The Gesell Program in Early Childhood

The Gesell Program in Early Childhood is a research, program development, and training center that brings together educators, parents, policy makers and researchers to study and promote the principles of child development for all young children. 

Since 1950, Gesell has led research, advocacy and training in how children grow along the same path, at their own unique pace. The cyclical theory of maturational development, originated by Dr. Arnold Gesell, the founder of the Yale Child Study Center, grounds and inspires our advocacy for play based, developmentally appropriate practice and individualized instruction.  

We believe

  • Play grows brains best.
  • Children grow along the same path, at their own unique pace.
  • Informed parents support their children’s growth.
  • Measuring growth is the most meaningful way to measure learning.
  • Quality early education grows our economy.

Our Goals

  • Spark a sense of wonder of childhood.
  • Cultivate awareness of and respect for the uniqueness of every child.
  • Grow informed and expert technicians of best practice.
  • Impel the use of objective assessment.
  • Engender self-reflection and self-awareness to minimize bias.
To learn more about our work, please view this presentation:

Gesell: True Then, Truer Now

Our Process
Gesell Program in Early Childhood provides professional development
trainings, programs, publications, and research to help parents, educators, leaders, psychologists, social workers, and medical professionals:

  • Know Yourself
  • Know Kids
  • Know Your Kids

Know Yourself

  • Engage in a self-evaluation process.
  • Develop an individualized professional development plan.
  • Acknowledge and counter implicit bias.
  • Commit to a pedagogy of presence. Practice staying available to new information and responding, not reacting.
  • Manage difficult situations with contemplative practices, like mindfulness.

Know Kids. 

  • Know and recognize the major developmental milestones of childhood; the ages and stages of child development.
  • Understand and implement developmentally appropriate practice that reflects children’s need to play and move.
  • Modify practice in response to current theory and research on child growth and development, such as brain growth, trauma and social and emotional learning theories.
  • Understand that development is influenced by external influences such as adverse childhood experiences (ACES), biology, individual characteristics, family, community, and culture.

 Know Your Kids. 

  • Understand the types and purposes of screening and assessment.
  • Know how to select appropriate assessments to address specific learning goals, individual differences, and minimize sources of bias.
  • Use assessments and screening to identify what children know, their special needs and appropriate placement.
  • Select appropriate curricula to meet children’s individual needs.
  • Refer children and, as appropriate, their families for additional services.