Children are read to at the Mitchell Center

The Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center is a partnership between Ball State’s Department of Early Childhood, Youth, and Family Studies (who operated the former Ball State Child Study Center) and the Muncie YMCA (who ran the former Apple Tree Child Development Center) to create an innovative new program.


The Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center offers opportunities for faculty and student research, student observations, community collaboration, on-site teaching and learning.

Each day that I walked into the Mitchell Center it was a new learning experience. I had a wonderful team of teachers that were so supportive... Thanks to my time at the Mitchell Center my confidence … has grown tremendously. It’s amazing to look back on where I started to where I am now.

— Ashley S.

A young boy discovers a turtle

Lab School for College Students

Our research-based lab school partners with Ball State University to mentor future educators as well as nurture family engagement. Students have the opportunity to learn about children’s development by interacting in the classrooms with children at the Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center. Students are required to complete eligibility requirements prior to participating at the center. See Mitchell Center Student Participation for details.  

The Mitchell Center has provided me with a hands-on learning experience to better prepare me for the workforce. Because of the experiences I have had here, I feel more confident not only in the childcare field but life in general.

—Nathan C.

Students work with young children at the Mitchell Center

The Mitchell Center Philosophy

We collaborate with the Reggio-inspired community to foster the uniqueness of early childhood development through intentional play-based curriculum. This approach empowers our high-quality teachers to promote natural exploration through developmentally appropriate, planned activities.

The Mitchell Center provides an opportunity to interact with children and learn in a unique environment. The Reggio structure gives the children a calming but still highly engaging atmosphere to play and learn. The lead teachers are highly educated and are willing to impart that knowledge on the students.

— Nolen H.

A student rocks a toddler at at the Mitchell Center

Engagement with Children

Students progress in their engagement with children’s curriculum: observe, design, engage. The children’s curriculum is developmentally appropriate, Reggio-inspired, and whole-child focused as well as respectful, responsive, and relationship-based.



The Mitchell Center is nationally accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and ranked Level 4 on the Indiana Paths to Quality. The center is committed to providing child care financial assistance to families.

  • preschool classrooms (multi-age 3-5 years)
  • young preschool classrooms (multi-age 2 ½-4 years)
  • infant-Toddler (multi-age 6 weeks-3 years)
  • indoor gross motor spaces
  • atelier (art room)
  • family resource room/Library
  • research space
  • teaching classroom

Additional Resources

Want to Learn More?A student takes care of a baby at the Mitchell Center

If you have questions about the department’s partnership with Mitchell Center or would like to learn more, please contact Jennifer Young, the campus liaison.

Contact Liaison