Facility adding class for fourth-, fifth-graders

Facility adding class for fourth-, fifth-graders

CHAMPAIGN — A campus-based grade school plans to expand next year by adding a classroom for fourth- and fifth-graders.

University Primary School is a small laboratory school run by the University of Illinois College of Education and located in the lower level of the Children's Research Center off Gerty Drive in Champaign.

For decades, the school offered early childhood education for students from pre-kindergarten through first grade. However, in the 2012-13 school year, it added a classroom for second- and third-graders. And beginning with the next school year, which starts in late August 2014, there will be a new classroom for students in fourth and fifth grade.

"It's like a home. It's small and comfortable, personable," said director Ali Lewis.

There are about 25 students in each classroom.

Teachers there take the "project approach," which involves classes being engaged in semester-long inquiries into a topic.

"This is a hub for a lot of interactions," Lewis said. It's a school for research and practice, she said.

Students and researchers from the College of Education, the math department, speech and hearing, kinesiology and other areas have either research projects at the school or are involved in other ways.

"By having children go through fifth grade, we can continue the work of educational research and dissemination" of research studies, including some longitudinal studies that follow students from preschool through middle school, she said.

Parents have also asked for the added classroom, Lewis said.

The new classroom will be in the current space in the lower level of the research center, but Lewis said she would love to see a larger space for the school someday, where there would be room for physical education, music and more.

*We envision a plan where we could pursue some kind of an education lab, but that's all in the future," she said.

Some tuition assistance for students is available. Lewis estimated that about 10 percent of their students receive anywhere from $20 to $200 off their monthly tuition.

More information is available by visiting the school's website at http://education.illinois.edu/ups or by calling 217-333-3996.

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