Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

Cal Poly Preschool Learning Lab

Cal Poly Preschool Learning Lab

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. 

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.


  • Patty Clarkson: Director
  • Kari Applegate: Early Childhood Master Teacher
  • Pauline Wickham: Early Childhood Teacher

News and Events

Opportunities to get involved

Our Outdoor Classroom:  Generous donations from alumni enabled us to transform the outdated play area of the Child Development Preschool Learning Lab into “Miss Josey’s Playground,” a lush, green outdoor space that offers exciting new opportunities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. 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.

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.


The Preschool Learning Lab is housed at the center of the Cal Poly campus in Building 38 (Math & Sciences), Room 125.

Current Schedule

The Preschool Learning Lab program is available Monday through Friday.  The Preschool Learning Lab will observe all academic holidays and will be closed Winter and Spring breaks.

Application Process

Who is eligible?

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.

How much is the tuition?

You may request a current schedule of tuition rates by e-mail ( or by phone (805-756-2220).

How can I apply?

Interested families may fill out an application Preschool Application (pdf) and return it, with a $25 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

Contact Information

Further information about the Cal Poly Preschool Learning Lab can be obtained by calling (805) 756-2220 or by e-mail:

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