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Child Development Center

The Child Development Center at Ohio University opened in September 1972. It is the early childhood laboratory within the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.


As one of the only centers in the area that serves children ages six weeks to five years, we serve as a model for best practices in Southeastern Ohio. We believe that all children and parents have the potential to be an integral part of our community.

Values and Philosophy

Our identity as a school is both grounded in best practice and informed by our own unique setting, history and experience.

A Strong Image of the Child: We believe that the child is a complex and unique individual influenced by relationships with family, peers, and the community. The child has a natural curiosity to explore and learn through deliberate and spontaneous interactions with their environment that includes play, observation, and experimentation. Through this, the child competently constructs their understanding and knowledge of the world around them. (Image of the child statement written by CDC Teachers in 2012)

Continual and Lifelong Learning:  We value continual professional development, critical and reflective thinking, dialogue, and teacher research to inform our practice.  All Master Teachers and Directors are a part of a Reggio Study Group and members of the statewide organization, Ohio Voices for Learning:  A Reggio Inspired Forum (  In addition, we strive to promote lifelong learning with children and Early Childhood Education majors.

Learning through experience:  Both children and adults often learn best through experience and adding to their prior knowledge.  Children, Master Teachers and Professional Interns work together to gain firsthand knowledge and experience. All aspects of the school day are considered learning opportunities.

The Reggio Emilia Approach:  The work of teachers and children in the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy is well known around the world and inspires our work here in Athens, Ohio.  We are not a “Reggio school,” as those exist only in Italy, but we study and are inspired by the deliberate and thoughtful way they work with children.  

Experiences in and with the Natural World:  Numerous research exists on the value of time spent in the natural world for both children and adults.  Our location in The Ridges offers many opportunities to enjoy, observe, study, and protect the natural world right outside our doors.  In addition, our Garden is intentionally planned and tended to each year by children, CDC staff, OU students and families.

Relationships and Collaboration:  We value and build relationships with all children, families, students, and CDC staff, and work to build relationships with the community and world outside of our school.  On-going information sharing between home and school creates the best supportive environment for children.  Collaboration between Master Teachers benefits all children and OU students.    

Diversity, Flexibility, Responsiveness:  Diversity brings broader perspective.  We value and encourage diversity while meeting it with flexibility and responsiveness. In addition, we encourage children and give them opportunities to be responsible and thoughtful decision makers and creators of culture.

Intentionality in Environments for Children: The structure and design of the classroom environment sets the tone for the space.  The classroom environment should invite engagement with others, offer space and materials for many varied kinds of play and work, be clean and organized, and be flexible to the children and adults using the space.

Documentation:  Master Teachers work to document the on-going daily life of the classroom, the special events, developmental milestones, and the curricular projects.  Through photos, transcripts, videos, and teacher reflection, the work of the classrooms is shared with others.

The Ohio University Child Development Center
Horse Barn Lane
The Ridges, Building 27