Researcher playing with kids in the classroom

Center for Young Children (CYC)

Research at the CYC


Researcher and Child

Research on Child Development at the Center for Young Children

The Center for Young Children (CYC) is a laboratory preschool that supports research conducted with young children by faculty and graduate students at the University of Maryland, in addition to its mission of teaching of young children and training teachers.

The general research topics that are studied at the CYC include children’s peer relationships, social cognition, language development, cognitive development, play, temperament, social competence, and social development reflecting the general areas studied by research faculty and graduate students.

These areas reflect cutting edge research on child development that provides for the translation of fundamental knowledge about child development into educational practice.

Families enroll their children in the school with an understanding that they will be asked to participate in Center-approved research studies throughout the school year. Such studies increase information about how children develop, and learn new knowledge. Many studies are observational in nature and do not require the child to leave the classroom, while other studies require individual children's participation, usually outside the classroom.

Research at the CYC is divided into two categories: observational studies and participatory studies.


Researchers and their display

Observational Studies

Observation rooms with one-way mirrors allow research assistants to view the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of children without classroom presence. Many university courses also have observational components and CYC serves this academic purpose for exposing undergraduate students to the world of research. As well the observation booths provide an opportunity for training research assistants in methodological techniques used for collecting data on children’s behavior.

Participatory Studies

A research room is available for Faculty and Graduate student research that involves one-on-one interviews and testing, as well as small group interactions. Researchers requesting permission to interview young children outside the classroom follow specific rules (see Research Guidelines by clicking the link below). Approval must come from the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to the approval of research conducted at the CYC. Documentation of this approval must be given to the Director for final approval. Researchers request parental permission to interview a child and participate in the study. When parental permission forms are returned, a child will be allowed to participate. Most children enjoy participating in these special activities.  All research is strictly voluntary and any child may decline to participate at any time.  A child's wishes are always respected. Children will be accompanied by a CYC staff member when going to and from the research room, as well as throughout the research session. Researchers disseminate their results to the parents and school staff through the distribution of brief reports following the completion of a study, and in a timely manner.

If you have further questions, please contact Jen Smallwood-Holmes, the CYC Director, at