Miller Child Development Laboratory School

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies operates a preschool program that serves the learning, discovery, and engagement missions at Purdue. The program provides child development practica and student teaching experiences for Purdue students, fulfills a need in the community for high quality early education and child care, and provides a site for child development and early education research. The program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, signifying the highest level of program quality. In addition, it was awarded a Level Four rating from Paths to QUALITY. [Level Four: National accreditation (the highest indicator of quality) is achieved.]

To learn more about all three early care and education programs at Purdue, Purdue's family support policies and programs, or child care in the surrounding community, visit Purdue Child Care.

The Ben & Maxine Miller Child Development Laboratory School is located in Fowler Memorial House and Hanley Hall and serves families with children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. The infant, toddler and preschool classes operate year-round from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Classrooms are staffed by professional head teachers who have bachelor's or master's degrees in child development or early childhood education and extensive experience leading educational programs for young children. The program, established in 1926, was the first university-based nursery school in Indiana.

General Philosophy

The foundation of the HDFS Children's Program is a belief in the uniqueness and intrinsic value of each child, family, college student, and staff member. Children learn when they actively construct their own knowledge by experimenting with and reasoning about things and events around them, and when trusted adults teach them about important and interesting topics. We strive to maintain an atmosphere of security, acceptance, playfulness, and exploration. Children learn best when they develop a positive self-esteem, learn to cooperate with others, and are challenged at levels appropriate to their development. While there are predictable normative stages of growth, each child also has a unique pattern of development and experience. Therefore we provide a variety of activities designed to engage and challenge the diverse developmental levels, abilities, learning styles, interests, and family backgrounds reflected in each group of children.


Discovery: The children's program is actively involved in faculty and student research resulting in the generation of new knowledge about young children's learning and improvements in early education programs. The children's school provides excellent resources for the study of children's development in the contexts of school, family, and community — which is the central focus of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Investigations by HDFS researchers and researchers from other departments have focused on a range of topics related to the development of social and cognitive abilities, the creation and evaluation of early education curricula and environments, and relationships among teachers, children, and families. The research component is coordinated so that disruptions of the children's educational program are minimized. However, since research represents a major goal of the children's programs, staff, parents, and legal guardians are receptive to and supportive of research.

Learning: The children's program provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to observe and participate with children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5 years. Students majoring in early childhood education and early intervention observe and participate in order to develop a frame of reference concerning the growth, development, and behavior of young children. Students participate in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of appropriate educational activities; observe children's reactions to the routines of the day; study their progress through the program; and develop skills interacting with and positively guiding both individual children and groups. Find out more about HDFS undergraduate majors, see Undergraduate Study.

Engagement: The children's program provides exemplary models of early childhood education for children and families in the Greater Lafayette community. We achieve this goal by cultivating experimentation and innovation in all aspects of early childhood programming, based on current research and theory about child development, family studies, and early education.


Each classroom is equipped with an observation booth that is open when classes are in session. The observation booths are designed for use by students, faculty, parents, and staff of the children's program. Students from HDFS, education, psychology and other majors observe children, study teaching techniques, and observe program planning and classroom arrangement. Information gathered by students is for class use only, and the names of all children are kept confidential. The observation booths are also used for collecting data for various research projects. Fenced, outdoor play areas with age appropriate equipment is directly accessible to all classrooms. Sandboxes, climbing equipment, and many other outside toys and learning materials are accessible to children with disabilities, facilitating physical development but also outdoor learning in all areas. Sheltered areas enable children to participate outside in all but the most inclement weather conditions.

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