SOU Early Learning Labs


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A collaborative project: proposing the Early Learning Labs for Southern Oregon University.

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  • In America today, we’re racing towards achievement, but our children are falling behind, with disappointing outcomes at all of the grade levels and with a growing achievement gap. Oregon’s students rank in the bottom quartile of national achievement in education.
  • Attention is moving towards the early learning years, as research shows that it’s an early start that will give children their best chance of succeeding in school.
  • In Oregon, we’ve set our goals to meeting these challenges—by raising the bar on the educational training required for professionals who work with young children.
  • In Southern Oregon, SOU has been a leader in making it possible for teachers and providers in early childcare settings to extend their professional training while working, through online degree programs.
  • There are two early learning facilities on-campus, which currently operate separately from one another—both which have been vulnerable to budget cuts in recent years.
  • The Schneider Children’s Center is located in the Student Family Housing Complex. It serves 35 students families and 54 children in their infant/toddler and preschool program.
  • The Community Preschool, which is located in the School of Education is currently operating at minimum capacity with just 24 children ½ day and 2 teachers ½ time. This large facility is under-utilized and has the capacity to expand its enrollment, as well as expanding to a full day program.
  • There’s a strong motivation to champion these early childhood programs and keep them viable. A solution is emerging out of the current scenario. There is a growing need for a model site for early learning in our region, and in particular on the SOU campus, where new teachers are being trained and prepared to enter the education system. By combining and transforming the existing early childhood centers into learning labs for training and research, we have the potential to make a significant and needed impact on the local and regional communities. We’re proposing to create SOU Early Learning Labs—model learning, research & training sites where children, parents, university students, teachers and faculty learn alongside one another.
  • The whole child approach brings together best practices from a number of research-based, holistic education models. The learning environment is rich with materials and possibilities, with an atmosphere that is multi-sensory, expressive and playful. Children partner with teachers and parents in an emergent process, with long-term projects that arise from the children’s interests. Deep listening and daily documentation inform the learning process in a dynamic exchange between the children, the adults and the learning environment. It’s this continual process of observing and recording that forms a rich narrative for tracking the children’s growth and thinking. There’s a real need for this kind of approach. Young families in our area are seeking holistic approaches for their children, with Waldorf and Montessori schools gaining in enrollment. The SOU Learning Labs will be the first preschools in Ashland to offer this particular whole child, strength-based approach.
  • The faculty at SOU has already begun the process of reaching out and joining with regional partners—setting the stage for growing support and strengthened collaboration in the early learning community.
  • The faculty at SOU has already begun the process of reaching out and joining with regional partners—setting the stage for growing support and strengthened collaboration in the early learning community.
  • As a model training site, we’ll be in a good position to qualify for federal and state funding opportunities as they arise. And by pursuing private non-profit grants, we’ll be able to offer tuition scholarships for children, parents and educators—making headway in creating access and equity in the arena of early learning.  The SOU Early Learning Labs promise to create an inspired community of learners at every scale: capable and creative young children who lead the learning process. Families who are growing and learning alongside their children, making the connections that support their family’s healthy development. And by inspiring our early learning professionals, we’re growing a highly qualified network of leaders in the field of early learning.
  • The SOU Early Learning Labs will set in motion a ripple of impact throughout the region — energizing the landscape of early learning and establishing a high quality and equitable early start for each child, leading towards success in life and in learning—and an increased ability to meet the challenges of the future with ease. Our next steps: read
  • SOU Early Learning Labs

    1. 1. RACE TO THE TOP is our nation’s currentstrategy for preparing students for success in life.
    2. 2. To prepare ourchildren for a life of learning—Let’s give them a quality start to EARLY LEARNING!
    3. 3. To ensure quality early learning, Oregon is RAISING THE BAR for TEACHER EDUCATION.
    4. 4. School of Education A leader in higher education for EarlyChildhood ProfessionalsONLINE Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Development NEW! Masters of Education (MEd) in Early Learning ON-CAMPUS ECE/Elem Undergrad & Graduate Programs
    5. 5. School of EducationSchneider Children’s Center in student family housing Community Preschool at SOU in the School of Education
    6. 6. School of Education  Serving student & facultySchneider Children’s Center families in student family housing  Licensed facility for 54 children  Infants, toddlers, preschoolers  USDA food program
    7. 7. School of Education Serving mostly community families 24 children with the capacity to grow Children ages 3-5 ½ day or full day Community Preschool at Afternoon Kindergarten SOU in the School of Education enrichment program
    8. 8. School of Education TheSOU Early Learning LabsSchneider Children’s Center  Providing quality early childcare for families  Research/training site Community Preschool at SOU for students & professionals
    9. 9. SOU Early The Learning LabsAligned with Southern Oregon University’s mission: serving as a beacon of Innovation & Leadership in the Western region
    10. 10. A Collaborative Process A Series of Meetings facilitated by Sharon Dvora Meeting one another Sharing about our programsMoving towards a collective vision
    11. 11. A system needs access to itself. It needs to understand who it is, where it is, what it believes, what it knows.Meg Wheatley
    12. 12. School of Education Schneider Children’s Center Community Preschool at SOU Purposeful, Intentional Planning towards Financial Sustainability Opening a Meaningful Dialogue Aligning Theory & Practice Shared Philosophy & Mission Designing an Innovative Approach Expanding our Reach Potential to Grow our Programs
    13. 13. SOU Early The Learning Labs Developmentally Appropriate PracticesHolistic, Whole-Child Approach Child-Centered, Play-Based Strength-Based Family Partnership Model
    14. 14. “Learning and teaching should not stand onopposite banks and just watch the water flow by — instead, they should embark together on a journey down the river.” Loris Malaguzzi
    15. 15. SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY State of the Art Facilities, Faculty & StaffUniquely positioned to be a regional leader in early learning Joining the other major OSU campuses in establishing lab schools for training, research & outreach.
    16. 16. A Regional Training Centerfor Early Childhood Education TheSOU Early Learning Labs Drawing students from across the region through articulation with 12 Community Colleges in Southern Oregon & Northern California. A resource of expertise for the wider community.
    17. 17. Practicum students put best practices into actionalongside master teachers in the Early Learning Labs.
    18. 18. A Model Site for Presenting Programs to the Regional Community  Saturday Workshops for Students & Early Childhood Professionals  Professional Development Offerings  Preschool Program Directors Workshop  Family Partnership & Studies Center
    19. 19. Opportunities for Collaboration across Campus SOU Early LearningThe Labs Early childhood programs share resources, offer programs, seek funding opportunities together. Inter-disciplinary research & exchange for students ofpsychology, music, environmental education, special education & more.
    20. 20. Qualifying for federal and state funding opportunities.Establishing financial sustainability for the early learning programs on campus. Outcomes of the Early Learning Labs — creative children, healthy families & highly qualified educators
    21. 21. SOU Early LearningThe Labs Next steps: Gain institutional support Apply for funding opportunities Partner with the community