Friends, family members and former students say it is most appropriate that the University of Oregon's newest child development center be named after Vivian Olum, a UO associate professor of counseling psychology who died of cancer in 1986 at the age of 63. Dr. Olum's professional activities and research demonstrated a lifelong interest in helping children and families, advancing the understanding of child development, and improving the training of psychotherapists.
A comprehensive, year-round, child-care program serving children eight weeks through eleven years of age, the Vivian Olum Child Development Center is a community where children are nourished, parents are welcomed, and care givers feel valued. In addition the Center provides the opportunity for UO students in education and early childhood development to gain firsthand experience and for faculty members to conduct ground-breaking research.
The Olum Center care-giving philosophy is based on the belief that children learn and develop best when adults listen and respond constructively to their interests and choices. Children's self-direction is strongly encouraged with teachers closely observing and facilitating interactions with materials and peers. Each child's individual needs and goals are considered within the broader framework of the Center's educational tenets which include: a definition of children as competent people, helping to develop children's awareness of the rights and needs of others, and facilitating children's innate motivation to solve problems and understand their physical and social world.
For very young children, providing a stable environment and nurturing relationships within their daily routine is the curriculum that provides the structure to learn. In the preschool years and beyond, teachers build upon the information children have learned about stable environments and nurturing relationships with an increased emphasis on the child's emerging interests in literacy, math and science and developing social knowledge.
"She had a gift for helping children feel safe and creating an environment where they could heal,"says Eugene psychologist Charlotte Peterson, who studied under Dr. Olum."It was a joy to watch her work with children."