Professor Kathy Sylva


Professor Kathy Sylva
University of Oxford, UK

Professor Kathy Sylva is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Oxford, Department of Education. She has conducted large scale studies on the effects of Early Childhood education and care on children’s development. She has been lead researcher on the Effective Pre-school and Primary Education longitudinal study (EPPE). She also leads randomised controlled trials to evaluate parenting programmes aimed at supporting children’s reading in Year 1. She has published 7 books and more than 100 papers, most on early childhood, early literacy, and ways to support families. She has been specialist adviser to the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Education 2000-2009 and was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to children and families.


International Forum on Kindergarten Education

What brain research tells us about early development and learning

Professor Kathy Sylva will describe the way that the child’s brain develops and how this underpins early learning. She will argue that some kinds of learning, especially language skills, are acquired more easily during the pre-school period. However other skills, such as complex thinking or focused enquiry, continue to develop into young adulthood. The implications for early education are discussed.

Parent Seminar on Kindergarten Education

When and how should we introduce a second and third language to a young child?

Professor Kathy Sylva will discuss the early acquisition of second or third language. She will argue that the child’s brain is ‘hard wired’ to acquire language in the early years. Children who acquire additional languages before the age of 3 or 4 have two (or even three) first languages. Recent brain research reveals distinctive features of what is now called the “L1”. The brain works differently for children who are acquiring an “L2”. Good language teaching, however, can be successful at any age.