The Cal Poly Psychology and Child Development Preschool Learning Lab provides a high-quality preschool environment that supports the developmental needs of the whole child in a warm, nurturing, play-based environment. A focal point of the Preschool Learning Lab curriculum is to offer innovative inquiry-based learning experiences that support children’s natural interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This curriculum unfolds within a context in which Cal Poly students have opportunities to apply their knowledge of child development as they interact with children and families. In doing so, the Preschool Learning Lab supports the university's “Learn by Doing” approach to education. Each day, students prepare the setting to include a variety of developmentally appropriate activities, providing a rich play-based environment from which children can choose how they will spend their time. Students' efforts in these areas are guided by the Director and a Master Teacher, who assist students in using research and theory in child development to inform their interactions with children and families. The ratio of children to adults is low. This facilitates close communication with families, and allows us to plan for the needs and interests of individual children.
In addition to serving as a site for hands-on experience working with children, the Preschool Learning Lab also facilitates faculty and student research on children's learning and development. Situated within the College of Liberal Arts, the Preschool Learning Lab serves as a hub for a campus-wide network of faculty and students to engage in research and development activities related to young children’s STEM learning. Children who enroll in this program participate in these various research activities supervised by Cal Poly faculty/staff.
Our Outdoor Classroom: Generous donations from alumni enabled us to transform the outdated play area of the Child Development Preschool Learning Lab into “Miss Josey’s Playground,” a lush, green outdoor space that offers exciting new opportunities for play and discovery. We are enthusiastic about the impact that this new play space is having on all of the stakeholders in the program. Children are engaged in new forms of play with new materials, thus expanding the impact of the outdoor space on all aspects of their development and learning. Conversations about science topics, for example, are flourishing in this new environment as children explore the garden, experiment with materials on the sloped hillside, and create the ideal mix of sand and water for constructive play. Students note children’s interest in these topics and construct additional activities to extend their investigations.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the renovation has inspired the faculty of the Child Development program to take a closer look at how the Preschool Learning Lab functions. This renewed attention to the program has resulted in changes to curriculum, pursuit of multidisciplinary collaborations, new research programs that engage both faculty and students, and a new fundraising effort to support our commitment to continuing our efforts to provide an innovative setting for children and student learning. Those interested in contributing further to the outdoor classroom are encouraged to contact Dr. Patty Clarkson (Director). Your generosity and ideas will help us in our efforts to support the sense of wonder, excitement, and joy that children experience as they seek to make sense of the world.Our STEM Curriculum: The Preschool Learning Lab is already becoming an active hub for multidisciplinary activities related to children’s STEM learning. The engagement of students and faculty across campus, as well as community members, enhances children’s early interest and understanding in STEM. Our “Poly Goes to Preschool” program invites Cal Poly faculty and students from across campus to visit the Preschool Learning Lab to share their expertise with children. Some examples of projects that have engaged the campus community in preschool STEM education are: a project in which Animal Science students brought tortoises to the playground for children to observe and feed, a group of engineer students who tested children’s museum exhibit prototypes at the lab, and a Farm to Table initiative in which a multidisciplinary team from Cal Poly is creating partnerships between the Preschool Learning Lab and Cal Poly agriculture/dairy to engage children in the process of “seed to table.” These partnerships will give the children ongoing experiences in planting, cultivating, harvesting, and preparing fresh food for their meals at the lab while using existing Cal Poly food supply resources. For more information about this program, contact the Preschool Learning Lab Director, Dr. Patty Clarkson.
The Preschool Learning Lab is housed at the center of the Cal Poly campus in Building 38 (Math & Sciences), Room 125.
The Preschool Learning Lab program is available Monday through Friday beginning Fall term and ending finals week of Spring quarter. The Preschool Learning Lab will observe all academic holidays and will be closed Winter and Spring breaks.
The Preschool Learning Lab will admit children from 3-5 years of age who are fully potty-trained. Children must be 3 years old by September 1.
Priority enrollment will be given to current Cal Poly Faculty/Staff, currently enrolled children and/or siblings, and the general public, in that order.
You may request a current schedule of tuition rates by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (805-756-2220).
Interested families may fill out an application (Preschool Application) and return it, with a $15 non-refundable application fee to:
The Psychology and Child Development Department
ATTN: Cal Poly Preschool Learning Lab
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407-0387
Further information about the Cal Poly Preschool Learning Lab can be obtained by calling (805) 756-2220 or by e-mail: email@example.com