Research at UCLA Lab School is done in collaboration with CONNECT: A Center for Research and Innovation in Elementary Education. All research proposals at the lab school must undergo an extensive and rigorous review process to ensure student safety and that any potential risk to participants is outweighed by the anticipated benefits of research. The CONNECT Research Review Committee is made up of lab school teachers and administrators, faculty from the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies, and lab school parent volunteers. In addition to internal review, research proposals must be approved by the University-wide Office for Protection of Research Subjects, charged with ensuring that all studies are in line with federal, state, local and institutional regulations concerning the protection of human subjects in research.

If you choose to enroll your child at UCLA Lab School, you will be required to sign a Parent Informed Consent form before your child will be placed in a classroom at the school. This form constitutes your acceptance of the fact that your child, if admitted, will be enrolled in an experimental school in which teaching methods, curriculum, school organization, and children’s learning and development will be continually under study. It also informs you of the basic research protocol for the majority of studies conducted with students at the lab school. You will be informed of each project at least two weeks before it starts via the online portal and on the CONNECT website. Please remember that your child, if admitted, has the right to opt out of any study for any reason, at any time and without repercussions of any kind.

For projects whose methods or scope fall outside the Parent Informed Consent form, a separate permission form will be sent home once the study has been approved by the University. This separate consent form will explain the details and methods of the study, which is optional. For these studies, you have the right to grant or deny permission for your child to participate on a case-by-case basis. You can decline participation in these studies without any repercussions. Again, your child also has the option to refuse participation, or to withdraw from any study once it has begun, for whatever reason and without repercussions. If your child’s participation in research activities is not one of your goals, you should consider seeking admission elsewhere.

For more information about the research program at UCLA Lab School:

Visit: CONNECT: A Center for Research and Innovation in Elementary Education

Or contact: Sandra Smith, Assistant to the Research Director


Our Dual Language Program is based on a model that develops proficiency in two languages for all participating students. Students are taught literacy and academic content in both English and Spanish. The goals of the program are for students to develop high levels of language proficiency and literacy in both languages, to demonstrate high levels of academic achievement, and develop an understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures. Acceptance into the Dual Language program is long-term from EC to Upper II. This is a commitment to our research. 

See our Dual Language Program Spotlight


We support children’s social and emotional development through a safe school system that is integrated into the curriculum and is an important part of the culture of our diverse community of learners. The UCLA Lab School Safe School system and curriculum is designed to build character and manage conflict among students. Community values, outlined in Safe School Guidelines, are interwoven into the curriculum and the life of the school. Problems and conflicts are approached as teachable moments that can be used to reduce future negative behaviors. The UCLA Lab School Safe School system has been implemented in more than 20 schools throughout Southern California and in Washington state.

See our Spotlight on Safe School


Based on coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, our physical education program focuses on sportsmanship, integrity and doing your personal best. Taught by our physical education specialist and two assistant coaches, the students in our Primary, Intermediate, and Upper levels have P.E. every day for 30 minutes. Our coaches spend the year building the self-esteem of students through physical activity while helping them build lasting friendships. Older students play games that are modified to ensure the success of all students, and younger students focus on skill sets and working together. Sports programs are offered to students of all ages in our after-school enrichment classes.

See our PE Program Spotlight


Art is an integral part of the curriculum at every age level at UCLA Lab School. The arts provide a vital means of expression and help children develop a keener ability to see, hear and observe. These keener lenses, in turn, contribute to understanding in every subject. They also enhance our ability to know and appreciate other people, cultures and ideas. Students learn skills and techniques that allow them to enjoy the creative process and discover the artists within themselves.

See our Arts Spotlight


Our Gonda Family Library supports our school’s curriculum and students’ lifelong love of reading. The library’s rich and diverse collection is comprised of more than 20,000 children’s books, magazines and audiobooks. The library staff collaborate with teachers and with parents to develop students’ information literacy skills so that students may learn how to effectively identify, evaluate and use information.

Students have opportunities to explore the library collection during scheduled class visits. In addition they are invited to visit the library before school and at times throughout the school day with their teacher’s permission to support their learning investigations. To help children become lifelong readers, parents are encouraged to borrow materials and read with their children.

Throughout the school year the library and our parent volunteer organization, the Family School Alliance (FSA), cosponsor a number of reading events. One of these is the Birthday Book Club. During the month of their birthday, all students are invited to choose a book from a selection of new library titles to be donated in their honor to the library collection.

See our Spotlight on the Library

Explore the library’s resources


Music Curriculum

Our students are taught to look at their world through a musical lens and explore the connections between music and the other areas of learning, such as math, science, social studies and literacy. Students explore singing, improvisation and rhythm, as well as musical notation and music history.

Our music program has two complementary components:

Basic music skills — by playing percussion instruments and singing, students develop an understanding of music theory, rhythmic and melodic notation and song structure.

Music inquiry — guided by provocative questions, students investigate the social, historical and cultural context of music and the role it has played in shaping the world in which we live.

Optional Music Programs

Choir — Our Voices of Action Choir was created by UCLA Lab School students after Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Overseen by our music specialist, the choir practices twice a week, before and after school, throughout the year. They culminate with an annual spring benefit concert on the UCLA campus.

Instrumental Music Program — Children 7 years and older can participate in our band and orchestra programs through Children’s Music Workshop. The lessons are free to all UCLA Lab School families and take place before the school day starts. Students can choose to learn how to play any instrument in the brass or woodwinds family. Families provide the instrument for their child, and financial assistance is available.

See our Spotlight on Music


The foundation of our literacy program is the Reading and Writing Workshop, modeled after the  Teachers College Reading and Writing Project from Columbia University. This approach to teaching literacy allows us to teach to students’ individual needs as well as to the class as a whole. Many of our reading and writing units will overlap. For example, we will be reading poetry while we are writing our own. Our literacy program also includes reading and writing in the science and social studies content areas.

In reading, we focus on “just right” books, independent reading, reading fluently, building vocabulary, phonics and reading comprehension strategies. In writing, we focus on ideas, organization, craft, voice, revision, editing, handwriting and spelling. In grammar, we focus on punctuation and capitalization, parts of speech, and sentence structure.

What you will see:

  • Students reading independently, with partners, or in groups.
  • Students reading a variety of different books, levels and genres.
  • Teachers conferring one on one, leading small group instruction, and assessing students.
  • Teachers modeling and teaching to the habits of good readers and writers.

What you will not see:

  • A basal textbook program.
  • Extensive use of workbooks or worksheets.
  • Every child reading and writing the same thing.

See our Spotlight on Literacy


Our math program is based on Cognitively Guided Instruction, or CGI, which uses students’ own mathematical thinking as the basis for instruction. We’ve developed this program in collaboration with UCLA Professor Megan Franke, who worked with the team that originally developed CGI at the University of Wisconsin in the 1980s and 1990s.

The premise of the CGI approach is that students bring intuitive knowledge and mathematical insight to school every day. The teacher’s role is to build from this prior knowledge so that students can eventually make connections between situational experiences and the abstract symbols that represent them in equations (symbols such as +, -, x and so forth). This approach is very different from the traditional method of teaching the symbolic computation first, and then expecting students to apply the concepts to problem solving situations. And that’s where parents sometimes have difficulty. They expect to see children using traditional methods of doing math early on. CGI focuses on what students know, not what they do not know.

Research shows that students often solve problems differently than adults, and also that the pattern of development in student strategies is robust. Students’ strategies naturally build on one another.

Using CGI methods, teachers consider how to:

  • choose and pose problems that support student learning
  • allow students to solve problems in ways that make sense to them
  • structure classrooms to allow students to share their thinking
  • probe student thinking

CGI research consistently demonstrates that teachers who know the details of their students’ mathematical thinking have higher achieving students.

See our Spotlight on Mathematics


Guided by national standards, teachers plan in-depth units based on the science concepts to be studied (for example, the life cycle of plants, ecosystems or interdependence) as well as the time frame for studying them.

Students generate individual and group questions that they want to learn more about in conjunction with the standards and expectations for that age group.  Students then conduct research, engage in first hand experiences, conduct experiments to answer their questions and prepare a final project in the form of a written and/or oral report, multimedia presentation or three-dimensional construction that is shared with the learning community.

See our Spotlight on Science


Each year, students are immersed in an inquiry-based investigation in order to understand themselves and the complex world around them. The curriculum is designed to move from the familiar — the study of self and family — to the world beyond — the study of city, state, country and world.  Students construct understanding through the exploration of questions and relationships. They are expected to use a variety of resources, synthesize the information and represent their understanding as they move from novices to experts. Learning experiences are consistent with the democratic values of social justice, equality, responsibility, equity, diversity and freedom. Children develop attitudes and values that will enable them to make worthwhile contributions as citizens in a culturally diverse democratic society.

See our Spotlight on Social Studies


Our iSTEAM lab serves as a maker space where students learn how to work with materials, tools, and collaborative design processes to further develop projects that begin during inquiry research.

Depending on students’ developmental levels, we hope to deepen & strengthen students’ knowledge of multiple media, techniques & tools, such as ceramics, wood construction, sewing and costume design, 2D modeling, laser cutting, 3D modeling and printing electronic circuitry, coding, and robotics.

See our Spotlight on iSTEAM