Early Learning Study at Harvard
The Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) is a population-based study that examines children’s development in the context of their early education and care settings.
A New Era of Science
To deliver on the promise of early education, we need to bring the science of early learning up to date in two ways. The science has to match the demographics of today’s children, including today’s linguistic, racial/ethnic, and economic diversity; and the science needs to reflect all the different types of settings where children are in care. Only then can we answer the big questions, including those about scaling (for example, what models work, for whom, and under what conditions?) and those about long-term effects and “fade out” (for example, what are the impacts of high-quality early education and care on future outcomes?).
ELS@H is also uniquely positioned to answer questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic affects young children, families, and early educators. We have gathered information before and during this public health crisis and will continue to do so in the years ahead.
Study Key Questions
- What are the patterns of early education and care across the state for 3- and 4-year olds? What combinations of formal (such as preschools, Head Start centers, and pre-K classrooms in public schools) and informal care (such as care from relatives) are families using for their preschool children?
- 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 features of early schooling predict whether the benefits of preschool will be maintained or multiplied?
For Participating Families
Please update your contact information and send us your questions.
Have you moved or changed your phone number or email address?
Do you have questions about the study?
Please use the link below to share your new contact information and questions with us. That way, you can continue to be part of our study of how young children learn and grow across Massachusetts.
Need to get in touch with us? Use the phone number and email below.
Toll-free ELS@H Line: 1-844-865-2196
For more information, download the brochure for study familiesDownload
You might remember that when we began the study, we wanted to make sure the participating children were like all of the 3- and 4-year-old children in Massachusetts. To do so, the study team picked over 150 communities by chance and invited every 3- and 4-year-old from those communities to be part of the study. That way we are confident that the children in our study are similar to children from across state. This year, your child is being invited to participate again now that they are 4 or 5 years old.
If you are new to the study with a child in Kindergarten…
We are interested in learning about all the settings where children learn and grow and that includes Kindergarten! Now that many of the children in our study are 5 years old and in Kindergarten, we are hoping to learn more about their classrooms and their classmates and so we are inviting new Kindergartners to join us. We’ve asked you to join us because your child is in a Kindergarten class with a child who joined the study last year.
Public health framework
This population-based study in Massachusetts involves a representative sample of both children and the settings in which they receive their early education and care.
The study begins with a cohort of 3- and 4-year-olds who are demographically representative (for example, by language, ethnicity, and family income) of all 3- and 4-year-olds across Massachusetts.
We are examining key domains of learning and development—including cognition, social-emotional skills, language, and neurophysiology—as well as the nature and quality of the settings where children receive their early education and care.
Director of the Office for Policy and Communications
Society for Research in Child Development
Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education
Stanford Graduate School of Education
Professor of Psychology
Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair of Quantitative Methods, Department of Psychology
University of Houston
Batten Bicentennial Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education
University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development