At Campus Children's Center (CCC), we believe young children learn through direct interactions with their environment and the people in it. Our curriculum is open-ended and based on each child's choices. In the classrooms, teachers are collaborative learners and facilitators who encourage problem-solving. Children can boldly explore while knowing that their work is accepted and valued.
I find a deep sense of purpose in curating a mindful learning space that is accessible and approachable for all children and their families—a space where you can come in, feel at home, take a breath, and find the joy in being yourself and witness what joy that can bring to your community.
Katie B. (CCC Staff Member)
The educational philosophy at the Campus Children’s Center is child-centered and developmentally based. It is based on the knowledge that young children learn through their direct interactions with their environment and the people within it.
While children do go through specific stages of development, each child grows and learns at a pace that is individually specific. Age is not necessarily an accurate indicator of development. Infants and toddlers are typically in the stage that Jean Piaget described as Sensorimotor and the stages that Erik Erikson described as developing Trust (0 to 1-year-olds) and Autonomy (2- to 3-year-olds). Characteristics of these stages include learning through responsive, nurturing caregivers who provide positive interpersonal interactions, opportunities for the use of senses, reflexes, and learning through manipulating materials. In the development of autonomy, it is important that children have the characteristics listed above as well as opportunities that allow children simple choices, the setting of clear, consistent and reasonable limits, and acceptance of children’s fluctuations in their need for independence and dependence. Please see the Infant Toddler Handbook for additional information about how curriculum is planned based upon children’s development at these ages.
Preschool children are in the stage that Jean Piaget described as preoperational. Characteristics of this stage include egocentricity, concrete thinking and the explosion of language. The preoperational stage lasts until approximately age eight.
Children in the preoperational stage learn best through their own initiated activities rather than by direct instruction by an adult. Extensive research shows that young children learn through their play and through their active exploration of their environment. They construct their knowledge through the manipulation of concrete materials and the stimulation of their five senses. Children gain ownership of their learning in a child-centered environment through their choices. Our classrooms are arranged into learning centers to encourage the children to make choices. These centers include but not limited to art, science, writing, books, woodworking, sand and water, dramatic play, manipulatives, music, blocks and the outdoor learning environment.
The teacher’s role in a child-centered learning environment is that of a collaborative learner and a facilitator and extender of the children’s learning. The primary role of the teacher is to arrange the learning environment to encourage choices and to allow the children to work independently. In addition, the teacher interacts with the children while encouraging problem-solving and language experiences through the use of open-ended language and questions. The teacher also spends a great deal of time observing the children during their play and can then plan activities that extend the interests of the children. Such planning is flexible and short-term to meet the needs of the learning group.
The development of literacy is encouraged through a whole language approach where the children experience the various aspects of language through all sign systems such as music, science, math, art, drama, dance, reading and writing. We refrain from use of formal reading and writing instruction as these methods emphasize isolated skill development. Instead, we encourage and accept the child’s best attempt at reading and writing. In this way, we encourage the children to take risks in their learning knowing that their work will be accepted and valued.
The curriculum that results from this philosophy is open-ended and based on the children’s choices. The curriculum is dynamic in that it changes with the interests and needs of the children. A large part of the day is comprised of free choice time where the children explore the classroom and the materials within it.
The IU Campus Children’s Center practices “continuity of care” throughout its program. Continuity of care begins each August with a new infant classroom. The children remain with the same full-time caregivers and peers from infancy through age two. The summer that the children in the classroom reach age 3 is when they transition into the preschool program. Once in preschool, the children will stay with the same full-time teachers until they go to kindergarten. This practice is important as bonding with caregivers is essential for children to feel a sense of trust and competence; a vital step in optimal development and learning. Additionally, strong collaborative relationships develop between the caregivers/teachers and the families through continuity of care.
With continuity of care, the center enrolls children in the infant room based upon their date of birth. To be eligible for the August infant classroom, a child must be born between September of the previous year through August of the current enrollment year as children need to be 3 when they transition into preschool.
Please feel free to contact us directly with questions about continuity of care at CCC.
The original idea for the Center was conceived in the fringe benefits committee of the Bloomington Campus Staff Council in 1980. This proposal was presented to Vice President Gros Louis who turned it over to Marcia Donnerstein, Campus Affirmative Action Officer, for further study. Ms. Donnerstein, with the help of the Monroe County Community Coordinated Child Care Association and various university representatives, drafted a proposal for a model child care facility that would care for children of IU faculty and staff. This proposal, with minor revisions, was approved by President Ryan in July 1983.
With the closing of the Indiana University Nursery School in the spring of 1983, space became available for the Center. The Campus Children’s Center opened on August 23, 1983. It has grown from a small group of 3- and 4-year-olds to now serving 48 children, ages 2 through kindergarten. On October 1, 1996, CCC moved into the newly renovated Center in Building in E-7 at the University School Complex.
In June 2006, Indiana University approved financial support to increase quality infant/toddler care on the IUB campus. In August 2007, Campus Children’s Center added an infant/toddler program increasing the age span that is cared for to 6 weeks through 5 years.
Find research completed at our center at these links:
Kim & McMullen, Early Child Development and Care (2018)
Ages: 6 weeks–1 year
Group size: Up to 8
Staff to child ratio: 1:3
During a child's first year, we emphasize the development of strong relationships between caregivers, child, and family. When children trust their caregivers, they become comfortable in exploring the world around them. Breastmilk and cloth diapers are both welcome. Two full-time staff are in the infant room for the majority of the day, in addition to hourly aides.
Parents are always welcome to visit in the classroom. Cribs are set up in half of the room for sleeping, and toys, bouncy seats, and rocking chairs occupy the other half. When the weather is nice, the babies can be found out on walks in the buggy or toddling around their play yard.
Ages: Approximately 1–2 years
Group size: Up to 10
Staff to child ratio: 1:5
For toddlers, the world is an exciting place full of interesting new things to be discovered. The toddler classroom contains various interest and learning centers, and our daily schedule allows for a big chunk of time dedicated to child-initiated play. Our team of responsive and caring teachers realizes that toddlers need lots of love and support to practice their newly acquired skills over and over again!
Ages: Approximately 2–3 years
Group size: Up to 10
Staff to child ratio: 1:5
The classroom and larger playground for the twos both offer many choices to help this age group grow and develop. Helping twos acquire age-appropriate skills and make developmental transitions is a fundamental part of the curriculum. The twos' classroom features several intentional spaces for assisting their development, including dress-up, house, library, loft, and writing areas. Twos are known for story-telling and using their imagination in their artwork. Expect to see children's creations displayed around the room!
Ages: 3–5 years
Group size: Up to 20
Staff to child ratio: 1:10
Our multi-age classrooms provide continuity as children stay in the same classroom with their teachers from age 3 to when children leave for kindergarten. Our preschool rooms are designed to accommodate the wide range of stages and abilities of 3- to 5-year-olds. Classrooms include open-ended materials rotated to reflect children's current interests—including areas for art and writing, dramatic play, math/manipulatives, motor development, music, science and sensory, and the library.
Meet the staff
M.S. in early childhood education and development from Wheelock College
CCC staff member since 2002
"I enjoy the strong relationships that I have the opportunity to build with children and families. I believe that providing quality early care and education to a child expands beyond developing curriculum. It's about joining with a family and celebrating their child's growth and development from the moment they walk through our doors to the time they leave (and often beyond)."
B.A. in speech and hearing sciences and M.S. in elementary education (early childhood), both from Indiana University
CCC staff member since 2000
"Serving as the assistant director at CCC has given me more opportunities to support and work with our excellent teaching staff and our community of families, as well as to spend time with the children in classrooms throughout the center."
Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Indiana University
CCC staff member since October 2018
“I appreciate the opportunity I have to support the teachers, staff, and families in providing a safe, stimulating and positive environment for the children.”
B.S. (2010) in management from Indiana University and CDA (2018) from Ivy Tech
CCC staff member since 2017
"I love working with children because each and every day is a fun new adventure and it is so rewarding to watch the children grow and develop their life skills. The welcoming and supportive environment created by the families and teachers at CCC means so much to me."
Early childhood education experience in daycare centers and Head Start
CCC staff member since 2010
"I love experiencing the 'new' with the children as they are seeing the simple beauty of every day. I also find it extremely rewarding to learn about and getting to know the families."
B.A. (2009) in elementary education from Indiana University
M.S. (2019) in early childhood education
CCC staff member since 2009
"Through all my academic experiences, I still feel that infants and toddlers have been some of the most impactful teachers in my life. I find peace in a classroom busy with excitement and purpose. I find contentment in slowing down to embrace the here and now with young children. I feel fortunate to be welcomed into a professional setting full of support from colleagues and families every day."
Working towards Bachelor of Arts degree in early childhood education
Associate’s degree in Child Development, 2016
“I love being able to have the opportunity to be a part of these young childrens’ lives. There is something very beautiful about watching them explore this world that is so exciting and new to them. In my free time, I enjoy being outside with my husband and my puppy!”
Master of Science in Early Childhood, 1987, from Indiana University
CCC staff member since 2018
“I enjoy developing supportive relationships with parents and children. I love to gently encourage a deep respect and appreciation of all living beings—from the hungry birds that visit our feeder to the man who delivers our lunch every day. I share children’s delight when the most ordinary thing captivates their attention. Slowing down and taking time for beauty is important to me.”
B.S. (2014) in early childhood education from Western Michigan University
CCC staff member since 2018
"I love working with children and assisting their growth and development. I believe in the power of learning through play and I enjoy the process!"
Bachelor of Arts degree in Family Services, 1997, from Eastern Illinois University
CCC staff member since 2019
“I have worked with children for many years in a variety of environments, and have truly been blessed by all the children in my care. I will never tire of watching children discover the world around them and love that I get to be a part of that experience. I am thankful to be a part of the CCC staff and look forward to developing relationships with great staff and wonderful families.
B.S. (2013) in elementary education from Indiana University
CCC staff member since 2014
"I fell in love with the philosophy of CCC and all the experiences that are offered for the children, and I think children learn best through play and real-life experiences. I also value the relationships with the children and close family connections we are able to make at CCC with the continuity of care."
B.S. (2012) in early childhood education from Indiana University
CCC staff member since 2017
"I am excited to be working in such a wonderful place with amazing teachers, parents, and children. I love working with children and giving them a nurturing classroom in which they may grow, discover, explore, create, and learn to their full potential."
Degree (2014) in education and human development/family studies from Indiana University
CCC staff member since 2018
"I love working with children every day because every day is different and I love to watch them grow into wonderful human beings. I very much enjoy building those strong relationships with the children and then families."
B.A. in elementary education from Hanover College and M.S. in early childhood education from Indiana University
"I enjoy working with young children because I have the privilege to watch children grow and make discoveries early."
Bachelor's degree (2015) in elementary education from Ball State University
"I have worked with children ages 3, 4, and 5 upon my graduation and have loved working with this age since I have started. I love being able to see the growth every day through play and exploration. The idea that children learn so much through play and literally create the world around them is the most rewarding part of working with this age. Outside of school, I like to spend time with my husband, Daniel, and my dog, Milo, through being outside in nature or laying on the couch watching movies. I also enjoy finding new books for the classroom, including my favorite authors Mo Willems and Eric Litwin."
A.S. in social work (child welfare) from Japan, B.S. in education from Glenville State College, and M.S. (2009) in early childhood education from Indiana University
CCC staff member since 2003
"I love helping children develop their social and emotional selves. I also enjoy studying about our Bloomington community with our children."
Graduate certificate (2006) in elementary education from Indiana University
CCC staff member since 2002
"Working with children is enlightening, interesting, and challenging. I love that each day is different and that each child brings something new and special to the group. I enjoy working at CCC. The environment is supportive and collaborative among all of the teachers and staff."