MONMOUTH — Young Clementine Aldrich stops using her paintbrush on the canvas in front of her, choosing instead to paint her hand.
Palms covered in purple, she proceeds to rub them all over the canvas, completely changing the feeling of her piece of art.
As the canvas looks more and more like a blob of color, Ingrid Amerson says, “It’s all about the process.”
At the Child Development Center at the Teaching Research Institute on Western Oregon University’s campus, children are free to experience a wide range of things, from art to science, reading and math.
And now, the center has been awarded a five-star rating from Oregon’s Quality Rating and Improvement System for its preschool and new after-school programs.
The system uses materials and in-class observations to award the rating, according to a press release from WOU.
The Child Development Center provides preschool care for those aged 10 months to kindergarten, and after-school enrichment activities to those aged 6 to 10.
Enrichment activities just started in June, Amerson said.
“We had about 10 to 15 children, and they came and participated in campus events,” she said. “Different departments shared their knowledge with us, and vice versa.”
Students in the enrichment program became little entrepreneurs during the summer, selling smoothies outside of the building during the “deadest week on campus,” Amerson said.
“But it was highly successful,” she said. “The monies are going to purchase microscopes for us, so we’re really excited about that piece.”
The preschool program focuses on everything a child needs to know to do well on kindergarten assessments, Amerson said.
“We know that children develop in the same sequence, but we also know that children develop at their own rate,” she said. “Some children, even though things are presented to them, don’t seem to grasp things as quickly as others.”
The center is inclusive, accepting children of all abilities. Amerson said the observations made in preschool and after-school programs can help parents communicate with future teachers about a child’s educational needs, whether that be a talented and gifted program or a special education plan.
One thing that makes the center unique is being located on Western’s campus.
“Everyone knows who we are on campus,” Amerson said. “So when we call them and say, ‘Hey, do you think it would be OK if we brought some students over?’ or, ‘Is there anyone who would come over and share about such-and-such?’ they always jump in.”
Now with the extended enrichment activities, children can stay longer in one place, starting in preschool and continuing with after-school programs. The consistency is good for kids education, Amerson said.
The center is open to the entire community, not just those associated with Western, Amerson said. Although the classrooms are full, a new classroom is opening soon that will allow the center to accept new students.
For more information: Ingrid Amerson, 503-838-8769; email to firstname.lastname@example.org.