The EDCI plans to accomplish this goal with a three-pronged approach that is designed to work in tandem to impact the quality of care young children receive. We plan to develop a Longwood Early Childhood Development Center, offer free professional development opportunities for teachers, childcare workers, and parents of young children through Saturday Institutes, and expand our academic programs to include early childhood courses and degrees.
An important element of the ECDI is providing free learning experiences for teachers, childcare workers, and parents of young children. We are collaborating with other programs, inside and outside of the University, to connect people with resources that support their knowledge of and skills for working with young children.
We are also designing a professional development model that brings high-quality learning opportunities to individuals and organizations working with young children throughout the region. We are calling these opportunities Saturday Institutes: Educating Birth through Eight. We will offer these Institutes at all of our affiliate locations: Farmville, South Boston, Martinsville and Emporia.
The center is intentionally designed as a diverse and inclusive space for children with general and special needs, including additional services for school-age children.
The primary design for the center is to serve the children and families in the Farmville community, and it also serves as a model lab school to benefit current and future Longwood students. The center is an excellent opportunity for application-based learning for students in various programs throughout the University. It is also a vehicle for research on best practices in early childhood education.
The center will open in the former Lumberyard in the fall of 2017 and will expand to include more classes at each level for preschool children and include infant and toddler services.
An important part of supporting the early childhood workforce in Virginia is providing degree options to prepare educators to work with children birth through eight. Research is clearly indicating the immense importance of learning during this time as well as the impact that adults have on children’s brain development and future success. We want to design an early childhood degree program that allows preservice teachers to focus on this important age group and will align with early childhood associate degrees in the state to provide a seamless pathway for this workforce.
If you would like more information or are interested in getting involved with the ECDI, please contact:
Administrative Director of the Early Childhood Development Initiative (ECDI)
Associate Professor, Education and Special Education