Learning and Belonging (LAB) Preschool
The Learning and Belonging (LAB) Preschool is a model early childhood program supported by the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education, and works in partnership with the Department of Teaching and Learning to provide University of Montana students an opportunity to enhance their understanding of young children and the teaching/learning process. The LAB Preschool provides academic course support, resources, mentoring and key practicum learning experiences for students enrolled in early childhood and elementary education as well as other human service degree programs at the University of Montana. The LAB’s multi-age early childhood program invites children of all abilities and their families to participate in a caring community designed to promote lifelong learning (L) and (A) belonging (B) in terms of self-acceptance and as a member of a group.
"For the past six years, my husband and I have entrusted our three boys to the amazing teachers at LAB Preschool. Throughout each child's journey, we have watched our boys flourish under your care. We have watched our children make their first footprints on this world as their own person. We have seen their faces light up at the sight of their beloved teacher. We watched the wonder of learning blossom in their young eyes as they launched on a solo journey through a typical day at the LAB. We relished the time spent in the car on the way home hearing the funny and excited tales of their day and the moments we missed."
-The Hartland Crew
"Words cannot even begin to come close to the gratitude we have for you, your staff, and this preschool. You have prepared my girls over these last 8 years for the next chapter in their educational journeys. Your support thru good and bad times will always be treasured. We will miss you so much!
The LAB Preschool models developmentally appropriate practices in early childhood education pedagogy. Ample opportunity to observe these practices unobtrusively paves the way for teaching success. Plenty of hands-on, yet guided, experiences in assessment, curricula planning and lesson implementation enable students to put to practice content from coursework. Daily self-reflection and feedback from early childhood clinical specialists is key to improving teaching methods. Becoming part of a collaborative teaching team during field-experience aids in learning and boosts confidence. A LAB Preschool field-experience ties together all these components and prepares teacher candidates for meaningful careers working with young children and their families.
The LAB Preschool maintains small group sizes to support the goals of meeting individual strengths, interests, and needs of every child. The classroom environment and engaging activities are created with respect for child development and the individuality of children. LAB welcomes and values the uniqueness of each child and their family. LAB supports each child’s active participation in real, meaningful projects designed to allow success and challenge at individual developmental levels. LAB introduces activities and materials that foster development of the whole child in multiple areas including creative arts, language and literacy, mathematics and numeric, physical development and health, science, social and emotional development, and social studies. LAB offers multiple opportunities for self-selected exploration, social interaction, and problem-solving to enhance children’s natural motivation to learn. LAB uses positive child guidance techniques that teach skills and support children’s emerging self-control. LAB respects families as the first and most important teachers of their children.