Mission & Philosophy - NIU - Child Development Lab

Child Development Lab

Child Development Lab
Gabel Hall 169-170
Phone: (815) 753-1150
Fax: (815) 752-0023
Email: dwhite6@niu.edu

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday
7:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.




Mission, Value and Vision Statements

Mission Statement
The three part mission of the Child Development Laboratory (CDL) operated by the School of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) is to 1) provide students with a supportive mentoring experience to enhance their understanding of young children and their families through observation, participation, and research; 2) facilitate faculty and student research in child development and early childhood; and 3) provide an exemplary model of care and education for children from families whose parents or guardians are students at NIU, work at NIU, or live in the community.

Value Statement
The CDL has prioritized the importance of diversity by providing professionals-in-training with quality educational experiences while working in partnerships with staff, children and families from diverse backgrounds in a family-style, mixed-aged setting that will facilitate healthy growth and development of all children.

Vision Statement
The CDL will continue to model excellent care and education for early childhood professionals through the practice of mixed age grouping while developing partnerships to increase the inclusion of families, students and staff of diverse backgrounds.


The CDL philosophy is based on the knowledge that all children go through predictable stages of development at their own pace and learn through play, while recognizing the importance of the family context. Staff facilitates children’s development and learning by providing developmentally appropriate experiences, materials, and activities in a child-centered, safe, healthy, and nurturing environment. The goal of our program is to help families foster the development of the whole child in all areas of development:  social, emotional, physical, cognitive, language, and moral.

Ways in which this philosophy is met:

  • Using play-based curricula. Play is a child’s tool for learning. Through play, children enhance fine and gross motor skills, become social beings and creative thinkers, reach conclusions on their own through experimentation, and develop reasoning, language, emotional, and moral skills.
  • Using multi-age grouping that allows for multiple attachments with feelings of security and trust over several years in the same classroom
  • Encouraging self-regulation, the main attribute for successful academic performance
  • Enhancing positive self-esteem  in children by providing a balance of challenging and success-oriented activities
  • Facilitating problem solving through open-ended activities, which allow the child to creatively formulate his/her own ideas and explanations
  • Acknowledging children’s interests, strengths, and age-appropriate skills and then using them to plan developmentally appropriate activities
  • Encouraging children to become self-motivated through offering choices of developmentally appropriate activities
  • Instilling children with a love of learning and focusing on the development of intellectual skills and positive dispositions towards learning that will help towards lifelong learning
  • Viewing families as the expert on their children and offering various opportunities for families to be involved in the program