What ages to you accept?

We enroll children from 2 to 6 years old.

For how many children are you licensed?

We are licensed for 28 full-time children. Because we also allow for many flexible, part-time care arrangements, we usually have more than 28 children who attend at different times.

Do you offer part-time child care?

Yes! We offer a wide variety of part-time options and will do everything we can to meet your scheduling needs. We have children who come 2 days/week, 3 days/week, half-days, and more. Please view our Tuition Page for more information or Contact Us anytime.

What are your hours?

We are open Monday – Friday from 7:00am – 6:00pm. We are open year-round, closing only for University of Iowa holidays, spring break, one week during winter break, and whenever the Iowa City Community School District closes for inclement weather.

What does it cost?

Please visit our Tuition Page for details.

What is your child to staff ratio?

Our child to staff ratio is 6:1 for all ages. This greatly exceeds state requirements and national staffing guidelines for children ages two and older. Our child care staff are part-time, work-study University students. Many of them stay with us for their entire college career, often taking on additional duties and responsibilities. The children develop very close bonds with these staff and enjoy seeing the daily variety of fresh faces; each unique and each arriving with a happy, ready-to-play attitude. Our energetic and diverse staff are essential to the success of our unique, child-centered approach. Parents consistently cite our staff as one of their favorite components of the program.

We also have two Directors who are on-site throughout the day in overlapping shifts, providing staff supervision, childcare and administration. Because our directors are not included in the child to staff ratios, they are available for chats, conferences, emails, phone calls and, most especially, for individual one-on-one time with children, staff, and parents.

What are your thoughts on potty training?

We prefer naturalistic potty training and accept children in diapers.

Do you prepare children for Kindergarten?

Knowing their children will be ready for kindergarten is always important to parents. We have seen that open, creative play is the best preparation for children both physically and cognitively. Play gives children extensive experience assessing and responding appropriately to new experiences. Children develop vast pools of experiential knowledge accumulated during years of happy, self-directed, constructive play. Play gives children excellent social skills and confidence in a variety of social situations. Our kids usually adapt quickly to the structured, more abstracted learning environment of school while kindergarten teachers consistently tell us that our kids are great students.

What does "child-centered, open-ended" care mean?

It is our belief that childhood development occurs along a continuum and that each child’s development happens at their own, unique pace. We believe that, just as crawling and pulling up are essential precursors to walking, exploration and play are essential precursors to structured learning. Children are constantly exploring their environment, absorbing information as they run, climb, dress up, dig, play with sand and dolls, read books, pet rabbits – the possibilities for experiential learning are virtually endless. Every encounter is a learning experience that helps shape the person they are becoming. We trust the process and believe that our open-ended, self-directed and multi-faceted program allows children to grow into healthy, well rounded, creative people.

Our activities are not teacher-directed but our staff are active and involved. They are responsive, interactive and interested. When we play indoors, the adult in each room facilitates and mediates while the children engage the activities. The staff play with the children and encourage them to play with each other. They intervene and assist when there is need for guidance and support. We intentionally model good manners, empathy, creative problem solving, and win-win conflict resolutions.

Our belief in this natural and evolving developmental process shapes every aspect of our program. We provide many interesting, open-ended, child-centered play opportunities and lots of caring adults. We offer children endless opportunities to read, explore natural science, use their imaginations, be creative, listen to music, and to actively determine their own play, friendships, explorations and observations.

Every day the children and staff create new and interesting play experiences with familiar materials in six thematic play rooms. The children come and go to each room/activity as they wish, while our staff stay positioned in specific rooms supervising and facilitating. Unlike traditional centers where children in assigned groups are moved around by their teachers, our children move themselves around – individually, with a friend, or in a larger group. Because they are engaging the various room activities when they want, with whom they want and for as long as they want, our children are always doing something they like! The result is a lovely atmosphere of happy children engaged in productive play. Our objective is to validate each child’s individuality, to facilitate emerging friendships and to encourage each child’s evolving interests.

Child-centered does not mean that children just do whatever they want. It means they have choices, options, and space within well-defined, reasonable parameters. Children need to know that adults are firmly in charge in order to feel safe.

Do you ever go outside?

Absolutely! We have an expansive outdoor play space surrounded by old trees on a historically preserved ravine. Each year we play outside for as long as we can, usually about 5 months. We come indoors to play for about 5 months then we follow the weather for about 2 months.

The equipment and toys outside are basic and open-ended, designed to encourage physical, social, cognitive, and imaginative play and development. We have swings, climbing structures, fire trucks, a castle, a tree house, several slides, and lots of sand and toys. The children play in any area they choose while our staff are positioned throughout the yard to provide companionship, assistance, and supervision.

Who is Mary Jo Small?

MJSCCC at Brookland Woods, aka Brookland Woods, is a unique childcare center on campus at the University of Iowa. In 1999 the center proudly renamed itself to honor Mary Jo Small, upon her retirement from the University. During her career, Mrs. Small devoted herself tirelessly to issues concerning women, children and families.