How do we create a diverse community?

As a college and as a community, we are dedicated to ensuring all students have an equal opportunity to flourish, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, physical ability, or any other categories that can be used to divide people. We actively seek teachers, families, and children with diverse backgrounds, economic situations, and ideas. Student Teachers come to us from across the world and nation and bring diversity of thought, culture, and ideals to each classroom. Our daily interactions with children incorporate anti-bias themes and curriculum at every level.

What is a Lab School?

A lab school is designed to facilitate observation and research in a preschool setting. Because of their affiliation with colleges and universities, lab schools usually have access to greater resources, physical and intellectual, and state-of-the-art educational theory, and thus often serve as model schools and teacher-training sites. Our school was designated to be used by Wellesley College faculty and students who observe and study child development and human psychology.

How are we different from other preschools?

The Child Study Center is different from other preschools because we are affiliated with the Education and Psychology Departments at Wellesley College. Because of this affiliation, Wellesley College Students teach in our classrooms and have opportunities at the Center for their class assignments, ranging from simple observation of child development to designing and implementing an ethical research project.

How do we incorporate Nature Play into the child’s day?

Each classroom has its own expansive outdoor playground with developmentally appropriate natural materials, open spaces, and playground structures. We believe it is critical for children to have extended time periods to engage with nature and the outdoors. Time spent in nature offers children a closer connection and understanding of our natural world and is vital to their emotional and physical well-being. We strive for daily outside time in all kinds of weather.

How are families involved in their child’s preschool education?

Parents and caregivers are welcome to participate according to their preferences and schedules. Occasional morning coffees and evening meetings are scheduled to create a warm, welcoming environment for all parents and families. These events range from casual drop-in coffee mornings to discussions led by the Faculty Director or a Lead Teacher to more formal presentations by guest speakers. Notices and announcements regarding parent/family events are sent via email, and regular e-correspondence from teachers and staff inform families of happenings at the Center and in classrooms. A Parent Committee, consisting of 2-3 parents from each classroom, plans social events and philanthropic opportunities to build a strong CSC family community. CSC Observation Booths are open to parents and family members to observe their child within the classroom environment. Parent/Teacher Conferences are held twice a year. A Parent Research Committee reviews all research proposals from faculty and student researchers. Classroom teachers offer parents and family members individual opportunities to be guest-readers, join in on a nature walk, or share a family tradition or special talent with their child’s classroom.

How are the classrooms staffed?

Each classroom has three full-time teachers: a Lead Teacher, a Teacher, and an Assistant Teacher. Lead Teachers have extensive experience working with young children and typically have a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development. The Center’s teaching team also includes 4-6 Team Teachers who work part-time across all classrooms. All full-time teachers are licensed by the MA Department of Early Education and Care (EEC.) All Classroom and Team Teachers are Wellesley College employees and undergo regular CORI/SORI background record checks. Also assigned to each classroom are Wellesley College Student Teachers enrolled in the for-credit EDUC 298/PSYC 299H: Practicum in Child Development, as well as Wellesley College Students teaching in non-credit positions in conjunction with coursework, professional development, or personal interest. Team Teachers and Student Teachers have consistent weekly hours throughout each semester. Children are always under the direct supervision of a licensed teacher or staff member.

How do we handle discipline?

At the Child Study Center, we think of “Discipline” as Child Guidance, Conflict Resolution, and Behavior Management in a 3-step process: Prevent, Teach, Reinforce. This process is designed to help each child assume increasing amounts of their own inner control with the support of caring adults. The Child Guidance is positive, constructive, consistent, and based on an understanding of the individual needs and development of the child. The goal is to maximize the growth and development of children while protecting the classroom group and the individuals within the group.

The CSC sets the following limits on children's behavior: Children may not hurt themselves. Children may not hurt other children. Children may not willfully destroy equipment.

Are children taught to read? Do they learn letters, numbers, reading, and counting?

Learning to read is a process, not an event. We provide a content-rich environment filled with concrete experiences, including sequencing, drawing, writing, letter recognition, being read to, storytelling, patterning, etc. to foster reading skills. The same is true for math. The classroom environment, program, and curriculum options invite children to explore reading and math concepts in a developmentally appropriate manner based on each child's readiness.

What kind of research is done? Is the research supervised? How do parents know about their child’s participation in research?

Faculty and students may conduct research in developmental psychology. The aim of most studies is to help college students learn the ethics and methods of research. All studies are reviewed and approved by the Psychology Department Ethics Committee, the CSC’s Parent Research Review Committee, and CSC staff to ensure each study is developmentally appropriate and engaging for children. We call the studies “games” when inviting children to participate and offer each child a sticker as a thank you for their participation. Each researcher must first spend time in the classroom to become familiar with the children. All research is monitored by the Director and conducted under the direct supervision of a licensed staff member. Parents are notified of every study before the start of research and are provided an opportunity to hear results at the semester's end. Researchers share only group results, and confidentiality is strictly enforced. Parents and children may decline to participate in the research.

Do children need to be toilet trained? Do they use the bathroom alone?

Children do not need to be toilet trained. Youngest Group children (2's) are always accompanied to the bathroom. Children in the Middle and Oldest Groups (3s and 4s) may manage on their own with an adult in the bathroom with them or close by in the adjacent hallway. Children are always supervised in the bathroom.

How do we secure the building?

Our doors are kept closed and locked at all times when children are in the building. Parents and caregivers are issued swipe cards and passcodes to gain access to the hallways. The Program Administrator monitors the hallway throughout the day.

Do children go on field trips?

We take walking field trips on the Wellesley College Campus. We never transport children, and we never take children off campus.

Do we have afternoon programs? Or summer programs?

No. The child’s day ends at 11:30 am or 1:00 pm, based on their age and enrollment. We follow Wellesley College's academic school year and are open from September through May.

What is the classroom routine? Do children have a Circle/Group time?

Daily routines differ in each classroom, but each group has at least one period of time outside (weather permitting), one group time, and one snack time. Children in the Middle and Oldest Classroom, and Youngest Classroom children enrolled until 1:00 pm also have lunch time and a second group time. Group times include songs, stories, surveys, and group discussions but may also incorporate creative movement, a visitor, or a special activity. We incorporate music into our curriculum daily and occasionally have friends, family members, and students share their talents.

What is the child's school day like?

Each day offers opportunities for children to have an appropriate balance of quiet and active indoor and outdoor activities. Our curriculum is carefully planned to meet the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive needs of each child. During free play, children may make independent but suitable choices from a variety of activities.

While new materials and activities are regularly introduced, materials that are considered essential for all young children are always available in each classroom, such as Playdough, sand, water, blocks, books, easel paints, manipulative toys, puzzles, crayons, and dramatic play materials. Depending on the age group and individual child's ability, the materials and activities are used in various ways.

We recognize the importance and impact of the outdoor learning environment and the ways nature play supports positive outcomes across all developmental areas for children and provides freedom to utilize individual ideas and skills while responding to the natural world. Children spend significant time each day in their outdoor classroom navigating the natural surroundings in an organic manner, incorporating physical structures such as logs, branches, twigs, and rocks into imaginary play themes or using them as components to design and build structures. Incorporating natural objects into daily play allows for an appreciation of how these elements fit into a larger environmental system, teaches children how to interact respectfully with these materials, and, ultimately, helps them understand how to care for the outdoors responsibly.

The program offers a wide range of other appropriate activities, including music, creative movement and dance, cooking, and special projects. Classes occasionally take short, impromptu walks on campus or more organized "field trips" to campus facilities, including Paramecium Pond, the Davis Museum, Jewett Arts Center, Botanic Gardens, or the Greenhouses.

All groups follow roughly the same schedule:

8:30-10:15 Free-play (Indoor/Outdoor)

10:15-10:45 Snack and Group time

10:45-12:00 Outdoor play (11:30 am early release on Wednesdays)

12:00-12:30 Transition and Group time

12:30-1:00 Lunchtime

Child Study Center

Wellesley College Child Study Center
Page Building
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Annie Cohen
Program Administrator