The new Child Development Laboratory will double in size because of UNT’s focus on research, child development laboratory director Carol Hagen said.
“The goal of the lab is not only to meet the needs of the children and the families that are here,” Hagen said. “But to also to support and encourage research across the university. We have built in everything we could to support that. UNT is not just a teaching facility; it focuses on research, too.”
Located on the 1500 block of Bonnie Brae Street, the new UNT Child Development Laboratory opened this spring semester and the facility is still being set up. The program is “self-sufficient” using the tuition and fees from the children enrolled, and money from the university to keep the place functioning, Hagen said.
This laboratory is a preschool program for kids 3-5 years old. But it is not a daycare center. The program plans to increase enrollment this upcoming summer.
“We have doubled the space that we had before,” Hagen said. “With a long waiting list, we are planning to increase our size [children wise], by double.”
This increase in space and preschoolers is due to the needs of students who observe and participate in the laboratory as part of their coursework.
Inside the new facility there are twice as many classrooms compared to the old facility, which only had two classrooms, and more activity space for the kids. With addition of play therapy rooms for students to interact with other children, research assessment spaces and conference rooms, including streaming of classroom activities.
There are two desktop computers located in each classroom, but the kids only get about five minutes a day with them, student office assistance Kayla Headen said. The rooms are split up by age: 3 year olds who are potty-trained, a requirement, in one room and 4-5 year olds in the other.
Outside on the playground there is a larger play area and sandbox, a bike path and musical instruments similar to those at the Perot museum in downtown Dallas.
“The major improvement in the facility is we have much more capability to support the research of faculty members,” Hagen said.
More students can observe the children without directly being at the lab location. Students will be able to access the observation cameras online at a computer labs on campus designated for their study. Cameras are placed in the children’s classrooms for documentation, research and observation purposes.
This laboratory “makes it easier for the students to observe without coming to this location,” Hagen said. She believes when they increase the classrooms in use, it will be better able to serve the students who need to participate with the children.
She said all the children who are enrolled in this program are from the Denton community. A large number of children are connected to the campus because their parents are UNT staff members or students.
This laboratory is designed for students majoring in education interdisciplinary studies (EC6) in the College of Education, Hagen explained.
“It is kind of like a gradual [process],” Hagen said. “At first you need to know about this topic, who says what about it. Then you come in here to observe and then to finally participate.”
The students start off taking beginner courses in the study field of early childhood education. As a student moves up in the program they start to observe the children in order to collect data for their assignments, then they participate and help teach the children.
Featured image: UNT Child Development Lab recently changed locations from Mathew’s Hall to a location in Mean Green Village. Kady Shirley