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Early Childhood

A growing body of research literature documents the nature, process, and consequences of early childhood learning and development, and directs attention to the role of risk and protective factors in children's development. Research in HDFS on early childhood education focuses specifically on understanding the relations between home and school factors that contribute to children's positive developmental and learning outcomes. A primary research focus is on the design and evaluation of targeted interventions that support the development of children's social, cognitive and academic competence.

The Miller Child Development Laboratory School provides child development practicum and student teaching experiences for students, fulfill a need in the community for child care, and support child development research.

Faculty Research

  • James Elicker
    Dr. Elicker is investigating child care quality and young children's development in early care and education contexts. (Evaluation of Child Care Quality Rating Systems; Child Care Quality and Child Outcomes in Low Income Working Families)
  • Blake Jones
    Early childhood is a critical time for establishing healthy habits and behaviors. Factors predicting long-term obesity and sleep deficits are often seen in early childhood. Unfortunately, problems with obesity and sleep deficits in early childhood are often stable and predict long-term problems with these issues. Dr. Jones is interested in child obesity prevention, and works with parents, child-care workers, and teachers to understand how to promote health and prevent obesity in young children.
  • Douglas Powell
    Early literacy and language skills provide an important foundation for later school success, including reading competence. Dr. Powell's research focuses on the development and evaluation of professional development interventions with pre-kindergarten teachers aimed at enhancing the early literacy and language development of at-risk preschoolers.
  • David Purpura
    Dr. Purpura’s research focuses on understanding the development of early mathematical concepts and behavioral problems. Specifically, he is interested in investigating how these domains, and other factors, interact across early development.
  • Sara Schmitt
    Dr. Schmitt’s research focuses on optimizing young children’s development, particularly during the early childhood years. Specifically, she studies factors that support children’s school readiness, with an emphasis on self-regulation, executive function and early academic skills. In particular, she is interested in the role of early care and education experiences and family stability in preparing children for kindergarten entry. In addition, she develops and evaluates interventions that strengthen school readiness skills for children from disadvantaged families.