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Professional Development for Child & Youth Educators

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A integrated, research-based approach to building quality care and education programs

The Virtual Lab School (VLS) empowers child care professionals to build their knowledge and improve their practices through a robust online professional development system. Designed for child and youth professionals across all roles and functions, the VLS provides evidenced-based content, demonstration videos, and practical tools to facilitate high quality care and education. The VLS professional development system:

Scaffolds learning for new and advanced professionals.

Combines research on child development, effective teaching practices, and principles of adult learning.

Highlights developmentally appropriate, inclusive, & family focused approaches.

Emphasizes practice-based coaching, self-reflection, and application of knowledge and skills.

Showcases expert interviews and in-program video footage demonstrating best practices.

Foundational Learning

VLS Foundational Courses align with the Child Development Associate (CDA) NAEYC, NAFCC, and CYD-AYD standards. Content is organized into role-based tracks and focuses on developing the key competencies that are necessary for direct care staff, home-based providers, and program leadership.

Focused Topics

VLS Focused Topics provide in-depth information and resources on more complex or specific subject matter including topics like Essentials in Child Care Food Service, Supporting Children with Challenging Behaviors, Trauma-Informed Care, and Coaching to Enhance Practice.

Integrated Resources

VLS Courses include practical tools and resources to use within programs to support high-quality, research-informed practices. The VLS also hosts a variety of resources from fellow research institutions that support child & youth programs, professionals, children, and families.


Made available to all, thanks to our collaborators

The Department of Defense Child Development Virtual Laboratory School was developed by The Ohio State University for the US Department of Defense’s Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth under Grant 2020-48711-32407 of the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture.