Harper College

Early Childhood Laboratory School

Learning and Enrichment for Young Children

For more than 30 years the Early Childhood Laboratory School of Harper College has provided a warm, nurturing environment in which children feel secure and can learn and grow. The center provides an exemplary educational environment for young children and serves as a model of teaching methodology for Harper's early childhood education students.

The Early Childhood Laboratory School offers an enriched learning environment and personalized care for your child. Full or half-day programs are available for children of students, faculty, staff and the community. The needs of young children are met with a child-centered curriculum designed to encourage safe exploration and discovery.

The classrooms are divided into interest centers and are designed to encourage children's learning through investigation, exploration and problem-solving.

Students play and learn in classroom.

Our Student to Teacher Ratio is well above the average, with 4 adults for every 20 students. This award-winning facility has been caring for and educating children for more than 45 years.

The curriculum is based on the philosophy that young children learn through active exploration in an environment which is rich in materials and opportunities to converse, socialize, work, play and negotiate with others.

The classrooms are planned to encourage curiosity, exploration and problem-solving in an atmosphere of warmth, affection, and respect for each child.

Teachers plan experiences based on children's interests and appropriate educational concepts.

Children may work individually or collaboratively and may choose whether or not to participate in a project. Children are actively involved in experiences which include foundations of math, science, social studies, creative art, language arts, music, movement and dramatic play.

All interrelated aspects of the child's growth and development are considered - intellectual, social, emotional, physical and creative.

Activities, experiences, and teacher-child interactions are constantly being measured and evaluated in terms of the following programs goals.

School readiness is enhanced when children are provided with play-oriented, exploratory activities that allow them to interact, make choices, and participate at their own developmental level. This vision is central to our High Scope’s curriculum ideal of active participatory learning, which has five ingredients:

  1. Materials – Program offers abundant supplies of diverse, age - appropriate materials. Materials appeal to all the senses and are open ended, that is, they lend themselves to being used in a variety of ways and help expand children’s experiences and stimulate their thought.
  2. Manipulation – Children handle, examine, combine, and transform materials and ideas. They make discoveries through direct hands-on and “minds-on” contact with these resources.
  3. Choice – Children choose materials and play partners, change and build on their play ideas, and plan activities according to their interest and needs.
  4. Child language and thought – Children describe what they are doing and understanding. They communicate verbally and nonverbally as they think about their actions and modify their thinking to take new learning into account.
  5. Adult scaffoldingscaffolding means teachers support and gently extend children’s current level of thinking and understanding. In this way, teachers help children gain knowledge and develop creative problem solving skills.

The classrooms learning environments are organized into interest centers and are designed to encourage

children’s learning through investigation, exploration and problem solving. High Scope daily routine organizes the day’s events and it is the same every day, although time periods are occasionally altered to accommodate children’s interest and there are exceptions for field trips, celebrations, or other special events.

Plan – Do – Review

Is devoted to the sequence: planning time, work time and recall time.

Planning Time

Meeting in a small group, each child decides what to do during work time-what area to play in, what materials to use, and who else will be involved – and shares this plan with a teacher and other children in the group.

Work Time

Work time is when children carry out their plans, alone and/or with others and then clean up.

Recall Time

At recall time, children meet with the same teacher and small group of children with whom they planned to share and discuss what they did and learned during work time

Large Group Time

Those times when the entire class does something together. The children meet to share ideas and experiences, sing songs, perform finger plays and discuss topics for the day (message board) or playing outside

Small Group Time

During these times, teachers introduce children to new materials, ideas, and activities, which the children can then continue to explore during work time. The activities may include following curriculum content areas: Mathematics; Language, Literacy and Communication; Science and Technology; Social Studies; Physical Development and Health; Social Emotional and Approaches to Learning. Children meet with the same teacher and set of classmates during the year. This arrangement provides continuity and security for children and also allows the teacher to develop a thorough knowledge of each child in this group over time.

We keep in touch through newsletters, progress reports, and open houses. Parents are welcome anytime!

Participate in classroom activities with your child or use our state-of-the-art observation room. Equipped with cameras and microphones you may observe your child from behind a one-way mirror.

The Early Childhood Laboratory School of Harper College is licensed by the State of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Lab School has received an award for Exemplary Practice from the Illinois State Board of Education and a Gold Circle of Quality from 
ExceleRate Illinois.

Apply for a Childcare Scholarship!

Harper students can apply for a childcare scholarship for their child (ages 3-5 and must be potty trained) to enroll in the Early Childhood Laboratory School. The Harper student would be responsible for paying the $75 application and registration fee. The scholarship would pay the school directly for Fall 2024 and Spring 2025.

  1. Harper College student pursuing a degree or certificate
  2. Enrolled in a minimum of 8 credits each semester
  3. Student must maintain a 2.75 GPA (minimum 2.5 GPA to apply)
  4. Preference for single parents but eligible to partnered parents
  5. Preference to students with prior credits completed
  6. Non-renewable. Scholarship is only good for one year.
  1. Submit the Educational Foundation Scholarship Application here.
  2. After you submit, you will see the “Childcare Scholarship Application” and you will need to answer 4 simple questions.
  3. Deadline for the Childcare Scholarship: June 3, 2024
  4. Questions? Email scholars@harpercollege.edu

Learn more about the Early Childhood Laboratory School

Contact Us

Map of Building I

Early Childhood Laboratory School
Building I I-123

Inquiry Form

Last Updated: 3/7/24