Saddleback College Child Development Center is a safe, qualified child care for Saddleback students, faculty and the community that is open Monday through Friday.
Anyone can access the facility, however, you must have a minimum enrollment of 2.5 days and the child has to be at least 2.6 years old. The enrollment fee is $75.00 per year. They offer a variety of packages. A full day is more than three hours and a half day is three hours or less. For example, two full days for four weeks is $475.
“I have heard about the child care at Saddleback, but I never knew it was available to the public, which is very convenient,” said Cydney Gipe, 19, undecided.
According to Senior Child Development Specialist, Wes Thomas, the facility is open to Saddleback and the public. The ratio varies every semester, but it is usually close to 50/50. Also, Saddleback students who take six or more semester units can get a 20 percent discount. It is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate everyone’s schedules.
“Children are like bread and butter… we want them here,” said Thomas with a smile on his face.
Saddleback’s Child Care Center hires qualified instructors by following the guidelines of the National Academy for Education of Young Children and the state of California, said Thomas. They require the instructors to have completed at least 12 units of Child Development classes, such as Psychology and Sociology.
“The teachers are very nice to my son,” Olga Veleza, a parent at the facility, said.
“He has ADHD and they are really helpful with that,” Velez said.
The Center’s purposes include: a positive atmosphere, learning through play, anti-biased and multicultural environments. Thomas ensured me that they usually aim for a 10-to-1 children-teacher ratio in the classrooms. They plan different kinds of activities such as, dramatic play, outdoor play, science center, art and more.
“I like watching children in their excitement of learning new things,” Debbie Dautel, a child care instructor, said.
Enhancing self-being, enabling children to explore, developing responsibilities and encouraging children to relate to others are just a few of the child care’s goals. Therefore, with the help of the instructors they provide the proper activities to achieve these goals.
“Adults are not strictly facilitators because they also help the child explore,” Thomas said.
When children learn they all explore in different ways, Thomas explained. He painted a scenario off the top of his head and said, so if mud is on the ground one child will stick their toe in hesitantly, then another will put his whole foot in with curiosity and a child will jump in spontaneously. The instructors can’t control that.
“Teachers aren’t here to do magic tricks, but to help the children learn,” Thomas said. Thomas described some of the ways they try to make play time fun for the children. He likes being innovative, so he brings indoor activities outdoors and vice versa. For example, they bring a guitar outside to take turns learning how to play it. When they find a popular activity they’ll repeat it often, Thomas explained.
For the past couple of weeks watercolors amused the children, according to Thomas. He said even as an adult it can be fresh and relaxing on a nice day. This activity along with drawing causes the children to find their creative side and develop self-expression.
“Recently, my son’s favorite activity has been drawing. Especially drawing Spiderman,” Velez said.
Although the facility established several purposes, one aspect Thomas elaborated on was how they try to keep the environment anti-biased. He explained that they have to choose the books they read very carefully. Finding books with characters that play a variety of roles is their main focus.
When the Center has firefighters come to talk about issues they always make sure they send at least one woman firefighter, Thomas said. He added that many children have prejudices, so they have scavenger hunts to find things of certain colors. Then they describe their similarities and differences like the different races among humans.
“Orange County has become so much more diverse in the past 20 years and the issues are constantly changing,” Thomas said.
Gipe said that declaring child care as her major is a possibility and thinks that Saddleback is a great place to start.