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Celebrating 100 Years of the Arlitt Center

Who We Are

The Arlitt Child Development Center is one of the oldest demonstration preschools in the United States. Founded in 1925 as the University of Cincinnati Nursery School, this child development center is sustained in part by an endowment from Dr. Ada Hart Arlitt, who was the first teacher at the school. The center serves preschool children from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds who are funded through Head Start, tuition fees, and UC’s College of Education. Children from all funding sources are blended in each classroom in the center, which makes Arlitt one of the most diverse and inclusive preschools in the country. The Arlitt Center serves as an early childhood education practicum site for students from many programs at the University of Cincinnati, a research center for faculty and students, and an observation and teacher training resource center for the community.

Mission Statement

To research, demonstrate and promote best practices in early childhood care and education.


Arlitt is firmly rooted in the cognitive-social constructivist and experiential models of learning, based on the works of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and John Dewey. The tenets of the constructivist view hold that:

  • Children have an active role in building understanding and making sense of information. They are not born as blank slates for parents, teachers and other adults to fill with knowledge. From the very beginning, they are active particpants in experimentation and constructing their knowledge of the world in which they were born and continue in this role throughout the entire learning and development process.

  • Individual, social, and environmental factors guide knowledge construction. Individually, children are constantly taking in new information, comparing it to previously held knowledge, and either reinforcing their current understandings or adapting these understandings in light of the new information. Socially, children are taking in new information learned by interactions with others through conversations and cultural experiences. Children build knowledge as they form relationships and connections between different pieces of information.

  • The environment provides cues for action and behavior within a dynamic system of learning and development. As children construct knowledge, they strive to create meaning from their physical, social, cultural, and intellectual interactions within their respective environments.

Common elements of constructivism include:

  • Embedding learning in complex, realistic, and relevant learning environments

  • Providing for social negotiation and shared responsibility as a part of learning

  • Supporting multiple perspectives and using multiple representations of content

  • Nurturing self-awareness and an understanding that knowledge is constructed

  • Encouraging ownership in learning (Woolfolk, 2004)

Learn more about our philosophy here.

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