Early Childhood Education
Licensed for 59 children, OCPCC offers a year-round, full-day early childhood education program for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in Central Vermont. We are a public pre-kindergarten partner with local schools for 3- and 4-year-olds, providing the full 10-hours per week of Pre-K education that the State of VT helps to fund.
Our program is led by highly educated, well-trained, experienced teachers, who are committed to creating an enriching experience for every child. Enrollment is ongoing for children from six weeks through five years of age and families are encouraged to visit our program at least one time before enrolling their children.
Tour our classrooms
Our ‘Otters’ are 6 weeks to age 2 and they keep their teachers busy as they move through the major developmental changes typical of this time of life. From crawling to walking to running to talking these little people thrive in a customized program appropriate to their individual needs while learning to socialize as they engage in group activities.
We believe that play is truly a child’s work in the world and we focus on how to support curiosity, which instills a love of learning in each child and family with whom we work in these crucial early years.
Our Chipmunks are our 2-3 year old classroom. Curiosity is key! These children love to color, put puzzles together, sing songs, dress up and RUN!
The ‘Bears’ are our 3–5-year-olds, the preschool class who receive the 10-hour state-funded program that gets them ready for kindergarten in addition to their regular hours, mornings, afternoons, or all day.
Our center is situated on 16 acres of beautiful property on the west side of the Rte 110/
First Branch valley. We have streams, rocks, meadows, apple trees, woodland trails, and
much more! It is a priority for us to take the children in our care outside for play and walks every day in order to foster and encourage an appreciation of the natural world.
Outdoor adventures provide children with interesting experiences outside of the center and they are a regular part of our curriculum. We feel they enhance our learning and provide a fresh perspective. But now this is even more important. We are creating outdoor classrooms in an enriching outdoor environment for a good part of the day to help prevent the spread of the COVID virus.
Our OCPCC kitchen is at the heart of our ECE program. It is where our cook, Lisa, makes fresh meals from scratch (breakfast, lunch, and a snack) every day for 60 + children and staff. In the summer months, thanks to grant funding from the VT Foodbank and the Agency of Agriculture, we purchase fresh produce as well as eggs and cheese, from local farmers. The children eat ‘family style’ with their teachers and we are able to use mealtimes as ‘teachable moments’ when we talk about the food they are eating and where it comes from.
OCPCC receives funding from the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), a federal program that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating childcare centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers. CACFP contributes to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children and adults in the United States. In keeping with the recommendations of CACFP as well as her own special style, Lisa offers the students a wide range of foods to sample and enjoy and parents will often ask her for recipes of dishes that their children have requested!
In 2021 Mary Ellen Otis, our Executive Director for more than 20 years, retired and the OCPCC community raised the money through private donations to build a garden at the Center in her name. We laid down 6 raised beds and filled them with compost and potting soil, but we didn’t plant anything in ’21 as we needed to get a sturdy fence built around the raised beds. The garden is on the hill behind the building and close to the meadow and the woods, juicy pickings for any number of hungry animals that live on the hillside!
In the spring of 2022, each class chose the seeds that they wanted to plant on the light shelves and by Memorial Day the gardens were planted with tiny tomatoes, peppers, carrots, radishes, lettuce, squash, peas, beans, and flowers. The children visit every day to water, tend, and eventually harvest the plants.