Children playing in the garden at the Child Development Center.
Children playing in the garden at the Child Development Center.

Child Development Center assists student parents with child care

“He’s learning numbers, colors, shapes songs and books!” says Ronata Knapper, eagerly sharing the new learning and cognitive skills her three-year-old son has gained from the San Diego City College Child Development Center.

The center provides affordable care for City students and faculty with children ages six weeks to five years old and for other members of the community.

Located on 16th and B Street, the center is housed in two one-story buildings, one serving infants to about three years old and the other serving children up to age five.

The center, which includes a playground and a garden, has a current enrollment of 47 children and is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. while being closed on holidays and during the summer break.

For parents who study at City, the center is a convenient place to leave their children while they attend class.

“The daycare obviously helps so that I can get my school work done, without it I probably wouldn’t be able to further my education.” said parent, Yael Flores, who is currently majoring in social work.

The parents, who are City students are required to work at the center for three hours a week and take a parenting class in the child development department. During their time at the center, the parents read to and play with the children, sing songs and set meal times.

The idea is to give the parents, most of them young, the tools to help raise their children and have a better life.

The parents supplement six full-time preschool teachers and seven part-time ones, assuring a high adult-to-child ratio.

“I think it’s beneficial in a sense that it helps me learn what I can do to help teach my own child as a single, new mother,” Flores went on to say.

The children arrive at school between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. By nine, the children are engaging in conversations amongst each other at the table during breakfast. After eating a nutritional meal to begin their day, the kids quietly listen to a story during “circle time.” Following “circle time”, they are to choose inside activities such as art, puzzles or Legos.

The kids are then dismissed for their favorite part of the day: play time. At noon, it’s time for lunch. With full tummies, they are all ready for nap time around 12:30 p.m.

Daily schedules and weekly lesson plans are available and posted in each classroom. The lesson plans act as guidelines for routines for the teachers and students. In addition, the Center has a loft area with numerous children’s books to enhance the curriculum for children.

The instructors try to instill good healthy habits in the children that include washing hands after using the bathroom or outside play, brushing teeth following lunch time and cleaning up after one activity to make smooth transitions to the next one. Those at the center also emphasize sharing and unity within the classrooms.

These are all habits that the kids can take with them through life while helping parents gain helpful skills and resources to utilize at home.

“Our goal is to have children be ready for kindergarten and have a developmentally appropriate curriculum,” said Sandra Luhnow, a part-time teacher. “And for our parents to become better ones. We give support for the entire family unit.”

Parents who attend City College, many of them from low-income homes, pay for the childcare on a sliding-fee basis with some receiving care for free.

Ultimately, the student fees are based upon a calculated income. Children who are enrolled in the program and covered through the state may have limited hours at the center.

The enrollment period for the spring semester begins during the first two weeks of December.

For more information contact the City College Child Development Center at (619) 388-3205.

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Child Development Center assists student parents with child care