The U’s Child Care Program Helps Student Parents


Chris Ayers

(Photo by Chris Ayers)

(Photo by Chris Ayers)
(Photo by Chris Ayers)

Walk through the doors of the basement of the Alfred Emery Building on President’s Circle, and you will see a sight not unfamiliar to the rest of the U campus.
People rush through the doors, ready to start a new day of learning. Teachers welcome students into their classrooms and begin to take roll. There is one main difference, however. Most students here are under three feet tall, and the oldest are hardly six years old.
Artwork and number charts fill the walls along the hallways leading to the classrooms. Each room in the ASUU Child Care area is designated by a color: yellow for one-year-olds, green for two-year-olds and red for three- to five-year-olds. Inside the rooms, tiny chairs circle miniature tables, and small children can be heard singing “Ring Around the Rosie” while holding hands with their friends.
One of the rooms is currently being cleared out to make space for an infant classroom, to be ready Jan. 2015. Changing stations and cribs will line the walls of the new room, with soothing colors conducive to infant development.
Kate Kausch, program director of ASUU Child Care, said it’s wonderful to be able to help parents who are students at the U successfully navigate their college years with a child.
“It’s not easy,” she said. “Our main goal is to support students and families to help them get to graduation. Parents are able to customize their child care schedule to accommodate their individual needs.”
Kausch said the program focuses on the social and emotional development of the children they care for.
“We individualize our care to best serve the children,” she said. “They don’t have to be anything other than who they are.”
The program, on average, cares for up to 125 children per semester. The schedule is structured around state standards. The children begin each morning with a snack followed by 30 minutes of play time outside, weather and air quality permitting. Lunch is served at noon, and rest time follows at 12:30 p.m. when the lights are dimmed, and soft music helps the children to relax.
Nichole Tawzer, a recent U graduate, has been involved with the care center for three years and now serves as a teacher. She said she loves helping U students who are working toward getting their degree.
“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing how kids learn and grow,” Tawzer said. “It is fun to see how enthralled they are with everything and watching how much they grow and change throughout the course of a semester.”
On the opposite side of the hall in the basement of the Emery Building is another care center. The Child and Family Center houses the Lab School, which caters to pre-school and kindergarten age children.
Geri Mendoza, director of the Lab School, described the environment as one of “interactive learning.”
“It is important for us to work with individual child needs,” Mendoza said. “We keep portfolios on each child where we track their progress and work with the child’s family to meet goals.”
Among the lessons children are learning at the Lab School, concepts of problem solving and how rules work are, for Mendoza, some of the most important. Skill-building activities, including social interaction, are taught in a way that children learn while having fun.
Parents are welcome to come at any time and sit in the observation rooms, which have one-way glass windows so students will not be distracted at the sight of their parents watching them.
Jerica Robinson, a junior in human development, teaches in the pre-school and said she loves watching the children learn through interacting.
“Everything is a new experience for them,” she said. “They see the world through fresh eyes, and they are excited about everything.”
Shalome Orton, who works in the Child Care Coordinating Office, said the child care services at the U are vital.
“Parents going to school need help, and we are here to offer that support,” Orton said.
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