Learning and Development in Infants and Young Children

During the first years of life, children develop critical building blocks needed to support future achievements and outcomes. We know that this development is malleable, and that, when needed, intervention in these early years can have lasting effects throughout the life span. Our research in this area focuses on developing evidence-based interventions and assessments used by practitioners, parents, and other primary caregivers to optimize children's development in key areas, such as language, social-emotional, problem solving, and early literacy.

A woman with long curly dark hair, wearing a black jacket, kissing her infant child on the cheek

Research Highlights

A teacher is kneeling on the floor and holding a toy carrot out to two young children playing in a pretend garden

Featured Project: BWG Research Network

The Goal of the Bridging the Word Gap National Research Network (BWGRN) is to is build and sustain collaborations with researchers, programs and policymakers to advance research that expands existing knowledge of effective ways for promoting children’s early language by enriching their opportunities for learning in their homes, in their early education centers and in their communities.
Two children facing each other. One is talking and they are playing with a tower of blocks.

Publication: Word Gap Prevention Research

Children learn language through the interactions they have with their parents/caregivers beginning at birth. Translating research into practice, we developed the Bridging the Word Gap Community Action Planning Guide (BWG-CAPG) using a combined behavior-analytic, community psychology, and public health framework for this purpose. We also developed a progress-monitoring measure, the online BWG Community Check Box Evaluation System, to provide feedback on a community’s actions and progress in implementing their plan.
Judith Carta

Featured Investigator: Judith Carta

Judith Carta is a Senior Scientist at the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project in the Institute for Life-Span Studies and a Professor of Special Education at the University of Kansas. Her key research and policy interests include tiered intervention models for advancing children’s language, early literacy and social-emotional development; methods for monitoring children’s progress, and community-wide interventions for promoting early learning.