Hey there, daycare!

Bikes put aside until children get to play with them.

For parents at Weber State University or any institution, finding a balance between school, work and children can be difficult. WSU offers hourly child care service for students and faculty that is run by the Nontraditional Student Center, located in the McKay Education building, to aid individuals with children.

Megan Jolley, the childcare center supervisor, just started in July and has been in the child care field for 21 years as an early childcare specialist.

“We feel strongly about parents who are trying to improve their life and their children’s life by going to school, so we want to provide a safe learning space for those children that can in turn help their parents focus on what they need to do,” Jolley said.

The cost is $3.50 per hour of child supervision. Comparing this hourly rate to other university childcare center costs according to their websites, the University of Utah campus has two-hour block child care rates from $0.22 to $24 depending on the children’s ages and different discounts between faculty and staff.

Utah State University campus child care comes with daily rates from $800 to $1,100 also depending on the children’s ages, concluding that WSU’s childcare center hourly cost is lower than other university childcare programs.

The CC can accommodate up to 13 children at a time on a first come first serve basis. They can stay for up to eight hours a day, five days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekly.

Children ages two to nine are the only ones being accepted as of right now.

“We are also currently working on opening another program, or adding to this existing program, to start accepting children below the age of two,” Jolley said.

To enroll children into the CC, they will need an immunization record and the parent’s school schedule. Snacks are provided to the children but not full meals, parents are welcome at any time to join their children for a snack or playtime.

Two to three caregivers or teachers are present daily to give individual attention to the kids. These teachers consist of students pursuing a degree in child care or individuals with degrees in child care or early childhood development.

Children at the CC learn from a play-based curriculum. This consists of lesson plans and activities that include different styles of “play” such as physical play to increase muscle strength and coordination.

Since they are a state-licensed childcare center, every child scheduled for up to two hours has to have at least 15 minutes of physical play or exercise.

Manipulative play is introduced for problem-solving and coordination skills. Expressive play is shown through creating music and art to encourage a sense of accomplishment and creativity.
Similar to expressive play, constructive play is relevant when the children take part by experimenting with drawing and building things.

They also closely examine different objects to bring in an element of exploratory play and to motivate language and cognitive concepts. Dramatic play helps the children understand their emotions and use their imagination, while cooperative play entails games with rules to strengthen widespread and interpersonal communication to work with others.

“It’s not just playing, however,” Jolley said. “The teachers are aware that they are involved in that learning, so they work to expand the learning taking place.”

The CC is currently planning field trips on and around campus at least once a month. These trips will include the Ott Planetarium on campus, art shows, watching theater performances and more.

COVID-19 protocols at the center consist of quarantining for five days when testing positive and everything within the center is also sanitized regularly to minimize viral bacteria.

When applying, parents will fill out the application, provided on the WSU website or at the center, no earlier than a week before a semester starts and no later than the first week. A small orientation then takes place where it is explained that applicants have to reapply each semester.

Aside from the hourly childcare center, the Melba S. Lehner Children’s School in the McKay Education building is also a big opportunity for parents on campus to get help with child care. Options for parents here are before and after care for the Weber State Charter Academy or a two-and-a-half-hour preschool.

Camie Bearden, director of the school, described the school as not just open to WSU but also to the public.

“There are five classrooms altogether, with lesson plans based on the needs and interests of the 115 currently enrolled children,” Bearden said.

Children ages one to six are accepted into the school without any enrollment fees. Parents have to fill out documents such as immunization records, parent background screening, a family history form, meal forms and an emergency form.

Prior to children starting school, home visits are conducted to meet with the child and their families.

“This helps build relationships with the children and their parents in hopes of helping them feel more comfortable,” Bearden said.

A normal day in the classroom is usually started with breakfast and small group activities that lead to interactive lesson plans and indoor or outdoor learning time. The children also explore campus with field trips similar to the hourly childcare center.

COVID-19 protocols in the children’s school consist of multiple temperature checks for everyone and sanitizing regularly. Testing for COVID-19 is available with parental vision and face masks are no longer required.

To enroll children in the Melba S. Lehner Children’s School, parents can find applications on the school’s page on the WSU website.