HAMPTON, Va. – At the Hampton University Child Development Center (HUCDC) story time is more than just reading to kids, it’s an animated production of enthusiasm and excitement. The best part is that the main performers are Hampton University students, campus officers and the university’s librarian.
“Hampton University students, police officers and staff as reading partners help facilitate communication and literacy by the quality and amount of time they spend reading to the children,” HUCDC Director Joy Phelps said. “Interacting and supporting children’s literacy can help enhance their language skills and early literacy, which will prepare them for school.”
Phelps said that even Librarian Phyllis Banks of the William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library takes the time to read a story to the kids that correlates with a specific event or holiday each month.
“It is a lot of fun to watch and the kids love them,” HUCDC Director Joy Phelps said. “The kids are being entertained and educated at the same time. Communication, language and early literacy are interrelated and develop concurrently rather than sequentially.
Preparing children for school is the cornerstone of the Hampton University Child Development Center. When Phelps assumed her role in 2015, she made it a priority to get faculty, staff and students more involved with the children. After talks with campus departments, students began working closely with the children in exchange for course credits. From internships to creating practicums, the children began learning from Hampton University students and students learned much more from the little ones.
“It’s the perfect solution,” Phelps said. “The students test their exercises on the kids who, in turn, give them an honest, unfiltered response. If the kids like the exercises, then the students know their methods will work with older people. However, if the kids lose interest quickly then the students know they need to make some adjustments to their curriculums.”
Virginia's U.S. Senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, sent letters to Phelps last year congratulating her and her staff for their hard work, after gaining the national title of Child Care Provider of the Month last June. And that's not all the honors. The HUCDC also won the Best of Hampton Award (2017) in the Child Care category and the Charles A. Wornom Helping Hands Award (2016) from the Hampton Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities for their dedication to helping children with unique learning abilities.