About Us

The ISU Child Development Laboratory School offers full-day year-round programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The Lab School’s exemplary early childhood education model provides observation and participatory experiences for ISU students preparing to be early childhood teachers, administrators and child and family specialists. It also serves as a research site for the college and university.

Licensing, accreditation, and recognition


  • The Child Development Laboratory School is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. More »

    The Lab School is one of only three programs in Iowa that requires all teachers to be assessed by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners and licensed by the Iowa Department of Education. More »

  • The Child Development Laboratory School is licensed by the the Iowa Department of Human Services.

    The Lab School has received a Level 5 star rating — the highest possible — from Iowa’s Quality Rating System (QRS).

  • In 2010, the program was recognized as one of ten exemplary programs in the United States for the Engaging Diverse Families project.

  • The Lab School is a partner program with Ames Community School District in Iowa’s Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SVPP).

  • The programs are sponsored by Iowa State Univesity’s College of Human Sciences,

Location and facilities

The Child Development Laboratory School is located in the Palmer HDFS Building on Osborn Drive on the Iowa State University campus.

Directions »

The facility includes:

  • Four classrooms
  • The Children’s Library
  • Administrative offices
  • Research rooms
  • Laundry
  • Kitchen


Administrator: Ms. Jennifer VanRyswyk

Faculty coordinator: Dr. Kere Hughes-Belding

Parent coordinator: Ms. Kim Venteicher


The mission of the Child Development Laboratory School in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) is to provide students, researchers, and practitioner’s opportunities to observe and work with young children, while serving as a model early care and education program for young children, including those with disabilities, and their families.

Guiding principles

The ISU Lab School follows the guiding principles established in the Iowa Early Leaning Standards:

  • Children construct understanding through active interactions with caregivers, peers, materials, and events.

  • Learning is sequential, building on prior understandings and experiences.

  • Learning proceeds at different rates in each area; children will show a range of skills and understandings in any one area of development.

  • Learning in each area is interconnected. Young children learn best through integrated, meaningful experiences.

  • Learning is embedded in a culture. Children learn best when their learning activities are rooted in a familiar cultural context.

  • Learning begins in the family, continues in early care and education settings, and depends on parent involvement and caregiver guidance.

  • All children have the potential to achieve the Iowa Learning Standards with appropriate supports and instruction.

Teaching methods

What does it mean to be a laboratory school?

At the Lab School, we have a dual mission of not just being a model early childhood program but also providing a hands-on experience for ISU college students graduating in Early Childhood Education or Child, Adult, and Family Services. Parents find that children often benefit from having the extra attention from the ISU students.

Because the college student lab experience is working directly with the children, background checks are completed. The practicum students are always considered “learners” in the classroom — they are not included in the child-teacher ratio and they are always supervised by paid teaching staff.

Non-discrimination policy

Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. veteran. Inquiries can be directed to the Director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, 3680 Beardshear Hall, (515) 294-7612.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.