In the fall of 1962, Hemenway Hall, a new classroom building at Framingham State College, was opened. Hemenway housed classrooms for the sciences, mathematics, and home economics. Under the direction of the Home Economics Department, a child development lab was designed and built. The classroom was spacious with an observation booth in the adjoining classroom for students to observe and learn about child development and teaching young children.
The classroom opened to an enclosed playground in back of Hemenway Hall. The program to be housed in this unique classroom was a preschool, then called the Nursery School. The philosophy of the preschool program focused on the individual child and his/her development. The instructor of the preschool had training in early childhood education and home economics. The college students, who were Home Economics or Education and Vocational majors, participated in the classroom to observe the young children and assist in every aspect of the program. As part of the college students' curriculum, they attended class taught by the preschool instructor. During class, students reflected on their first-hand experiences with the children as they learned how theories of development and learning were applied in the Lab school.
With the introduction of the Early Childhood teaching major and the departmental reorganization of the College, the operation of the Child Development Lab was transferred to the Education Department in 1971. It continues to operate under the auspices of the Education Department, now called the College of Education. In 2006, the Child Development Lab was renamed to honor the memory of Dr. Jeanne M. Canelli, Framingham State College alumna, Child Development Lab Director and Associate Professor in the Education Department.
Today, the Jeanne M. Canelli Child Development Lab continues to provide excellent preschool experiences to meet the changing needs of the families from the Framingham State University community as well as the greater Metro West area. Children 2.9 to 6 years of age are now being accepted. Depending on their age, children will be able to enroll in two, three, four, or five day programs with an option for staying a full-day on Thursdays for a pre-kindergarten experience. Never static, the Child Development Lab carries on the 53-year tradition of offering an innovative, child-centered and integrated curriculum to meet the needs of every child enrolled in its programs.