Child Development Lab

Providing carefully-supervised training opportunities to students pursuing careers in child development.

As part of the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, the Child Development Lab (CDL) plays an integral role in the university's threefold mission of teaching, research, and service. Licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services, the CDL provides a unique opportunity for early childhood professionals to gain real-world experience while helping children and families participate in safe, child-centered research studies conducted by faculty and graduate students. The CDL’s quality education and care program follows the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s criterion for best practices in early care and education.

A quality childhood program

The CDL provides education and childcare for children two to five years old through a wide range of age-appropriate activities that facilitate children's intellectual, social-emotional, and physical development. Based on well-researched practices from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, activities and adult-child interactions are tailored to meet the individual needs, interests, and abilities of each child.

A university at our doorstep

Children at the CDL have access to ASU’s many rich and varied resources. The program includes field trips to the museums, libraries, and centers on the Tempe campus. The lab also frequently hosts guest speakers and special activities from the music, art, education, nursing, intercollegiate athletics, and architecture departments at ASU.

A place for parents

The CDL is committed to meeting the needs of parents; their involvement is welcomed and encouraged. Observation facilities are open daily, and parents are always invited to join their child for lunch. The CDL also hosts educational programs and social events for parents, as well as a biannual parent conference.

Parent resources


Email to request an application

Young Preschool Program

Age range: Two to three and a half years old

The young preschool program is managed by a lead teacher (with a minimum of an undergraduate degree in child development, psychology, education or a related field) and three interns in CDL’s Early Childhood Leadership Trainee Program. With the help of college student classroom aides, these primary caregivers divide into two teams and assign a child to each team. They work together to oversee the child's care, keep records and communicate with parents. A maximum of 15 children are in the young preschool program, maintaining a 1:4 child-caregiver ratio. The interns are in charge if the teacher is absent.  

Children may move on to the multi-age program once they are fully independent in toileting. In addition, parents are responsible for bringing diapers and wipes for their child.

Multi-age Preschool Program

Age range: Three and a half to five years old

The CDL has two multi-age classrooms, each staffed with a lead teacher, assistant teacher and college student classroom aides. A typical day in the preschool program includes a variety of developmentally appropriate learning activities in an environment structured for self-directed play.

Curriculum activities include pretend play, open-ended creative and sensory experiences (painting, sand and water play, modeling clay, collage activities), construction activities with blocks, mathematics and language games, gardening, cooking activities, and science “experiments." Each day also includes teacher-led "group times" during which children gather for creative movement activities, musical experiences, and stories. The developmentally appropriate curriculum is reflective of the Arizona State Standards for Early Childhood Programs.

The children are given time to eat a sack lunch from home, as well as a morning and afternoon snack provided by the center. After lunch, the children are given a rest time which is followed by afternoon activities.