New Free Resource Hub Provides Comprehensive Tools for Early Childhood Educators


Audrey Breen

The new website gives educators access to resources they can use to help children develop the important skills they need to thrive.

In the forty-three second video clip, viewers see a teacher seated on the carpet surrounded by a small group of preschoolers.

"Does everybody see this picture?" The teacher holds the picture book out, slowly moving it in front of each child so they can examine the illustration.

"This child is feeling frustrated. Do you remember frustrated? Not feeling angry. Not feeling sad. But feeling a little bit upset. Why is this child frustrated?"

The teacher scans the small circle again and acknowledges a child by name, thanking him for raising his hand. Together, they describe that the character in the book is frustrated because she can't tie her shoe.

The video clip is one of dozens published in a new, evidence-based resource hub created for early childhood educators across Virginia. The hub, created in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education, provides Virginia’s early childhood educators access to free, high quality professional development resources that help them support children’s social-emotional and academic skills.

“Educators need a trusted place they can visit time and again to deepen their understanding of children’s development, find new ways to engage children and families, and support for planning effective professional development sessions,” said Stephanie Adams, project associate with the UVA Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL).

Education researchers at CASTL, a research center based at UVA’s School of Education and Human Development, have long been committed to translating new knowledge into resources that can serve teachers and support the development of children and students. This new resource hub is the most comprehensive collection of supports and materials they have yet to produce for early childhood educators.

The website is organized around two core skills that researchers have identified for early learners: “regulate” and “relate.” More skills are scheduled to be added later.

“The core skills form the building blocks for later learning,” said Adams, one of the leaders of the resource hub project. “We break them down into subskills because they encompass many different aspects of children’s development.”

The video clip of the teacher defining “frustrated” is included in a section of the site focused on the core skill “regulate,” where educators can find resources about helping children regulate their emotions. The website breaks down the complex skill of regulating emotions into several more specific areas. The video is surrounded by myriad accompanying resources, including other videos, detailed ways to use the strategy, recommended books, ways to be mindful of equity, and even lesson plans and activity cards. 

“Within the relate core skill, we have subskills about how children connect with adults, engage with their peers, and develop their growing sense of self and confidence,” Adams said. “Breaking them down allows educators to really dig into specific areas of development they want to know more about.”

The architecture of the site allows individual teachers to find their way to a specific topic they are interested in, as well as provides structure for long-term, thorough professional development a teacher leader or director may want to pursue with their team.

“We specifically designed the site with a ‘pick your path’ philosophy in mind,” Adams said. “Individuals can easily find a resource for a specific competency, or a leader may come to find materials on a number of topics after determining what their classrooms may need.”

The hub offers a mix of different types of resources because every educator has their own preferences, schedules, interests, and needs. There are podcasts, articles, webinars, tip sheets, and videos. The hub developers were also careful to create supports that accompany the resource.

“We provide discussion guides with prompts, questions, and additional resources to help educators really dig into the subskills, look at them through different lenses, and come away with an action plan to implement something new in their classrooms,” Adams said.

The Early Childhood Education Resource Hub is one of many benefits of a longstanding partnership between the CASTL team and the Virginia Department of Education.

“Our partnership with VDOE is focused on applying the science of early childhood education to practice and policy at scale in Virginia,” said Amanda Williford, Batten Bicentennial Professor of Early Childhood Education and associate director of early childhood education at CASTL. “The ECE Resource Hub was designed with our strong commitment to both scholarship and service. 

“Our hope is that educators in Virginia and beyond find these resources valuable for their day-to-day interactions with young children and easy to access and adapt to fit their needs.”

Resource Hub Roundup

Scholars across the UVA School of Education and Human Development have developed other resource hubs in a variety of areas, all of which are freely available to educators and caretakers. Here is a sample of them.

Virginia Literacy Partners Educator & Family Resources
The Virginia Literacy Partners website has developed libraries of resources for both educators and families.

Teachers in the Movement Oral History Project
Teachers in the Movement explores teachers’ ideas and pedagogy inside and outside the classroom during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

Educating for Democracy
Educating for Democracy offers developmentally appropriate civic education materials focused on issues of race and justice in the United States, with an emphasis on civic discourse and history.

Autism DRIVE
Created by the Supporting Transformative Autism Research initiative, the Autism DRIVE enables secure storage and sharing of autism data, helping to monitor progress and outcomes, including  resources for families and professionals.