Mission & Philosophy

The mission of the University of Michigan-Flint's Early Childhood Development Center is to:

  1. Promote the development of social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, physical, and creative skills in an environment sensitive to each child's strengths and needs.
  2. Provide opportunities to educate University of Michigan-Flint students in skills relevant to their professions
  3. Offer high quality child care to our constituents:  students, faculty, staff, and community
  4. Contribute to the ongoing development and education of early childhood professionals, families, and caregivers in the Flint area through research, collaboration, and teaching.


Philosophy for Education and Care of Children

The staff of the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) is committed to providing a high quality program for young children and their families.  The program is nationally accredited through NAEYC and is designed to promote the development of the total individual by helping each child to develop skills in the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive areas.  This is accomplished by providing a balanced program that includes both teacher-directed and child initiated activities, quiet as well as active experiences, and the recognition that learning occurs in both formal and informal settings, especially through play.

Young children are integrally connected to their homes and families, and it is understood that families are and should be the principle influence in their children's lives.  The ECDC seeks to be appropriately responsive to families.  Parents, teachers, and staff work together toward the goal of nurturing children in an environment where all are respected for their individual differences and provided with the building blocks for a lifelong love of learning.

The Early Childhood Development Center's philosophy is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach and is based on the knowledge that young children learn through active exploration of their environment. This occurs optimally when their physical needs are met and they feel emotionally secure. Instilling in children a sense of security and trust will be of utmost importance. Staff will create classroom learning environments appropriate to the developmental needs of the various age groups and will provide for the needs of individual children.

The ECDC is a ‘living laboratory’ where adults as well as children come to learn. We believe that we learn from the children just as much as they are learning from us. Teachers are co-collaborators with children. Teachers are guiding, mentoring, and modeling, but also observing, reflecting, and hypothesizing. Teachers are researchers, studying the changes that individual children have as they grow, as well as the changes in the group and between group members. Our teachers are curious, interested, and enthusiastic about how children learn, and how children show us what they know. We understand that much of what children show us about their learning and understanding of the world is not through verbal communication.

History of Reggio Emilia

Immediately after World War II a town in Northern Italy called Reggio Emilia decided to bring hope to their families. Out of the ruins, they constructed quality preschools for their children. In present times, Reggio Emilia has been broadly recognized for having some of the best infant/toddler and preschool programs in the world.

The Reggio Emilia approach to education is committed to the creation of a learning environment that will enhance and facilitate children's construction of his/her own powers of thinking through the combination of all the expressive, communicative and cognitive languages. Reggio Emilia schools believe that there are three primary teachers for our children. The first teacher is that of the parent, the second teacher is the classroom teacher and the third teacher is the environment.