Our work: Early Childhood Learning and Development

Realizing the promise of all children

The vision for the Stanford Center on Early Childhood is to enable the growth of the whole child – social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and academic. With this initiative, we foster a research-backed understanding of whole-child development that is equitable and effective and design tools, strategies, policy guidance, and training that is accessible, affordable, and respects the unique needs and contexts of every child.

The Challenge

Young brains undergo rapid development during the early years of life and are dramatically shaped by experiences. The biological, psychological, and social context of development are inextricably linked and combine to set the stage for success.

Yet there is still much we do not know about how our youngest learn and the conditions that help them thrive. We lack a comprehensive understanding of the many forces that shape early development. Additionally, research has focused on specific internal processes and not an integrated understanding of the whole child. Further, the system to support children is diffuse. Policies and programs are not coordinated, there is inadequate sharing of information across systems, and children of color and families without means suffer the most.

Without high-quality opportunities for our youngest children, we lose a vital opportunity to prepare our next generation to benefit from school and create positive long-term growth for the child, family, and society.


The Stanford Center on Early Childhood

The Stanford Center on Early Childhood, launched fall 2022, is an integral component for realizing the vision of this initiative and the Stanford Accelerator for Learning. Led by Professor Philip Fisher, it brings together researchers, students, educators, and others working on the issues facing our youngest learners. The Center will be the primary hub for convenings, workshops, research, and education related to accelerating solutions for young children.

Stanford Center on Early Childhood

Faculty Director

Bio photo of Philip Fisher

Philip Fisher

Faculty Director, Stanford Center on Early Childhood


The FIND Program

Filming Interactions to Nurture Development (FIND) is a highly effective video coaching program that facilitates responsive, supportive caregiving to significantly improve developmental outcomes for children birth to five years old.

The RAPID Survey Project

RAPID is an early childhood and family well-being survey that launched in April 2020, initially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our objectives are to collect essential information from households and families with young children and to provide actionable data to key stakeholders to inform immediate and long-term program and policy decisions. In March 2021, we launched a second survey of the child care workforce nationally, to create a fuller picture of the needs, well-being and health promoting behaviors of the important adults in young children’s lives.