PALS: The Parent Association of the Lab School

The Parent Association of the Lab School (PALS) is one of the best ways for you to get involved in your child’s experience at The Shirley G. Moore Lab School.

This committee helps to plan all of the family activities (camping trips, creativity nights, etc.), parent education events (experts lead discussions on topics of interest such as transition to Kindergarten), and fundraisers (book fairs, Gym Jam and the Spring Soiree) for the school year AND it only takes 1.5 hours of your time, three times a year!

Please contact Sheila or one of the current co-chairs, Samira Afzali or Katie Gross, for more information.

Our first meeting of the school year is October 25th from 6-7:30 p.m. in ICD room 105.  We hope to see you there!

Parent education: Helping children cope with separation anxiety

By Ayuko Boomer, 2-mornings and 3-mornings Lead Teacher

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the school year! It’s an exciting time for all of us – teachers, children, and caregivers!  There are so many feelings you and your child may feel as you go through the first month of school. I came upon this article about separation and transitions that may be helpful to read as your child begins a new journey going to preschool.  I shared this article with the families in my class, but it’s worth extending it to the whole school.  Please take a look.

Here is another article from National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

If you have any questions about the beginning of the school year, please don’t hesitate to contact your teacher.  Have a wonderful first semester!

Current research at the Lab School

By Pam Miller, 3-afternoons Lead Teacher & Lab School Research Liaison

This fall, we have two new research studies working with your children. The research labs conducting these studies focus on different developmental areas, so it will be exciting to learn the results in the next couple of years and how those results influence early childhood education practices and how we teach at the Lab School.

One study is performed by the Institute of Child Development’s (ICD) Sera Lab and focuses on how young children learn multiple languages. Knowing more than one language has many developmental benefits and learning a second or third language as a child is the best time to develop linguistic skills. This study focuses on how children learn vocabulary words in a second language.

The second study is being carried out by the ICD Bioecology, Self-Regulation, and Learning (BSL) Lab. This study seeks to learn more about Executive Function (EF), a cognitive process developed throughout childhood and into early adulthood. Well developed EF is important for school readiness, because it affects skills such as focus and attention to a task, self-regulation, and critical thinking.

These two studies have great implications for developmental psychology and the education of young children. Like other research happening at the U of M and at other institutions around the world, we hope to use the results to provide the best education for your children.  If you have any questions or concerns about the studies, please contact Sheila at

Staying healthy at the start of the school year

By Ross Thompson, 5-mornings Lead Teacher

We’re all excited that another year has begun at the Lab School. It’s not uncommon for children to catch some kind of bug shortly after starting school, with all of the children arriving and we do our best to keep the environments clean by sanitizing toys and materials daily…but that only goes so far.

Washing hands is regular and frequent part of our days at school, and practicing at home. Other helpful reminders to keep children happy and healthy with the readjustment to the school schedule include being mindful about nutrition and meals – being at school uses a lot of energy! FUN FACT: turns out 4 year-olds use 66% of their caloric intake for brain grow and function – that’s the highest percentage of use over the lifespan! So it’s worth thinking about the meals and snacks provided, because your child is active for almost every minute of the 3 hour day at the Lab School – both physically and mentally…and socially, emotionally, and creatively, for that matter!

Related to that: rest and sleep. These growing bodies need time to recharge after all that playing, so naps and/or quiet times after school can help your child not only feel better, but also keep their immune systems strong!

Finally – and related to all of the above –  keeping a schedule/routine.  Predictable and regular schedules feel good to most (if not all) of us, and that’s very true for young children.  Setting and maintaining regular bedtimes (as well as meal schedules) help children’s natural circadian rhythms stay balanced, meaning their behaviors are more likely to stay balanced, too.

Venturing outdoors

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” Alfred Wainwright

By Sheila Williams Ridge

This school year we will be able to enjoy many beautiful and educational moments outside and we truly appreciate all of the laundry, packing of extra clothing, and probably cleaning of your car that has to happen when children so thoroughly explore their environment.

As we prepare for the cooler fall and winter weather, please remember to bring your child with the appropriate clothing to venture outside each day.  Layering is important for indoor comfort that can easily adapt to also being outdoors.  For winter, we recommend waterproof mittens so children can comfortably actively engage in play and keep melting snow away from their fingers. Longer armed mittens can be especially helpful for children who like to frequently take off their mittens during the colder winter days.

Please remember to label outdoor gear and their extra clothing so we can be sure to get it back to you at the end of the day.  We have samples of children’s wear available at school from a company named Oakiwear.  They offer a wide variety of high quality children’s waterproof rain and snow gear, including mittens and boots.  If you are interested in any of these items for your child, please visit their website. You can also find gear locally at Midwest Mountaineering, REI, or other outdoor focused retailers, however sometimes finding very small sizes of high quality gear can be challenging.

After you find the perfect gear to keep your child warm and comfortable year-round, please be sure to label everything as getting 18 pairs of mittens or snow pants home can be a challenge at the end of the day.  If you have black mittens or snow pants, we recommend a silver permanent marker to make the name clearly visible.

We are excited for a year of exploration and joy and we welcome you to join in the leafy and wintery fun as well.  Bring your warm boots and gloves to join us in the leaves or mittens to join us once the snow starts to fly for sledding, snowshoeing, or quinzhee (snowfort) making.  If you have any questions about weather or gear, please contact me in the office at or 612-624-9543.

Thank you for all that you do in support of this level of engagement with learning and exploration.

Kid’s corner: Fall fun!

By Amy Vavricka, 5-mornings Lead Teacher

Next time you are buying apples, instead of choosing a whole bag of one type of apple, purchase one of each breed that is available and give your child an opportunity to taste and rate their favorites.

The Farmer’s Markets and local grocery stores have a lot of Minnesota varieties ready and new apples continue to ripen through the end of October.

You can create a chart to choose favorites and add words that can help describe what they taste, feel, smell, and even hear when biting into one of the best parts of fall in Minnesota.

You can also learn more about Minnesota apples, many that were developed here at the University of Minnesota, at

Welcome: A letter from Lab School Director Sheila Williams Ridge

Sheila Williams Ridge HeadshotWelcome families to the 2017-2018 school year. This newsletter will be published each season to keep you informed and engaged in the Lab School experience. We have a variety of ways that you can be involved this year in creating the community, so please continue to talk to your child’s teacher, see our boards and displays in the hallway, and check out the website, as well as your emails for more information.

We have a wonderful year planned with a variety of events.  Our first event of the year is the Family Camping Trip on October 7-8, quickly followed by Creativity Night on October 17.  Gym Jam is planned for the winter, the Spring Soiree later in the year, and a variety of parent education offerings throughout the year. The first parent education event on the kindergarten transition will be held on November 9, and childcare will be available for the parent education events, as well as the PALS meeting for a small fee.

If you would like to help with any of these events or general volunteering around the school, please complete the family volunteer sign up from the open house, and if you didn’t get one then, there are extras in the hallway near the parent engagement wall.

If your child will be absent from school or late for arrival or pick up, please call the office at 612-624-9543 to let us know. Please be sure to lock your valuables out of sight when you leave your car around campus.  At drop off or pick up, please do not leave your car unattended on the curb, especially with any children or other valuables inside.

Several research projects will begin soon. Please watch your email for details. You can opt out of participation at any time by emailing your child’s teacher or me directly, or by letting us know in person at school.

Thank you so much for your support and engagement in the school.  We look forward to a wonderful school year!