Child Development and Learning Lab enhances learning opportunities for students young and old

(Victoria Zegler/Staff Photographer)

College students are not the only ones taking advantage of the Education and Human Services Building.

The Child Development and Learning Lab was in Wightman Hall for 40 years before its relocation to the EHS Building this year.

“We seem to be a focal point of the university,” said Associate Director of CDLL Margaret Desormes. “Both because of our new central location on campus and because of the beauty of the new building.”

The new location has given the program and its faculty members the opportunity to provide more for the preschoolers.

“We now have more space and can offer expanded school day for 72 preschool-age children,” Desormes said.

The CDLL has served as a learning environment for Central Michigan University students and children ages 3 to 4.

The lab gives preschool students a seven-hour school day, where they have the opportunity to eat breakfast, play with blocks, reflect upon the previous day’s experience and discuss what activities they will do that day.

Fun experiences

The school offers many creative opportunities for the students with an indoor movement room and several activities on different walls to keep the kids moving through activities.

For example, a rock-climbing wall is in the indoor movement room for kids to stay active.

“We believe they learn best through play-based experiences,” said Cheryl Priest, faculty director of the CDLL.

Everything is built for the small sizes of the preschool students, Priest said. The bathrooms stalls, sinks and toilets are smaller than normal.

The way the teachers treat the children is inspired by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who promoted social interaction, and developmental biologist Jean Piaget, who created stages of child development.

Schools in Italy also inspire those at the school.

Priest and Desormes have traveled to Italy to study programs.

“We believe that children enter the classroom with preset foundation of what their knowledge is,” Priest said.

Student involvement

CMU students also are benefited by the program and its resources. Students going into child development may work with the children in some of their classes.

“The main purpose for us being here is to serve as training site for those students in child development,” Priest said.

The CDLL was established under the department of Human Environmental Studies as a place for students to practice with children as they took classes before they went out into their professional field, Priest said.

“There is a second key purpose besides actually serving the children and the families,” Priest said. “And that is to serve as a research base for faculty around campus and even from other campuses who are studying children.”

Manistee junior Kelly Bosma is an early childhood development major and she works as an assistant student teacher with preschoolers for HDF 402: Human Growth and Development — Guidance for Young Children.

Bosma loves being able to observe the children and work with them. She interacts with professors on a more professional note and works closely with fellow students.

“I definitely think that there is a lot more opportunities for the children,” Bosma said.


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