Gesell Institute for Early Childhood Learning - 4K and Preschool: History and Philosophy

Reading to children

History - The Gesell Name

The Gesell Institute bears the name of Arnold Gesell (1880-1961), noted pioneer in the study of child development. Gesell was a native of Alma, Wis., and graduated from the Stevens Point Normal School in 1899. He later earned doctorates in both psychology and medicine. Gesell founded The Yale Clinic of Child Development. The Gesell Institute has been in operation at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, since 1972.

The Gesell Institute exists as a vital component in the School of Education at UW-Stevens Point. Each year approximately 50 undergraduate and graduate students receive laboratory experiences working with young children and their parents within this facility.

Program Philosophy

The program is developmentally based, utilizing several principles set forth by Arnold Gesell
  • All children proceed through the same sequence of development, but all vary in rates of development.
  • There is an inner timetable which determines the child’s rate of development. Trying to teach activities ahead of that timetable will at best result in only minor, temporary growth.
  • A favorable environment helps to insure the realization of a child’s potential.
  • Each child is unique in temperament and growth style. The culture should try to adjust to each child’s uniqueness.

Other theories upon which the program draws include those of Erik Erikson, Lev Vygotsky, and Jean Piaget. These theories provide us with a set of developmental expectations which allow us to plan appropriate activities and develop behavioral guidelines for children

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 Location & Contact

Gesell Institute at UW-Stevens Point
Room 124 College of Professional Studies Building
1901 Fourth Avenue
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Classroom Phone: 715-346-2655
District Phone: 715-345-5456