For more nearly 50 years, Helen Gordon Child Development Center has been providing quality preschool education for the children of Portland State University’s students, faculty and staff, as well as families in the greater Portland community. Located in a historic building on the corner of southwest 12th Avenue and Market Street, Helen Gordon Center has gained a reputation for its innovative programs, excellent teachers, and creative learning environment. The Center enrolls over 200 children aged 4 months to 5 years. With strong links to PSU’s College of Education, HGCDC is a vibrant learning community for current and future educators, impacting countless schools and programs throughout the region. The Center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Our mission:

  1. Provide students and faculty/staff parents with a high-quality on-campus early education and child care program
  2. Serve as an academic resource, welcoming participation by University faculty and students in the fields of early childhood education, child and family studies, psychology and related fields.


Inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, our curriculum is both emergent and constructive. Classroom studies and projects often emerge from the children’s interests or from events in the daily life of the classroom community. Children construct their own ideas and theories about their world through play and social interaction, and experimentation. Teachers observe and plan carefully to provoke, enhance, extend and document children’s learning.

Teachers will share classroom activities and emergent themes with you through their curriculum plans and documentation—pictures and words—that will allow you to follow the classroom events as well as the learning process of both individual children and the group as a whole. Through our rich curriculum and stimulating classroom environments, children gain the skills, creativity and joy necessary for future learning.

Classrooms are thoughtfully designed and prepared by teachers in collaboration with others to optimize small and large group interaction, social learning and constructive play. The space is well defined for children to guide their exploration and invite social and cognitive experiences. Classrooms are organized with materials that are carefully chosen, presented and stored at the child’s level to encourage maximum independence. The daily classroom schedules include large blocks of time in which children, with support from teachers, make their own choices about how to use materials and their time.

Anti-Bias Curriculum

The core values in our program are grounded in shared respect for human diversity and commitment to social justice. These values are reflected in our curriculum, environment, programming and interactions with families and the larger community. Our diverse community of families allow all children to experience a range of different cultures, appearances, languages, family forms, and ways of life in a positive, affirming environment. We firmly believe children's early experiences with diverse communities and playmates will ultimately lead to the development of cohesive, non-violent and accepting communities in our future.

We incorporate non-sexist, multi-cultural, and anti-bias learning experiences into our daily classroom life and curriculum. We continually strive to provide materials, activities and an environment that reflect a respect for, and celebration of, diversity in race and ethnicity, physical appearance and ability, and family composition and lifestyle. Our goal is to have every child and family welcomed, reflected and supported in our program.

In developing a framework for anti-bias curriculum at the Center we have relied heavily on the work of Louise Derman-Sparks of Pacific Oaks College. Derman-Sparks defines broad goals of an anti-bias curriculum:

  • Fosters each child's sense of self-identity
  • Fosters acceptance of diversity among people by allowing children to ask about and explore the differences
  • Encourages critical thinking about bias by helping children to identify acts of discrimination and stereotypic images in their world
  • Encourages empathy towards others
  • Fosters each child's ability to stand up for her/himself and others in the face of bias