We believe children learn by doing and the development is a process. We assume children are active, competent, and curious. We assume children want to learn. We believe children learn best in a safe environment which encourages their active involvement in the learning process, promotes home-school continuity, and enhances individual child’s areas of development (i.e., cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development).

Children have the opportunity to work, interact, investigate, and express himself/herself through the following ways:

Group Living:

  • Planning, working and interacting in an organized environment
  • Developing desirable habits, attitudes and concepts within a group context

Creative Activities:

  • Expressing self through use of various creative media, such as paint, clay, water and sand
  • Learning to explore the use of various manual tools
  • Responding rhythmically by singing and moving
  • Listening to music


  • Visiting points of interest at the university and in the community
  • Listening to and interacting with persons outside the ECL

Language Experiences:

  • Enjoying communication through stories, conversation, verse, drama
  • Building skills and understanding for reading and writing

Health & Safety Education:

  • Learning good health habits
  • Learning and participating in safety rules
The Early Childhood Laboratory, established in 1928, is a university-based center operated by the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling in the College of Education. The Early Childhood Laboratory has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children for several years.  The Lab has also received a 4 or 5 Star Rating from the Stars for Kids Now Initiative for the past five school years (2012/2013, 2013/2014, 2014/2015, 2015/2016, 2017-2018). During the 2017-2018 school year, the ECL received a 5 Star Rating from the KY All Stars Program (formerly STARS for Kids Now).

The Early Childhood Laboratory has a three-part mission:

  • ECL serves as a model early childhood program in the community. Three different types of programs for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years are provided – Infant Toddler Lab, Preschool Labs, and one month Summer program. The ECL teachers serve as trainers and presenters for other child care workers.
  • ECL serves as a teacher training site for future early childhood teachers. University students learn about becoming teachers of young children through observation, participation, and teaching experiences.
  • ECL serves as a site for research in child development and early childhood education. ECL children are often involved in research projects conducted by university students. Prior to such involvement, parents are informed about the nature, purpose, and procedures of a given study. Consent from parents is essential before any child participates.

The three-part mission of our school provides a unique environment for children. Children at ECL encounter numerous adults (e.g., university students), which allow classroom teachers time and opportunity to respond to individual child’s needs. We feel the low ratio of adult to child facilitates in providing a climate which will help each child to grow and learn.

All of our lead teachers have or are working toward a Master’s Degree in early childhood education or child development, as well as extensive experience working with children. The lead teachers are also responsible for supervising student teachers and practicum students working toward Kentucky Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Certification. Our teachers actively participate in the professional organizations for young children and value growing as early childhood professionals. Graduate students act as our teaching assistants in the preschool classrooms. These students are currently working on their master’s degree in early childhood education.

In addition to lead teachers and teaching assistants, our classrooms have Early Childhood majors fulfilling their practicum requirements.

The ECL staff also includes a faculty director, who is a faculty member of the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling, an on-site Staff Director, and a staff assistant. Both Directors are responsible for supervising the ECL faculty, managing the budget, coordinating the educational program, the teacher training program, and research activities.

Infant/Toddler Lab:
Infant Ages: 6 weeks – 2 years
Toddler Ages: 2 years – 3 years
Hours: 8:00am – 5:30pm
Days: Monday – Friday

AM Preschool Labs:
Ages: 3- 5 years
Hours: 8:30am – 11:30am
Days: Monday – Friday

Extended Day Program:
Children must be enrolled in the AM Preschool to attend Extended Day
Ages: 3 – 5 years
Hours: 11:30pm – 5:30pm
Days: Monday – Friday

Early Start:
For more information on Fayette County Public School’s Early Start program, please call (859) 381 – 4000.

Applications are accepted throughout the year and class assignments are made in late March.  Parents are welcome to call to check on the status of their child’s application at any time.  Due to the volume of applications received, parents are only notified if their child is chosen for enrollment in the program.

Since the primary purposes of the ECL are to serve as a teaching and research center, the following criteria are used to make selection and enrollment decisions:

  • Sibling preference of children already enrolled
  • Birth month
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Income
  • Special Needs
  • Date of Application

Children are not selected on a first-come-first-served basis. Decisions are based on the need to enroll children for a variety of ages, sex, social and economic background and developmental levels.

If interested, please print an application, fill it out, and submit to 621 S. Limestone, Lexington, KY 40506-0657.  For additional enrollment information, please call 859-257-7732.

621 S. Limestone
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0657
(859) 257-7732

Charlotte Manno:

Jennifer Grisham-Brown:

UK Early Childhood Lab is located at 631 S. Limestone.
UK Early Childhood Lab is located at 621 S. Limestone.