"It's easy to convince people that children need to learn the alphabet and numbers... How do we help people realize that what matters is how a person's inner life puts together the alphabet and numbers. What really matters is... whether he used his numbers for the final count at Buchenwald or the specifics of a brand new bridge."
Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
What makes the Ossining Children's Center unique?
Child Development Specialist on Staff
The Center has a social worker on staff with expertise in early childhood development. She meets with our teacher–caregivers regularly to help them individualize their approach to each child in their care. She is also available as a resource for parents. She can reassure parents with advice on dealing with normal problems or she can suggest a consultation when a child might benefit from early intervention. Should early intervention be warranted, she will coach parents through the process of obtaining the special therapeutic services to which their child is entitled.
OCC has always had a close working relationship with the Ossining Union Free School District. OCC–Public School partnership programs include a model collaborative pre–kindergarten; an after–school program housed in one of the District's schools; and a childcare and parenting program for teen mothers, enabling them to graduate from Ossining High School.
The Center spearheads a Community Outreach Committee that fosters collaboration among the local organizations that serve children and families. Member organizations include other local childcare centers, the Ossining Public Library, the Open Door Family Medical Center, the "First Steps" Family Literacy Program, the Ossining Public Schools, Ossining Communities that Care, and the Ossining Ministerial Association.
Each summer, our third, fourth and fifth graders have an extraordinary learning opportunity. Education staff from the Jacob Burns Film Center teach our youngsters the art and science of creating animated films. The workshop culminates in a premiere of the students' original one–minute animated films on the big screen at the Burns Film Center. Through the hands–on creation of their films – from concept to screen – participating youngsters learn new skills in math, writing, project organization, and team work. To view one of our youngsters' films, click here.
Early Childhood Gardening Program
Master Gardener and Environmental Educator Andrea Sauro brings a unique ability to connect with very young children while sharing her love of gardening with them. Gardening provides a variety of life lessons from planning and sustainability to instilling healthy eating habits.
Ossining Childrenfs Center incorporates age-appropriate field trips into its curriculum to expand our childrenfs world and provide them with new experiences. Most field trips are walking trips to local points of interest in Ossining, such as the Farmerfs Market, the new Ossining Library, a dance studio, the bakery and the Fire House.
Preschool Music Specialist Dolores Jiji
A veritable "Pied Piper," over the past 20 years, Dolores Jiji has brought music into the lives of hundreds of children at the Ossining Children's Center, and literally thousands of children throughout suburban New York. A musician and folksinger with a degree in theater and teaching from the University of California at Berkley, "Jiji" is at the Center at least twice month teaching preschool and toddler music classes. There is not just singing, there are listening exercises, rhyming games, movement to the beat, and playing of rhythm instruments. www.toddlerssongtime.com
Piano Lessons for Pre-Kindergartners
OCC Pre-Kindergartners are introduced to the rudiments of the piano keyboard by “Mozart Mouse” and “Beethoven Bear” under the tutelage of faculty from the Mike Risko Music School.
Instrumental music lessons promote brain development when started early enough. A number of studies including one at the University of California (Irvine) have shown that after several months of keyboard lessons, preschoolers experience a boost in their spatial-temporal IQs, the ability that is critical to mathematical reasoning.
Nancy Bayer designed and ran the Romperee program (Infant/Toddler, Parent program) at World Cup Gymnastics and Nursery School in Chappaqua before becoming an independent gymnastics teacher, serving infant, toddler and preschool centers throughout Westchester. She is a certified early childhood teacher.
The Nature of Things
Deborah Mumford is the Director and owner of "The Nature of Things," an outreach environmental education program which offers age appropriate nature curricula for young children. She holds a BA in Elementary Education, a MPA in Public Administration, a certificate in Early Childhood Education, and a NY State Teaching Certificate and Administration license. She has worked in the field of Environmental Education for 25 years as an educator, writer, naturalist, administrator and undergraduate instructor. For the past 20 years she has designed and presented wildlife programs as a freelance professional and is affectionately known throughout the New York Metropolitan area as "The Critter Lady.
Saturday Adult ESL Classes
Thanks to funding from Westchester County and Northern Westchester BOCES, the Children's Center offers Saturday morning classes in English as a Second Language specifically geared to the needs of parents of young children. The Center provides child care during class time.
Regional–Statewide Leadership and Advocacy
The Center's Executive Director, Howard Milbert, plays a leadership role in early childhood education, at the County and State levels. Mr. Milbert is co–chair of the Westchester Early Childhood Directors' Association; co–chair of the New York State Not for Profit Childcare Directors' Association; and he serves on the board of the New York State Child Care Council. For information on childcare advocacy, click here.