College of Education

University Primary School
HomeAbout UsAdmissionsClassroomsProgramsResources

Mission & Philosophy: Learning is Serious Delight!

What do we mean when we say: Learning is Serious Delight? We mean that our classrooms are places where children truly love school! What does it mean to love school? Loving school indicates a positive attachment to the people and experiences of school, to the content and the curriculum of what and how you are learning, that your needs are met, and often your wants/hopes have optimum space to be nurtured.

At Uni Primary, we welcome the whole child--their head, their heart, their body, and their spirit. Children are playful (and we must protect their right to play), children are competent (and we must provide them with opportunities to demonstrate and develop competencies), and children are curious (and we must listen and bring their curiosity into the curriculum; this is an exciting task for our teachers)! Our hope is that children at Uni Primary learn to engage in classroom communities where they advocate for their needs and the needs of others, where they use their voice (not "turn their voices off") to speak up and speak out, where they develop healthy skepticism and healthy trust, and ultimately, where they thrive as a participant and citizen of humanity!

University Primary School’s philosophy is that young children are best served by teaching and curriculum practices that strengthen and support their intellectual growth and development, initiate them into basic skills which grow and mature in meaningful contexts, challenge them to increase their proficiency in intellectual processes as well as academic tasks, and at the same time and with the same importance, foster the development of their social and emotional understandings. 

University Primary School’s mission is to create an exceptional school experience for children and families. We are an innovative research and teacher training site for University of Illinois College of Education faculty, graduate students, preservice teachers, student volunteers, community colleagues, and visiting scholars interested in the ways children and teachers learn and develop. University Primary School is a Reggio Emilia-inspired Preschool-5th grade school, demonstrating inquiries and actions in pursuit of a democratic educational journey.

Student Teacher working alongside 2nd & 3rd grade students to comeplete math problems

2nd & 3rd Grade Classroom, Exploring Music

As a lab school, there is a spirit of scholarly endeavor through:

  • active participation of children, families, and staff in faculty and graduate student research projects (families, children, and staff always have a choice to participate or decline)
  • on-campus accessible space for pilot research implementation with children of differing abilities and ages, as well as invested teaching faculty
  • collaboration with a numerous and wide variety of campus and community entities/programs

As a teacher training site for the College of Education, University Primary School:

  • is an inclusive placement site for a cohort of Illinois' preservice teachers and practicum students in early childhood and elementary education
  • pairs preservice teachers with master teachers for support and coaching
  • ensures preservice teachers a practicum experience where theory and practice are mediated through meaning-filled learning experiences
  • hosts student volunteers from programs and organizations across campus

Always seeking opportunities to grow and learn with others, our school has an impact on educational practice through partnerships with faculty and graduate student researchers, preservice teachers, local and international practitioners, and families. The University Primary School community is dedicated to upholding the rights of children and families, innovative pursuits in education, and the evolving role of educators.