Learning and growing together since 1978

Decorating gingerbread houses

Why a Cooperative Preschool?

Research clearly indicates that meaningful parent involvement in school is one of the most powerful predictors of successful student achievement.  The cooperative preschool experience is truly a family experience in meeting, knowing, and trusting others in growing and learning together.

The Mercer Island Learning Lab offers a learning experience for both parents and children. By joining MILL, parents are participating in a parent education class sponsored by Bellevue College.  Parents learn child development and guidance by working with the children in class, and in this way develop a better understanding of their own children.

Learn more on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

What our parents say

"Learning Lab has been such a wonderful experience for my kids. Watching my three-year-old learn through play and art and nature is such a joy; every day she comes home bursting with excitement to show me what she's made and tell me of the many new things she's discovered."
―Megan (mom of Olympia)

ACTIVITIES

So what does a typical Learning Lab day look like? As a parent, you are well aware that little is typical in the day of a 3-5 year old! But to keep the class grounded in routine, there is a set of core activities that act as the foundation for each class―and those are outlined below. Additionally, throughout the year MILL holds special events and takes field trips to locations such as the pumpkin patch and local parks.

Learning Lab gives the children a complete sensory experience. Students have the chance to SEE, TOUCH, HEAR, TASTE, AND SMELL for themselves, in their own style.

Class gathers for morning circle
Morning Circle

After the kids trickle in, everyone gathers for some energizing songs and jumping around―plus an introduction to the day’s themes and special projects.

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Kids playing with play dough
Unstructured play

Every day the Learning Lab offers the following activities:

  • Creative activities with a variety of mediums (paint, dough, etc)
  • Cooking activities
  • Science exploration (space, weather, insects, etc)
  • A chance to use books, pictures, and appreciate literature
  • Exploration of the physical environment
  • Enjoyment of music, movement, and creative dramatics
  • Something that requires the children to think & solve a problem
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Working on an Autumn-themed craft
Daily Art Project

Each day Teacher Monica comes up with a project themed to coordinate with the daily book selections, the season, upcoming holidays, or even recent conversations.

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A child having snack
Snack time

Everyone brings their own snack to enjoy. The kids sit outside on mats on the lawn―under tents when it’s raining!―and they are free to eat leisurely as snack time leads right into outdoor play time.

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Kids playing outside
Outside play

The second half of class is spent outside in our semi-enclosed courtyard where we have:

  • open grassy spaces for running, dancing, spinning, and playing ball
  • tricycles and scooters for joyriding and transporting things
  • a sandbox full of toys for digging and construction
  • a jungle gym to climb on, swing from, and slide down
  • a garden to explore and build imaginary worlds around
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Story time
Story time

MILL has amassed a fabulous library of children’s books over the past four decades and books are frequently read to individual or small groups of students during class. Additionally, to close out each day, everyone gathers to hear a curated selection of stories.

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What our students say

"My favorite thing is the art!"
―Olympia, age 3

"There are fun toys and fun stuff to do. I like to make a mess and I like all the painting projects. I like to make magic wands. My friends are my favorite."
―Rylan, age 4

"I really like Learning Lab because it's a lot about nature."
―Everett, age 6 (former student)

OUR TEACHERS

In addition to the wonderful parent volunteers that assist in the classroom every day, we have two fantastic educators that run the MILL program.

Judy Witmer
Judy Witmer
Parent & Child Educator

Judy has a Masters in Early Childhood Education and has taught for 52 years―45 at Bellevue College in the Parent Education Program and 15 years in the ECED program. Being closely involved in the lives of young children and learning together is her passion.

Judy Witmer
Monica Rodriguez
Monica Rodriguez
Child Educator

Monica has a Masters in Teaching in Elementary Education as well as a Bachelors in Architecture. She has taught in the Bellevue College Parent Ed Program's Toddlers class as well as the Discovery Science Lab Class. She loves working with young children and believes strongly in the importance of play in children's cognitive and social development.

Monica Rodriguez

Contact Us

Enroll for 2022-23

Tap the link below to complete the registration form. Our Registrar will then reach out to confirm your enrollment and instruct you on how to submit the non-refundable $75 registration fee.

Schedule a Tour!

If you have questions, or would like to schedule a tour, please contact our Registrar using the information below.