The Willie Price Lab School operates under the School of Education at The University of Mississippi. The school provides preschool education for 3-, 4- and 5-year old children. We believe that children and families, as well as society, benefit from high-quality, early-childhood programs. Strong early- childhood education is foundational for future academic success and ultimately for success in life. The mission of the Willie Price Lab School is to provide a model early-childhood program that is responsive to the needs of children, families, faculty, and staff, as well as the community.
The Willie Price Lab School has two primary purposes:
- To provide the highest quality preschool education for children of university faculty, staff, and students, as well as for children of the community.
- To provide a laboratory setting for university students from a wide variety of disciplines across the Ole Miss campus.
The vision of the Willie Price Lab School is to be a place where children and their needs are placed at the forefront of all decision-making. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in the Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment (2011) provides a list of “core values that are deeply rooted in the history of the field of early childhood care and education.” These values serve as the vision of the Willie Price Lab School and are as follows:
- Appreciate childhood as a unique and valuable stage of the human life cycle
- Base our work on knowledge of how children develop and learn
- Appreciate and support the bond between child and family
- Recognize that children are best understood and supported in the context of family, culture, community, and society
- Respect the dignity, worth, and uniqueness of each individual (child, family member, and colleague)
- Respect diversity in children, families, and colleagues
- Recognize that children and adults achieve their full potential in the context of relationships that are based on trust and respect
(From the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment, 2011, p.1)
The goals of the Willie Price Lab School include providing a high-quality early-childhood program that equally promotes physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development in a nurturing environment. The philosophy holds that young children learn from interactions with other children and from interactions with the environment, as well as from interaction with adults. The Willie Price Lab School bases the program on the recommendations of developmentally appropriate practice as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) position statement, Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 (2009). NAEYC (2009) states “the purpose of this position statement is to promote excellence in early childhood education by providing a framework for best practice. Grounded both in the research on child development and learning and in the knowledge base regarding educational effectiveness” (p. 1). The Willie Price Lab School’s philosophy is grounded in the research base as described by the NAEYC. During the course of a day, educational professionals make decisions that impact children. These decisions will “not be based on what we think might be true or what we want to believe about young children” but will be based on “what we know from theory” and research “about how children develop and learn” (NAEYC, 2009, p. 10).
Principles of Child Development and Learning That Inform Practice
(Taken from NAEYC position statement, Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8, 2009, pgs. 11-16.)
The following principles will serve as the framework by which all decisions are made at the Willie Price Lab School:
- All the domains of development and learning—physical, social, emotional, and cognitive—are important, and they are closely interrelated. Children’s development and learning in one domain influence and are influenced by what takes place in other domains.
- Many aspects of children’s learning and development follow well documented sequences, with later abilities, skills, and knowledge building on those already acquired.
- Development and learning proceed at varying rates from child to child, as well as at uneven rates across different areas of a child’s individual functioning.
- Development and learning result from a dynamic and continuous interaction of biological maturation and experience.
- Early experiences have profound effects, both cumulative and delayed, on a child’s development and learning; and optimal periods exist for certain types of development and learning to occur.
- Development proceeds toward greater complexity, self-regulation, and symbolic or representational capacities.
- Children develop best when they have secure, positive relationships with responsive adults and opportunities for positive relationships with peers.
- Development and learning occur in and are influenced by multiple social and cultural contexts.
- Always mentally active in seeking to understand the world around them, children learn in a variety of ways; a wide range of teaching strategies and interactions are effective in supporting all these kinds of learning.
- Play is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation, as well as for promoting language, cognition, and social competence.
- Development and learning advance when children are challenged to achieve at a level just beyond their current mastery, and also when they have many opportunities to practice newly acquired skills.
- Children’s experiences shape their motivation and approaches to learning, such as persistence, initiative, and flexibility; in turn, these dispositions and behaviors affect their learning and development.
Guidelines for Developmentally Appropriate Practice
(Taken from NAEYC position statement, Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8, 2009, pgs. 16-23.)
The following five keys and interrelated areas of practice will also shape the decisions made to promote children’s optimal learning at Willie Price Lab School:
- Creating a caring community of learners.
- Teaching to enhance development and learning.
- Planning curriculum to achieve important goals.
- Assessing children’s development and learning.
- Establishing reciprocal relationships with families.
(Note: A more extensive discussion of these areas of practice can be found in the reference cited. Also, these guidelines will be addressed in staff orientation.)
NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment
Reaffirmed and Updated, May 2011
The NAEYC position statement will serve as the guideline for all conduct at the Willie Price Lab School.