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About the CFDRC

The Margaret S. Wilson Child and Family Development Resource Center of Eastern Connecticut State University promotes the social, emotional, cognitive, creative, and physical development of young children of diverse backgrounds, to inspire, support, and educate their families, to provide a model program for future teachers and early childhood professionals, and to serve as a hub of innovative research and professional development.


  • The center implements “Investigations,” a curriculum for young children that was developed by university faculty, the director, and classroom teachers. The curriculum is based on the theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Malaguzzi, and the classroom applications of their work by Forman, Gandini, Katz, Leong, and Bedrova. The curriculum is centered around engaging projects—called investigations–on topics that are selected by children, teachers, and families. As children investigate a topic–in learning centers, small collaborative groups, whole group activities, movement and music experiences, outdoor observation, or field trips—they acquire critical competencies identified in the Connecticut State Department of Education Curriculum and Assessment Framework and the standards of national professional organizations. Children’s progress toward achieving these competencies is assessed through anecdotal records, sampling of children’s work and play, photos and video, and interviews with parents

    Four pillars—evidence-based strategies—support children’s investigations: play scaffolding (a special kind of adult support as children play), collaborative learning projects, evidence-based arrangement of learning centers, and portfolio assessment.
    Investigations Handbook

    An example of our curriculum in action can be found here as children learn about Bones through variety of hands-on key experiences:
    Investigation: Bones

    During an investigation of Simple Machines, children zoomed in on WHEELS. See the powerpoint presentation highlighting our Key Experiences (PROJECTS) on Wheels.

    BALLS Investigations featured at our Investigations Conference 2012

    View videos of our recent investigations with young children

  • CFDRCAdmission is based on a waitlist selection system. All applications are entered into our waitlist by date completed. Upon acceptance into the program, income verification will be required in order to determine sliding scale tuition. For more information, please contact us at 860-465-5225.

    Each family’s weekly tuition rate is determined at an individual meeting with the director.

  • Technology-TealThe technology available to the children, families and teachers at the Center is state-of-the-art. Teachers can observe, record and document children engaged in curriculum projects. These images and video allow for the collection and reflection on children’s growth and development over time and provide a wonderful opportunity for sharing with families. Children are developing skills as problem solvers, risk takers and creative thinkers as they interact with the educational technology available in the classroom.

    Faculty and Eastern students have opportunity to observe the classrooms in action and reflect on these observations within their classroom/lecture setting. Distance learning projects also highlight the Center and classroom experiences providing professional development opportunities across Connecticut and beyond.

    Technology-based initiatives in professional development, teacher preparation, research, and advocacy highlight the Center and classroom experiences. The center serves as a hub for innovation in Connecticut, a site for the design and study of new approaches to improving the lives of children and families.
  • We believe that:

    • All young children have potential and are competent, curious, and capable of asking and answering their own questions, taking intellectual risks, and co-constructing knowledge with teachers, parents and peers.
    • Children acquire knowledge of the physical and social world when they are challenged to make sense of new objects, actions, events, and relationships, relying on their prior knowledge and lived experiences.
    • Learning has a social purpose and is supported by social and emotional competencies and positive, nurturing relationships with peers and adults.
    • Play is a primary mode of expression, a rich context for the construction of knowledge, and a fundamental right of all young children.
    • Supporting, empowering, advocating for, and engaging families will facilitate the positive development of the whole child. Collaborative, equal-status family-teacher partnerships are the foundation of a culturally meaningful, family-centered curriculum.
    • Teachers and family members must collaborate in the assessment of young children in order to acquire complete, accurate, and culturally-sensitive understandings of development and to make meaningful use of assessment data in planning and implementing curriculum.
    • Together, teachers and families can create a sense of belonging and community in which children’s emotions, spirits, and intellect can flourish in concert.

    Each child is unique and demonstrates a distinct pattern of learning, interaction, communication, and interest, which is nurtured by family, culture and community.

  • Research

    The CFDRC has been the site for many exciting studies. Findings of these investigations have been presented at national and international conferences and published in noted research journals. The following are important recent findings of studies that were conducted in the Center:

    • High-quality teacher-child interactions in play lead preschool students to become more independent in their on-going activities in the classroom.
    • Preschool children use language that shows they have a “theory of the mind”—an understanding of what it means to know, think, learn, and remember.
    • When children view themselves solving math problems on video, they acquire a greater understanding of problem solving and math skills.
    • Teachers who have greater education and experience can more accurately interpret and respond to young children’s play needs.

    Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE)

    University Involvement

    As a model program for research and best practices, we strive to create a setting where University faculty work on research projects and student participation occurs in a seamless manner. Faculty members support the classroom curriculum and provide the children and Center staff with exciting experiences.

    University students fulfill a variety of roles here at the Center including observation, participation for class requirements and employment. They add a vibrant and fresh dimension to our classroom environments and the Center operations.

    "We collaborate closely with faculty at the Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) on research projects and the development of training videos for current and future teachers.

    Individuals interested in conducting research at the CFDRC must follow the procedures and complete the forms available at CECE."

  • SBM Charitable Foundation The SBM Charitable Foundation has generously provided a $500,000 leadership gift in support of early childhood education and created an endowed scholarship fund for students in this field.