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Age Groups

The CDL’s classrooms are divided into three categories for the 2020-21 school year:

  • Infant: 0 – 24 months at time of enrollment
  • Two’s and Three’s: 24 months up to 48 months at time of enrollment
  • 4k & 5’s: 48 months or older at time of enrollment – Kindergarten attendance

We use a mixed-age model in our classrooms. This model has many benefits but probably the greatest is that a child can be in the same classroom for at least two years.  Teachers can really get to know each child and provide for his or her changing needs over time. Also, teachers who work with a mixed-age classroom become more sensitive to normal variations of children’s development. Being in a group with a broader age-span also gives children the opportunity to gravitate to others more closely matched to their own developmental level.  Older children can learn how to be helpful, patient, and tolerant of younger peers’ competencies, and to serve as desirable role models.

Daily Routine

A sense of routine is extremely important during early childhood development. Our Program supports routine through structured and predictable events, but also allows for plenty of free exploration. During free exploration, children are encouraged to explore interest areas, participate in meaningful investigations, and interact with adults and peers. During planned activities, teachers and students work together as a team. Based on children’s interests and developmental levels, the team creates a plan that encourage exploration, the development of inquiry skills, and  We strive for a balance between adult-initiated and child-initiated times, active and quiet times, as well as indoor and outdoor periods.

  • Younger children: Routines for infants and young toddlers are flexible so that teachers can meet the individual needs of each child. The care-giving routines (feeding, diapering, toilet training, napping, etc.) are part of the “curriculum” because they are connected to attachment and relationship building.
  • Older children: Older toddlers and preschoolers follow established routines and a daily schedule that includes some group times. Schedules are posted outside each classroom door for parents and visitors to see.

Indoor Environment

Physical environment is a foundation of the early childhood curriculum. Each classroom environment is aesthetically pleasing and rich in opportunities for children to notice, wonder, explore and discover. Our strategy for room layout is to arrange the room into a messy zone, an active zone, and a quiet zone. Each classroom is divided into learning centers or areas which include:

  • Dramatic Play & Pretend Play Areas
  • Blocks & Large Motor
  • Creative Art
  • Music & Movement
  • Manipulatives & Math
  • Discovery Science & Sensory
  • Language & Literacy

Outdoor Environment

At the CDL we value outdoor learning and access to nature. Children play outside every day, weather permitting. Children spend time outdoors daily both on our outdoor natural playground and by taking short walking trips to engage with “The Beyond”.  “The Beyond”  spaces are natural outdoor play areas, in our urban setting, on the beautiful UW-Madison campus. Regular visits to these outdoor spaces, enhance the depth and richness of children’s experiences to explore and make new discoveries in “The Beyond”.

The CDL’s outdoor spaces are set up for exploration and learning with an emphasis on connecting to nature in our urban setting. Our space is thoughtfully planned to provide a place for large motor activities and access to natural areas such as gardens, sand, water, trees, birds and insects. Natural and open-ended materials are used whenever possible to enhance play including pinecones, stones, sticks, leaves, etc. Children are encouraged and have the opportunity to engage in the inquiry process within this natural environment.