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DEPARTMENT STORIES: Fullerton College Child Study Center in the 60's and 70's

Fullerton College Child Study Center in the 60's and 70's

The Child Study Center was a Parent Participation Program when I began teaching there in the spring of 1966. It involved the parents, three and four year old children, teachers, and college students. The children were enrolled either in the morning or the afternoon program according to their age. Parents would participate directly in the program often weekly. There was an observation room where the parents could watch and hear the children while playing. In addition there was a required parent class on Monday nights where either the mother or father attended. There were tests and college credits were earned.


The philosophy was that young children learn through their play, mainly in a 3 dimensional environment. There was a variety of fun activities that stimulated cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical, and creative skills.

The daily activities included free play time indoors and outdoors. There were also story times, art, music and movement, and science projects along with other projects and themes. For example, the children had a garden. Some parents were surprised to see children eat a radish or string bean from their school garden. We even had an old farm pump which children could operate and watch the water pour into a raised trough and then play in the water. For a weekend, children could sign up to take the various pets home.

Children loved the campus walking trips especially out to the high school area with the sheep. The children would discover many things en route with and without their paper roll telescopes and binoculars. They enjoyed their field trips and especially loved the train ride to Santa Ana. Parents were along with cameras.

What Was So Special About the Program?

Parents were able to have hands on experiences working with the children. They could see their child and others playing and reacting to each other as well as to adults. If the parents liked the way a situation was handled, they could follow through at home. What a difference that made for the child.

The parenting classes provided an opportunity to share information, ask questions, and talk about possible solutions. Ideas on reinforcing positive behavior and redirecting inappropriate actions were often discussed. We tried to show how children learned through their play. For example, we would discuss how certain of the children’s activities could help develop skills needed in future activities such as reading. Parents also learned that some activities tended to stimulate creative thinking, while other might benefit particular aspects of language, social, emotional, physical, or creative skills. Most activities involved many areas of learning.