The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Day care nurtures college student studies

By Stevi Smith/reporter


Three-year-old Keeley (left) and Mimi pretend to make marshmallows on the playground at NE’s Children’s Center.
Photos by Casey Holder/The Collegian

Three-year-olds strolling across campus are a common sight on NE Campus. But they aren’t there with mom or dad. They attend school at NE’s Children’s Center.

The Center has provided childcare since 1974 and is accredited by the National Association for Education of Young Children.

It differs from traditional day care programs with its two-part focus: it offers both a learning curriculum that is developmentally appropriate for children ages 2-5 as well as a laboratory resource facility for college students seeking a degree in child development.

Ana Rich, third-grade Spanish-immersion teacher at Bedford Heights, heard about the center through word of mouth. Her daughter Natalia attended the center all three years.

“We were ecstatic to have received the call that there was a spot available for Natalia,” she said. “Each year, we fell more and more in love with the center. The teachers are amazing. They have a love for children and learning.”

Six-year-old Natalia also had praise for the center. She said playing and learning about colors, shapes, the alphabet and facts about bugs prepared her for kindergarten.

Director Pati Cates, who has been with the center nearly 18 years, and administrator Karen Hutto, who has spent nearly six years there, are passionate about what they do.

“We believe that children learn best through play time,” Cates said. “Our goal is to maintain an environment that focuses on their growth, development and education.”

Children at the center stay busy with a variety of activities, including whole group and self-selected activities as well as essential routines like meals and exercise. Themes for the activities change from week to week, such as medieval, outer space or pirates.

“Here at the center, each child is seen as an individual. Our curriculum encourages children to explore their interests and strengths through confidence-building activities,” Cates said.

In group activities, students might read and discuss a story or move to music related to the topic of the week. During their individual time, if they are studying cows, they might build a dairy where cows might live, Cates said. They exercise outside when the weather permits, and they eat their meals family-style with their teachers at the table with them.

NE Chidren’s Center teacher Yolanda Jones puts a flower in Abigail’s hair.
Photos by Casey Holder/The Collegian

The center includes laboratories for each age group, a kitchen and an observation room where parents and students can view the children at play.

Students in the child development program receive real-life experience through observation, which cannot be duplicated in a classroom setting. The faculty includes one master teacher, six full-time teachers and three part-time assistant teachers, all of whom are professionally trained.

The center has enough space to accommodate the needs of only 50 children, so parents can complete a waiting list form located on TCC’s website under student services as soon as their child is born.

Dr. Jane Moore, NW biology associate professor, put her now-3-year-old twin girls, Mimi and Keeley, on the waiting list at birth.

“I chose the Children’s Center because of its reputation,” she said. “A family friend referred me to the program, and I can tell the teachers really care about the kids. My girls just love it.”

She also commented on the uniqueness of the center.

“An advantage of having the center on campus is that teachers have access to TCC professors with years of experience under their belt,” she said. “If a child has an issue, one of them can call for assistance at any time. That’s a resource you won’t find at other day cares.”

Rich felt blessed to be a part of the Children’s Center family.

“The Children’s Center is very unique and one of a kind,” she said. “It uses all different styles of learning, and I feel that all of the children are given a strong foundation.”

Natalia enjoyed her stay at the center.

“I liked the work at the writing center and all the math stuff we did,” she said. “My favorite teachers were Ms. Barbara and Ms. Pat.”

Parents interested in seeing firsthand what the program has to offer can visit the facility between 9-11 a.m. or 3-5 p.m. or call Hutto at 817-515-6656.

TCC students interested in a child development degree can contact academic advisor Richard Cates at 817-515-6399.

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