The early childhood program at FVCC is built around connecting theory to practice and there are multiple opportunities for adult learners to interact with our young learners at the ECC and within the overall Flathead Valley early childhood community.
Field experiences take place from the beginning coursework within EDEC 108 (Introduction to Early Childhood) and can culminate through course work in EDEC 295x and 295y (Practicum I and II). They also occur everywhere in between during methods courses, infants and toddlers instruction, family engagement, and positive guidance. The ECC, because of its high-quality childcare, is an integral part of the program and provides an opportunity to explore the development of children socially-emotionally, physically, cognitively, and with regard to communication. The interactions can be done discreetly from behind the mirrored glass in one of the two observation rooms or in one of the four classrooms from birth to preschool.
Additionally, the ECC serves as a hub for other interactions with childcare providers and elementary teachers of young children. Another experience adult students can participate in is the PLC (Professional Learning Community) that is facilitated by the ECC Director (Renee) and the FVCC Director of Early Childhood (Eliza). This is an informal group that meets three times a year to discuss, problem-solve, and act on issues important to preschool and kindergarten teachers in the valley. It is a networking opportunity that is grounded in a common desire to make the transition between preschool and kindergarten as supportive of child development as possible through communication and collaboration.
While not all fieldwork is expected to be completed at the ECC, a majority of it is done within the center because of its STARS’ rating and it’s NAEYC accreditation. Many students also find opportunities to work for the ECC during their education.
Having a lab school on campus is a unique and invaluable opportunity that makes FVCC’s Early Childhood Program more robust and meaningful.