About the Children's School
The Children’s School at Carnegie Mellon University is a laboratory school that is actively involved in preschool and kindergarten education, developmental research, undergraduate teaching, and training of both pre-service and practicing educators.
Being a laboratory school in a Psychology Department on the campus of a major research university, the Children’s School staff is well versed in current developmental research. We continually strive to use developmentally appropriate goals for young children as a framework for planning our educational program and assessing children’s progress in all aspects of the social, cognitive, and physical foundations necessary for success in primary schooling. Regular communication is encouraged among parents, caregivers, and the school staff. We have a detailed parent handbook, scheduled parent meetings and conferences, regular newsletters, and frequent spontaneous interaction. The popular family events offer the whole family a chance to participate in the child's school. Many parents also contribute their talents to the school by coordinating our library, offering special programs and activities, organizing family social events, et cetera. We emphasize diversity throughout our program and our individualized, developmental approach lends itself to meeting the special needs of a growing number of students with language delays, learning disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders. By capitalizing on our talents in all of these areas, our laboratory school exemplifies new directions that can be utilized by professionals in various disciplines to meet the changing needs of society.
The Children’s School’s approach to preschool and kindergarten education is based on theories and research in Developmental Psychology.
Goals -> Program -> Assessment
We use our developmental goals as a systematic framework for focusing our program and assessment design. Our teachers are familiar with a wide variety of educational approaches, and we choose teaching strategies, daily routines, classroom arrangements, and curriculum structure that will encourage each child’s development. Teacher observations and documentation of individual development are used to adjust the program to better challenge individual development, as well as to conference with parents about ways we can work as a team to support each child.
Since 1968, the highly skilled Early Childhood Educators at the Children’s School have nurtured young children's social, cognitive, and physical development. We have specified learning goals for 3, 4, and 5-year-olds in each of the following categories: self-esteem and independence, interaction and cooperation, communication, discovery and exploration, physical capabilities, and artistic expression and appreciation. The teachers prepare an engaging learning environment for exploring a theme, such as birds, artists, or transportation. They use a group meeting time each day to set the stage for the investigation and introduce relevant concepts. Then the children pursue a variety of activities that reinforce the learning goals. The staff monitors the activities, so that we may facilitate the children’s learning and challenge them at an appropriate level. Children’s explorations enrich their development of concepts related to the theme and strengthen their skills in all areas. They extend and apply their concepts by experimenting with various materials in the school, and they express their understanding by creating their own representations in a variety of media.
The Children’s School is staffed by five teams of educators: an Administrative Team, plus Preschool 3’s, Preschool 4’s, Extended Day and Kindergarten Teams. All Teachers and Administrators have many years of experience in education, as well as a bachelor’s degree and often an advanced degree in early childhood education, psychology, or a related field. Undergraduate interns and student employees complement each team, and pre-service teachers from local colleges often do field placement experiences at our school.
The Children’s School offers a model half-day preschool and full-day kindergarten program for approximately 100 children ages 3-6, plus an extended morning program for about 24 of those children. Our program runs from September through mid-May, with the option of a half-day summer camp in June. The Children’s School has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children since 2003.
Our program is strengthened by our relationship with Carnegie Mellon. As part of the Psychology Department, we serve as a laboratory for research in child development. Our children eagerly participate in "special games" with researchers, and our teachers and parents receive summary results of current studies. As part of the university community, we have access to facilities such as the gym and track, can schedule walking field trips to interesting places such as the post office, food services, and the robotics lab, and have visits from university musicians, security officers, construction workers, et cetera. Undergraduate interns and student employees enhance our children’s experiences, while their involvement here strengthens their connections between theory, research, and practice.
Our experienced educators participate actively in the local and national early childhood communities by serving in leadership capacities, giving regular presentations, providing consulting to other programs, and, most recently, by partnering with three other high-quality programs to develop new avenues for early childhood professional development. The partner organizations are seeking ways to support each other and create synergies between their training initiatives that enhance the quality of reflective training opportunities and serve as a resource for early childhood educators across the broad continuum of professional development. Each August, we offer a two-day workshop designed to help regional educators enhance their programs by reflecting in depth about early childhood theory and practice.