Early Childhood Center

Philosophy, Purpose and History


The Early Childhood Center is the lab school for Colorado State University’s Human Development and Family Studies Program. We offer a quality program for young children, train CSU students for careers in early childhood education, and provide opportunities for research related to children, families, and early childhood education.

The central focus of our program is to promote a positive self-concept and to respect the unique individual differences in each child. We work in partnership with families to ensure a high quality educational experience for their children.

At the ECC, meaningful educational experiences are planned in a caring atmosphere to promote the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth of each child. We are committed to the idea that through the encouragement of self-expression and curiosity and through explorations of their own world (both at home and at school) preschool age children develop a healthy self-image, a sense of responsibility and helpfulness, and learn problem solving and decision making skills.


  • Teaching - to involve graduate and undergraduate students in observation and participation experiences with young children
  • Service - to serve the needs of children and their families for a half or full day enriched environment
  • Research - to provide opportunities for research related to children, families, and early childhood education

Unique aspects of the program:

  • We have served children and families since 1929
  • NAEYC accredited
  • Professional, educated and experienced staff
  • One of the lowest adult-child ratios in the state
  • International, diverse atmosphere
  • Each family is entitled to 2 free counseling sessions at the Center for Family and Couple Therapy in the Gifford Building
  • Observation booths for watching your child at any time
  • Nutritional snacks planned and prepared by students in Food Sciences and Human Nutrition


The Early Childhood Center has been serving children in the community since 1929. The program opened at the site where the Rainbow Restaurant now sits on Laurel Street. At this time it was only a summer program. The preschool moved to Rockwell Hall in 1972 and in 1974 the Village Child Care Center opened across the street from the current Gifford site. In 1976 the ECC moved into the Gifford Building and the ECC Toddler Center opened in 1982 when the Village Child Care Center and the Preschool combined.