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Historical Roots and the Role of Laboratory Schools

The National Association of Laboratory Schools (NALS) states that the mission of laboratory schools is to improve education through the development of innovative ideas in research, curriculum development, clinical experiences and in-service training in an experimental environment. In each decade of its growth, Wimpfheimer has held true to that collective mission. As one of the first laboratory schools in the United States, Wimpfheimer has contributed to excellence in early childhood education through published research and curricula. College students obtaining in-service training and clinical experience at Wimpfheimer have graduated to become educators, clinical practitioners, researchers and international leaders in the best practice for early childhood education and child development.

Laboratory schools are comprised of a varied community, and each group of members benefits from its environment. Examples of the unique benefits of laboratory schools follow below. Comments in italics are taken from the director's address in celebration of Wimpfheimer's 75th anniversary.

Children receive a state of the art education, made rich by the contributions of the collective community membership. They are taught with innovative curriculum materials, experience the energy and creativity of college students, and participate in novel, engaging research protocols.

Parents receive continuous guidance and access to resources, learning about their children's learning and development. They are provided with the current findings of the research conducted at Wimpfheimer and encouraged to reflect on how it might benefit their own parenting and understanding of their child's education.

Teachers carry contemporary theory into educational practice. They teach both children and college students simultaneously - both by example, both with professional dedication and passion.

College Students are the creative energy of a lab school. You amaze us with your insights. You challenge us to think about our work and our perspectives in new ways. You give of yourself to the children as only you can. You make teaching a joy. You may be today's learners, but we have every confidence that you are tomorrow's leaders.

Faculty are the mission of a lab school. You bring us students to mentor and to learn from. You challenge us with new ideas, new research findings, new methodologies, and pose questions we've yet to answer. You carry our work into the broader professional and applied world. We exist for you, and for those students you share with us.

Laboratory Schools As A Community. Without the laboratory school community, we are just a single school in a single building on a single campus. With you, we are a network, a laboratory community without walls. Our enrollment is not simply a headcount of those within our school, but a ripple effect in a large educational pond. Our research is not just another paper to fulfill another requirement, but an addition in our ever-growing knowledge structures.