About the Child Development Lab
We meet the needs of all children through activities designed to meet the needs of all areas of development.
We offer child care services for children from six weeks to kindergarten-age.
Approach to Learning
Child Development Specialists focus of the process of learning through routines and activities inspired by the children incorporated into experiences in the indoor and outdoor classroom.
Because our program is designed to maximize individual development, our activities focus on the process of learning. The emphasis is on the experiences of the child rather than results. Days are filled with planned and spontaneous moments of learning. There is time for imaginative games, independent discovery and group experiences inside and outdoors.
Research shows that many children are growing up isolated from nature, and we are dedicated to assuring the children in their care are offered playgrounds designed as natural playscapes to promote outdoor play and nature-oriented education. The children help in the gardening chores and are encouraged to explore and discover the miracles of nature.
Quality, License & Accreditation
We are licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
We have voluntarily undergone a comprehensive process of internal self-study and invited extended professional review services to unify compliance with the Criteria for High-Quality Early Childhood Programs. Heartland's CDL was found to be in substantial compliance.
We earned the Gold Circle of Quality through ExceleRate http://www.excelerateillinois.com/.
Mission of a Lab School
Our lab school serves a dual mission. We provide quality child care for children of Heartland's students, faculty and staff while their parents pursue an education or work here at the College's Normal campus. This model facility also provides an opportunity for college students that need first-hand experience observing or working with young children. Students of various College programs such as education, psychology and nursing send their students to the CDL to complete assignments for their course work. The early childhood students utilize the center for all levels of their program, starting with observation and working toward extended participation and eventually teaching. The Child Development Specialists model what is known about best practices and mentor these students as they gain practical experience in the field.
The CDL also collaborates with local and state agencies to house training events and workshops for the community. The continual professional development of early childcare providers is important to the staff, offering opportunities to reach a larger audience and help prepare them to serve culturally, linguistically and ability-diverse children.
We have four mixed-aged Infant/Toddler classrooms and two Preschool classrooms. The Early Childhood Education program is also housed in the CDL building. Our building features:
- Central reception area and administrative office
- Parent Conference Room
- Multi-purpose "Sun" Room
- Lending Library
- Two Family Pods for informal networking
- Kitchen and laundry facilities
- Four mixed age infant/toddler rooms, ages 6 weeks to 35 months
- Two mixed age preschool rooms, ages 3 to kindergarten
- College Classroom
- Two Early Childhood Education faculty offices
Mixed Age Infant/Toddler Rooms
Each of the four classrooms has two teachers and college student assistants who work with a mixed age group of eight children, ages six weeks to 35 months. The teachers coordinate experiences to help each child develop physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually. These experiences are designed to supplement home experiences. Teachers work with parents to duplicate the child's home schedule with regards to nap times, feeding times and the introduction of solid foods. Each two rooms share an outdoor classroom and beyond them is a natural playscape specifically designed for infants and toddlers.
Mixed Age Preschool Rooms
Two teachers with support from college student assistants work with 18 children, ages three to kindergarten, in each of the two classrooms. The preschoolers enjoy a learning center environment which offers a wide variety of choices. Activities are planned to challenge each child’s development. They include dramatic play, small and large motor experiences, science, math, literacy, music, block building, carpentry, art and computer usage. Children initiate their own experiences in the lab and outdoors with the support and encouragement of their teachers and support staff. Special opportunities, such as creative movement and on/off campus excursions, are regular features of the CDL preschool program along with daily opportunities to explore and interact with nature.