What you'll learn

  • Understand the latest science describing the relationship between adverse experiences and early learning and development
  • Identify the adult competencies necessary for cultivating learning environments that buffer stress, and learn how to develop and support those competencies among early educators
  • Explore first steps in addressing a problem of leadership related to stress and resilience in the early learning environment
  • Build a collaborative community among a national network of early childhood education leaders engaged around common challenges

Course description

The decisions and actions of education leaders have a direct impact on the early learning environment, especially during times of challenge, uncertainty, or change. Each day, these leaders design and implement policies, processes, and interactions that shape teaching and learning and affect the lives of young children. 

Participants in The Science of Early Learning and Adversity: Connecting What We Know to What We Do will develop skills and strategies that support the design and implementation of early learning environments that buffer stress, increase resiliency, and boost development. 

Offered as part of the Saul Zaentz Professional Learning Academy, this program is squarely aligned with the Academy’s mission to equip leaders with the contemporary knowledge, strategic tactics, and collaborative networks they need to improve early learning environments.

In this two-day program, thought leaders will share the latest science that sits at the intersection of child development, education policy, and early intervention for children experiencing adversity. In facilitated follow-up discussions, participants will explore how this science can inform the supports they provide for adults and children.


  • Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
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