Connecting Science to Practice

We are leading the charge to translate “what we know” about effective early childhood education into the practice of “what we do.”

School child girl lifting world globe doodle on chalkboard for children's education international children day and world literacy day concept

What We Know

Across the country, at both the local and state levels, there is increased investment in early childhood education (ECE), and for good reason: Research shows that high-quality ECE experiences are key to children’s academic and social-emotional success.

Researchers at The University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development are working collaboratively with local, regional, and state partners to implement high-quality ECE programs and policies that can increase access, equity, and quality for our youngest learners.

Not all children are getting equal opportunity to the high-quality learning they need.

In Virginia, 44% of children entering kindergarten are unprepared in one or more critical areas of math, literacy, social skills, and self-regulation. The likelihood of entering kindergarten without key skills rises to above 50% for children who:

  • Are identified as black or Hispanic.
  • Come from families that are economically disadvantaged.
  • Are identified as having a disability.
  • Are English language learners.

High-quality preschool matters for school readiness

What We Do

The pathway from research to implementation works to transform the lives of young children in ways that will have a lasting impact.

Building Effective Early Childhood Education Experiences

The faculty at UVA’s School of Education and Human Development know what young students need to thrive in the classroom and work to make those experiences a reality for children in Virginia, across the country, and globally. Our faculty are nationally recognized leaders in demonstrating how to build effective early childhood education programs by:

  • Training teachers.
  • Designing and testing effective classroom and school programming.
  • Sharing new knowledge with ECE practitioners, leaders, and policy makers.
  • Applying research to practice in ways that consider real-world complexities.
  • Advancing improved early childhood education policies.

Emphasizing High Quality

We know that transforming the lives of young children in lasting ways starts with high-quality early learning experiences. When it comes to the early childhood classroom, there are many components of quality to consider, such as health, safety, equipment, materials, routines, and schedules. However, it is the interactions between teachers and children that matter most to support learning.

teacher and child playing with colorful blocks and smiling


Young Children Need

Supportive Interactions

On both an emotional and instructive level, young children need teachers who can support critical school readiness skills in literacy, math, self-regulation, social skills, and more.

Effective Instruction

Children's interests and abilities are varied. A comprehensive curriculum and formative assessments are key to helping teachers individualize instruction in engaging and effective ways.

A Strong Home and School Connection

When schools are able to build strong relationships with families and the community, children get the support they need to thrive.

An arched walkway at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education

Who We Are

Our faculty and research teams work collaboratively with teachers, program leaders, and policy makers to make high-quality early learning come to life in the field.

Child looking through a set of binoculars made of paper rolls

Current Initiatives

A number of initiatives are paving the way to improve early childhood education experiences across Virginia.