Daily Schedule: The daily schedule in each laboratory may vary depending on the topic of study, activities planned (field trips, guest speakers, etc.) and preference of the laboratory head teacher. However, each day will generally have the following components: discovery experiences/centers, small and large group work, snack, and outdoor time.
Depending upon the well-prepared objectives of the learning plan, daily schedules are flexible, so that truly the teachers and children run the schedule rather than the schedule running the teachers and children. Sometimes unplanned opportunities present themselves during the teaching day that cannot be passed up (an exhibit at the Wilkinson Center, large excavation machines, or a hail storm, etc.). In these cases, previously-planned schedules will change to accommodate the spontaneous learning opportunity. Daily schedules and learning plans with specific curriculum goals and assessment strategies are posted weekly in each observation booth.
Vision in Curriculum Planning: Activities are considered to be developmentally appropriate when they are planned with the children's interests, needs and developmental capacities in mind. We integrate our curriculum to address the whole child, thus focusing daily on the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of each student. Each day will generally have the following components: discovery experiences/centers, project work, small group work, snack and outdoor time.
To achieve our goals, we design our curriculum using the Utah state pre-kindergarten core as we implement Project Work and discovery experience/centers. Through these two methods,we integrate our curriculum to address the whole child, thus focusing daily on the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of each student. Topics of study are planned to relate to and scaffold on previously gained skills or concepts. Further, lessons are planned to be age appropriate, specific, and based on ideas relevant to the children's world.
Project Work: The laboratory's curriculum is implemented through project work. Topics of study are planned to relate to and build on previously gained skills and concepts. Project topics are planned to be age appropriate, specific, and based on ideas relevant to the children's world. The duration of the study of a topic is flexible. Some projects may last a week, while others continue throughout the term.
Small and Large Group Work: Large group sessions introduce the project and stimulate the children's interest in the topic. Large and small group work provides an opportunity for investigation, discovery, and developing skills. Small group work is intended to be hands-on experiences that are largely teacher-planned, but child-directed and based on the topic of study. Group work increases cooperative and collaborative skills and provides opportunities for language acquisition. These group sessions involve child participation and give the children an opportunity to express their ideas.
Discovery Experience/Centers: Discovery experiences allow children free choice between multiple centers - science, music, blocks, manipulatives, computers, reading, dramatic play, and art centers. Each center allows for the integration of multiple curriculum areas to assess academic, social, and physical abilities of each child. It is a time for children to learn social skills, make choices, be responsible for the materials they play with, and develop new concepts and skills.
Assessment: Assessment is the process of observing, recording and documenting what children do to serve as a guide for curriculum development and communicating with parents their child's progress in the specific curriculum areas. The Preschool Curriculum serves as the guide to assessment tools. Daily notes are taken on the children and work samples collected to be compiled into a portfolio. This type of assesment assists them in becoming aware of each individual child's needs. Each parent has access to a digital portfolio documenting their child's progress throughout the year.
Teachers in the Lab: The CFSL serves as a hands-on training class for practicum students as well as a student teaching setting for our Early Childhood Education majors. This provides great dividends to both the children and the parents. We are able to have between 4-5 teachers per classroom, making the teacher-child ratio about 1:4-5. This allows excellent one-on-one time for each child. This also increases our ability to identify and meet specific goals for each child. Due to the University course schedules, our student teachers are assigned to the lab school for a seven-week period. Thus, new teachers are rotated in every seven weeks with the assigned head teacher remaining in the class throughout the entire year.
Parent Input: Each year begins with academic, social, and physical goals established by the parents that we can focus on for the academic school year. These curriculum goals are valuable in the development of the curriculum and the individualization of the lesson plans.
Field Trips: The children are involved in several field trips off campus. Parents are notified prior to any field trips. Any field trip off campus requires a permission slip signed by a parent before the child will be allowed to go.