Frequently asked questions

What does it mean to be a laboratory school?

At the Lab School, we have a dual mission of:

  • Being a model early childhood program

  • Providing a hands-on experience for Iowa State University college students graduating in Early Childhood Education or Child, Adult, and Family Services

Practicum student participation

Because the college practicum student lab experience involves working directly with the children, background checks are completed. The practicum students are always considered "learners" in the classroom -- they are not included in the child-teacher ratio and they are always supervised by paid teaching staff. Parents often find that children benefit from having the extra attention from the ISU students.

Who teaches the children and directs their care?

Each classroom is staffed by two state of Iowa early childhood licensed teachers that are assisted by undergraduate student child care assistants. These teachers have the primary responsibility and supervision of all activities in the classroom. Practicum students will be interacting with the children and leading some activities, but it will always be under the supervision of paid teaching staff.

Who is eligible for enrollment at the Lab School?

Any child under the age of five years old can have his or her name placed on the Lab School waiting list. The Lab School families are a diverse group from many different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, races, and religions -- we welcome and encourage applications from all families.

How long is your waiting list?

Because we use a lottery system for selection and we strive for an age and gender balance in each classroom, it is impossible to give an estimate on how long a child will be on our waiting list.

We want the children at the Lab School to be a reflection of the community. To make this possible, we accept all applications and use a lottery system for selection of children.

Do you accept financial assistance from the DHS?

We accept Department of Human Services (DHS) child care subsidy when the family receives other assistance (such as CCAMPIS grant) that covers the remainder of the Lab School tuition. Tuition and fees »

Do you individualize your programs for my child?

All children are assessed using a variety of methods including the ASQ, GOLD, and daily observations.  From those assessments, individual goals are established for your child.  Those individual goals are what guide our research-based Creative Curriculum planning of activities you see throughout the day.

What is a developmentally appropriate program?

Developmentally appropriate practices are teaching methods and curriculum components that are based on a child's developmental abilities. Such practices include active learning experiences, varied instructional strategies, a balance between teacher-directed and child-directed activities, integrated curriculum, and learning centers. These practices are reflected in the position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children on Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8. This document outlines educational practices based on knowledge and theories of how children learn and grow.

Why is your preschool program multi-age?

In a multi-age classroom, opportunities exist for each child to interact with children of varying backgrounds, abilities, interests, personalities, and ages. According to Lillian Katz, "the intention of multiage grouping is to increase the heterogeneity of the group so as to capitalize on the differences in the experiences, knowledge, and abilities of the children."

In a multi-age classroom, children are viewed as individuals and expectations are adjusted for each child. Continuous progress in the curriculum promotes social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Research shows that mixed-age grouping helps children develop social skills and a sense of belonging.

My child does not speak English. Will that be a problem?

Lab School teachers are experienced in working with children and families from linguistically diverse backgrounds. They help all children develop language and literacy skills in a variety of methods throughout the curriculum.

What meals do you offer at the Lab School? Can special dietary needs be accommodated?

Lunch and snack information » 

Our menu offers vegetarian options.  We will work with families to try and accommodate medical and religious dietary needs.

Can I visit my child any time at the Lab School?

Our open door policy welcomes families to visit the program. You may have lunch with your child, assist with a field trip, or simply help with a classroom activity. You may also observe your child from the observation booths attached to each classroom. We do ask that parents visiting the center for purposes other than drop off, pick up, or nursing to sign in and out on the visitor log for our records.

What happens if my child is sick?

Lab School health policies can be found in our Parent Handbook.

Families should understand that children in their first group care experience have not built up immunities and will likely experience illness during their first year. Lab School staff work hard to prevent the spread of disease as much as possible by frequent hand washing and continuous sanitizing of equipment.

Alternative care during illness: In Ames, the Comfort Zone is available to families needing care for mildly ill children. To register in advance or learn more information, call 515-294-3333.

Do you offer part-time care?

We do not offer part-time care in any of the programs in order to provide as much consistency in our classrooms as possible.

Do children nap at the Lab School?

For most young children in a full-day program, a nap or quiet time is a necessary part of the day. Infants are allowed to sleep at their own individual schedules, while toddlers and preschoolers have a rest time after lunch. Lights are dimmed and soft music is played as staff assists children into settling in for a rest.

Does the Lab School close for weather-related reasons?

The Lab School will close if ISU classes are cancelled or offices are closed. If, however, in the rare circumstance that there are not enough staff on site to meet the required staff per child ratios, the Lab School is not permitted to operate. We will try to communicate this message to as many parents as possible through phone calls or e-mails.