Baby Gator has three centers on campus:
Baby Gator at Lake Alice is located on the corner of Village Drive and Museum Road, across the street from beautiful Lake Alice. This center serves infants ages 6 weeks to 5 years old whose parents are either University of Florida (UF) faculty, staff, or students. Lake Alice is NAEYC accredited, offers VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten), and is a school readiness center.
Baby Gator at Newell Drive is located adjacent to UF Health. This center serves children ages 6 weeks to young 3 year olds whose parents are students or faculty in the College of Medicine, College of Health and Health Professions, and the College of Pharmacy. Newell Drive is in the process of renewing its NAEYC accreditation and is a school readiness center.
Baby Gator at Diamond Village is located behind Shands Hospital on Diamond Village Road on Diamond Village Family Student Housing grounds. This center serves children ages 3 to 5 years old whose parents are students or faculty in the College of Medicine, College of Health and Health Professions, and the College of Pharmacy. Diamond Village offers VPK and is a school readiness center.
Baby Gator’s major goal is the provision of a developmentally appropriate program of early childhood education and care through which each child gains a sense of trust, social and intellectual competence, and self-worth. Such a program, focusing on the individual child and his or her family, requires active cooperation between staff and families. Our hope is that we can enable children to enjoy learning while acquiring skills to help them succeed and form the basis for a lifetime of learning.
Baby Gator teachers use a play-oriented approach that integrates into the daily curriculum language and literacy skills, mathematical concepts, science, social studies, art, and music, as well as thinking and reasoning, decision-making and self-help skills. Communication skills are promoted in a language-rich environment. Baby Gator teachers promote social awareness and appropriate social interactions and encourage children to become aware of and to express their feelings, to make friends and to learn to solve interpersonal conflicts. In addition, Baby Gator teachers are committed to promoting understanding and respect for diversity in family structures, language, cultures, and beliefs through multicultural, multi-lingual activities across the day.
Baby Gator staff are part of the UF community and as such are expected to participate in research, conferences, and other academic endeavors that will expand and enhance their professional skills and contribute to the field of early childhood care and education. Baby Gator partners with many of the university’s colleges and departments and serves as a research and volunteer site for their students and faculty. Each year, we work with over 100 volunteers, practicum, interns, and researchers from UF, Santa Fe College, and the surrounding community.
All Baby Gator centers are a part of the USDA Child Care Food Program (CCFP) and as such, provide a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack every day. We strive to make meal times valuable learning opportunities for all the children.