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The Program

Children in a Fort Hill classroom

The Center for Early Childhood Education at Fort Hill offers full- and part-time early education and child care in Northampton for children infancy through preschool. The program serves about 80 children in seven classrooms.

Fort Hill is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, year-round. The annual academic calendar notes the dates the center is closed for professional activities and holidays.

The early childhood program at Fort Hill serves as a laboratory for Smith College. Students and faculty conduct research and observations and complete field work at the site. Students also work in the classrooms through the college's work-study program.

The program helps to meet the child care needs of Smith College employees. Benefited employees are eligible for tuition grants through the Office of Human Resources. 

A 10-week summer program is available to children enrolled for an academic-year.

2023–24 Academic-Year (40 weeks)




Maximum Class Size (1)




Child: Teacher Ratio (1)




Schedule Options

3, 4 or 5 days (2)

3, 4 or 5 days (2)

3, 4 or 5 days (2)

Program Opens

8 a.m.

8 a.m.

8 a.m.

Departure Options (3)

2:45 p.m.; 4:45 p.m.

2:45 p.m.; 4:45 p.m.

12:45 p.m.; 2:45 p.m.; 4:45 p.m.

Calendar (4)

August 28–May 31

August 28–May 31

August 28–May 31

* Infant: two months–15 months
** Toddler: 15 months–two years and nine months
*** Preschool: three years old by December 1 to five years old

  1. These figures are based on Massachusetts State Law; actual class sizes and ratios may be lower
  2. Part-time schedules are accommodated on a space-available basis
  3. Departure time must be the same for all days of enrollment; extra time may be purchased on a space available basis
  4. The program closes according to the holiday schedule of Smith College and closes monthly for professional days

2023-24 Academic Calendar Year

M 14 – F 18:  CECE Closed for Annual Maintenance and Repairs

M 21 – F 25:  CECE Professional Days for Academic Year Preparation*

M 28 – T 29:  Preschool Orientation Days**

M 28 – F 1:  First Week of 2023-2024 Academic Year

M 28 – F 1:  Infant-Toddler Phase-In Period***

Th 31:  Welcome Back Picnic

M 4:  Labor Day Holiday – CECE Closed

TBD:  Parent Evening

M 9:  Fall Break — CECE Closed

T 10:  Professional Day — CECE Closed*

F 10:  Professional Day – CECE Closed*

W 22 - F 24:  Thanksgiving Holiday – CECE Closed

TH 21:  Professional Day – CECE Closed*

F 22 – T 2:  Winter Break – CECE Closed 

M 1 – T 2:  Winter Break - CECE Closed

W 3:  CECE Reopens with full-day schedule

F 12:  Professional Day – CECE Closed*

M 15:  Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday – CECE Closed

TBD:  Annual Open House for Current and Prospective Families

M 19:  Professional Day – CECE Closed*

M 18 – F 22:  Smith College March Break

M 18:  Professional Day – CECE Closed*

T 19 – Th 21 :  Three-day March Program (Enrollment for this program is conducted in January and limited based on staff availability)****

F 22:  CECE Closed

F 19:  Professional Day – CECE Closed*

F 17:  Professional Day – CECE Closed*

M 27:  Memorial Day Holiday – CECE Closed

F 31:  Final day of Academic Year – 11:45 Dismissal

F 31:  Half-Professional Day – CECE Closed 12 - 4 p.m.*   

*The CECE will be closed on professional days. The dates included here are projected dates, and may be adjusted in a final calendar published over the summer.

**Preschool Orientation Days: Preschool children begin the new year by attending for one day with only half of their class. Children will be assigned either Monday, August 28th or Tuesday, August 29th as their first day, and the whole class will attend together beginning on Wednesday, August 31st. This schedule will be determined over the summer.

***For infant-toddler children who are new to the program or transitioning to a new classroom, we encourage families to consider a phase-in plan for your child that allows them to start with a few shorter days at Fort Hill before building up to a full day in the classroom.

****We anticipate offering enrollment for a limited, three-day program on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of March Break. Enrollment for the March program will take place in January. Tuition for the program is paid separately from academic year tuition and spaces are limited.