Children’s Lab School builds strong relationships and strong readers

Kids and parents enjoy the weekly book bags!

Lab School 2

Looping program off to a great start

When little Georgia walked into her new classroom on the first day of school this fall, she smiled and waved at her teacher. Her teacher’s warm and familiar welcome made Georgia feel like she belonged. She did. Teacher Rose Tiller was no stranger to Georgia or her classmates. Although the children had moved up to a new classroom, they were delighted to find their very own Teacher Rose, their teacher from last year, greeting them at the door! Implementing the dream of former Program Manager Jeannette Spiegelberg who passed away in June, Rose Tiller and the other teachers in the Centralia College Lab School began looping with their students this year.

Looping happens when teachers move up with their students to the next grade and stay with them for another year.

“Looping gives the children a solid base of relationships and support,” shares Donna Burkhart, the current program manager, adding that Early Childhood Education research “proves that children thrive best with strong relationships with care providers.”

Building strong relationships with students is one of the strengths of the program. There is an established level of trust that translates into students feeling more comfortable with their teachers and teachers understanding the needs of their students.

“Coming back to familiar faces in the classroom makes settling in easier because they know the routines and already feel connected,” says Burkhart.

That familiar connection also saves time, allowing teachers to spend more time developing curriculum. The Lab School uses emergent curriculum, building on each child’s interests and skills. Because teachers are already familiar with the students, they don’t have to spend time at the beginning of the year getting to know them. Instead, they can focus on developing a wider variety of curriculum based on what they already know about their students’ abilities and interests.

Parents are also excited about the looping program.

“I have seen my daughter grow in this environment cognitively and emotionally through this program,” one parent shares. “Teacher Rose is amazing at working with the children and touches every one of their lives as well as their families. She uses the children’s interests to make curriculums based around what the children really love.”

Another parent shares, “Staying with the same teacher has been invaluable for my 5 year old son. He takes a while to warm up to people and he’s really not a fan of change. Having a consistent teacher that he can build trust with has been incredible. It’s also been hugely beneficial for me, as a parent. Elijah has his own quirks and not having to have a new person take the time re-learn his behaviors.”

Family Book Share

Every Wednesday, children in the Lab School walk out of their class swinging a little blue book bag—a bag full of exciting new stories just waiting to be read. As part of the new Family Book Share program, students can take home between 3-5 picture books each week. The following week, they can bring them back and exchange their bags for another one.

“The kids get really excited about the books!” says Burkhart.

Because many of the parents of these children are students at the college, they may not have time to take their kids to the public library. The Family Book Share takes care of that need by sending home a “library in a bag.” Over the course of 15 weeks, students will be exposed to more than 40 books. The books were donated by Page Ahead, a non-profit children’s literacy program, as a result of a grant written by Jeannette Spiegelberg. Family Book Share is a great way to instill in young children a love of reading!

Children’s Lab School

The Children’s Lab School runs programs for children birth through age six. Originally designed to serve the college by providing childcare for students and employees, it also provides opportunities for ECE students to observe and do practicum projects and as well as provides employment for students in the Work study, Work First and Pacific Mountain Work Force programs. More than 70 children are currently enrolled in the lab school. About 70 percent of them are children of CC students.


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