1985—LAP began on the fourth floor of Haworth under the direction of Mabel Rice and Kim Wilcox
1986—LAP received a three-year grant and later a five-year grant to help fund programming
1990—LAP moved to 2107 Haworth
2004—LAP moved to its current home at 1014 Dole
The Kansas University Language Acquisition Preschool (LAP) will celebrate 25 years of service on Saturday. Its theme: “Once a LAPer always a LAPer.”
LAP is a licensed program that serves children with speech and language impairments and learning English as a second language, as well as children with typical language development. Since its opening in 1985, LAP has served 538 children.
Around 18 students ages 3 to 5 participate in a program of three hours a day, four days a week with curriculum developed by LAP instructors.
Dr. Betty Bunce, director of the program, said the curriculum was based on a balance of teacher lead and student choice activities. Unlike other programs mainly guided by teacher input, Bunce said, the LAP program embeds literacy into everyday activities to give children the opportunity to make their own choices.
“By giving them the choice of what to do, you’re building on their interests and giving them the motivation to learn,” Bunce said. “We want the children to re-invent knowledge and make it their own, and in doing so become problem-solvers.”
The heart of the LAP style of learning is the idea of dramatic plays. Each day the children are given different scenarios to participate in. One day they might be on a pirate ship, the next day on a baseball diamond. The plays help the children learn how to make decisions, ask questions, act in different roles and use a variety of vocabulary and sentence structure, among other things.
Besides serving children, the program has provided training for nearly 400 undergraduate and graduate KU students in speech language pathology, special education, human development and many others areas of study.
Katie Pierson, a second-year graduate student in speech pathology who has helped with the school for two years, said one of the most rewarding parts to the program is seeing the children develop their skills firsthand.
“It’s wonderful to see the kids progress and move on and know that you’ve made an impact,” Pierson said.
Bunce said the variety of services, whether to children, university students, teachers or researchers, makes the program so important.
“We give the children opportunities to grow and succeed that they might not have otherwise had in other preschool programs,” Bunce said.