Our Early Childhood laboratory school includes Infant/Toddler (I/T), Younger Preschool (YPS), and Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classrooms.
Younger Preschool at a glance:
- Children range from 28 to 47 months old when school starts in late August
- Two classrooms: Target size of 15 students in Geranium half-day classroom and 18 students in full-day Blue Room classroom, both with a 1:5 teacher:child ratio that exceeds childcare licensing requirements
- Three pick-up options: 8:30 am–12:00 noon in Geranium; 8:30 am-3:30 pm or 8:30 am–5:30 pm in the Blue Room
- Highly-qualified head teachers and dedicated student teachers
- Beautiful, developmentally-appropriate classroom and outdoor play space, plus access to nature across the Mills College campus
- Weekly Orff music specialist
- Healthy snacks served in the classroom, plus the option of ordering a hot lunch delivery service
For two- to three-year-olds, our Younger Preschool (YPS) program progresses into a group care model, where teachers set up a range of activities, both inside the classroom and outdoors, and provide many opportunities for hands-on learning through emergent play-based curriculum inspired by the children’s interests.
YPS includes two different classrooms: Geranium for half-day students and the Blue Room for full-day schedules. Both classes are staffed by highly qualified head teachers — one in the half-day program and two in the full-day program (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). Each head teacher has a dedicated team of student teachers with whom they meet each day to reflect on ways to support the children and their learning, as well as to discuss the implementation of theory to practice to ensure quality care.
Both YPS classrooms allow for a balance between free-choice play time and more structured project time and group activities consistent and responsive to the children’s experiences and interests. Teachers build in several whole-group gathering times, such as circle time and snack, as well as ample time for child-directed play through art, music, books, storytelling, cooking, science, and nature exploration. All children are supported in resting after lunch, be it as a napper or doing quiet activities.
We believe it is important for two- and three-year-olds to build empathy and develop friendship through play. The YPS curriculum emerges from the children’s interests, and explores salient themes through multiple lenses, such as scientific inquiry, dramatic play, and gross motor development. Projects have included map-making, designing a pretend restaurant and serving real food to children in other classrooms, building treasure boxes for a friend, and a study of farms through a mathematical lens. Each of our Early Childhood programs provide a rich indoor and outdoor environment for children to explore and learn, and frequent excursions throughout the beautiful Mills College campus affords children the opportunity to be in nature and learn about their surroundings.