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


12/9/20 - ASCD December Symposium

Speaker - Deep Learning at a Distance: Teaching Young Children Remotely

12/17/20 - Slate School Education Idea Lab: North Haven, CT

A Conversation About Curiosity-Driven Education with Julie Mountcastle

12/21/20 - Curiosity Lab: Tel Aviv University

Speaker - Cultivating Curiosity in Young Learners

4/8/2021 - 4/9/2021 - Unite for Sight Global Health & Innovation Conference

Panelist - Beyond Imagining: The Power of Creativity in Innovation

Moderator - Beyond the Whole Child 

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


New Book Coming Soon...

Empowering Young Children:
How to Breed Deep Transformative Learning for a Socially Just World (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)