About us

The Child Development Laboratory School (CDLS) is home to two long-standing, high-quality early care and education programs that have been serving the University of Minnesota and Twin Cities communities for decades. CDLS offers a full-day, year-round early childhood education program for students, staff, and faculty affiliated with the University of Minnesota and a part-day preschool program that is available to all families throughout the Twin Cities.

CDLS as it stands today was formed in 2021, after the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School’s part-day program and the University of Minnesota Child Development Center’s full-day program united to form one learning community. The integration of the two programs aligned with recommendations from a campus-wide advisory committee that examined the child care needs and options for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus. 

Now under one roof, the combined program is academically and administratively housed in the Institute of Child Development (ICD) and integrated with the department’s research and early childhood education training programs. CDLS aims to provide top-tier research, education, and community engagement opportunities, as well as high-quality, research-based full-day and half-day early childhood education. 

The CDLS has received a Four Star Rating from Parent Aware and is accredited by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Overall, it serves about 240 children through both of its program options each year. 

What is a laboratory school?

A laboratory school is a university-affiliated program that offers teacher training, professional development, and opportunities for education research. CDLS is one of many lab schools throughout the United States that offers exceptional educational opportunities to young children and college students. Lab schools across the country use a variety of educational models, placing varying emphasis on research and training. 

As a lab school, CDLS is a training site for future teachers studying early childhood education at the University of Minnesota. It also offers opportunities for faculty, staff, and students throughout the Twin Cities to conduct child development research or observe early education practices.

Learn more about our teacher training and research.

History of programs

Part-day program (formerly the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School)

The Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School was founded in 1925 as part of the ICD, an academic department in UMN’s College of Education and Human Development. One of the first laboratory schools in the United States, it has been in continuous operation as a University and community resource ever since. For more than 90 years, the school has served as a living laboratory and applied research site for ICD, which is consistently ranked as the top developmental psychology program in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and a training site for ICD’s early childhood education students. 

Historic photo of Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School playground taken in the 1930s shows two smiling children, one of them sliding down a slide propped on a large wooden crate while looking at the other child walking by. A 1930s car is in the background.
The Lab School playground in the 1930s

In June 1987, the University Board of Regents renamed the facility in honor of Professor Emerita Shirley G. Moore’s significant contributions to the field of early childhood education. During Moore’s 13 years as director of the school, it became widely known as a research laboratory and a center for the training of early childhood educators. The primary purposes of the program have long centered on demonstrating exemplary early childhood education practices, preparing teachers of young children, and serving as an active center for child study and research. 

Full-day program (formerly the University of Minnesota Child Development Center)

The University of Minnesota opened the Child Care Center (UMCCC) in 1974. For more than 40 years, it has been a model, demonstration, and training site for early development. It also has offered research opportunities for UMN faculty to further the knowledge of early development, education, and quality care for young children. Simultaneously, it provides a “fee-for-service” child development and care program for University of Minnesota-affiliated staff, faculty, and students.

A child care provider smiles at a baby lying on their back with two other very young children nearby.
UMN’s Child Development Center offered child care to UMN faculty and staff

In May 2011, UMCCC was renamed the University of Minnesota Child Development Center (CDC) to reflect its mission to support high-quality early childhood programming and its increased involvement in research, observation, and practicum placement opportunities for UMN students.