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Our Center

Get to Know


Our Story

Ours is a story of women, of parents, of children, of teachers, of vision, of diversity, of research and of action. It was the late 1960’s, early 1970’s and there was the cry of women’s groups throughout the country for child care. It became immediately clear to the women of Radcliffe College, that as a women’s college in a great university they had a role to play to illuminate the philosophy and practice of child care. 


From the beginning, they sought to create “a model,” not in the sense of a perfect solution to be copied, but rather as “an operating situation set up for scrutiny, always developing, always changing.”  

Affectionately and respectfully referred to as the “godparent” of Radcliffe’s Child Care Centers, Inc., renown Professor of Psychology and Director of Cognitive Studies at Harvard University at the time, Dr. Jerome Bruner provided vision and leadership in our Center’s early development. With the generous support of Sue and Ronal Lyman (Sue a 1946 graduate of Radcliffe College), Radcliffe’s first of five centers opened at the Currier House on Linnean Street in 1970 where Dr. Bruner was Master of the House.


From the beginning, child care programs were to be first and foremost for the children and not just for mothers, but for parents. They were programs to be organized growing out of the felt needs of the Radcliffe Community and in relation to the larger community. 

Further, it is noted that when talking about child care, the founders of Radcliffe always thought of the child in relation to the teacher, his/ her parents and the other children. It was recognized that in the same way that a university is made up of a wide diversity of people, with a diversity of needs and aspirations, the Radcliffe Child Care Center has always given value to diversity.


Through the years, Radcliffe’s educators, directors and parents have shared a vision of Radcliffe as a COMMUNITY where children grow and flourish, where the life process is seen, cared for, and understood and where the child is nurtured as a total human being, rich with love, curiosity and wonder.

Committed to our roots and being forever grounded in research today, Radcliffe is greatly inspired by the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. We believe you cannot separate care and education and that education begins with life.

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Radcliffe Child Care Center circa 1971

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Radcliffe Child Care Center 

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Our Mission

The mission of Radcliffe Child Care Center is to partner with the Harvard University community to provide the best possible early childhood education and care for children 3 months to 5 years of age and their families. We are committed to excellence in all we do and to maintaining our NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation recognized as a mark of high quality within early childhood education.


​Since inception, Radcliffe Child Care Center has been first and foremost for children. RCCC’s founders and directors have always made decisions prioritizing what is best for children. When talking about child care, the founders of Radcliffe always thought of the child in relation to the teachers, his/her parents and the other children.


Our curriculum is designed to respond to the universals of child development shared by all children, as well as to nurture the individual differences that RCCC both expects and celebrates. We believe every child has a “hundred languages,” through which the child can express thoughts and feelings, questions and doubts, dreams and desires.


In considering classroom design and outdoor play spaces, we consider the role of the environment as a teacher- we work to create a space that promotes the development of relationships and encourages children to explore, take risks, solve problems and construct knowledge.


We value the participation of families in enriching children’s experience- and in forging connections between home and school. We are committed to establishing a close relationship with our families and our local community that includes all of Cambridge, Harvard Square, the nearby Charles River, and the University campus..


We hold an image of a capable child and believe in the power of childhood. We promote these ideals not only within RCCC but also to the surrounding community and within the field of early childhood education.

Our Teaching Philosophy

Through the years, Radcliffe’s teachers, directors and parents have shared a vision of Radcliffe as a community of learners, where children grow and flourish, where childhood is valued and every unique child is known, respected and loved. Radcliffe is a community where children, parents and teachers are partners-in-learning and every day presents new opportunities to see the world anew. 


Inspired by the world-renowned infant toddler centers and preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, we share the belief that foundational to our work is respect for the capabilities and potential of every child and the belief that education is based on relationships.  We believe that every child is naturally curious and has an innate desire to connect. Children do not exist in isolation from their peers, family, teachers or community, each child forms meaning and builds knowledge through interactions with others and the world. 


Learning is not passive, rather it is active. We believe children are not “slates to be written on” nor are they “sponges'', rather we believe they are protagonists of their learning along with their teachers and parents. Our teachers view their role as that of researcher, guide, fellow investigator and collaborator. We believe in the power of children and teachers learning together. Teachers listen, ask questions, discuss children’s ideas, hypotheses and create contexts for learning that promote exploration, experimentation, discovery, collaboration and learning. Children are ready resources for each other and children develop an intuitive sense that problems are solvable, that learning engages all our senses and knowledge and emotion are inseparable. 


We work to promote a strong image of young children and believe in the power of making learning visible through documentation of children’s learning  processes. Teachers listen with all of their senses and work in partnership to document children’s original thinking, their strategies for learning and their questions. Working as a team, teachers are able to plan curriculum and create contexts for learning that serve to scaffold learning and nurture children’s healthy development in all areas. 

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