Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Lab School?

A lab school is designed to facilitate observation and research, as well as to function as a regular preschool. Because of their affiliation with colleges and universities, lab schools usually have access to greater resources, physical and intellectual, and state of the art educational theory, and thus often serve as model schools and teachers training sites. Our school was designated to be used by Wellesley College faculty and students who observe and study child development here.

How are we different from other nursery schools?

The Child Study Center is different from other nursery schools in that we are affiliated with the Psychology Department at Wellesley College. Because of this affiliation, Wellesley College students volunteer in our classrooms and use the facility for their assignments, which can range from the simple observation of child development to the design and implementation of an ethical research project.

What is the philosophy of the CSC?

The program is designed to meet the diverse social, physical, emotional and cognitive needs of individual children and foster independence, self-respect, concern for others, and age-appropriate competencies. Drawing from all major educational theorists, the CSC offers a learning environment that is a structured, open classroom, emphasizing hands on experience, individual choice, and process within a group setting.

How do we compare with Montessori Schools?

Although we are not a Montessori school, the CSC incorporates many Montessorian principles and materials, for example, explicit presentations of learning activities, actual Montessori equipment, and work with practical items and real jobs, such as scrub brushes and sandpaper.

How are your classrooms staffed?

Our Lead Teachers all have extensive experience working with young children, and are Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) qualified. They usually have a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development. Each classroom has a Lead Teacher and an Assistant Teacher/Intern who are in the room each day. Also, assigned to each room is a student teacher who usually works three days a week. In addition, we have Wellesley College students who participate as work study or who volunteer in conjunction with course work related to child development or education. Each student has regular, consistent weekly hours.

What kind of research is done here?

Is the research supervised?

Can parents find out what their children are involved in?

Are parents given results of the research?

Faculty, staff, and students may conduct research in developmental psychology. The aim of most studies is to help college students learn the ethics and methods of research. All studies are reviewed and approved by the Psychology Department Ethics Committee, the Parent Research Review Committee and the staff of the CSC to ensure that they are not only developmentally appropriate, but also engaging for the children. (Children call the studies "games" and receive stickers as rewards for participation.) All researchers first spend time in the classrooms becoming familiar with the children and then all research is monitored by the Director. Parents are always notified of projects prior to the start of the research and given results at semester's end. Only group results are shared and confidentiality is strictly enforced. Parents and children can always decline to participate in the research.

What is the classroom routine?

Do children have a Circle/Group time and what do they do?

Do they get music lessons or do musicians come into class?

The daily routine of each class is different, but each room has at least one outside time (when weather permits), a group time, and a snack time. On extended days, children also have lunch time (with a lunch from home), rest time, and afternoon outside time (weather permitting). The oldest and middle groups (3's and 4's) usually start and end each morning outside, while the youngest group (2's) begins inside. Group times usually include song and story, but may incorporate, for example, group discussion, visitors, creative movement, or slide show. We incorporate music into our curriculum daily and occasionally have friends, family members, and/or students share their talents with us.

Do the children go on field trips?

We take walking field trips on the Wellesley College Campus only.

Are the children taught to read? Do they learn their letters and numbers (reading and counting)?

Learning to read is a process, not an event. We provide an environment rich in concrete experiences, for example, sequencing, drawing, writing, letter recognition, being read to, story telling, patterning, etc. in order to foster reading skills. The same is true for math. The classroom environment and program invite children to explore reading and math concepts in a developmentally appropriate manner as each child is ready.

How do we handle discipline and what are our rules?

Discipline at the Child Study Center is designed to help each child assume increasing amounts of his or her own inner control with the support of caring adults.

Do children need to be toilet trained?
Are they allowed to go to the bathroom alone?

Children need not be toilet trained. Youngest Group children, (2's) are always accompanied to the bathroom. Children in the Middle and Oldest Groups (3's and 4's) may manage on their own with an adult nearby in the adjacent hallway. Children are never left unattended.

What kind of security do we have?

Our front door is kept locked and closed at all times. Once children are in the building, all other doors are locked and closed. The Assistant to the Director is seated where she can monitor the doorway throughout the day.

Do we have stay days or afternoon programs?

Yes, we offer an extended day option (until 2:30PM) on Tuesdays and Thursdays for our Middle and Oldest Classrooms of three and four year olds.

What is the Extended Day Program?

Currently enrolled children from the CSC's Middle & Oldest Classrooms may participate in this program. This is a 2-day afternoon preschool program, offered every Tuesday & Thursday that the CSC is in session, from 11:30AM - 2:30PM. The extended days begin on the Tuesday of the second full week of each new school year.

How does a parent enroll their child in the Extended Day Program?

Parents have the following opportunities to enroll children in this program: * In February by returning their annual CSC Enrollment Contract and checking the box for the Extended Day option. * With written, signed notification of interest to the CSC Director on or before the last day of April. * If there is availability in the program, with written, signed notification of interest to the CSC Director during the first week of October.

How are your classrooms staffed in the afternoon?

Our Extended Day Program will be staffed by CSC staff members, our Lead Teachers and our Assistant Teacher/Interns. Also, assigned to each classroom will be Wellesley College students who participate as work-study or who volunteer in conjunction with course work related to child development or education. As with our morning program, all staff members will have regular, consistent hours.

What is the philosophy of the Extended Day Program?

Like our morning program, the Extended Day program is designed to meet the diverse social, physical, emotional and cognitive needs of individual children and foster independence, self-respect, concern for others, and age-appropriate competencies. We will continue to offer a structured, open classroom, emphasizing hands on experience, a connection with nature, individual choice and process within a group setting. The Extended Day offers additional time in a preschool classroom setting for those children and families who are interested in a longer school day.

How do we handle Extended Day tuition payments?

Parents receive and sign a contract upon acceptance of their child in the Extended Day Program. The additional tuition is billed with the annual tuition for the morning program in August and January. All tuition matters are handled by the Wellesley College Student Financial Services Department.

Do we have summer programs?

No, we follow Wellesley College's academic school year and are open from September through May.

What is the child's school day like?

Each class is staffed by a Lead Teacher (with a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development), an Assistant Teacher/Intern, plus a varying number of students and volunteers who are committed to a regular schedule for at least one semester.

Most mornings offer opportunities for children to have an appropriate balance of quiet and active, indoor and outdoor activities. Our curriculum is carefully planned to meet the social and emotional, physical and cognitive needs of each child. We know that children may make independent but suitable choices from a variety of activities.

While new materials and activities are regularly introduced, materials that are considered essential for all young children are always available in each class, such as: Playdough, sand, water, blocks, books, easel paints, manipulative toys, puzzles, crayons, and dress-up clothes.

Depending on the age group and individual child's ability, the materials and activities will be used in various ways. In addition, the program offers a wide range of other appropriate activities including music, creative movement and dance, and cooking.

Classes occasionally take short impromptu walks on campus or more organized "field trips" to facilities like the Jewett Art Museum and the Greenhouses. We sometimes ask parents to accompany the group on these excursions.

All groups follow roughly the same schedule, with the middle and oldest groups beginning the morning outside and the youngest group starting inside. The remainder of the morning is generally structured as follows:

  • 9:00-10:30 Free-play, work time
  • 10:30-11:00 Snack and group time
  • 11:00-11:30 Outdoor play


On extended days the routine will vary with the goal of spending time outside (weather permitting) but will typically be structured as follows:

  • 11:30-12:00 Transition time, Group time
  • 12:00-12:30 Lunch time
  • 12:30-2:30 Rest time, Play time, Outdoor play


Contact Us

Contact Us

Wellesley College Child Study Center
Page Building
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481-8203
Phone: 781.283.2695


Child Study Center