Mary Jo Small Child Care Center at Brookland Woods
(Formerly Brookland Woods Child Care Center)
The Mary Jo Small Child Care Center
At Brookland Woods
(Formerly Brookland Woods Child Care Center)
309 Melrose Avenue
Iowa City, Iowa, 52246
ON CAMPUS SINCE 1972
MJSCCC is a unique childcare center located on the campus of the University of Iowa. During her career, Mary Jo Small devoted herself tirelessly to issues concerning women, children and families. It was on her watch, and with her support, that child care on campus grew and flourished. In1999, upon her retirement, we re-named our center to honor her work and her legacy. Our center enrolls children, ages two through six, from families of University students, staff and faculty as well as the community at large. Full and part time enrollment options are available. Please call or email the center for availability and rates.
It is our belief that childhood development occurs along a continuum and that each child progresses along the continuum at their own, unique pace. The most obvious example of on-going and progressive development can be seen when children are learning how to walk. It takes a long time and there are many starts and re-starts. Even when we’re seriously wondering if they are ever going to get the hang of it, we know we cannot intercede beyond encouragement, love and perhaps some minor furniture re-arrangements. We instinctively understand that children are tackling this complicated maneuver in the way that makes the most “sense” to them. More importantly, we instinctively know to trust that process.
We believe that, just as crawling and finger walking are essential precursors to walking, exploration and play are essential precursors to all subsequent learning. Children are constantly exploring their environment, absorbing information as they run, climb, dress up, dig, play with sand and dolls, read books, pet bunnies - the possibilities for experiential learning are virtually endless. Every encounter is a learning experience that helps shape the person they are becoming. We believe that an encouraging open-ended, child initiated, multi-faceted environment maximizes each child’s potential as they grow into well rounded and happy people.
Our belief in this natural and evolving developmental process shapes every aspect of our program. We provide many interesting, open-ended, child-centered play opportunities and lots of caring adults. We introduce children to reading, natural science, imagination, creativity, music, art, building, movement and much more through play, friendships, exploration and observation.
Every day the children and staff create new and interesting play experiences with familiar materials in six thematic play rooms. The children come and go to each room/activity as they wish, while our staff stay positioned in each room to supervise and facilitate. Unlike traditional centers where children are assigned to groups and are moved around by their teachers, our children are allowed to play as they wish; in any room, individually, with a friend, or in a larger group. Because they are engaging the various activities when they want to and at their own pace, our children are always doing something they like! The result is a lovely atmosphere of happy children engaging in productive play. Our program objective is simple; we validate each child’s individuality, we facilitate friendships, and we encourage children’s evolving interests.
We have an expansive out-door play space surrounded by old trees on a historically preserved ravine. We play outside whenever weather permits. The equipment and toys outside are basic and open-ended - designed to encourage physical, social, cognitive, and imaginative play and development. We have swings, climbing structures, fire trucks, a castle, a tree house, several slides, and lots of sand and toys. The children play in the areas they choose while our staff are positioned throughout the yard to provide companionship, assistance, and supervision.
We believe that adults should play with children. We also believe that it’s important for adults to sense when they can fade into the background in order for the children to have meaningful experiences with each other. Indoors and outside, our staff facilitate, play and mediate while the children engage the activities. Staff intervene and assist when the children need guidance and support. We intentionally model good manners, empathy, creative problem solving, and win-win conflict resolutions. Our child:staff ratio is 6:1 for all ages. This greatly exceeds state requirements and national staffing guidelines for children ages two and older.
Our child care staff are part-time, work-study University students. Training is one of our highest priorities. Many of our student staff work here during their entire college career, often taking on additional duties and responsibilities. The children develop close bonds with the staff and look forward to seeing the daily variety of fresh faces with their loving, ready-to-play attitudes. This energetic and diverse staff is essential to the success of our unique, child-centered approach. Parents consistently cite our staff as one of their favorite components of the program.
Our directors developed the program in 1989. They are responsible for achieving the on-going balance between comfortable routines and responsive innovations to the changing needs of children and families. Our directors are on-site throughout the day in overlapping shifts, providing staff supervision, childcare and administration. Because our directors are not included in the child:staff ratios, they are available for chats, conferences, emails, phone calls and, most especially, for individual one-on-one time with children, staff and parents.
Ensuring their child will be ready for school is always a priority for parents. We believe readiness is another point along the developmental continuum. Both physical and cognitive development are important components, as is the ability to assess and respond appropriately to new experiences. As they get closer to five years old, our children begin to get excited about kindergarten. They have vast pools of experiential knowledge accumulated over years of self-directed, constructive play. They have excellent social skills and are confident in a variety of social situations. They are becoming developmentally ready for, and will be able to adapt quickly to. the structured and more abstract learning environment of school. Kindergarten is different and fun and they always love it! To brag just a little - we have graduates from many prestigious Universities, here and abroad, as well as National Merit and even Rhodes Scholars.
Answers to FAQ – We are licensed for 28 children and are a private, non-profit 501 C3. We like naturalistic potty training and accept children in diapers. We are open M-F 7:00am to 6:00pm. We are located just west of the river, close to UI Cambus and IC bus stops. Interested parents may drop in, unscheduled, during our visiting hours M-F from 9 - 11:00am or 3 – 5:00pm. Other times may be available by appointment. Allow at least ½ an hour for a tour.
Although we occasionally have immediate openings, most families go on the waiting list to be enrolled within six – nine months. We will help you develop an individual transition plan for your child and we’ll stay in close contact with you and your child as your family settles into our routine. UI student parents may be eligible for tuition assistance scholarships and should contact the Work/Life division of Human Resources. Because we are a QRS Level 3 center, eligible families of three, four and five-year olds may be able to receive School Ready Scholarships through Johnson County Empowerment. We appreciate your interest and hope to meet you soon.
For additional information, contact Sharon McDonald/Jill Strunk at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 319-337-8980.