The BYU-Idaho Child Lab, located in the John L. Clarke Building, provides an opportunity for professional preschool education (PPE) majors to work with young children in a supervised setting.
The BYU-I Child Lab is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
As a PPE major, students are required to work at the Child Lab for three semesters. Students gain real teaching experience as they prepare and teach lessons to young children.
“As a preschool teacher, you get experience in the classroom; you teach lessons, sing songs and go outside,” said Mari Anderson, a senior studying child development.
A lot of time is dedicated to preparing lessons.
“It’s so much work. Planning lessons is a big deal. You re-write a lot of drafts and make stuff for your lessons,” Anderson said.
Not only is lesson preparation time-consuming, but it is expensive. Anderson said that she spent over $170 last semester.
Hannah Harris, a senior studying child development, said each week they center their teaching curriculum on a sometimes season-related subject. One week they focused on Spiders.
“For my spider lesson, we had a real tarantula, so the kids could see it up close. We had a spider puzzle, and we made spiders with pom poms and pipe cleaners,” Anderson said.
This past month, they focused on pumpkins, leaves and apples. Student teachers took the preschool children on a field trip to the apple orchard. Another week, students ran a pretend harvest store. Children each picked out their own pumpkins and carved them.
When students are not teaching, they are on the sidelines of the playground observing the children and noticing their interests. If a student notices a specific child is into rocks, then they will focus on learning about rocks for a week. The same applies with subjects like bugs and clouds.
The preschool curriculum is not only based on a child’s interests, the preschool has strict guidelines when teaching lessons. Students must refrain from teaching any religious beliefs.
“We don’t center around religious principles. [The preschool] is for the community,” Harris said.
Although students engage in similar activities, each student reacts differently to their experience at the Child Lab.
“My favorite part is teaching, because that is when I interact with kids the most,” said Shantel Turner, a junior studying sociology.
Anderson said that it was a good experience, but she wouldn’t want to go back and do it again.
“I didn’t like being the full teacher. It was really hard for me,” Anderson said.