Children's Center

ASI Children's Programs enriches the development of young children, provides students, faculty and staff parents a safe and stimulating environment for their children and improves family life through parent education. Additionally, ASI Children’s Programs provides Cal Poly students with employment opportunities and an environment to study the development of young children.

The Children's Center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and certified as an Outdoor Classroom Demonstration Site.

two children drawing
Expressing ideas creatively

Educational Approach

Children are encouraged to explore ideas and interests through detailed project work. The project approach is a comprehensive curriculum incorporated into all classrooms within the center, focusing on the children's interests, ideas and discoveries. This is a method of teaching in which an in-depth study of a particular topic is conducted by a child or a group of children. How this type of learning is carried out in each classroom will look different due to the abilities, interests and needs of the group. Staff's careful observation, documentation and reflection of the children's interaction with their environment and peers are key components to project work. Family participation is another important component in project work and adds richness to the children's study on a particular topic.

Project Documentation

The Role of Space

We believe that the physical space and layout of the classroom environment play a large role in the social interaction, and activities that occur during the day. The arrangement of classroom furniture and the location of activities encourage children to make choices, solve problems as well as facilitate the process of learning. Our classrooms are designed to be welcoming, and foster interactions, communication, and relationships.

With the role that space plays in mind, our classrooms are arranged to allow opportunities for children to interact in a variety of ways. Some spaces are designed for large groups to explore an activity, presenting an opportunity for cooperation, collaboration and social interaction.

Every classroom has established areas where children can have time and space that is their own. In these quiet spaces, they can read books, work a puzzle, or just sit and be alone. Physical space also includes the outdoor environment and reminds us that learning is not limited to indoor spaces. Opportunities are limitless when the yards are included in thoughtful planning.

Careful attention to the arrangement of the room and the influence it has on children's behavior and experiences are constantly under discussion by the teaching staff. Adjustments to the space reflect the growth and changing needs of the children in the room.

The Importance of Creative Expression

girl painting with water colors
Mastering techniques
We believe that art is a tool that all children can use to represent the world as they experience it. This hands-on experience offers children the chance to question, observe and represent things that they see, feel and hear. With this as one of our core beliefs, we offer a wide variety of activities and materials with which children can represent and make sense of their world. Even in our infant and toddler program, we allow children to experiment with many materials, often resulting in painted children and floors.

The Image of the Child

We believe that children are inherently competent, capable, curious and motivated in establishing relationships, interacting with the environment and constructing their own learning.

Our respect for the natural curiosity of infants and toddlers is demonstrated, in part, by allowing for their exploration of new materials. We do not show them how to use a new toy we let them figure it out, scaffolding their learning through interactive support. We show our trust in a child's ability to create social relationships by acting with the child, not on him or her. We always let a child know what we are going to do before it happens, establishing a trusting relationship between the child and caregiver.

In our preschool and kindergarten programs, we demonstrate respect for curiosity by listening to the children's comments and questions and then planning activities that allow them to ask and answer their own questions. We believe children are active researchers in seeking new knowledge and answers to their natural curiosity about the world around them. Our flexible schedule gives children the opportunity to explore at their own pace or work in small groups on specific activities with the teacher.

The Role of Parents

We believe that parents and their involvement in the Center are an essential part of our program. It is this rich collaborative effort between parents and staff that allow the children to thrive and reach their full potential.

Parents are encouraged to make connections with the children in the classroom. Participating can include reading to small groups of children, supervising a special cooking activity, or recording children's words that describe their paintings. Parents are encouraged to share their own knowledge about a particular subject or interest contributing their ideas to the children for further study and exploration. Other possibilities for parent involvement include attendance at special events, socials, field trips, and celebrations.

Documentation in the Classroom

Documentation is the result of many careful observations, true listening, and a collection/sampling of children's work. It is an opportunity to share what is learned and discovered by the children, as well as teachers. Sharing this information with parents helps them become more intimately aware of their child's experience at school.

Documentation typically includes: samples of children's work, photographs of work in progress, video clips, children's comments about work, printed dialogue between teacher and child, the teacher's reflection about the children's learning, etc.

For example, a teacher recording what a child is talking about while the child is drawing a turtle is a small inclusion to a classroom's overall project on the study of turtles. Parents may find samplings of these observations and conversations next to pictures of objects to document the progression of the study of turtles. Documentation provides insight into what children are thinking and feeling, and how they are interpreting their world.