Support the Early Learning Center

Support the Early Learning Center

The Early Learning Center (ELC) is a nationally-accredited center providing high quality early education and care for 300 children from birth through 3rd grade. The ELC also serves as a clinical placement and research facility for hundreds of UD undergraduate and graduate students each year.

Over the past several years, the ELC has expanded its programming into the outdoors. Toddlers through kindergarteners garden with assistance from the UD Master Gardeners. All children actively explore nearby portions of the James T. Hall Nature Trail. Teachers develop outdoor curriculums and teaching strategies that include "rough and tumble play," nature and spirituality, mindfulness in nature, and science ad sensory investigations classroom.

Now, the ELC has ambitious plans to redesign the ELC's outdoor learning environments, in conjunction with the College of Agriculture, Engineers Without Borders, and the College of Human Development and Family Science. The goal is to create intentionally-designed shared outdoor learning environments.

Research indicates that when children play in rich, varied and spacious nature-based outdoor environments, they:
  • demonstrate greater capacity for focused attention and concentration
  • engage in more creative forms of play and play more cooperatively
  • experience gains in science, language arts and math
  • grow in motor fitness, balance and coordination
  • increased opportunities for healthy social relationships
  • cultivate a sense of peace, self-control and resiliency

With your support, the ELC aims to create intentionally-designed, shared, outdoor learning spaces that draw on recent research on the impact of such environments on children's development, learning, and well-being.

The ELC's focus in the coming years is to become a UD "Spire of Excellence" connecting children and adults to the natural world. The impact of this work will be far-reaching:

  • UD students in clinical experiences at the Early Learning Center will learn to value and incorporate nature in the work they do with children and families.
  • The Early Learning Center will serve as a model of excellence locally and nationally, calling attention to the role the natural world can and should play in the lives of children.
  • UD faculty and students across campus will have a site for research and development of nature-based curriculum and teaching for dissemination nationally.
  • Families and children have beautiful outdoor spaces to engage with each other.

Thank you for helping the ELC grow and continue to be a leader in educating our youngest future citizens.

Supported by 35 Donations: