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Philosophy & Curriculum
The West Virginia University Child Development Laboratory (Nursery School) supports the philosophy that the early years are the formative years and the most important in children’s development. The Laboratory provides young children with a learning environment that helps them develop socially and intellectually, physically, and emotionally. This approach concentrates on the total development of children rather than the achievement of isolated academic skills.
The Child Development Laboratory is arranged so that children have the opportunity to interact with objects, peers, and teachers. Children are encouraged to explore and share their ideas by talking to one another. Since children are active learners and construct knowledge from the activities they plan and carry out, traditional methods of instruction such as sitting at desks and completing worksheets are not used at the Lab. Instead, the children have a vast array of learning stations from which to choose.
Play is also an important component of The Lab School philosophy. Play is viewed as a vehicle for learning and creative thought. The Child Development Laboratory provides a child oriented environment for children to spontaneously explore through play. Children also have play plans to dictate and write their plans for more mature play.
Most of the day is child-directed, but the curriculum also includes teacher directed activities. The curriculum areas include reading, math, science, social studies, creative movement, art and messy play, computers, and specially designed projects. The program uses an integrated approach in teaching subject matter. Numerous projects are conducted that include the above curriculum areas. The activities planned are developmentally appropriate for preschool children and follow the guidelines set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Literary development permeates the curriculum. The environment is enriched with print. The Laboratory abides by the perspective that children learn about the written language if they are given meaningful and functional print. Children are given scrapbooks in which to scribble, draw, print, and dictate stories. The scrapbook project and other similar types of activities have proven to be beneficial to children’s literacy development.
The Lab School has adapted the Reggio Emilia Approach. Children work on child-centered projects that are initiated through their own interests. Teachers document that project work of children so that panels can be displayed for children, parents, and visitors. This approach has been proclaimed as one of the best educational systems in the world.