Children's Center & Lab School

Program Philosophy & Guiding Principles

It is our foundational belief that high-quality early learning begins with building strong partnerships with families (or a child's primary caregiver) by providing a respectful, reflective, consistent, secure, supportive, and nurturing environment where staff and families can learn and grow together.

We believe that children at every age are competent learners and the most effective method for supporting their optimal growth and development is to provide a variety of diverse learning opportunities that emphasize positive interactions, exploration and experimentation.

We believe in a child developmental model, which incorporates the theories of Piaget, Montessori, Erikson, Vygotsky, Gerber and others. Anti-bias learning opportunities through intentional and facilitated play experiences in all developmental domains are viewed as the cornerstones of our curriculum.

As early care and education professionals, we are responsible for providing a safe, respectful, nurturing and stimulating learning environment. As children explore our thoughtfully designed open-classroom environments, the primary goal is that they develop a sense of trust and curiosity that encourages self-confidence and social-emotional competence. While participating in the Center teachers and care-givers support all children's access and participation by identifying and providing learning opportunities, materials, and teaching strategies in flexible and individualized ways through a variety of learning modalities. Children are offered opportunities to freely explore materials and participate in a variety of experiences that stimulate their curiosity, interests, their ability to make choices and demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the areas of communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, language and literacy, large and fine motor development, mathematics, science, nature, creativity, art, nutrition, healthy and safety and much more.


We believe in the use of Emergent Curriculum as a holistic approach for planning meaningful, real-life and child-centered learning experiences, as well as being responsive to children's individual interests. This process is based on continuous observations of what children are thinking, wondering and talking about. Teachers document the progress of each child as they engage with others and work with the provided materials. Through our system of observation, assessment and reflection, teachers are able to support children and families at a deeper level.

Children enrolled in all of our classrooms receive high-quality early education opportunities that blend several learning theories such as Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Constructivist and Play-Based Learning. It is through these varied approaches that children learn to think creatively, make decisions and enjoy learning so they can succeed in a complex and ever-changing world. The Center staff understand the importance of children "learning through play," and that purposeful play is developmentally appropriate and is a significant element of how children develop their intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development.

We value and welcome diversity and anti-bias education by striving to:

Bring together families and teachers from a wide range of diverse cultures, family structures, languages and economic backgrounds. We believe that our learning community allows for many opportunities to reflect and discuss what it is like to grow up in a multicultural society.

Provide an inclusive environment that recognizes children's varied backgrounds and abilities, unique interests, special needs and learning styles. We believe children learn from one another and that each child has unique strengths and challenges as members of a learning community. And, that everyone has the right to an environment where they feel safe to share their talents, hopes, and values, while learning to celebrate the abilities and cultures of others.

Facilitate opportunities for our staff, students and families to discuss larger social issues that can make raising and caring for children difficult such as: commercialism, violence, racism, Anti-Semitism, homophobia, and bias based on gender, language, disability, class, or family background.

Engage children in conversation by using age appropriate language and activities that teach concepts such as respect, fairness, and appreciation of diversity. We believe that our interactions and learning environments must focus on helping children and their families learn about and enjoy each other's similarities and differences.

Deepen staff, children and families' understanding and acceptance of one another. We believe that this anti-bias approach must be seen in the classroom environment and materials we choose, the topics shared at family meetings, the strategies used to assist children with conflict resolution, and the way we invite and embrace every person's family, culture and languages into the classroom.

Our Guiding Principles & Practices:

The Cabrillo College Children's Center & Lab School program is built upon the following guiding principles:

1.) Ensure that children receive the highest level of quality early learning environments that are safe, healthy, stimulating, diverse and developmentally appropriate for their growth and development.
2.) Develop and sustain an early care and education program that is high-quality, affordable, inclusive and supportive so families can achieve their academic or employment goals.
3.) Reinforce an anti-bias approach to learning and developing as an essential component for children growing up in our highly diverse world.
4.) Create anti-bias learning environments that accept and respect all individuals as equal contributors to a child's learning and development.
5.) Foster individuals cultural, racial, and gender identities, while developing their joy in human diversity, self-esteem, interdependence and acquisition of self-help skills.
6.) Develop effective partnerships with families through supportive on-going communication as the basis for building strong connections.
7.) Create opportunities for family involvement through engaging program orientations, classroom meetings, workshops, family conferences, and other events essential for fostering effective home-to-school connections.
8.) Provide on-going community referrals and resources based on the individual needs of each child and family.
9.) Offer a safe and supportive community where families are invited to share their joys and challenges of parenthood, learn from and assist one another, support the values and strengths of each family's beliefs and traditions, and work together to advocate for all children and their families.
10.) Build a safe, healthy, positive and collaborative work environment that respects each employee's contributions to the successful operation of the center.
11.) Develop a cross-cultural, respectful, effective and transparent communication system between each other, with families and ECE Faculty.
12.) Provide Early Childhood Education (ECE) students with workforce development opportunities through a robust "hands on" laboratory experience that reinforces the essential principles of "Theory-to Practice" adult learning.