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. A specially designed classroom was included on the first floor of the building. Under the direction of the Home Economics Department, a child development lab was built. The classroom was spacious (measuring 24 feet by 47 feet) with one wall consisting entirely of windows. One-way mirrors were installed at one of the classroom serving as windows for an observation booth in the adjoining classroom. One the ceiling in the classroom, microphones which were connected to a sound system in the observation booth, were installed. Child-sized bathroom facilities were at one end of the classroom, while directly down the hall was a fully equipped kitchen. The classroom opened to an enclosed playground in back of Hemenway Hall. Time was spent by members of the Home Economics Department deciding how best to equip the classroom and playground with materials that were sturdy and appropriate for young children.
The program to be housed in this unique classroom was a preschool, then called the Nursery School. The preschool operated under the auspices of the Home Economics Department The philosophy of the preschool program on the individual child and his/her development. The instructor of the preschool had training in early childhood education and home economics. The children who attended the program were those of College staff and faculty members, children from the College neighborhood, and children from surrounding towns. The instructor, who also had an appointment as an instructor in the Home Economics Department, and college students, who were Home Economics or Education and Vocational majors, participated in the classroom. The college students observed the young children and assisted 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. The seminar provided an opportunity for the students to discuss with the Lab instructor 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 today. 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 College community as well as the greater MetroWest area. The Child Development Lab has adopted new guidelines and more flexible scheduling options for the school year that begins in September 2008. Children 2.9 to 6 years of age are now being accepted. Depending on their age, children will be able to enroll in two, four, or five day programs with options for staying full-day three days a week. Never static, the Child Development Lab carries on the 45-year tradition of offering an innovative, child-centered and integrated curriculum to meet the needs of every child enrolled in its programs.