes respect for self, others, materials, environment, and community

> Responsibility is reflected through choices, actions, daily care of environment, and initiation of ideas

> Resourcefulness includes learning to be creative and inventive; to be problem solvers and to use skills effectively

>Responsiveness embraces children as contributors, thinkers, participators, and caring friends

Encouragement is key to our approach because it implies faith in the child and communicates belief in his/her strength and ability.

Teachers support and encourage children to use their own words to express their feelings and resolve their own conflicts whenever possible. Teachers communicate with children at eye level, speaking to them in a calm manner about the situation. Physical punishment of any kind, humiliation, shaming or belittlement is never used at ECDC. When the teacher sees a conflict situation arising, he/she tries to identify causes, and then responds by stating an alternative for the child. For example, “You can put the block here,” instead of “Don’t throw the block on the floor.” If the inappropriate behavior continues, the teacher reminds the child of the rule, and the consequences of the behavior if it continues. For example, “Throwing blocks may hurt someone, so we don’t throw blocks at ECDC. If you throw blocks, you will need to make another choice.” The teacher is careful to emphasize that it is the behavior that is unacceptable, not the child.

Recurring disciplinary problems are discussed with families and documented in the child’s file. Individual Behavior Support Plans (IBSP) are created in collaboration with the teachers and program staff to support the child. IBSPs are shared with parents as we support children with recurring behavior struggles.

All ECDC teachers and college students are trained in this approach. Family Enrichment Presentations and Seminars, based on this approach, are offered regularly facilitated by ECDC’s Family Resource Specialist, Sharon Bain, MSW. Sharon works with teachers and parents to support children with social-emotional development and behavior.

More information about this approach is located in the ECDC Handbook for Families.

Partnerships with Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame

ECDC has partnered with Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame since 1971. Through this partnership, ECDC is able to provide a high quality and dynamic early childhood program of excellence with professional teachers and program staff in addition to college student involvement. ECDC-SMC is supported by Saint Mary’s College and ECDC-ND is supported by the University of Notre Dame. The ECDC program at Notre Dame (ND) enrolls ND and SMC affiliated families, specifically employees, students and alums. The ECDC program at Saint Mary’s enrolls families who are affiliated to ND and SMC as well as families from the Michiana community not affiliated to ND or SMC.

  • ECDC is primarily funded by parent tuition. Both ECDC-SMC and ECDC-ND accept Child Care Voucher (a financial assistance program for families with financial need) and On My Way Pre-K (for children 4 years old by August 1st and enrolled full time or M-F half days with financial need) from qualifying families.
  • To project SY or Summer (SU) tuition, it is helpful to know that the SY is approximately 38 weeks in length and Summer is 9 weeks in length. Families aren’t billed for the two weeks ECDC is closed for winter break.  
  • ECDC-ND tuition is an income based tuition schedule. ND and SMC faculty, staff and students are eligible to participate in the income based tuition schedule. ND and SMC alums are not eligible for the income-based tuition and pay full tuition.
  • ECDC-SMC tuition is flat rate tuition.
Accreditation, Paths to Quality and Licensure

ECDC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Only 8% of early childhood programs in the U.S. are accredited with NAEYC’s prestigious and rigorous accreditation process. ECDC is also licensed by the Indiana Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. ECDC voluntarily participates with Indiana’s early childhood quality rating system Paths to Quality and  receives the highest level of quality level 4.

ECDC Summer Day Camp

At both ECDC program sites an eight or nine week Summer Day Camp is offered that focuses on recreational and creative experiences as well as play. The summer camp program is based upon children learning through moving, experiencing and doing. Preschool age children enjoy arts and crafts, yoga, intro to soccer, gardening, music and creative dramatics – all emphasizing exploration and expression. School age children enjoy creative and recreational activities including soccer, tennis, yoga, recreational games as well as arts and crafts, science and walking trips on campus.

Registration Process

ECDC registration takes place during the spring for both the upcoming summer and school year programs. Registration due dates are February 1 for the summer program and February 15 for the school year. Registration for the ECDC kindergarten is due January 15. Full time and part time enrollment schedules are available. Regardless of the child’s enrollment schedule, the children enjoy a robust curriculum with art, music, literacy, math and science, free choice playtime both inside and outside, and enrichment opportunities. Registration information is sent to families on the mailing list at least one month prior to the registration due date.  Currently enrolled families receive priority in the registration process.  Current family registration is due January 15th.

Financial Assistance

ECDC-ND – The income based tuition schedule for affiliated families (ND and SMC employees and students) with financial need is available at ECDC-ND. Child Care Voucher and On My Way Pre-K (for children 4 years old by August 1st and enrolled full time or M-F half days with financial need) is accepted at ECDC-ND.

ECDC-SMCChild Care Voucher and On My Way Pre-K (for children 4 years old by August 1st and enrolled full time or M-F half days with financial need) is accepted at ECDC-SMC.

Non-Discrimination Policy

The Early Childhood Development Center admits students of any race, color, religion, gender, and national or ethnic origin.

Important Information