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Kent State’s Child Development Center to Host Visitation Day

Posted April 21, 2014 | Wezley Garlick
enter photo description
Kent State University’s Child Development Center now
features an Outdoor Learning Laboratory. The center will
host its Visitation Day on April 24-25 on the Kent Campus.

Kent State University’s Child Development Center will host its Visitation Day on April 24-25 on the Kent Campus. This year’s theme is “The Great Outdoors: Planning a Nature-based Curriculum With Young Children” and will be highlighted by keynote speaker Rusty Keeler, as well as an introduction to the center’s Outdoor Learning Laboratory.

Visitation Day will provide the opportunity for parents, as well as teachers and administrators from around the state, to come and see the Child Development Center’s new Outdoor Learning Lab. The Outdoor Learning Lab features a garden space, small amphitheater, art studio and sand and water areas, along with some traditional playground elements.

Terri Cardy, outdoor educator at the Child Development Center, says they developed specific areas after watching the children play in a nearby meadow-wetland area.

“We take the children down to the meadow, and we would observe and document them in those spaces,” says Cardy. “From this, we incorporated some of the elements from that area into our Outdoor Learning Laboratory.”

The Visitation Day is broken up into two days. On Thursday, April 24, at 7 p.m., participants will have the opportunity to tour the school, speak with Child Development Center teachers and visit the Outdoor Learning Lab before breaking into small group sessions led by the teachers.

Participants will have a chance to observe a typical morning with students at the Child Development Center on Friday, April 25, beginning at 8 a.m. After lunch, participants will move to Moulton Hall where keynote speaker Rusty Keeler will give a presentation. Keeler, the author of Natural Playscapes, is an outdoor-space designer who has worked globally designing play spaces for many different populations.

Following his presentation, participants can attend breakout sessions in White Hall, run by Child Development Center teachers who will present their findings about the importance and value of outdoor play.

“As a laboratory program, we have the responsibility to be advocates for young children,” says Pam Hutchins, coordinator of Children’s Programs (Admissions) for the Child Development Center. “At the Child Development Center, we see the outdoor and natural movement as an important piece of child learning; and through our Visitation Day, we want to communicate the value of taking children outdoors.”

This summer, the Child Development Center will run its first summer STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) camp. Monica Miller Marsh, Ph.D., director of pedagogy and research for the Child Development Center, says that with the building of the Outdoor Learning Laboratory and Visitation Day, the center hopes to benefit not only its students, but the greater Kent community as well.

"We see our Summer STEAM camp as an opportunity to extend the learning we do all year at the Child Development Center,” says Miller Marsh. “One of our goals is to have children, families and early childhood teacher education candidates to develop knowledge and understanding about environmental stewardship through the communication of and engagement in environmentally responsible and sustainable practices. Even our Outdoor Learning Laboratory is set up this way — it enables the children to investigate nature through observation, documentation, prediction, experimentation and expressive arts, such as painting, drawing and plays."

The Child Development Center also will hold its Scholarship Dinner and Silent Auction on May 17 at 6 p.m. at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center. All proceeds will go to Child Development Center children and families in need of tuition assistance.

For more information, visit the Child Development Center website at