What Makes ECDC Unique
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 teach and model the 4 R’s (respect, responsibility, resourcefulness, and responsiveness). Teachers problem-solve with children during the child guidance process supporting the children’s involvement in making helpful and friendly choices with their behavior. 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.
Conscious Discipline, a comprehensive classroom management and social emotional program, creates learning environments where children know, “Yes, I am safe,” and “Yes, I am loved.” From this foundation of safety and caring, children will begin learning how to solve conflicts, manage their emotions and take responsibility for their actions. Learn more about Conscious Discipline here.
Family Communication/Family Involvement
Families are encouraged to participate in their child’s educational experience at ECDC in a variety of ways. Parents can run and serve on the ECDC Board of Directors. Parents are invited to volunteer to help in the classroom, donate materials, serve as “experts” on a topic, be a parent helper on a field trip, wash toys, or make playdough. Families are encouraged to talk with their child’s teachers at drop off and pick up times. There are also thirty minute parent teacher conferences scheduled in the fall and the spring during which the child’s strengths, interests, friendships, needs and goals are discussed. 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.
Field Trips & Special Visitors
ECDC provides field trips for children in our 4’s, 4/5’s, and K on our own ECDC Bus! ECDC believes in the importance of hands-on and experienced-based learning activities to support children’s learning about their world, concept development and vocabulary. Field trips in the community and special visitors coming to ECDC to share a talent, strength, and/or hobby are all important parts of experienced-based learning. Field Trip Transportation: Our ECDC bus comfortably seats a whole class of children and teachers with a few seats for parent helpers. The bus has seat belts and integrated 3 point harness safety belts for our younger children. ECDC employs bus drivers from area school corporations who drive our bus. Field trip destinations are throughout the community including the zoo, theater and musical performances, nature centers, children’s museums, gardens, libraries and locations on campus.
The 4’s, 4/5’s and Kindergarten children have the opportunity to participate in 8 ice-skating lessons November through March each year at the Notre Dame Compton Family Ice Arena. These lessons take place every other week and typically are on Monday mornings. Children in these groups who don’t attend on Mondays are invited to join the ice-skating lessons. The ice-skating lessons are paid for by ECDC however there is a small annual registration fee to “Learn to Skate” that the parent pays (>$20).
Enrichment Activities and Screenings During the School Year
ECDC provides several optional enrichment programs: Gymnastics, Creative Movement/Dance, and Ice Skating (4’s, 4/5’s, and Kindergarten). In addition, speech/language and hearing screenings are offered annually. Individual and Class Photos are taken each fall.
Summer Day Camp
ECDC offers a summer day camp program for children up to age 10. Children ages 4 and older go on a variety of field trips in the community and participate in recreational sessions including two weeks of swim lessons at Notre Dame. 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
Family Resource Consultant and Child and Family Support Specialist
ECDC partners with a licensed social worker who provides our families with topical parenting sessions entitled “Conversations about Everyday Life with Children.” These regular parenting enrichment meetings are offered during the school year on topics such as ECDC’s approach to child guidance, sibling rivalry, bedtime routines, mealtime routines, and supporting very active children.
In addition, ECDC has a partnership with LOGAN Community Resources, Inc. Logan provides the services of a behavioral specialist to ECDC to support teachers in their work assisting children with social and emotional development struggles/delays and behavior challenges. Please contact an ECDC program director or the executive director for more information about the behavioral specialist’s services at ECDC.
These professionals assist the teachers and program staff with making referrals to community screenings and evaluations to determine how best we can support the child’s holistic growth, development and learning in addition to accessing therapies to provide individualized support.