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A Preschooler's Paradise

Bridges Magazine words

A Preschooler's Paradise

Child in a blue jacket holding a paintbrush and smiling

By Tami Althoff
On a cold, drizzly day, Chelsea Shaeffer’s youngest child is likely outside jumping in rain puddles or making mud pies during preschool at the University of Oklahoma’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education Institute of Child Development. 

Shaeffer doesn’t mind the muddy shoes or the inclement weather. She understands the importance of outdoor play. She’s seen the benefits in her two older children who attended the institute, and, as a former ICD preschooler herself, she knows it firsthand.

Since the school opened in 1935, families like Shaeffer’s have enjoyed the many benefits of attending ICD. The nonprofit preschool is attractive to families because of its reputation for excellence and heavy focus on child-directed learning philosophies, such as Montessori and Reggio Emilia. The school is nationally accredited and holds a 3-star rating, the highest awarded by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Becca Waggoner, ICD director, says it’s not uncommon for generations of families to hold ties to ICD, whether it be as a preschooler, an early childhood education major, a teacher or all three. She is hoping to serve generations more in ICD’s new building at 2727 Asp Ave., south of OU’s main campus. The new space – which currently serves 60 children ages 2 to 4 – opened in late August and offers expanded options for families.

“Ten years ago, when I started, we had one classroom,” Waggoner says. “Now we have three classrooms, and we’ve extended our daily hours by 30 minutes. We also added an extended-day option for parents three days a week. That’s brand-new this year.”

The school, which became a part of OU’s early childhood education program in the 1980s, also functions as a laboratory for students during their junior year, a practicum site for graduate students and provides research opportunities for OU faculty. 

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