Early Learning Study at Harvard

The Early Learning Study at Harvard is a large-scale, population-based study that examines children's development in the context of their learning experiences.


study logo

Household Survey in progress!

Have you seen our materials are your door? We're studying how young children learn and grow across Massachusetts.
Call or email to learn more.
Toll-free ELS@H Line: 1-888-738-6663 

FAQs for Study Families

Brochure for Study Families



¡Encuesta de hogares en progreso!

·      ¿Ha visto nuestro material informativo frente a su puerta? Estamos investigando cómo los niños y  las niñas aprenden y crecen a través de Massachusetts.
Llame o envíe un correo electrónico para obtener más información. 
Línea gratuita ELS@H: 1-888-738-6663
Correo electrónico: ELSAH@abtassoc.com

FAQs para Familias Invitadas a Nuestro Estudio

Folleto para Familias Invitadas a Nuestro Estudio



General FAQs



To deliver on the promise and potential of early education at scale, we need to bring the science of early learning up-to-date in two major ways. First, the science must match the demographics of today’s children, given increasing immigration rates and the linguistic and economic diversity among the U.S. population. Second, we need to capture the variety of settings in which children are learning and growing. Only then are we positioned to address the big questions and concerns facing the field, including that of “fade out”—the observation that positive effects of exposure to high-quality early education are not maintained through the school years—and those of scale, including what models work, for whom, and under what conditions.

Our Key Questions

  • What learning outcomes and developmental gains can we expect from early learning environments? Which of these outcomes are particularly sensitive to high-quality environments and how do they vary by characteristics of the population?

  • What are the features of early schooling that maintain and multiply the benefits of preschool? What practices undermine those benefits?

Our Approach


Public health framework

This study is a population-based investigation within the state of Massachusetts aimed at capturing representative samples of both children and the settings in which they are cared for and educated.


Longitudinal methodology

The study begins with a cohort of three-year-olds and follows them through elementary school, and, aspirationally, through to adulthood.


Comprehensive measurement

We are examining key domains of learning and development, including cognition, social-emotional skills, language, and neuro-physiology. Simultaneously, we are examining the nature and quality of the settings where children spend their time.

Our Advisors

Daphna Bassok
Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy
Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

David Francis
Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair
University of Houston

Deborah Phillips
Professor of Psychology
Georgetown University

Sean Reardon
Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education
Stanford Graduate School of Education

Martha Zaslow
Director of the Office for Policy and Communications
Society for Research in Child Development 


Research Stories