The statistics are startling. The number of 13-year-olds who read for fun most days has halved in a decade. It is now just 14 percent, according to the 2022-2023 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Connect with CLI and learn about our work across the state.
November 16, 2023 | Inside UTHealth Houston | by David Fanucchi
The Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth Houston was named the recipient of the Innovations Award, presented by the National Workforce Registry Alliance, for their exceptional work and continued expansion of the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS). Continue reading.
November 10, 2023 | Inside UTHealth Houston
The Children’s Learning Institute is seeking to learn more about children’s language development, and needs volunteers for a research study on the unique patterns of English/Spanish development in toddlers born prematurely. Read more about this study.
The proponents of attachment parenting say that quickly responding to your baby’s needs helps build a secure bond. In theory, there’s a lot to like about attachment parenting and its emphasis on closeness – but in practice, the demands it places on parents can grow exhausting and unrealistic when practiced to an extreme. Read the full article.
The parenting style emphasizes respect and empathy – but it’s harder than it sounds. In many ways, gentle parenting is like the Goldilocks of parenting approaches. Learn more about this trending parenting style from CLI’s Cathy Guttentag, PhD, and the University of Virginia’s Jessie Stern, PhD.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for your child. But if you’re constantly monitoring their every move, it may be time to take a step back. Read the article to learn more and hear expert advice from Cathy Guttentag, PhD, associate professor at CLI, and Whitney Casares, MD, pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
September 12, 2023 | UT Physicians | by G. Ashley Johnson
Participating UT Physicians clinics are providing new books during well-child exams, both supporting assessments and cultivating a child’s interest in reading. The effort is made possible through a partnership with Reach Out and Read Texas, which is part of the Children’s Learning Institute. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of this program.
August 22, 2023 | The National Desk | by Dee Dee Gatton
New research finds a connection between the amount of screen time young children are exposed to and developmental delays. The National Desk interviewed Tricia Zucker, PhD and co-director of CLI, for her advice on counteracting this trend. She suggests that parents set small achievable goals of even a few minutes a day to play with their child and interact with toys. Simple interactions can build relationships and support critical cognitive development. Watch the national news segment.
August 8, 2023 | UT Physicians | by Melissa McDonald
To showcase the breadth of UTHealth Houston and the university’s community initiatives, Reach Out and Read Texas, a literacy enrichment program led by the Children’s Learning Institute at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, is listed as a recipient for donations on the Houston Half Marathon & 10K’s website. This opportunity is part of the UTHealth Houston title sponsorship for the Houston Half later this fall. Read more here.
August 1, 2023 | WalletHub | by Adam McCann
While good elementary schools, high schools and colleges are important factors for parents to consider when choosing where to settle down, the availability of quality pre-K education is just as crucial. Children enrolled in early education programs are more likely to be academically prepared for future grades, as well as have higher graduation rates and higher earning potential than those who are not enrolled, according to the National Education Association. Read the full article.
Science of reading-based instruction focuses on two main components — decoding, which teaches children the relationship between letters and sounds, and language comprehension, which teaches students what those sounds mean. As a research expert in the science of reading, Tricia Zucker, PhD, was interviewed to further explain the changes and their possible impact. Read the article.
June 7, 2023 | McGovern Medical School: Scoop | by Roman Petrowski
The National Institutes of Health has awarded Sarah Surrain, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, with the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. Providing funding for multiple years of additional training and research support, this award enables Surrain to devote herself to equity-focused research serving emergent bilingual children and their families. Learn about her plans.
June 4, 2023 | Univision 45 Houston
Keisey Fumero, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow and bilingual instructional coach, was interviewed by the local Univision affiliate about the importance of summer reading and learning for young children. Read more and watch the interview.
May 10, 2023 | UT Physicians | by Simone Sonnier
Autism in children can be diagnosed as early as 12 months of age by a specially trained clinician. Although a chronic diagnosis such as this one can seem overwhelming for parents, its timing is crucial to ensuring a happy and fulfilling life for the child. Read the article.
April 30, 2023 | Univision 45 Houston
Gabriel Anzueto, MD, medical director Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic, was interviewed by the local Univision affiliate about the importance of knowing the symptoms and treatments for autism. Read more and watch the interview.
Updated April 7, 2023 | UT Physicians | by Simone Sonnier
Although autism is an extremely common disorder that affects millions of adults and children worldwide, there are still countless misconceptions surrounding the condition and its origin.
“In the age of the internet and social media where we can access so much information, and it all looks very official, we have to make sure that the sources of information we follow are reliable and based on current medical science,” explained Cathy L. Guttentag, PhD, clinical child psychologist with Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic at the Children’s Learning Institute. Continue reading.
February 2023 | OPRE Report | by Mathematica
This profile provides an overview of the CIRCLE Infant & Toddler Teacher Competencies, a competency framework developed in Texas to advance early childhood education by outlining the teacher and caregiver practices and behaviors that best promote infant and toddler development. Continue reading.
January 2023 | Children’s Learning Institute | by the Children’s Learning Institute
The Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston is excited to announce that the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS) has collaborated with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (AgriLife) to transfer training certificates taken on their online training platform into TECPDS users accounts. Continue reading.
January 2023 | Children’s Learning Institute | by the Children’s Learning Institute
This past Fall the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) was awarded a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to develop a Texas School Ready Registered Apprenticeship Model (RAP). Apprenticeships help employers and job seekers by training teachers for jobs with diverse career paths and promising futures. Apprentices are full-time, paid employees who earn while they learn. Continue reading.
Aligned school and home conversation starters for young, culturally and linguistically diverse learners
You’ve likely heard the saying that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. This adage is true for young learners, as parental involvement in early learning is linked to improved academic and social outcomes.
As educators, it is important to help families understand the value in becoming engaged partners in their child’s education and development. Here we consider ways to bridge early learning between school and home by encouraging meaningful parent/caregiver-child conversations that align with topics of study at school. Continue reading the article and issue.
Winter 2022 | Young Children | by Tricia Zucker, Michael Mesa, April Crawford, Shauna Spear, and Sonia Cabell
Engage families by using key resources in a multipronged approach to planning before, during, and after your family-teacher conferences. Find links to CLI suggested resources in Young Children, the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The winter 2022 issue includes a cluster of articles covering a range of topics about welcoming in, learning about, and learning from families. Access the issue.
November 22, 2022 | UTHealth Houston | by David Fanucchi
When the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at UTHealth Houston created a cost-effective, digital delivery system in 2014 to disseminate early childhood program improvement tools across the state, there was trepidation as to how well the platform would be received among preschool teachers.
But a pilot program with Houston ISD, Dallas ISD, and Fort Worth ISD – in partnership with the Texas Education Agency – immediately put the resource into the hands of 2,450 teachers. The e-learning platform contains resources for curriculum, family engagement, and classroom observation and monitoring, as well as professional development tools. Three years later, the CLI Engage platform was used within school districts statewide.
Brian Herod, director of CLI programs, started planning how to scale up the platform to accommodate its rapid adoption and growth, as well as its continual updating and enhancement. Herod figured that a shift to the cloud was the only solution. Read the full article.
October 27, 2022 | UT Physicians | by Laura Frnka Davis
“Using different colored pumpkins and candy buckets on Halloween is a great way for all children – no matter what disabilities or special needs they have – to feel included in the festivities,” said Gabriel Anzueto, MD, medical director of the Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopment Clinic at the Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth Houston. “The different colors not only help children feel more included, but they also help raise awareness and educate the public on these different health conditions that are sometimes misunderstood.”
Embracing the concept of children using these different colored pumpkins and candy buckets gives Anzueto optimism that the public is becoming more accepting of a broader range of conditions. Read the full article.
Innovative program helps children excel in the next chapter of life
Fall 2022 | UTHealth Houston | by the Office of Development
The conversation in the car ride home is a familiar one for Kimberly and Randall Velasquez. Their three-year-old son, Blake, received a book at his annual checkup, and while he can already recite his colors and numbers with pride, he doesn’t yet know how to read by himself. He turns to his older sisters—McKenzie, Adriana, and Serenity—for help.
“I always tell my younger kids that we have to wait until we get home to read,” Kimberly says. “But they are so excited about the books that they beg their older siblings to read aloud in the car.”
The books that the Velasquez family receive are part of Reach Out and Read…. Read the full article here.
September 2, 2022 | Fatherly | by Rachel Crowell
“Everybody wants to know what is causing this perceived increase in autism,” says Cathy Guttentag, PhD, a child psychologist and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston. “There’s still some debate” about what’s driving these changes, she notes. “Are there really more children with autism, or are we just getting better at diagnosing it? And because we’ve broadened the spectrum of who gets diagnosed with autism, is that why the numbers are going up?”
Although some uncertainty exists in these changing autism rates, there are a few key things that researchers have shown don’t cause autism, even though many people may believe in these myths. Here are three things that don’t cause autism, despite many people falsely believing that they do. Read the full article.
August 25, 2022 | UTHealth Houston | by the Office of Development
Helping children reach their full potential sets in motion a cascade of positive change. Each child served will grow to share the fullness of their talents. Each family will be stronger, each community more robust.
These goals are at the heart of CenterPoint Energy’s philanthropy and have led them to partner with Reach Out and Read through the Children’s Learning Institute at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. Read the article to learn how this program seeks to improve literacy skills by working with pediatricians to promote the role of reading in young children’s lives.
April 19, 2022 | The Sector | by Jason Roberts
Investigators at the Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth Houston have been given a five-year, $2.1 million grant to test the impact of the Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) program on the social and emotional well-being of early childhood educators in Head Start programs across three major cities in Texas. Read the full article.
April 13, 2022 | UTHealth Houston: News | by Jeannette Sanchez
Read the news release from the Office of Public Affairs.
April 14, 2022 | KHOU: Health Matters | by Rekha Muddaraj
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one in 44 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder, which occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
Dr. Cathy Guttentag, a psychologist with the Children’s Learning Institute and UT Physicians, evaluates children who have been referred for concerns about autism spectrum disorder. Watch her interview, recorded during Autism Awareness Month, to hear tips for parents and to learn about the importance of early intervention.
March 31, 2022 | McGovern Medical School: Scoop | by Roman Petrowski
The Children’s Learning Institute grant, “Breaking stereotypes through culturally relevant storytelling: Optimizing out-of-school time STEM experiences for elementary-age girls to strengthen their STEM interest pathways” is funded for nearly $2 million from the National Science Foundation.
To reduce inequities among females who are Latino and African American in STEM fields, the project will build important knowledge about how to support early interest in STEM by exposing girls to STEM role models and fostering a STEM identity. The project focuses on using a hands-on elementary afterschool program in schools where the majority of students are experiencing poverty. Read the full article here.
March 10, 2022 | Children’s Learning Institute | The Learning Leader
The past two years have been filled with constant change and uncertainty due to the ongoing pandemic. Many routines had to be altered and some activities eliminated, affecting all our typical approaches. Research projects conducted by the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) were hit hard by the unexpected move to remote schooling beginning in 2020, then limited campus access during subsequent months, resulting in planned research activities to be delayed until schools resumed normal operations. With the return to in-person instruction and the reduction of COVID-19 related barriers, CLI is excited to be able to move ahead with some important research, including starting work related to three recently awarded grants. As a research-to-practice institute, cutting-edge research serves as the essential foundation of all future developments by CLI. Continue reading the article here.
March 10, 2022 | McGovern Medical School: Scoop | by Roman Petrowski
The Children’s Learning Institute at McGovern Medical School has received a new grant from the Institute of Education Sciences focused on improving outcomes in schools with a focus on how to best support teachers and parents of young children experiencing language difficulties.
“We are excited that this new research will help us understand how to best tailor a system of supports to match the needs of diverse preschoolers who are experiencing language difficulties,” said Tricia Zucker, PhD, Harriet and Joe Foster Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and co-director of CLI. Read the full article here.
February 27, 2022 | Victoria Advocate: School Matters | by Laura Prendergast
Opening a new early childhood campus in Victoria during the pandemic was a bold decision by both the Victoria Independent School District and the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
After working diligently to get our new early childhood campus up and running in just six short months, the Children’s Learning Institute Early Education Center at F.W. Gross opened and welcomed children (grades PreK-3 through first grade) and their families. Continue reading to learn about family engagement, reception, and registration.
September 30, 2021 | Children’s Learning Institute | The Learning Leader
Starting shortly after our announcement in February, we began hiring dedicated staff, processing student applications, getting supplies together, and updating the historic campus buildings to welcome students in Fall 2021—all accomplished during the ongoing pandemic. A familiar landmark, the campus was named for Frederick W. Gross, a 19th century education pioneer in Victoria, and CLI is honored to carry forward this legacy through the CLI EEC at F.W. Gross. Read the piece here.
September 29, 2021 | Children’s Learning Institute | by Doris Maria Cárdenas
Educational freedom, particularly among women, has come with a price en mi familia. As the granddaughter of a migrant worker who walked with Chavez in California, I feel a special commitment to social justice and ensuring that children, regardless of their country of birth, have an opportunity to thrive in this ever-changing global environment. I learned early on that education is the one thing no one can take from you. It offers you infinite opportunities of the mind and soul. I want to share with you who I am, where I came from, and how I became an educational advocate and leader through initiative, motivation, and struggle. Read the piece here.
Dr. Tricia Zucker explores the urgent need to invest in early learners’ language and literacy skills, which is a foundational entry point for building reading comprehension. As early as pre-kindergarten children are able to use oral language to build foundational skills necessary for later reading comprehension. These early language skills give children a strong start on their journeys as lifelong, avid readers. Read the piece here.
Parents can help children understand math concepts by routinely doing math at home–for fun! Counting, grouping, and comparing are ways to support math development during everyday routines, and are some of the earliest foundational skills for math success. Learn more by watching the interview.
August 4, 2021 | Victoria Advocate | by Samantha Douty
The Children’s Learning Institute Early Education Center at F.W. Gross officially opened with the snip of a large pair of scissors. Children’s Learning Institute and Victoria school district officials showcased their newest partnership project during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday. The center will cater to children who are 3 years old through first grade, and classes will start later this month. Read the full published piece here.
July 2021 | Children’s Learning Institute | The Learning Leader
Every two years, CLI solicits applications from local and regional organizations that would like to have a positive impact on the school readiness of their communities by implementing the Texas School Ready (TSR) Comprehensive program. Thus far, the TSR Comprehensive program has served more than 550,000 children with close to 1,500 teachers participating each year. In June 2021, CLI announced the 24 TSR Comprehensive Lead Agents, local and regional organizations selected to implement TSR Comprehensive, for 2021-2023. Read more.
July 1, 2023
Michael P. Mesa, PhD, has transitioned to the role of Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Children’s Learning Institute after completing his IES-funded postdoctoral fellowship. In his new capacity, he will play a pivotal role in supporting the Texas School Ready program while continuing to make significant contributions to ongoing research projects and more.
CLI co-directors recognized for combination of endowments
December 16, 2022 | Inside UTHealth Houston | by Meredith Raine
During a luncheon hosted by Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, UTHealth Houston president and Alkek-Williams Distinguished Chair, members of the university’s executive leadership welcomed distinguished faculty members who have been appointed to endowed positions between 2019 and 2022
The Children’s Learning Institute congratulates our co-directors, doctors April Crawford and Tricia Zucker, on receiving a combination of prestigious endowments.
September 12, 2022 | UT Physicians | by Simone Sonnier
Gabriel Anzueto, MD, has joined the talented team at the Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic at the Children’s Learning Institute as the new medical director. The clinic is part of UT Physicians, the medical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
As a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, Anzueto specializes in caring for children with an array of neurodevelopmental difficulties including autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, learning disabilities, restrictive eating, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder/substance exposure. Learn more about his background and plans.
September 1, 2022
We’re excited to announce updates have been made to the Texas Trainer Registry on the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS). Managed by the Children’s Learning Institute, TECPDS serves over 75,000 early childhood professionals. The trainer registry is a statewide network of trainers delivering high-quality professional development to early childhood professionals. Read the full article.
April 14, 2022
The 49th annual National Head Start Conference, held at the Baltimore Convention Center, will officially begin with an opening keynote presentation by Dr. Tricia Zucker on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Addressing an expected audience of over 3,000 attendees, Dr. Zucker will share how purposeful serve-and-return conversation helps children develop the oral language, vocabulary, and social-emotional skills they need to thrive in a positive classroom environment. See the event’s speaker announcement.
March 3, 2022
Dr. W. Daniel Williamson retired as of February 28, 2022. His long standing excellence of care will be missed by all. The Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic will strive to continue to perform with the same excellence that has been fostered by Dr. Williamson over all of these years. His leadership, guidance, vast experience and knowledge will be greatly missed. Read his farewell message to patients, friends, and colleagues.
October 4, 2023 | 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. | United Way of Greater Houston and Zoom
Small Group Reading & Tutoring Interventions: The Science of Reading and Tools to Elevate Your Program!
At our October Lunch & Learn, attendees got an exclusive look behind the CLI curtain and heard from our research experts as they discussed some critical aspects of the science of reading and why it’s so important. Then, our CLI Solutions Group team introduced the new Accelerated Early Reading Outcomes (AERO) Curriculum, a resource for individual and small-group reading interventions and tutoring.
April 5, 2023 | 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. | United Way of Greater Houston and Zoom
Teaching Together: Supporting Families with STEM at Home
Attendees at our Spring Lunch & Learn gained essential knowledge about improving and guiding STEM practices at home in 2023! The shared information will help increase parents’/caregivers’ self-perception and ability to serve as their child’s first teacher by supporting learning and inquiry conversations during daily routines and informal STEM activities.
February 1, 2023 | United Way of Greater Houston and Zoom
A Peek Inside Play with Me: Supporting Quality Improvement in Infant and Toddler Classrooms
CLI hosted a free educational lunch and learn focusing on improving classroom and teaching practices for infants and toddlers. Attendees gained crucial knowledge that will improve their infant and toddler classrooms and teaching practices.
October 12, 2022 | United Way of Greater Houston and Zoom
Managing Lasting Stress: How COVID-19 Is Impacting the Early Childhood Workforce
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new experiences and stressors for early childhood professionals, the children in their care, and the families they serve. During this hybrid session we shared data from a COVID-19 survey that collected information from the ECE workforce connected to the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS) to learn about pandemic impacts on the workforce, including stress. We also discussed ways to best manage lasting stress and continue supporting the children in your classroom while highlighting a new CLI research study expanding knowledge in this important area.
May 11, 2022 | United Way of Greater Houston
Supporting Social Emotional Development Throughout the School Year
During this in-person Lunch & Learn session, our panel presented on why a focus on social emotional development is especially vital during these changing times. Attendees learned specific ways for integrating social and emotional learning in early childhood classrooms and where to access free, research-based lessons.
The CIRCLE Pre-K Curriculum supports comprehensive skill development across all prekindergarten learning domains, while uniquely providing essential instruction in the critical area of children’s social and emotional growth. When children learn in an environment of high stress or unpredictability, they can struggle to develop a strong foundation of social and emotional skills. To address this issue, CLI offers a collection of sequenced social emotional lessons that can be used throughout the year, as a supplement to your school’s programming, and to engage your families. Experience the lessons for yourself here.
April 20, 2022 | Zoom event
Teaching Together: Family Engagement that Empowers Diverse Learners
This virtual Lunch & Learn session focused on family engagement in early childhood grades of preschool to first grade. Empowering families as partners in their children’s education support team opens opportunities for schools and families to work together to extend learning to the home environment.
During this session, we shared recent research on evidence-based practices for schools and strategies that have been shown to positively impact partnerships between schools and families. Tricia Zucker, PhD, Co-Director of CLI, led this session with fellow researcher, Keisey Fumero, PhD, SLP to discuss some of CLI’s recent family engagement research, known as Teaching Together, and resources that can be freely accessed on the CLI Engage platform. We also shared how schools can access resources and participate in our latest family engagement study to continue expanding this important field of research.