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New Mexico State University

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New Mexico State develops a toddler lab

With $20,000 in gifts from Bank of America, New Mexico State University's Early Childhood Education Program has established a toddler lab on campus.

New Mexico State University student Cathy Samaniego, an early childhood education major, pushes 2-year-old Jaime in a swing at the university's newly developed toddler lab. (New Mexico State University photo by Darren Phillips)

The toddler program is a two-days-a-week morning program that allows university students to supervise the care of 10 children between 18 and 30 months old. The toddlers are children of university students, faculty or staff.

"This program is providing high-quality, effective childcare services for children and a lab experience for early childhood teacher candidates," said Nancy Baptiste, a professor in the early childhood program.

"This has really helped me understand which age level of children I want to work with," said Denise Garcia, an early childhood education major. "I'm getting a lot of experience in the field."

The program is led by two graduate students majoring in early childhood education and the other students are participating as part of a field experience course. The lab is housed in a former family-student housing residence that has been refurbished and made into a toddler environment, Baptiste said.

Tamye Smith, market president for Bank of America in Las Cruces, said the bank is concentrating its philanthropy efforts on education and felt this project made perfect sense.

"What better way to assist education than to help children early in life and help university students get a start on their career," Smith said.

The lab has also received funding or support from the Associated Students of New Mexico State University, the university's Family Resource Center and the College of Education.

Baptiste said the college would like to eventually expand the lab to an all-day, licensed childcare center. For more information call Baptiste at (505) 646-2632.