Wendy Ostroff is an applied developmental and cognitive psychologist and a professor in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University, a seminar-based program that prepares prospective teachers and emphasizes critical reading, writing, and thinking.


The author of the books Understanding How Young Children Learn: Bringing the Science of Child Development to the Classroom (2012, ASCD), Cultivating Curiosity in K-12 Classrooms (2016, ASCD), and the forthcoming Empowering Young Children: How to Nourish Deep Learning for Social Justice (Routledge), Ostroff has been designing and teaching interdisciplinary courses on child development, learning, and education for more than 20 years.


Wendy Ostroff offers workshops on applying child development research for scientists and practitioners, and is passionate about innovative and emergent pedagogies and state of the art teacher education.

Photo by M. Leras


6/18/2021 - 6/19/2021 - Slate School Education Idea Lab Virtual Summit

Panelist - Focus on the Whole Child

Moderator - Keynote Conversation, Curiosity with Susan Engel

Moderator - The Power of Imagination & Curiosity 


6/23/21 - ASCD Annual Conference: Empowered & Connected

Speaker - Empowering Young Children Using Dialogue: Tools for Giving Kids a Voice & Undoing Oppression

8/14/21 - 4 Generations 4 Education Back to School Webinar, Dubai

Speaker - Creating a Classroom Culture of Curiosity: Surefire Techniques for Engagement & Deeper Learning

9/9/21 - Slate School Education Idea Lab: North Haven, CT

Panelist - How to Begin Well: Thoughts for the Start of a School Year

3/10/22 - The Inquiry Educator's Summit, TIES 2022

Educator Masterclass Facilitator - Empowering Learners: Tools for Nourishing Deep Learning & Social Justice

3/14/22 - University of Michigan, Flint - Department of Education

Speaker - Cultivating Curiosity: Surefire Techniques for Engagement & Deeper Learning

4/21/2022 - 4/22/2022 - Unite for Sight Global Health & Innovation Conference

Panelist - Collaboration: The Team Sport of Success


New Book Coming in 2022...

Empowering Young Children:
How to Nourish Deep, Transformative Learning for Social Justice (Routledge)

Curiosity comes from within—we just have to know how to unleash it.

We learn by engaging and exploring, asking questions and testing out answers. Yet our classrooms are not always places where such curiosity is encouraged and supported. 

Cultivating Curiosity in K–12 Classrooms describes how teachers can create a structured, student-centered environment that allows for openness and surprise, where inquiry guides authentic learning.

Award-winning educator Wendy L. Ostroff shows how to foster student curiosity through exploration, novelty, and play; questioning and critical thinking; and experimenting and problem solving. 

With techniques to try, scaffolding advice, and relevant research from neuroscience and psychology, this book will help teachers harness the powerful drive in all learners—the drive to know, understand, and experience the world in a meaningful way.

(ASCD, 2016)

Because little kids can't tell you how their minds work and what makes them learn, you need this book about new scientific discoveries that explain how young children learn and what teachers can do to use those findings to enhance classroom teaching.


Discover where the desire to learn comes from and what occurs during children's development to wire their brains for attention, language, curiosity, and memory. Included with the author's clear explanations of how young children learn are examples of classroom strategies that enhance children's motivation, attention, and memory. Learn why and how to

  • Encourage children to take intellectual risks.

  • Plan an "outrageous lesson" and occasionally add surprises to your classroom.

  • Provide children with choices and avoid high-stakes situations.

  • Incorporate meditation and free play into lessons.

  • Schedule time for children to let out their physical energy.

  • Use storytelling for conveying new content.

  • Add emotional hooks to lesson and unit plans.


Even seasoned teachers, who already know through experience how young minds work, need this book to bolster their practice with scientificce evidence on effective teaching of young children.

(ASCD, 2012)