Parkdale’s Children Center finally opens back up

The display case outside of the Childrens Center explains the pies that student-teachers learn about early childhood education and development. (photo by Luz Gaytan)

The display case outside of the Children’s Center explains the “pies” that student-teachers learn about early childhood education and development. (photo by Luz Gaytan)

After almost three years since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Parkdales’ Children Center is finally back open to welcome new early education students.

During the 2019-2020 school year, which is when it was last open, the Children Center was known as the child development center/class. Now as the 2022-2023 school year has started, the Children’s Center has reopened its doors to the children in our community. 

The Children Center is actually our High School Child Preschool Child Development Center Lab and is run by Ms. Nakia McKinley and students. The lab is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM. The purpose of this lab is to help students get the “practical experience in teaching and observing the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of the whole child, on school premises,” said Ms.McKinley. 

The preschool students follow a schedule that created and run by PHS student teachers. (photo by Luz Gaytan)

The lab is under the Early Childhood Education program with students trying to gain their Child Development Associate (CDA) certification. This is a completer program that certifies students with their CDA, CPR certification, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Certification. The three-year program begin in 10th grade with the Child Growth and Development Birth through Adolescence course. In 11th grade, students take the Learning Environments for Preschoolers and the Establishing a Purposeful Preschool Program course. Then in 12th grade, students have a Child Development Associate Portfolio and internship. Some students stay at school and assist in the lab while others have internships and day cares in the community. 

The CDA program isn’t just intended for the young children it helps, but also for high school students who are interested in child development and working with children as their post-secondary goal. With the reopening of the Children Center after the pandemic, the opportunity for the students is available again.

“This is a really special new year because we’re bouncing back from the pandemic,” expressed Ms.McKinley. 

A great difference this year is that this new program is really a changed version of the program in place back in the 2019-2020 school year. Back then, in order to get certified, you also had to complete over 90 hours of service in the program. This year, the new program replaces that through the lab work and interactions so that students can receive their CDA. 

Preschool students participate in Circle Time in this area. (photo by Luz Gaytan)

“We go over the entire pie,” said Ms.McKinley. The “pies” in the CDA program are actually areas of study: physical, intellectual, emotional, and social aspects of a child. With circle time allowing the children to develop socially, fine motor and gross motor activities, and even language songs and social skills practice, the CDA program helps high school students learn but also helps young preschool minds learn and grow as well.

The Child Development lab has a max capacity of up to 10 young preschoolers. Currently, there are two children already enrolled. There are still eight available spots for anyone who is interested in enrolling a child or knows someone who might be interested.