The University of Michigan-Dearborn Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) program is based on recent child development research and the best practices in early childhood education. The Center serves children and families from the UM-Dearborn campus as well as the surrounding communities. The Center is nationally recognized for its adaptation of the philosophy of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. This approach is child centered, incorporates classroom long-term investigations based on childrenís interests, and encourages collaboration among children, teachers, families and the community.
Our program utilizes the long-term inquiry based project approach as inspired from the Reggio Emilia philosophy in early childhood programs. It addresses the needs of the developing child and provides many educational opportunities. Another key principle is the concept of time. We often call it following children's sense of rhythm. Time is given in ample amount and children are expected to take their time and concentrate on the specific curriculum. Thus, teachers offer children multiple opportunities for the construction of knowledge and allow children to revisit their ideas and understand concepts from various perspectives in order to deepen their understanding.
The ECEC lead teachers are highly qualified with a bachelorís degree or higher and a concentration in Early Childhood Education. The ECEC also serves as a teacher preparation and research site for the School of Education and as a campus early learning center. The classroom teaching staff consists of a lead teacher, student staff, and three levels of practicum students.
There are several advantages of involving education students in the ECEC program. Because of these students, more intentional learning activities can be offered, more one-on-one interactions and individual attention can be provided, and closer management and behavior support can be provided at the ECEC. A low child to adult ratio is possible due to the inclusion of University students. They also bring to the classroom their enthusiasm and thoughtful curriculum planning. The students also apply the most recent research based educational theories and practices they are learning in their University course work.