Goals for our Children

Excited toddler looking at a butterfly outside.Teacher with a happy toddler.Toddler hands stacked together.

Goal: Provide a learning environment that fosters positive social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and language development.

At MSU CDC, teachers focus on the "whole child." Children are taught strategies to identify their own and others' emotions, self-regulate, resolve social conflicts, and are encouraged to think critically. Children are given choices and have control over their own learning. Children utilize materials in the classroom and in the outdoor space in ways that are personally meaningful to them, creating powerful learning outcomes.

Goal: Represent ideas and feelings through play

Classrooms at the CDC are organized into learning centers. Teachers utilize what they know about child development as well as each individual child to carefully select materials and intentionally plan activities for the children in their classrooms. Teachers and laboratory students engage with the children as the rotate through learning centers to ask challenging questions, extend their thought processes, introduce new ideas, and to challenge existing ideas. Through play, children have control over their own learning. Teachers use what they observe during play to spark interest in new areas and expand interest in other areas.

Goal: Construct knowledge of the physical world, manipulate objects and understand cause and effect

Children gain knowledge of their world by interacting with the objects and people in it. At the CDC, children have access to a wide variety of carefully selected materials based on their age, development, and interests. Teachers rotate materials frequently so that children can grow in their abilities. Teachers and laboratory students ask open-ended questions designed to help children think critically and focus on cause and effect.

Goal: Use language to communicate effectively and to facilitate thinking and learning

Children are encouraged to utilize language to communicate their needs. Infants and toddlers regularly sign using Baby Sign Language with their classmates and teachers. Teachers regularly restate children's verbal utterances and expand on their language to build vocabulary. Children are encouraged to be "emotionally literate." Teachers explicitly teach children how to identify their emotions and others' emotions by describing and identifying them with the children. Children are encouraged to think critically and come up with their own solutions to problems as teachers challenge them with open-ended, thought provoking questions.

Goal: Develop trusting relationships with adults and peers. Develop a positive self-concept and attitude toward learning, self-control, and a sense of belonging

Children are respected members of a school and classroom family at the CDC. Children's ideas and feelings are validated and respected. Teachers utilize positive speech in helping children through emotional upset, social conflict, and redirecting behavior. Children are never punished, demeaned, or disrespected.

Goal: Become competent in managing their bodies and acquire basic physical skills, both gross and fine motor

Children are allowed ample time, weather permitting, to run, jump, climb, ride, tumble, dig, and explore outdoors each day. On days when children cannot get outdoors, teachers provide other gross motor experiences for them indoors. Children are encouraged through multiple methods and materials to develop fine motor skills that are important to writing. Play-doh, clay, tweezers, stickers, safety scissors, and a wide variety of writing and drawing materials are available to the children when they are developmentally ready.

Goal: Respect and accept social and cultural diversity

Teachers make a wide variety of culturally diverse materials available to the children for them to explore. Teachers select culturally and socially diverse literature for children and are respectful and open to children when they ask questions. Teachers may invite families/students/community members to share their own traditions.