Participating in our studies

An adult and a child

Over the past 20 years, hundreds of parents and children have come to the Centre for Child Studies to take part in one of our studies and help us gain a better understanding of how language and thinking develop in the toddler, preschool and early kindergarten years. Many parents and children have even participated in several studies over the years! And we've gotten great feedback from both the children and their parents! Below you will find answers to common questions about participating in research at the Centre. 

Current Studies at the Centre?

When a new study requiring participants begins we will post this information here in this section in more detail. We also usually place posters and advertisements in community locations and notices on twitter about it. The Centre maintains a list of parents who are interested in participating in our studies. Once a new study begins, we will contact parents with children in the age-range of the study. At that time, we will explain the study in detail and, if you are interested, a convenient time for your visit will be arranged. We welcome visits on weekdays or weekends!

If we don't currently have an ongoing study listed here in the age range of your child, and especially if your child is an infant, you may wish see what is happening in the Lab for Infant Development and Language and the Developmental Learning Lab, also located in Psychology department and directed by faculty in the Developmental Psychology area.

Does a study take much time?

Most of the studies involve only one visit of about an hour. Visits can be arranged, on weekdays or weekends, at your convenience.

Where is the Centre for Child Studies?

The Centre for Child Studies is located on the fourth floor of the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo. See Directions. We will provide you with directions to the parking lot adjacent to our building. We will always meet you in the parking lot to escort you to the Centre and help you with any bags or strollers and doorways. An elevator will take you to the fourth floor.

What are the studies like?

In general, the studies consist of simple, informal games that children find fun to play. For example, children might be playing a game with toys, finding hidden stickers, looking at picture books, or listening to stories. The way in which children use their gestures and language during these games can reveal to us very important aspects of their developing knowledge and ability to communicate. All the children participating will receive a small gift and a certificate. 

Will I be with my child the whole time?

Yes, you will be with your child or able to watch and hear your child all the time. You can see the set-up of our research rooms in the virtual tour. Sometimes, usually with studies with the younger 1- and 2-year-old children, we have parents participate in the studies because it makes it more fun and relaxing for the children (we would tell you about this at the time we initially call to inquire as to whether you'd like to come to the Centre). In these cases, we can usually learn more about children's cognitive and communicative development and how they are thinking about things when they can interact with someone they are very familiar with.

What if I need to bring siblings?

Your child's siblings are very welcome to come and they will be with you the whole time. In our research rooms, we provide toys and activities appropriate for younger and older siblings.

Will I find out about the results of the study?

We try to publish press releases for all of our studies and provide links to these when they appear in the Centre in the News section. In addition, the director of the lab, Dr. Daniela O'Neill, provides updates about the results of studies at the Centre and other new research and information pertaining to the development of language and thinking in early childhood by following via twitter (her twitter handle is daniela_oneill).

Still have questions?

If you think you might be interested in having your child take part in our studies or would like more information, please feel free to call us at (519) 888-4567, ext. 35416 or email the Centre letting us know that you'd like to participate or would like more information about participating!


Our studies attempt to understand general trends in development, not to assess the performance of individual children. Names are not used in publications resulting from our research. Our studies are conducted on a voluntary basis. Parents and children are free to withdraw their participation at any time.

We appreciate your support of the University of Waterloo Centre for Child Studies! Each child makes a difference!