Challenging Academics + Creative Experiences = Love of Learning
UCLA Lab School provides an innovative learning environment that encourages respect for the individual and care for the community. We encourage children’s ideas, creativity and imagination while also providing a strong academic foundation. The curriculum is rich in real-world experiences and thought-provoking activities to help children develop the ability to think critically, to use and question a variety of sources of information, and to apply their knowledge to solve complex problems.
State and national curriculum standards provide a framework for learning goals at each age level. Using the goals as a guide, teachers design thoughtful instruction that builds on children’s interests and helps them develop an understanding of science, social studies, mathematics, reading, writing, and art through projects, choice and in-depth study. They help children develop and refine their skills by requiring use of those skills again and again, in context, for a purpose and in ways that encourage high standards for each child as an individual. The combination of structured goals and engaging experiences helps children develop a lifelong love of learning.
All UCLA Lab School teachers are highly qualified. They’re recruited from all over the country and bring expertise from teaching in a variety of settings, both public and private, urban and suburban. In addition to advanced degrees, many have extensive knowledge in content areas related to elementary education. All teachers engage in research and conduct professional development. They regularly travel to professional conferences to share their work and gain new knowledge.
Levels, not Grades
We have a mixture of multi-age and single-age classrooms, which are identified by levels. The children start in the Early Childhood I level (ages 4-5) and then move to the Early Childhood II level (ages 5-6). Next they move to the Primary level (ages 6-8), followed by Intermediate (ages 8-10), and then Upper I (ages 10-11) Upper II (ages 11-12).
Multi-age groupings allow teaching to the child rather than the grade, and they take into account the different rates at which children develop academically, socially, and emotionally.
Assessment as Part of the Learning Process
Children are assessed continuously through their daily work. Teachers engage students in discussion and take note of how they articulate ideas. They ask them to show what they know in a variety of ways, including writing, constructing projects, using computer applications, creating drawings, painting, and performing. Teachers examine the work to assess what children have learned, determine what they still need to know, and plan what to teach next. This kind of on-the-spot assessment helps ensure that no child falls by the wayside or continues through the curriculum with gaps in his or her understanding. In addition, children are formally assessed twice each year and teachers meet individually with parents to discuss in detail their children’s progress. Children ages 8-12 also take the Stanford 10 standardized test each spring. Children are given preparation for this test, but teachers at UCLA Lab School never “teach to the test.” The results provide just one more way of assessing how children are doing and whether the instructional program is meeting their needs.