About Berkley: History and Philosophy



The University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center (CFDC) was established in 1993. UMKC’ School of Education and an interdisciplinary team of experts worked together to develop a state-of-the-art early childhood school. Berkley is part of UMKC’s School of Education and serves 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 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. 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.