Helen Gordon Child Development Center

Preschool in Portland, OR 97201

1609 Southwest 12th Avenue
Portland, OR 97201
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The Helen Gordon Center is Portland State Universitys full-day infant through kindergarten program. The center is accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs and plays a strong role in the Portland community as a model for quality care and education.

Our mission within the university is twofold. We provide campus parents with a high quality childrens program and serve as an academic laboratory, inviting participation by university faculty and students in early childhood education and related fields.

Our teachers are professional leaders in early childhood education and have academic degrees and experience. They are long-term committed teachers who provide modeling and mentorship within and outside of the program. They coordinate their classrooms overall programming as well as envision and create affirming experiences for children, families, practicum students, and student employees.

Our program provides a secure and loving environment for children and supports each childs growth, development, and feelings of self-worth. Our curriculum is both emergent and constructive. Classroom themes, projects, and activities often emerge from the childrens interests or from events in the classroom day or community. Children construct their own ideas and theories about the world through social interaction, play, and experimentation. Our curriculum is based on the image of the child as capable, full of life, and unique.

The programs core values are grounded in respect for human diversity and commitment to peace and social justice. We are fortunate to have a diverse community of families in our center that allows all children to experience a range of cultures, appearances, languages, family forms, and ways of life in a positive and affirming environment.

Overall, our goal is to have every child and family welcomed, reflected, and supported in our program.

Child Ages:
6 months - 6 years
Licenses & Accreditations:
Oregon Employment Department - Child Care Division
Children per Teacher:
Infant: 4/1, Toddler: 7/1, Pre k: 10/1, Afterschool: -/-

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Our program provides a secure and loving environment for children between six months and six years of age supporting each child’s growth, development, and feelings of self-worth.

We maintain a 1:3 teacher-to-child ratio in our infant/toddler program, a 1:4 teacher-to-child ratio in our program for two to three year-olds and a 1:7 teacher-to-child ratio in our programs for three to five year-olds. Although state licensing requires only a 1:10 ratio for preschool children (thirty months to five years of age), we are committed to lower ratios because having more teachers:

  • Allows us to spend time with your child, developing closer child-teacher bonds of affection, trust, and respect;
  • Allows us to assess carefully your child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth and progress, and individualize our program accordingly; and,
  • Allows us to work with children in small groups, allowing us to facilitate language arts, cognitive development and social-emotional development.

Early childhood education practice and research have found that a child’s emotional, social, and cognitive developments are interdependent. Our program encourages positive peer and social relations, development of critical thinking skills, and facilitates the development of self-esteem by fostering independence and problem-solving skills.

Jean Piaget generally is recognized as the leader in the field of early childhood education in the research and understanding of a child’s development. Based on his findings, we are less concerned with the traditional products of learning, for example, the recitation of the alphabet; instead we focus our attention on the process of learning. From ages two to seven, a child is developing many of the cognitive skills that are the foundation for all formal learning. Generally, a child is ready for formal learning at age seven. Attempts to hurry a child’s cognitive development are not worthwhile: Piaget’s research documents that the stages of cognitive development cannot be skipped, nor is it possible to speed through them. While most children, even at the youngest ages, are able to memorize and recite, these skills do not represent meaningful learning in the preschool years. Our goal is to help foster the development of a child’s critical thinking skills by giving them opportunities to experiment, explore, question and play.


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