The Harold E. Jones Child Study Center is a research and educational institution for young children at the University of California, Berkeley. It is one of the oldest continuously running centers for the study of children in the country. The Jones Child Study Center has a special relationship with the Institute of Human Development as a site for research, training and outreach to the community, parents, and teachers. The Institute of Human Development's fundamental mission is to study evolutionary, biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors that affect human development from birth through old age. Research conducted at the Institute of Human Development and the Jones Child Study Center is interdisciplinary: psychology, education, social welfare, architecture, sociology, linguistics, public health, and pediatrics. The primary audiences for the findings include scholars and parents. Faculty, postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students observe and test children attending the preschool for their research projects. Undergraduate students in Early Childhood Education may also gain experience in the classrooms as teachers' assistants.
The Jones CSC preschool has an outdoor play area that is accessible virtually all day long via sliding doors and partially protected by an overhead canopy. Catherine Landreth, a former director of the school and designer of the building, worked with Joseph Esherick to create a space where the development of children would be highlighted. This included the careful planning of ceiling heights and placement of activity centers. In most other preschools, the ceilings tend to be low which emphasizes the height of adults in relation to children. Esherick and Landreth believed that a higher ceiling would shift the observers' focus from the height differential of the people occupying the space to the activities taking place. The activity centers were constructed to keep the children engaged by placing items at the child's eye level. Landreth wanted a place that did not impose learning but encouraged them to engage in activities that interests the child. The guiding philosophy behind the preschool is that a child's environment can positively affect development.
The Jones CSC is also the home to the Greater Good Science Center, which is an interdisciplinary research center concentrating on the scientific understanding of social well-being. Research from neuroscience, psychology, sociology, political science, economics, public policy, social welfare, public health, law, and organizational behavior study the social and biological roots of positive emotions and behaviors. The Greater Good Science Center's website and publications make research accessible to the general public. The Center produces a quarterly magazine, Greater Good magazine, that addresses research in the social sciences related to compassion in action.
The Institute of Human Development and the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center were originally named the Institute of Child Welfare, established in 1927 by psychology professor Harold E. Jones and Rockefeller Foundation representative Lawrence Frank with support from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Foundation. Initial research studied the factors that affect human development from the earliest stages of life. These early projects were to be longitudinal studies, following the lives of subjects over the course of their lifetime. The mission for the Institute of Child Welfare was to provide a quality nursery school for children while giving scholars and students easy access to a young population for observation and research. The Institute of Child Welfare was one of the first interdisciplinary centers in the United States for research on child development.
In 1960 the nursery school moved to its current location from the original site on Bancroft Way and was named for Harold E. Jones, the Director of the Institute of Human Development from 1935-1960. The current facility was designed by University of California, Berkeley architect Joseph Esherick in collaboration with Catherine Landreth, to meet the educational and physical needs of young children as well as to support research on early childhood.
Research conducted at the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center has contributed to the field of child development. The scope of the research spans many domains of mental and social functioning. A few examples of work include:
The Jones Child Study Center holds archival materials on early child study and assessment at the University of California, Berkeley, including child observation reports from the 1930's and 40's, the original Bayley Scales Infant Development Kit, used to measure the cognitive, motor and behavioral developments of infants, and children's dictated narratives. Additional archival materials are stored at the University of Calfiornia Bancroft Library.
The Jones CSC holds the Susan Solomon curated exhibition "Making Spaces for Small and Young Children to Play." This is a 20 panel (each measuring 20 inches by 48 inches) display of innovative space for children to play. This exhibition was the preliminary research for Soloman's 2005 book American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space.
The Harold E. Jones Child Study Center has provided educational programs for pre-school age children for more than six decades. The curriculum was originally modeled after England's nursery schools. These programs have evolved over the years to meet changing social demands and to incorporate the ever-increasing knowledge of optimal environments for the development of young children, but the commitment to serving children has remained the highest priority of the school since its inception in 1928.
Jones CSC research finds that children as young as three and four years old have their own established social patterns and ways of behaving. This peer culture is expressed most vividly during play through the primary grades and even beyond. William Corsaro, a sociologist who has studied preschool and elementary age children in classrooms from different cultures, finds two themes of this first peer group:
So it is not just that early childhood education teachers like children to play because children learn when playing, but that the children themselves want to affiliate in play with each other. A second strong desire in the early years is that children want to figure things out for themselves.
Children's development at the Jones Child Study Center is cultivated by spatially defined learning centers, where small group child-generated play experiences happen in a two-level indoor playhouse, several sand-and-water stations outside, spacious and varied large motor opportunities, as well as activities in aesthetics, mathematics, science, literacy and language-all accessible both indoors and out.
Due to its architectural design, the Jones Child Study Center establishes a social ecology for learning where children, alone and in small groups, use defined indoor and outdoor areas. Each area, or ecology, is not only a particular place in the classroom or play yard, it also conveys a set of social expectations for the kind of things children will do at the site. That is why it is sometimes referred to as a social ecology. Based on Jones Child Study Center research, an ecology is defined by:
An ecology encourages learning by focusing children's curiosity and initiative on specific learning experiences.
Since 1993, the University Preschool at the Jones Child Study Center has been run by the Early Childhood Education Program, which oversees seven other campus childcare sites. Currently, the program offered at the Jones CSC is a full day, year-round program for children ages 2 years nine months to 5 years old. Priority is given to University of California, Berkeley faculty and staff.
Profile: Studies have shown that toddlers have very active brains and need mental stimulation at child-care facilities for proper development
Dec 05, 2000; 00-00-0000 Profile: Studies have shown that toddlers have very active brains and need mental stimulation at child-care facilities...