Student Handbook



The staff of the Child Study Center and the Wellesley College Psychology Department faculty welcome you to the Center. A variety of students with many different goals utilize the facilities of the school. We hope that this handbook will answer most of your questions and that it will serve as an aid to you while you are working here.

A laboratory of the Wellesley College Psychology Department, the Child Study Center has 44 children, aged two to five, enrolled in three separate classrooms. The school is open from 8:30 to 11:30am daily and for an optional extended day (until 2:30pm) twice a week. Each classroom is staffed by a Lead Teacher, an Assistant Teacher/Intern, Student Teacher Interns, and Student Teachers. In addition to our facilities in the Anne L. Page Building which was specifically designed in 1913 to be a school for young children, we use the child development laboratory at the Science Center. We think that the experiences of children are enriched by the facilities of the campus and by the presence of observers and classroom participants from the Wellesley College community, and from other colleges. We welcome Wellesley College students to teach, to observe, to complete research, and to explore the possibilities of using the Child Study Center for Independent Studies.

Parents who enroll their children in the Center do so with the understanding that observation and research are an integral part of the program. In addition, parents have confidence that all observations of their children will be kept in strict academic, professional confidence.

It is the staff's responsibility, and yours, to maintain a calm, creative, secure atmosphere for all children despite the large numbers of observers and visitors to the Center. Like all laboratory schools, the Child Study Center must serve two purposes: to meet the individual social, physical, emotional, and cognitive needs of each child and to meet the academic needs of undergraduate students. The guidelines in this handbook should help to avoid conflict between those two purposes.

Guidelines for Observation

1. Arrival. When you arrive, please check in at the office. The Assistant to the Director will show you where you can hang coats and leave books.

2. Observing in the booths. Sometimes it is very tempting to talk or laugh, but because our booths are screened and sound carries easily to the classroom, it is important to be as quiet as possible. Noise from the booths can be distracting to the children and is especially inappropriate if parents or other visitor are in the booth with you. Children here do know that people watch them through the screen, but there is less interference with their activities if observers wear dark clothes and sit quietly and as far back from the screen as possible. Please do not eat or drink in the booth. Cell phones must be turned off in the booth.

There are photo identification charts in each booth to help you identify the age and first name of the individual child. For large group observation, we provide an identification sheet, which describes each child's clothing on that particular day.

After your observation, staff members are usually available and willing to answer any questions you have about child and teacher behaviors, curriculum, our teaching philosophy, etc.

3. Observing on the playground. When the weather permits, Middle and Oldest Classrooms begin the day outdoors; all classes play outdoors at the end of the day. Because our playgrounds are so shady, it is important that you are dressed warmly when you observe there. The Lead Teacher will try to find a comfortable place inside the fence for you to sit or stand unobtrusively.

4. Observing in the classroom. If you are in the classroom to observe, rather than to interact, the Assistant to the Director will let the Lead Teacher know. We will help you find a good vantage point for making observation. Never lie down or sprawl in the floor. Try to find a place to sit (the floor, a chair or block, but NEVER on a table or counter), where you won't impede the free movement of children, and try to be unobtrusive. But don't be concerned if children initiate conversations with you or ask you for help. Even though your specified task is to observe, please feel comfortable and relaxed about responding naturally to children. Tell them, matter-of-factly, that you are there to watch children play, and that you must get on with your work.

5. Confidentiality. All data that you collect must be treated in a confidential manner. Keep notebooks with you and do not leave notes unattended. If you personally know some of the children or their families, please keep those relationships separate from your observational data. Any observations you make may be discussed in your class or with staff at the Child Study Center, but should never be discussed elsewhere.


Guidelines for Research

All researchers planning to administer individual tests or tasks must follow this procedure:

1. Research Approval Form. Your course instructor will give you a Research Approval Form to submit to the Department of Psychology Committee on Human Subjects.

2. Brief Proposal. Submit to the Child Study center a one page description of your proposal. You may want to discuss your proposal with the Educational Director before submission to determine where you'll be testing (whether at the Child Study Center or at the Science Center) and what materials we can supply. Your description must:

  • state your purpose: what you are trying to find out, verify, demonstrate,
  • indicate if your task is a replication and cite the original experiment and source,
  • include number, ages, and gender of children you wish to test,
  • clearly describe your procedures, including what specific props you plan to use and exactly how you will phrase questions to the children,
  • be grammatically correct and legibly typed for distribution to parents and for posting,
  • include a title, names of student researchers, and date.


3. Research Review Committee. Copies of your proposal are sent to the parent members of the Child Study Center Research Review Committee and are posted on the bulletin board for 1 day before you can begin actual testing.

4. Scheduling. You, your instructor, and the Educational Director will work out a schedule for you. Please remember that we have limited testing space and that we cannot permit any child to be tested twice in the same day. Some weeks in each semester will become quite busy, so it is important to be flexible and to keep a sense of humor. (The latter is especially necessary when crowded research schedules coincide with chickenpox!) It is important, too, that you notify us if you cannot keep a scheduled appointment.

5. Participation in the Classroom. Before administering a task you must participate in the classroom for part of a day so that the children get to know you. You are required to check in at the office when you arrive. While you are in the classroom for interaction, follow the suggestions for classroom observers. Don't intrude on or overwhelm children; just relax and respond in a natural friendly manner. Get to know children's first names and major interests; this will help you and them when it is time to leave the classroom to play your "game."

6. Administering the Task. When you arrive for your scheduled research, you will receive a list of children for that day and a testing space assignment. Lead Teachers will help you decide if a child is ready and will help the children make the transition from the classroom. One or two members of the staff will observe the first few testing sessions and, on occasion, suggest improvements in the procedure.

7. Rewards. We thank children for helping us with this testing by offering them a sticker. We do not use food or candy as a reward.

8. Reporting Participants. After each task is completed, accompany the child back to the classroom and tell the Lead Teacher that you have brought the child back. At the end of each days' testing report to the office the names of children you have tested. Because of unforeseen interruptions, changes in the timing of a task, etc., there are often deviations from your original list.

9. Sharing Results. We stated earlier in this handbook that we think students enhance experiences here. Your work also enhances the experiences of the staff. Projects undertaken here often inspire new curriculum ideas, give us insights about children and our program, and furnish us with ideas for future research. Everyone gains from open communication while you're working here; but we also learn a great deal from your final results. We can arrange for students to present their research findings at staff workshops and/or parent meetings. In any case, we would appreciate a copy of your final paper for the Child Study Center Archives.

Guidelines for Classroom Participants

In order to function smoothly and creatively as a laboratory nursery school we believe that a high ratio of adults to children is important. Therefore, we welcome many different kinds of classroom participants:

  • Assitant Teacher/Interns (A College employee for at least one full year)
  • Visiting Student Teachers (from surrounding towns, various colleges, junior colleges, graduate schools, and secondary schools in the greater Boston area; times vary)
  • Wellesley College student researchers in Psychology (times vary)
  • Wellesley College students in Education practica (one morning per week)
  • Wellesley College independent study students (one to five mornings per week)
  • Wellesley College Student Teacher Interns (two or more days, 8 hours per week)
  • Wellesley College Student Teachers (one or more days, 4 hours per week)
  • Wellesley College Wintersession Lead Interns (twenty-six hours per week)
  • Wellesley College Wintersession Interns (12 or more hours per week)
  • Wellesley College Wintersession Student Teachers (4-12 hours per week)

Please note that we do not offer a State-Certification Program.

The Assistant to the Director and your classroom's Lead Teacher will give you a thorough orientation to the school and to your classroom. The following guidelines are quite general, but should serve as an introduction to help make your work here both productive and pleasant.

1. Attendance and Punctuality. We depend on you. Therefore it's most important to keep your schedule or to notify us of lateness or absence.

2. Dress comfortably so that you won't be inhibited around paints, clay, etc. Please avoid wearing low-cut tops and/or bottoms and keep your bellybutton covered. And always be prepared with warm clothing, including boots and gloves, for the playground.

3. In the Classroom. Try to be as relaxed as possible. If you act friendly and natural and respond to children rather than overwhelming or intruding them, you'll get to know them and enjoy them quickly. Keep your interactions with children appropriate and professional by avoiding rough and tumble play with them. These are three areas that seem to be the most difficult for people beginning to work with young children. The first is in art activities. Children do a great deal of experimenting with various media and progress from scribbles to representational are at individual rates. Therefore, never draw or mold specific objects, even when asked. It's also best not to confront a child with the question "What's that?" when you're involved in an art activity. A better reaction to a child's art is "Oh, I like that design" or "What nice colors you've used." Admire children's work, handle the material simply, as they do, listen to their explanations if they offer any, but don't pressure them.

The second area that often presents difficulties is in limit setting. At the beginning it is best to let the teacher handle problem situations. You will see that teachers encourage children to solve problems themselves, but intervene when necessary in very matter-of-fact, positive, calm tones. You will learn very quickly when and how to help settle disputes and soothe hurt feelings. Please read discipline and guidance procedures.

The third area is in helping children vs. encouraging independence. We want children to do as much for themselves as possible without ever feeling abandoned by adults. We think that adults should be warm and nurturing but shouldn't stifle the child's initiative. As you get to know the children and observe the teacher, you'll understand better how to achieve a proper balance.

4. On the Playground. Outdoor time is as meaningful to the development of young children as indoor time. Do not think of it as recess, but as an extension of their work in the classroom. They continue to explore and master their environment, gain self-help skills, imitate and rehearse the adult world, and become more competent socially and physically. It is important for adults to continue to interact appropriately and to reassure children about their safety.

5. Mechanics. Your Lead Teacher will explain the daily schedule of your group, what materials are available, and your role in routines. Try to spend some time in the curriculum resource room to become familiar with all of our equipment, supplies, and "beautiful junk." You might also want to get acquainted with our children's book collection. When the time comes for you to plan an activity, or a full day or a week, you'll know all of the resources available to you.

6. Staff Meetings. Each classroom has a team meeting each morning and each afternoon. You are required to attend these meetings that fall within your scheduled teaching time as part of your teacher training.

7. Parents. We hope that you will have opportunities to attend parent meetings and, perhaps, conferences. You will of course, see many parents on a daily basis. If a parent asks you a specific question about their child, you must refer that parent to the Lead Teacher of your class.

8. Confidentiality. Observations made in the classroom and all information discussed in our staff meetings are to be kept in strictest confidence. Use first names only in journals and papers related to your work here.

9. Evaluations. The teaching staff makes every effort to give daily feedback about classroom performance to all participants. More formal evaluations are written and discussed at the end of each semester.

10. Calendar. The Center follows the College calendar, observing major vacation recesses and brief breaks, but is in session during winter term.

11. Safety. Please read the Emergency Procedures and Fire Drill Regulations in this handbook to help insure everyone's safety.

12. Snow Days. Since the Wellesley Public School Department has access to information about road conditions and highway safety, we will cancel school on snow days when the Wellesley elementary schools are cancelled or delayed. On the morning of a storm, you may look for No School announcements for the Wellesley Public Schools. The Assistant to the Director will also send an email on days that the CSC is closed for snow or weather-related emergencies.

13. Above all we hope that you enjoy your work here and that you find the opportunity to help children learn and grow an exciting one.

Discipline and Guidance Procedures

Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the following requirements for discipline:

Discipline and guidance shall be consistent and based on an understanding of the individual needs and development of a child. The license shall direct discipline to the goal of maximizing the growth and development of the children and for protecting the group and the individuals within it.


  1. Disciplinary actions
    1. Corporal punishment shall not be used, including spanking.
    2. No child shall be subjected to cruel or severe punishment, humiliation or verbal abuse.
    3. No child shall be denied food as a form of punishment.
    4. No child shall be punished for soiling, wetting or not using the toilet.
  2. The license shall describe, in writing, the center's procedures for disciplining children.
  3. The written plan for discipline must be posted conspicuously in an area frequented by center staff and visitors. The plan shall be provided to parents at the admissions interview and to each staff member at the time of employment.
Behavior Management Plan

The Child Study Center sets the following limits on children's behavior:

  • Children cannot hurt themselves.
  • Children cannot hurt other children.
  • Children cannot willfully destroy equipment.
  • When children do test the limits, teachers remind them of school rules. These verbal reminders are usually sufficient.


If a child persists in negative behavior or becomes very angry:

  • The lead teacher (or assistant teacher intern) holds the child and talks calmly to him/her.
  • If this does not help, the child is asked to calm down in his or her cubby.
  • In cases where a child is emotionally distraught, the child is brought to the director's office to be calmed and comforted. There is never any physical or verbal punishment.


If a child seems unable to observe school rules:

  • Discuss problem at all-staff meeting.
  • Seek curriculum or program ideas to find out cause and to help child.
  • Discuss problem with parents.
  • Discuss problem with clinical psychologist.
  • Set up necessary meetings or referrals.

Emergency Procedures


Minor Accidents

  • Lead Teacher administers First Aid.
  • Intern and Student Assistant Teachers remain with other children.
  • Lead Teacher notifies parents either at pick-up time or by telephone.
  • Lead Teacher writes summary of accident and the first aid administered in the Injury Log. Copies are given to parent(s) and placed in child's file.


Other Accidents

  • Lead Teacher attends to injured child and brings child to office.
  • Intern and Student Assistant Teachers remain with other children.
  • Lead Teacher, Director and Assistant to Director make decisions about further procedure:
    • For immediate medical attention, Assistant to Director phones Wellesley Police Ambulance (911). Director notifies parents.
    • Lead Teacher accompanies child in ambulance to Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
    • For less immediate medical attention, Assistant to Director or Lead Teacher phones parents.
  • Lead Teacher and/or Director writes summary of accident. Copies of Injury Log reports are given to parent(s) and placed in child's file.
  • Lead Teacher and/or Director follow up with phone call to parents in the afternoon or evening.
  • In the unlikely event of a severe accident where moving the child seems inadvisable:
    • Lead Teacher remains with injured child.
    • Intern reports to office immediately and returns to be with other children.
    • Assistant to Director calls Wellesley Police Ambulance. (911)
    • Lead Teacher accompanies child in ambulance to Newton-Wellesley.
    • Director calls parents.
    • Follow-ups are done by both Lead Teacher and Director.
    • Any injury requiring a doctor's visit or a trip to the hospital will be reported by telephone to the Office of Child Care Services.


Fire Drill Regulations

Youngest Group:
Teacher Intern leads children out downstairs entrance to small sandbox on middle/youngest playground. Teacher checks room to be sure everything is vacant, takes class attendance list, then follows children to sandbox to take attendance.

Should downstairs exit be blocked, children proceed upstairs and exit by front door to small sandbox.

Middle Group:

Teacher Intern leads children out front door to large sandbox on middle/youngest playground. Teacher checks room to be sure everything is vacant, takes class attendance list, then follows children to sandbox to take attendance.

Should the front entrance be blocked, same procedure will be used at back door with middle group following oldest group.

Oldest Group:

Teacher Intern leads children out back door to sandbox on oldest playground. Teacher checks room to be sure everything is vacant, takes class attendance list, then follows children to sandbox to take attendance.

Should the back entrance be blocked, same procedure will be used at front door with oldest group following middle group.

Observation Booths:

People using upstairs observation booths wait until the class they are observing has vacated room, then follow whichever class they have been observing.

People using downstairs observation booth and storeroom proceed through storeroom exit, up stairs and follow exiting class out front door. Should storeroom or stairs be blocked, people proceed through boiler room exit to boiler room out door exit, up stairs to small sandbox.

The director checks office, takes emergency cards, checks upstairs bathrooms and booths to be sure all are vacant, then proceeds to middle group sandbox.

The assistant to the director checks all downstairs bathrooms, observation booths, and conference room to be sure they are vacant, then proceeds to oldest group sandbox.

Plans for vacating the building are posted on bulletin boards in each room, in each observation booth, and in the entrance hall.


Contact Us

Contact Us

Wellesley College Child Study Center
Page Building
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481-8203
Phone: 781.283.2695


Child Study Center