College gives parents a hand

College+gives+parents+a+hand

Hakeem Baptiste

Leonardo Alfonso plays with children Tristan and Matteo outside of the Los Medanos College Child Center.

Meleika Fountila and Kayla Helt

The individuals working in the Los Medanos College Child Study Center have gotten childcare down to a science. With friendly familiar faces and excellence coming from the top down, the service at the center is worry free and full of well received education.

Some parents may feel uneasy about leaving their children in daycare, however, LMC’s center doubles as a learning lab for child development majors. It also ensures a safe, fun and educational environment for children between 2 and 5.

“The center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Preschool Makes a Difference Program, which both guarantee the quality of education and care provided in programs for children” explained Director Katherine Nielsen. The center is committed to raising the quality of early childhood education and assisting families in understanding what high quality care is.

“Children who have quality early experience in school during the first five years will do better in school later on,” said Neilsen in explaining the center’s First Five philosophy.

She added that the center only hires teachers who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in early childhood development guaranteeing that First Five approach to education and care.

Angela Fantuzzi and other preschool teachers incorporate their teaching into the child’s play, making learning more applicable and interesting to the kids. This type of education still results in the children meeting the desired results of the developmental profile, while ensuring the children are on the education level expected for their age group.

There is also a focus on small class sizes to maximize learning. Fanttuzzi, who teaches a class for 4 to 5 year olds has fewer than 20 kids. Those who teach 3-year-olds supervise fewer than 18, and those who watch 2-year-olds have fewer than 12 kids. In addition to the low student-to-teacher ratio, there are several LMC student interns majoring in child development who work in each classroom.

The center also works to accommodate parents.

“The communication here is awesome,” said parent Sarah  Kelley, whose 4-year-old son Tristan is enrolled at the center. “As a parent I speak to every staff member here… everyone knows Tristan by name.”

Center receptionist Deatra Govan, who enrolled her own child in the program, said she and her daughter love the environment and reassurance the teachers give the families.

“I was concerned about my daughter pronouncing words incorrectly,” but Fantuzzi relieved her worries, explaining how it wasn’t a big problem and that there was nothing to stress over because she’d probably grow out of it.

Chris Alvis, a parent and former student, said the Child Study Center provides an advanced curriculum for each child where they can improve and excel within their system. He added that parents can let teachers know if there is anything specific they want their children to learn or different programs they’re interested in.

The teachers have parent conferences twice a semester to keep good communication between parents and educators. Nielsen stated that parents can visit their kids whenever they want.

“One of the biggest advantages is that it’s here on campus,” said Kelley. “If there was ever an emergency I’m literally two minutes away.”

In case of emergency, Nielsen said that all the daycare teachers are CPR certified and re-trained bi-yearly. The fact that LMC’s nursing and EMT departments are close by on campus is also a big advantage if there are non-threatening issues that need further explanation. And the center has a doctor on call for any serious issues that arise.

Each classroom has an allergy list to use during snack-time and lunch to make sure that no kids are exposed to harmful foods. “If allergies are severe then parents can provide food for their children.” said Fanttuzzi.

LMC’s childcare program is popular with student parents and staff members with young children, so enroll early.

“There is a waitlist in April and November but once your child is enlisted your child can be enrolled automatically,” said Govan.

The Child Care Center is open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the fall and spring semesters. Parents are required to volunteer an hour and a half a week in the classroom. The services are $600 monthly if your child attends every day, but decreases depending on how many days a week the child attends, according to the center’s pricelist. Discounts are also given to parents who enroll in the parenting class that provides 2.5 units toward their education.

While still costly, student-parents say it’s reasonable since the child is receiving both care and education, and most often day care services just let the kids play for on average a thousand dollars a month.

Govan said she has never seen a daycare program like it.

That is because “The child study center is an educational laboratory environment where students can learn and parents can have easy access to students,” said Nielson.

If you are interested in enrolling your child at the center, contact Nielsen at 439-2181