I must admit that my only exposure to a laboratory school setting ws through student teaching while attening Utah State University. I student taught fifth grade and preschool as lab schools on campus. Thus, ithe information I provide will be related to USU and the lab schools there. If you have knowledge/experience with lab schools in other settings, please share.
The preschool program at USU is centered around the philosophy that children learn through play. Centers are set up throughout the room and children are free to choose what activities they would like to participate in. These centers include a large motor skills center, small motor skills center, writing center, sensory table, art center, and dramatic play center. Students are also provided outdoor activities and participate in large group time as well as small group centers. At this preschool you will see no worksheets or drills. All learning is integrated centers.
Edith Bowen Lab School is the elementary school on campus. Funds for the operation of EBLS come from three sources: (1) state public school funds allocated through the USBOE; (2) state fundes allocated through Utah State University; and (3) gifts and grants from state, federal, and private sources. No tuition is charged to students. The school works to ensure that its programs and methods are in the forefront of educational practice. Edith Bowen has a Governing Board which consists of the Dean of the College of Education, the Elementary Education Department Head, a parent respresentative from Logan School District, a member of the Logan School Board, the Regional Director of Utah PTA, the Superintendent of Logan School District, and a member of the Utah State Board of Education. Teachers are not required to use mandated programs and have flexibility in the way they chose to teach the state core. EBLS provides non-graded lopped classrooms in the early childhood grades. Looping keeps groups of students together for two years. For example, a student would have the same teacher and peers in first and second grade. Upper grad students are provided with opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities. Students at EBLS also attend Spanish classes ona weekly basis. All teachers at EBLS must have a masters degree to be hired. A lottery is held to determine which students will attend the school.
- Students are taught must up-to-date, research based teaching methogs.
- Teachers have flexibility in how they teach subject matter, thus providing them with the means to teach to children in accordance with their needs and interests.
- Teachers are involved in ongoing research.
- Students have choice in their learning.
- A lab school setting may not provide as much "structure" as some students or parents expect.
- Parents may be weary of how much time students spend with preservice teachers.
- Parents and students may have to adjust to the "non-traditional" way subject matter is taught.
- Students may have to travel a longer distance to attend a lab school, though I believe some busing through Logan School District is provided to EBLS.