Early Childhood Education

In order for one to gain an understanding of an early childhood environment, one must put them inside one. People really do not understand what takes place everyday if they do not sit back and observe the interaction amongst the children and the staff. I observed a class at A Child's World- Doylestown. A Child's World is located at 2001 South Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18901. The building is brand new, they just moved in June 2003, however A Child's World has been in business for 10 years and they have two other locations, Newtown and Oxford Valley.

A Child's World serves children from the age of six weeks to six years old. The building is a nice size; it has five classrooms, which are divided into two different classes. This building has three centers on top of the ones located in each classroom; they are Gross Motor, Domestic, and Nature World. Each classroom has it's own bathroom with toilets, sinks and diaper changing stations, they also have a kitchen area with refrigerators, sinks and microwaves.

A Child's World mission statement is as follows, " A Child's World was created to provide the highest quality child care education for pre-school aged children. Open ended programs designed to teach children how to think, problem solve and be creative, which will give children the foundation for a life of learning. A Child's World is dedicated to the mental and physical development of children as well as the well being of the child and his or her families" (ACW Parent Handbook Pg. 5).

The classroom I observed was the Teeter-Tot room, it is actually the only room besides the baby room that does not share with another class. The children in this class are all turning two; they will all be two by July. The physical environment was awesome; as soon as you walked into this classroom you were hit in the face with children's artwork. It is plastered all over the walls of the room, no matter where you looked whatever was hanging up was something that was created by the children in that room.

The teacher explained to me that there is a monthly calendar that goes home and on that calendar each week is a different theme. During that week the children will create different projects that go with that theme; at the end of the week the teacher takes all the children's work and creates a bulletin board with it. The classroom is divided into several different areas; the first area is the eating and art area, in this area the children will have circle time, produce art projects and lastly eat any meals in this area.

The rest of the classroom is divided into several small centers; such as housekeeping, where the children can cook, clean or perform any type of household chore, construction materials, where children can build using blocks or use dump trucks and other types of construction vehicles, sand and sea table where children can experiment with sand and water, and lastly there was the reading corner which was a bucket full of books surrounded by pillows and stuffed animals, this is where children can come and relax to get away from it all and read a good book. The placement of the materials was arranged well.

While observing the children during center time, they were able to locate and reach the materials needed for the center that they were in. The children also new what they were doing in each center, the placement of the teacher and the assistants in the room also helped. There are always four people in this classroom, the teacher and three assistants. During circle time the children are split into two small groups; one group stays in the classroom with the teacher and one assistant, the other group goes into a center outside the classroom.

The first group will work with the teacher during circle, learning colors, shapes and numbers in English and Spanish. They then moved onto the art project for the day, when they were doing the art projects all the teacher did was place materials in front of them and they decorated it the way they wanted to. When all the children in-group one was finished, they switched groups and the same process was repeated with group two.

The open- ended philosophies of this childcare center really interest me, I thought it was great that the children were given supplies and able to do with them what they wanted. The teachers were there to help assist the children if needed, but it seemed as if the children got upset if a teacher tried to help them. They wanted to be independent, being able to do it on their own without being criticized. Lastly, I really enjoyed my time at A Child's World, not only did I get a great insight on how the children interacted everyday with there surroundings, but also the staff was awesome.

It was more like a family, then it was a business. The staff all seemed to be really great friends, but at the same time had that professionalism too. The other thing that I really enjoyed hearing about the staff was that every teacher that was there has been there for 5 years or more, I thought that was really great because it showed that the work environment must be really great in order to keep staff that long, especially in child care when the turnover rate is sometimes very high.