Early Learning Center for Research and Practice

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

A Great Place to Grow



The Early Learning Center is a quality care and learning environment for young children, pre-service teachers, and teacher educators. Affiliated with the Department of Child and Family Studies, the center provides a laboratory setting for the investigation of children’s development in context and the growth of informed teaching practices. Highly trained program staff work in collaboration with faculty to facilitate interdisciplinary research, academic programs for undergraduate and graduate students, and early education programs for young children while honoring a commitment to outreach, advocacy, and the development of public policy.

Supported by parent fee revenues and university funds, the ELC provides three-star rated learning environments for young children six weeks through age five as well as the academic support of more than one hundred students enrolled annually in child and family studies coursework. (Please see the Students page for more information.) Students and faculty from additional disciplines, including audiology and speech pathology, nursing, psychology, and special education, also are served by the ELC and may contact us for information and planning. All observations, activities, and research must by approved by the center director. (Please see the Researchers page for more information.)

A Note from our Director

Welcome to the Early Learning Center for Research and Practice.

At the Early Learning Center, we are committed to providing models of exemplary practice in early care and education. Our multifaceted mission serves many constituents and includes the following four areas of focus: To support interdisciplinary research, to enhance academic programs for undergraduate and graduate students, to provide high quality early education programs for young children and their families, and to participate in outreach, advocacy and public policy work in the field of early childhood education. I welcome you to learn more about our programs and how children and adults join our community of learning, teaching, and research as we work together at all age levels to embrace the opportunities and challenges involved with the lifelong process of discovery and reflection. In this context, our role is to harness creative and critical lenses of children and adults as we support the pursuit of children’s rich ideas and questions and children’s rights to participate in learning environments where they will be respected as both individuals and members of communities. In providing and studying this context, as adults, we have the chance to be ever more thoughtful and intentional as educators, scholars, and parents. Please be in touch with us if we can answer questions about our work at the Early Learning Center.




Five-Year Center Review

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Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.