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), and Cultivating Curiosity in K-12 Classrooms (2016, ASCD), Ostroff has been designing and teaching interdisciplinary courses on child development, learning, and education for more than 15 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


5/3/19 - Young Child Expo & Conference: New York, NY

"Cultivating Curiosity in Young Learners: Surefire Techniques for Cognitive & Socioemotional Growth"

11/12/19 - Coastal Carolina University: Spadoni College of Education: Myrtle Beach, SC

Child Development Panelist; Guest Speaker


11/15/19 - Wisconsin Early Childhood Association Conference: Milwaukee, WI

Keynote Speaker - "Cultivating Curiosity & Inspiring Wonder in Young Learners"

3/6/20 - Rehab Seminars General and Special Education Conference: Seattle, WA

Keynote Speaker - "Cultivating Curiosity in K-12 Classrooms: Surefire Techniques for Engagement & Deeper Learning"

3/20/20 - Heidelberg University Education Summit: Tiffin, OH

Keynote Speaker - Theme: Build YOUR Teaching Around Curiosity

5/21/20 - Slate School: North Haven, CT

Education Idea Lab Panelist - A Deep Dive Into Curiosity and Creativity

6/10/20 - Slate School: North Haven, CT

Education Idea Lab Panelist - Imagining the Future of Education


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)

© 2016