Child Development Center Provides Nurturing, Fun Environment

Posted: July 25, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Editor’s Note: This is the first feature story of an eight-article series detailing services that do not receive much publicity, but are used every day by many faculty and staff members at George Mason.

By Michelle Nery

On a beautiful summer day at the Child Development Center, the Polar Bear class departs for their stroll across campus and through the “forest,” the Teddy Bear class participates in “Splash Day” all geared up in colorful bathing suits, wide-brimmed hats, and swimmy sandals, and the Panda Bear class plays games, puts together math puzzles, and finger paints.

Located in Patriot Village behind the Physical Education Building, the center is composed of three modular units arranged around a central playground with brightly colored equipment. A smaller fenced-in side yard provides a place for children to get wet on Splash Day. It is also home to a garden where the children grow corn among other vegetables and plants.

Amid all of this activity and the delighted squeals of children sits the director of the Child Development Center, Sandra Pope, who joined the center in March. Her office door is always open and through her windows she can see into the classroom and out onto the playground. “This is a great place to work. I love being here with the children,” she says. “Even if I’m in my office, there are children all around me.”

Pope (right) handles the enrollment of the 55 full-time equivalent two- to five-year-old children, as well as staffing of the 12 head teachers and assistant teachers.

The children are divided by age group into three classes. The Teddy Bear class is the youngest group with two- to three-year-olds, the Polar Bear class is three- to four-year-olds, and the Panda Bear class is four- to five-year-olds.

The center is operated by University Services, licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs. The center serves faculty, staff, and students at the university, with enrollment on a first-come, first-served basis. Regular childcare is provided from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and children may attend two, three, four, or five days per week.

The center provides a nurturing environment and activities to encourage development of language skills, math concepts, large and small muscle development, music, art, and dramatic play activities. Learning about living things, community, and social and self-help skills are also a part of this environment. Parents are free to visit any time and are encouraged to participate in activities or just stop by to join their child for lunch.

For more information, visit the center’s web site.

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