MiraCosta Child Development Center Overview

MiraCosta Child Development Center
Take a panoramic virtual tour of the MiraCosta Child Development Center.

The Child Development Center at MiraCosta College serves as a campus-based child development program providing both academic instruction to students enrolled in child development/early childhood education courses and early care and education to children of student, faculty, staff, and community families. Providing demonstration classrooms to the college community, our program offers a model of best practice in early childhood education while providing students learning opportunities through observation and on-floor interactions with young children and their families.

The Child Development Center has a fifty-year history at the College, with construction for its current location on campus funded through an instructional grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. The reorganization and growth of the Center provided for expanded services to student families, additional opportunities for employment and job training for our child development students and greater integration with the Child Development Department and its associated courses. Operating as a true campus laboratory school funded through the Office of Instruction, the Center provides developmentally appropriate, culturally sensitive and individually adapted early care and education to a diverse group of young children and their families.

Our Classrooms

The Center is comprised of five classrooms serving children from 18 months through five years of age. Among the contributors of quality, the Center maintains small class size and close teacher/child ratios as follows:

  • Room #1: Young Toddler (18-26 months). 12 children with 3 staff (1:4 ratio). This classroom provides our youngest children what is often their first group experience. Focus is given to developing quality relationships through consistent routines, as children master self-help and social-interaction skills.

  • Room #2: Toddler (24-32 months). 15 children with 3 staff (1:5 ratio). Children engage in developmentally appropriate learning experiences across a variety of interest centers.

  • Room #3: Young Preschool (2.8 – 3.4 years). 18 children with 3 staff (1:6 ratio). Children engage in developmentally appropriate learning experiences across a variety of interest centers.

  • Room #4: Preschool (3.5 - 5.0 years): 22 children with 3 staff (1:8 ratio). This mixed-age class provides the preschool child a developmentally appropriate early learning experience, serving as the foundation for a successful transition to kindergarten or a final year in preschool.

  • Room #5: Preschool (3.5 – 5.0 years): 22 children with 3 staff (1:8 ratio). This mixed-age class provides the preschool child a developmentally appropriate early learning experience, serving as the foundation for a successful transition to kindergarten or a final year in preschool.

The education, training, and experience of Center staff are prime contributors to overall program quality. One Early Childhood Education (ECE) Instructional Specialist, who acts as the supervising teacher, and two ECE Instructional Apprentices, who act as assistant teachers, staff each classroom. Assistant teachers must have completed a minimum of 12 units in child development and (ideally) have completed the student internship prior to their teaching appointment. Our supervising teachers have, or are in the process of completing, their Master's degrees in Child Development.

Center Philosophy

The Center’s philosophical orientation serves as a foundation for our commitment to inclusive classroom practices, exemplary teacher training and effective parent/teacher partnerships. Our Reggio-Inspired programming emphasizes the following key elements:

  • Image of the Child: All children are respected, capable and competent, and actively construct their own learning.

  • Sense of Community: Children, families, teachers, parents, and community have dynamic interactions and share in mutual discovery and learning.

  • Teachers as Researchers: Teaming, partnering, working together, sharing information, and engaging in deep thinking; co-constructors of knowledge; collaborating and learning with others.

  • Environment as the Third Teacher: Encourages focused activity, involvement, discovery, and use of a variety of media; underscores the messages of our environments.

  • Time Framed by Meaningful Activity: Respect for children's pace, individual timetables, consistency in staffing, and continuity in relationships.

  • Emergent Curriculum & Project Work: Child-centered, followed and supported interests, planned possibilities, revisiting to add new insights and depth.

  • Documentation: Observing, recording, reflecting and exhibiting children's learning. Emphasis on making learning visible.

Center Programming

Though operating under Title 22 licensing regulations, the Center incorporates key initiatives of the California Department of Education/Early Education & Support Division within our curriculum planning, documentation and child assessment. We include materials such as the Infant-Toddler Learning and Development Foundations, the Preschool Learning Foundations, the Preschool Curriculum Framework and the Desired Results Developmental Profile, consistent with Title 5 programs. However, the teaching staff embraces a child-centered and emergent approach to curriculum, linking children’s ideas/interests in the form of learning centers, activities/small group projects with the content and evidenced-based standards associated with the above initiatives. Programming is a balance of child-selected and adult-directed experiences offered throughout the day along a continuum of teacher behaviors (as referenced in the Prekindergarten Learning and Development Guidelines).

The Child Development Center has a Memorandum of Understanding with the HOPE Infant and Family Support Program, supporting the delivery of early intervention services in natural environments and designating a set number of slots in our two toddler classrooms for children with special needs. In addition to the Hope collaboration, the Center serves a number of additional children under three years-of-age who receive early intervention services vendored by the San Diego Regional Center, and coordinates ABA and related therapeutic interventions within daily routines and activities. In addition, the Child Development Center has been recognized as a SEEDS (Supporting Early Education Delivery Systems) visitation site, offering training and technical assistance to administrators, staff, and families involved in early childhood special education programs. The Center’s long-standing commitment to inclusion requires the personnel and resources needed to account for the identification of children with special needs, the associated referral and assessment procedures, staff participation in the IFSP and the IEP processes, the necessary curriculum modifications, adaptations and accommodations in the classrooms, essential communications and connections with local school district special education programs, and coordination of site visitations by personnel from other programs, locally and across the state, as well as the ongoing training of Center staff within current MiraCosta College and Child Development Department guidelines, policies and procedures.

General Statistics

The Child Development Center enables students to return to and remain enrolled in school, and faculty and staff to be more productive, knowing that their children are learning and growing in a high quality program. In 2012-13 the Center served an average of 145 children each semester, a decrease in enrollment of 18% from the previous year. However, consistent with our efforts documented in last year’s program review to better serve our student population who were requesting more extended hours (76% of our wait list), we reallocated resources that had been assigned to an afternoon classroom populated primarily by community members, and subsequently included more student families in full-day programming. While we currently serve a lower number of families overall, we now provide our student families with additional hours of care which allows them to take more courses at the College. Fully 76% of student families on our wait list request full-day programming. Student enrollment has steadily increased from 41% to 56%; faculty/staff enrollment has increased from 7% to 13% while community enrollment has decreased from 49% to 29% from 2010-13.

In 2012-13 the Child Development Center (CDC) provided 3256 documented hours of laboratory experience for 1886 student visitations from 24 different courses across 6 disciplines (primarily Child Development, Nursing, Psychology, and Sociology), including 72 students who completed 935 hours of service learning, with the balance of hours devoted to internship/practicum hours (827), as well as observation and course projects.




Many strategies and elements included throughout this site are applicable to all students and their families. Additional information/resources related to students with disabilities and family engagement can be found within the HQELE Online Tool Overview (Download/Reference Section).