George Lucas Educational Foundation

High School Child Care

Teenagers in Illinois learn about and tend to young children in a unique day-care program on the campus of a high school. Read the article.
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High School Child Care (Transcript)

Narrator: At this high school in a suburb north of Chicago, the sights and sounds of youngsters having fun fill the halls.

Student: Are you ready? Okay, go, shake, shake, shake.

Narrator: In this unique program, high school students learn about early childhood development by teaching lessons for little ones.

Student: So let's all count how many stuffed animals we've got, okay? So throw yours in first, and that's one, two, three--

Karen: This is one of our large motor activities. It's an opportunity for listening and following directions for the children, but also just moving your body, because you know, we need to move our body a lot during the day. We get a little wiggly.

Narrator: The Deer Park Teaching And Learning Center was launched in 1992, when Deerfield High teachers urged the school to provide child care for their children. The center now offers seven child development classes for high school students, with child care tuition covering the salaries of the child development class teachers, and staff at the center.

Karen: We are really a full time lab school for the child development students. It's a great experience for our children, because they get to have more one-on-one time with their high school friends, as they call them.

Student: What color is that? Yellow?

Karen: It's also a great experience for the high school students, because they get to try on a career, apply some of these skills, either at a part time job babysitting, working at a camp. It's also a great experience for them to say, wow, children are a huge responsibility that maybe I'm not quite ready for right now.

Student: Do you want to go there? I'll go, like that.

Karen: But, for the most part, we do have a lot of high school students that get started in our program, just as an elective class, and find their path, saying, I really would like to be a teacher.

Child: Oh no, look.

Jenn: We're taking observations on how the kids develop over time. We write down how they interact with each other, their large motor skills, their small motor skills, and their intellectual development.

Narrator: Child development classes meet four days each week.

That's good, okay.

Narrator: Students spend one day studying child development theory, and three periods each week, getting hands on experience by planning, observing and teaching lessons.

Student: We could like, make fireworks and have a little bouncy balls and shake around bouncy balls or something.

Student: Okay, what colors do you want to use?

Student: Bright colors.

Jenn: I love this class, because I want to be a preschool teacher when I'm older, so it's really great to learn all this now, like, being this young, get to work hands on with them, because you really get to see if it's something you want to work with.

Good night nobody, good night mush.

Karen: I think everybody gets to benefit, whether it's teachers in the high school, who get to come to work with their child every day, get to stop in at lunchtime, it's a great benefit for them, teaching in the building. It's a great experience for the high school student, to have a class where they get to be actively involved, a lab experience. It's also wonderful for our preschoolers--

Jenn: So who liked the old lady with Spring Hush, the best?

Karen: Really, it is a program that anybody could do, and what a wonderful experience for everybody. Everybody wins.

Student: Keep turning. What are they doing?

Narrator: For more information about, What Works in Public Education, go to

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Video Credits

Produced, Shot, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Coordinating Producers

  • Amy Erin Borovoy
  • Lauren Rosenfeld


  • Karen Sutherland

Production Assistant

  • Doug Keely

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Comments (2) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Latrece Johnson's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Absolutely awesome. There is a similar program in operation at Baldwin County High School in Bay Minette, AL. I am all for this idea as a staple in all public high schools. The teacher is absolutely correct in stating that it is a win-win situation for everyone--parents can continue their professional calling while having their own children close by, students are getting theory in conjunction with application which is so important in the early care field (I, myself, have over nine years experience in early childhood education and an AAS degree in said field!), and the young children benfit moreover, getting one on one care and attention, knowing that mom or dad is also near by and can visit during lunch or planning periods. Smart, smart, smart!

Marissa's picture

I attended a high school with a similar program in a small town, and recently moved to a large city where the public high schools have no such program. I think that's absurd, especially since there is a greater number of teen parents here that could benefit from being able to continue their education with their kids nearby. Does anyone know anything about how to start such a program?

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