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Child Lab

The Onica Prall Child Development Laboratory School

The Onica Prall Child Development Laboratory School, begun in 1929, is operated by the Department of Education of Hood College. The school provides preschool education for children who are three and four years old. The purposes of the preschool program are: 

  • to give three- and four-year-old children meaningful experiences in which to develop intellectual, social, and physical abilities;
  • to provide classrooms in which college students can observe and work with young children and their parents;
  • to increase parents’ understanding of their children through observations and conferences with the staff of the laboratory school; and
  • to provide a laboratory setting for the testing of existing teaching methods and,
  • for the creation of new methods for educating young children.

Type of Program

The preschool program is based on a developmental philosophy of teaching and learning. We believe that children can learn in different ways and at different rates. We strive to meet the needs of all children in the laboratory school by using those methods best suited to individual children. We are, however, convinced that all children's cognitive development is enhanced by using the natural pathways of play. Each day the laboratory school provides a lively mix of art, science, music, number, language, manipulative, and outdoor activities.

Daily Program

A large portion of the day is spent in free play and exploratory learning. During this time,children are given choices including art, symbolic-play, computer, number, science, music, reading, and small-motor activities. The program also includes group activities, snack, and outdoor play. Weekly activities are organized around themes that form cohesive units of study. These themes are based on the questions children often ask during the ages of three and four. Enrichment is provided through Spanish, Yoga and Sign Language.


The Onica Prall Child Development Laboratory School is staffed by three faculty members of the Hood College Department of Education. Two serve as head teachers; one serves as the director. Hood College Early Childhood Education students serve as teaching interns in the Laboratory School.

Application Procedures

For an application form, contact the Director at Onica Prall Child Development Laboratory School, Hood College, 401 Rosemont Avenue, Frederick, MD 21701 or call 301-696-3416. We accept applications for children when they reach the age of 18 months. Children must be three and toilet trained by September 1 to enroll in the three-year-old class. Parents will be notified in the early spring of their child’s admission for the upcoming academic year to the Onica Prall Child Development Laboratory School.


Tuition is comparable to that of other preschool programs in the Frederick area. Tuition is billed from, and payable to the Hood College Financial Services Office.

Please check the refund policy


The Laboratory School follows the Hood College academic year calendar. School opens in early-September and closes in May. Children attend the Laboratory School from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m., Tuesday through Thursday.

Parent Involvement

In our program, teachers and parents work together toward understanding the needs of the child. Parents are encouraged to observe at any time throughout the school year. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled in December and May so that parents and teachers may share their observations of a child’s growth and development.

Further Information

For appointments or additional information, please call the Lab School at 301-696-3416.