The Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center is named in honor of our major benefactor Rheta Aaron Sosland. Rheta was a leading figure and advocate of education and the arts in Kansas City for nearly three-quarters of a century. Rheta took great pride in her funding of our program and was able to visit often before her passing in November of 2003.
The University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) and an interdisciplinary team of experts worked together to develop a state-of-the-art early childhood program with the goal to model best practices in early learning for university students, faculty, staff and the greater Kansas City community. Berkley opened it’s doors in June of 1993 as part of UMKC’s School of Education and serves as a learning laboratory for early childhood students. As a resource to others, Berkley enrolls children of UMKC employees, students, and the community.
The Berkley CFDC is a learning laboratory dedicated to reflecting state-of-the-art practices in early childhood education and working with children and families. The School is firmly embedded in constructivism; the theoretical view that learners construct knowledge through interactions with the physical and social environments. Berkley is inspired by the Schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy and actively studies their approach to education. Our philosophy is heavily influenced by educational theorists, such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Erikson. As these theorists suggest, children learn through their individual experiences with the world. When children build upon experiences, they “construct” knowledge by building new experiences and connecting them to prior knowledge. Young children are active and curious participants in the construction of their knowledge. Teachers challenge children to make predictions, to explore, to discover, to question, to represent and to reorganize their ways of thinking. Understanding that the young child is a member of his/her family, it is our goal to collaborate with family members. Building an equal relationship between family, child, and teacher is a cornerstone of our philosophy.
We believe the positive development of self-image plays a vital role in both children’s learning and healthy development. Teachers provide opportunities for learning in an environment of trusting and respectful relationships. We value the unique qualities of each child and adult and respect differences. We strive to create an environment of cooperation and collaboration to enhance the process of learning and working together. The teachers learn the needs of individual children and plan for the successful fulfillment of those needs.
A State of the art early childhood program firmly embedded in constructivism; the theoretical view that learners construct knowledge through interactions with the physical and social environments. We strive to create a community / neighborhood that focuses on the importance of relationships between our families and staff. Children are encouraged to hypothesize and predict, pose questions, defend and revise ideas, research answers, and problem solve. Great emphasis is placed on the importance of independence and cooperation with reflection regarding thoughts and actions. Building an equal relationship between family, child, and teacher is a cornerstone of our philosophy.
To serve as a learning laboratory dedicated to reflecting state-of-the -art practices in working with children and families.
- To serve as a resource to others Berkley enrolls children of UMKC employees, students, and the Greater Kansas City community
- Create an environment of cooperation and collaboration to enhance the process of learning and working together
- The teachers learn the needs of individual children and plan for the successful fulfillment of those needs
- Develop strong relationships among children, families, teachers, and their environment
- Create opportunities for exploration, interaction and experimentation with peers and adults
The Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center became a reality when the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Menorah Medical Center partnered to create an early childhood program. The partnership created a multidisciplinary, state-of-the-art learning facility for teacher preparation, child care and early learning, professional development and research. The UMKC School of Education administers the center and the State of Missouri licenses the center. The Center holds voluntary accreditation through the National Association for the Education Young Children. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children. NAEYC Accreditation is a rigorous and transformative quality-improvement system that uses a set of 10 research-based standards to collaborate with early education programs to recognize and drive quality-improvement in high-quality early learning environments.
We offer open enrollment to all children & families, however UMKC faculty, staff, and students do have first priority. Siblings of children already attending Berkley have priority of all children enrolled.
As a laboratory school, we strive to incorporate diversity throughout our program. Therefore, once the program is full, or where there are a limited number of spaces, enrollment consideration will be given to individual applications.
The center opened June 1993. The center operates from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. We ask families not to drop off until 7:20 a.m. and should be picking up their child by 5:50 p.m. See our parent handbook for specifics on hours, drop off and pick up. In addition to closing for major legal holidays, the center closes to regular enrollment the second Friday of each month. The school uses these Fridays for faculty/staff development days.
All faculty/staff are highly educated and have a wealth of knowledge to share. Most teachers have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent education and experience in early childhood education/child development or a related field. Some teachers have a master’s degree or are working towards a masters degree. Co-teachers have a minimum of an associate’s degree or equivalent education and experience. Most of the part-time staff members have years of experience and are university students. In order to maintain our high standards of teacher education, faculty/staff collaboration and curriculum development, Berkley closes for regular enrollment on the second Friday of each month for faculty/staff development days.
Classroom design allows for both child and adult comfort of surroundings. Creating an aesthetically pleasing environment requires thoughtful planning and the support of the learning community and it is a goal of ours to respect our environment as the third teacher. All rooms have many windows allowing filtration of natural light. In addition, the windows allow children opportunities for exploration from different perspectives. Classrooms project a home-like, beautiful, rich environment. “We value space because of its power to organize…and its potential for sparking all kinds of social, affective, and cognitive learning.” Lois Malaguzzi. Growing an environment that is inspiring and magical for young children is much like growing a seed into a beautiful flower. You have to prepare the soil, make a plan for the garden design, shop for seeds, plant and water them, and patiently watch them grow form sprouts…to buds…and ultimately to blooming plants. You can view the process for how our teacher’s think of the environment as the third teacher. This is a slide show of our Roo Room and you will see a transformation over a three day period with Sr. Child Development Teachers Jessie Newman and Alyssa Morrow; the slide show details the importance of the “environment as the third teacher”.
Philosophy on working with children
The Berkley CFDC is a learning laboratory dedicated to reflecting state-of-the-art practices in working with children, families, and other adults. Firmly embedded in our philosophy are the construct of educational theorist such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Erikson. As theories suggest, children learn through their individual experiences, with the world. When children build upon experiences they “construct” knowledge by building new experiences and connecting them to prior knowledge. Young children are active and curious participants in the construction of their knowledge. Teachers challenge children to make predictions, to explore, to discover, to challenge, to represent and to reorganize their ways of thinking.
Positive development of self-image is important and is a priority in aspects of program planning. Teachers provide opportunities for learning in an environment of respect and trust between and among all participants, young and old. In building upon trusting, respectful relationships, teachers learn the needs of individual children and plan for the successful fulfillment of those needs. The unique qualities of each child and adult are valued and differences are respected. We create an environment of cooperation and collaboration to enhance the process of learning to work together.
Understanding that the young child is a member of his/her family, it is our goal to collaborate with family members, in creating the best environment for each child. Building an equal relationship between family, child and teacher is a cornerstone of our philosophy.
Unique Features of the Berkley CFDC
Berkley is accredited by The National Association For the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). To earn NAEYC Accreditation, Berkley, went through an extensive self-study and quality-improvement process, followed by an on-site visit by NAEYC Assessors to verify and ensure that the program met each of the ten program standards, and hundreds of corresponding individual criteria. NAEYC-accredited programs are always prepared for unannounced quality-assurance visits during their accreditation term, which lasts for five years.
In the 30 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education. More than 7,000 programs are currently accredited by NAEYC—less than 10 percent of all child care centers, preschools, and kindergartens nationally achieve this recognition. Early childhood research indicates there are three factors of quality. These factors include: ratio, faculty education, and family involvement. We build these quality indicators into our programming.
Ratios are often smaller than that required by licensing. The Berkley CFDC maintains a two teacher to 8 children ratio in the infant and toddler classrooms; Once all children are over two a 1 teacher to 7 children is maintained and a one teacher to ever 10 preschool children (all children are 3 and older.)
Our teacher qualifications, as stated previously, far exceed any current requirements in the field. Along with requiring a minimum 21 professional hours, many of our teachers work towards advanced degrees. In addition, our teachers provide numerous seminars for the community.
The school involves families throughout our program. We host an active Family Involvement Program (FIP) (similar to a PTA), where families work to benefit the school. Families join committees where they can utilize their talents and interests. Furthermore, within the FIP, we involve families on a daily basis through verbal communication, lunch, field trips, etc. Additionally, our families work with us on the advisory committee, in interviewing personnel, and in volunteering in their child’s classroom.
The Berkley CFDC operates a full-day, full-year early childhood program affiliated with UMKC School of Education. Berkley serves 32 infant toddlers and 68 preschool children year round . Although children may stay for 10 hours a day, the Berkley teachers and administration recommend a 9-hour day maximum for all children, especially for infants and toddlers. Children may not attend more then 50 hours a week.
Infant Program (3 months to 15 months)
Our goal is to provide a warm and nurturing relationship between your child and your child’s teacher. As infants enroll in the program they will go through a slow transition/orientation process, over a 2-5 week period, into Berkley. This slow transition period will allow teachers, family members, and children an opportunity to become better acquainted. Teachers will focus on building respectful, trusting, and intimate relationships with the families in their classroom.
Toddler Program (15 months to 36 months)
A nurturing atmosphere where self-help skills are being developed is one of the main emphases for the toddler program. Teachers focus on trust and building relationships. The children have opportunities for exploration and problem solving, understanding and communicating with other children, and movement/coordination.
Young Pre-primary Program (two and three-year-olds)
Children of this age learn best by experiencing their environment through their senses, physical activity, and social interactions with other children. Children develop feelings of competence and trust through positive interactions with adults and peers. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are core values.
Pre-primary Program (three, four, and five years old)
Major emphasis is placed on language/literacy, mathematical skills, scientific thinking, personal/social skills and movement. Children engage in active learning composed of personal, hands-on experiences. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are core values. As with the other programs, children are engaged in carefully planned play activities that set the stage for life-long learning.