Children's Center & Lab School

What is a Laboratory School?

Primary Role & Function

The Cabrillo College Early Childhood Education Department offers students a wide varietyimplement child development theory into evidence-based practice ing of young children (birth through age eight). The Children's Center & Lab School is an integral part of the Early Childhood Education Department and College and functions as the only standardized "hands-on" ECE workforce development training site in Santa Cruz County. Cabrillo ECE students who participate in the intensive training program are able to work with models of best practices in a centralized location with close supervision by our faculty. Upon successful completion of the practicum coursework, Cabrillo ECE graduates are assured employment by any one of the early care and education programs throughout Santa Cruz County and beyond.

The essential goal of the lab school experience is to allow students the opportunity to implement child development theory into evidence based practice based on the principals and educational philosophy of well-known theorists and professional organizations (Jean Piaget, Rudolf Steiner, John Dewey, Erik Erikson, Maria Montessori, Urie Bronfenbrenner), Anti-Bias & Peace Education, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Program for Infant Toddler Caregivers (PITC), the Reggio Emilia Approach and many more.

Observation Booths

Observation Booths

The Children's Center & Lab School offers private unobtrusive observation booths for each of our classrooms that line the length of the classrooms. Inside the observation booths are one-way mirrors to allow observers to see the entire classroom and outside learning environments. Headsets and microphones allow observers to hear the children, practicum students, intern teachers and faculty interacting.

Our observation booths provide the ideal setting for a wide variety of students interested in research and studying child development, education, human development, health professions, psychology, as well as families learning about their child's growth and development in a group care setting. The observation booths are closely monitored by department staff to ensure only approved visitors have access.


After eligible Early Childhood Education students successfully complete their one-semester practicum teaching course, they can be recommended by ECE faculty to apply for a two-semester paid internship position in one of our three classrooms. Once selected as an Intern Teacher, they receive many hours of intense mentoring and training from our Children's Center Faculty. Participating in our exceptional Internship Program is a valuable method for ECE professionals to gain additional work experience and daily support for effectively applying theory of child development into practical application. While serving as a primary care teacher in one of our classrooms, intern teachers are also enrolled in an additional course to support their successful completion of the program. We believe in providing high quality learning opportunities where teachers can receive support to develop to their full potential.

Some of the benefits of participating in our Internship Program are:
  • Gaining valuable "hands-on" experience and skills for becoming a high-quality early care & education professional.
  • Building professional skills for future employment.
  • Refining the essential skills for making a positive impact on children and families.
  • Opportunities to develop professional connections and gain a deeper understanding of collaboration, self-reflection and professionalism.