Chula Vista Since the early 1970s, Southwestern College (SWC) has been making every effort so that more children have access to quality early childhood education.
The College’s latest endeavor is a $6.5 million, state-of-the-art Child Development Center (CDC) with a capacity to serve more than 140 children (ages 2-5) every day. SWC administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community residents celebrated the official opening of the 20,000 square-foot facility, the largest of its kind in California.
“We’re making it easier for South County parents to find quality preschool education for their children,” said Norma L. Hernández, SWC’s Superintendent/President. “Their children are learning using emergent curriculum that will help them develop the necessary skills to be successful in school. The new Child Development Center will serve as a gateway to higher education.”
Research studies have shown that children who do well in preschool are more likely to succeed in elementary school, high school, and subsequently college.
The new CDC, built in the southwest corner of the Chula Vista campus, features a park-like setting, six classrooms, observation rooms for students in the Child Development Program, and other College programs. Funding for the Center came from Proposition 47, approved by California voters in 2002.
“The Center is an invaluable teaching tool for child development students,” said Trish Axsom, Dean of SWC’s School of Technology and Human Services. “Southwestern College is very supportive of families. We support parents who want to continue their education.”
The Child Development Center has a dual mission; to provide convenient, affordable quality child care for SWC students, staff, and community residents; and to serve as a lab for students to learn best practices in early childhood education. The Center serves a diverse community of families, which mirrors the College’s student population. Nearly 75 percent of its users are students.
The CDC uses emergent curriculum, inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. It is based on several core principles: parent involvement, enriched setting, and collaboration among parents, teachers, children, and the community. This educational philosophy, which was developed in the northern Italian community of Reggio Emilia shortly after World War II, encourages children to explore their environment and express themselves through their natural languages.
“SWC students love our Center because it gives them peace of mind,” said Patricia Montoya-Bartow, SWC Child Development Center Director, adding, “They know their child is in a place that focuses on the child and utilizes the most progressive and best practices in the field.”