About the Child Development Center

The Cerritos College Child Development Center is a laboratory school, training future teachers in the field of Early Childhood Education. Our program serves students, college employees and the community with the purpose to provide a safe, nurturing, and educational program, which focuses on developmentally appropriate experiences for children. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach we prescribe to social constructivism, which offers children the opportunity to construct knowledge through daily experiences and encounters with parents, teachers, peers, events, and objects in the world. We participate as an outdoor classroom demonstration site and our playground area is a certified wildlife habitat.

"Before we even attempt to teach children, we want them to know each of them is unique and very special. We want them to like themselves, to want to achieve and care about themselves."
- Marva Collins

Teacher with Kids

Our Mission

Cerritos College Child Development Center's mission is to provide high-quality care and education to Cerritos College Community in a supporting and enriching environment inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. We are committed to providing a safe, nurturing environment that promotes the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of young children; while responding to the needs of the families and fostering respect for diversity. Our commitment is to do this by:

  • Planning curriculum that is appropriate for the age span of the children enrolled. 
  • Implementing curriculum with attention to the specific needs, interests and developmental issues of the individual children and families who participate in the Center. 
  • Valuing children for their ability to do meaningful work, their wonder and curiosity, their perspectives, and ability to play. 
  • Valuing families for their traditions; their ability to play; their commitment to work, home, community; and their dreams for their children. 
  • Cherishing what we learn from each other.

Family Time

Our Philosophy

We believe that children construct their own knowledge through exploration, experimentation, hand-on activities and opportunities to collaborate with other children and their teachers. Children learn about their world through this process their ides and to demonstrate what they know and what they are learning. We believe that children are individuals and their individual differences must be acknowledge and accepted. Our program is designed to support the development of individual children and the group of children served by the children. 

We believe that teachers play a significant role in this process; they must facilitate, support and encourage learning through the creation of developmentally appropriate environments, activities and opportunities; through the process of provoking ideas by talking, listening, and observing young children; and through collaborating with children in the construction of their knowledge. 

We believe that all children are full of remarkable capabilities and have a right to a childhood filled with play, exploration, and excitement about learning. As you move through our classrooms you will see teaching strategies of the constructivist philosophy of education and may recognize influences from the philosophies of Vygotsky, Piaget, Montessori, Dewey, and the schools of Reggio Emilia in Italy. We implement anti-bias practices and emphasize the value of diversity which does not stereotype, trivialize, or objectify. We seek a team approach in our care giving and teaching and strive for collaboration with families and the wider community. 

We believe in the practice of primary caregiving and value continuity of care. Each child at our Center is assigned a teacher as the primary caregiver who assumes special responsibility for that child and for that child and for communication with his or her parent's guardians, especially during conferences. Primary caregiving strengthens the link between families, children, and teachers, By Assigning a primary caregiver to your child, we are encouraging you to establish a relationship with a particular staff member who will be especially focused on your child's needs and development as well as your concerns. at the same time, education is a team responsibility; all teachers on your child's team will interact with and provide learning experiences for every child in that classroom. 

Dirty Hands


Cerritos College began providing childcare services as the Niemes Child Development Center in 1973 and was located off campus. The Niemes Center grew out of the collaborative efforts of the ABC Unified School District and Cerritos College and was originally designed to meet the needs of evening students at the college. The Center moved on campus in 1976 and became the Cerritos College Child Development Center. During the 1970's and 1980's the center offered a variety of options for students, including night care.

The Child Development Center at Cerritos College is a laboratory school for college students completing practicum (lab) hours, field experience, observations and other course assignments. We also mentor twenty college students each semester from surrounding Universities and Cal State Programs. In addition, the Center serves as a resource for other programs, college courses and students on campus and maintains a strong relationship with other departments and programs in our community.

In March of 2008, 12 staff from Cerritos College Child Development Center, traveled to Italy where we participated in an International Student and Professor Study Group with educators from over 10 countries. At this conference, we toured the Infant/Toddler and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, spent time with the teachers and children, participated in discussion groups, and viewed documentations at the Loris Malaguzzi Center. Various members of our growing staff have returned to Reggio Emilia, Italy in 2011, 2013 and 2019; this continued collaboration has offered our Center the incredible opportunities of revisiting our practices, enriching our pedagogy, and continuing our growth together as a staff to provide high quality care and education to our Cerritos College Child Development Center community.

We cannot replicate this system, as it is exclusive to the culture in which it exists. However, through our research into the Reggio approach, we are able to enrich our daily experiences with the children at our Center at Cerritos College.

non-discrimination and open-door policy

Cerritos College Child Development center does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, marital status, physical abilities, religion, age, sex or sexual orientation. We are an open and affirming program, seeking diversity in children, staff, and families. Our program is inclusive of all children and we strive to affirm and celebrate each child and family in a myriad of ways. 

Our curriculum is non-religious in nature and we have an open door policy.