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Child Development and Behavior Branch (CDBB)

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Early Learning and School Readiness Program

The Early Learning and School Readiness Program supports basic and translational developmental research that attempts to specify the experiences children need from birth to age 8 to prepare them for a successful transition to school entry and later achievement and long-term follow-up studies that quantify the long-term impact of early intervention programs.  School readiness encompasses those capabilities of children, families, schools, and communities that will best foster student success in kindergarten and beyond.  The components of school readiness include physical growth and well-being, motor, cognitive, social-emotional and executive function/self-regulation skill development, and emergent language, literacy, numeracy and mathematics learning.

Developmentally Informed Prevention and Early Intervention Studies. Studies of basic and translational genetic, epigenetic and neurodevelopmental processes and mechanisms that underlie cognitive, executive function, language, social, emotional, motor, or physical development in the context of applying this knowledge to guide the development and testing of prevention and early intervention studies whose primary outcome is the promotion of early learning and the development of school readiness skills and abilities in at-risk populations.

Early Social Interactions. Basic and translational research is supported to identify the mechanisms through which early interactions with family members, adult caretakers, teachers and peers in a variety of early care and education settings support learning and school readiness in children from diverse backgrounds and environments.

Environmental Impacts.  Research that specifies the mechanisms by which environmental variables such as exposure to high levels of stress, chaotic or otherwise over- and under-stimulating environments, and inappropriate exposure to media negatively impact children's early learning and the development of school readiness skills and abilities.

Infant/Toddler (ages birth – 2) Interventions. Interest in the development and testing of targeted and comprehensive intervention programs for at-risk infants and toddlers ages 0-2 and their families that are delivered in the home and/or in service settings such as pediatric primary care clinics, family and center-based child care settings, and Early Head Start Programs whose primary focus is the promotion of early learning and the development of school readiness skills and abilities.

Preschooler (ages 3-5) Interventions. Interest in the development and testing of integrative and comprehensive early childhood education interventions for at-risk children, ages 3-5, that are delivered in early care and education programs such as Head Start and state and local preschool programs and center-based child care providers whose primary focus is the promotion of early learning and the development of school readiness skills and abilities. Interventions may be designed to target specific subpopulations of children and their families, including but not limited to children who are English Language Learners (ELLs).

Professional Development Linked to Child Outcomes. Knowledge about the preparation, training, and professional development of persons involved in the care and education of young children, the effectiveness of training strategies in promoting the positive modes of interaction identified by the research described above, and the causal linkages between adult behavior and school readiness outcomes for young children.

Measurement Development. New and innovative methods and assessments for measuring early learning and school readiness skills and abilities in diverse populations of children as well as measures of home, child care and preschool environments and practices that are related to child learning and development.


Program Director: James Griffin ​​

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