Early Childhood Institute

two preschool children playing with blocks

The mission of the Early Childhood Institute is to promote full participation and inclusion of young children and their families in home, school, and community settings. Our focus on young children includes those in preschool and elementary school settings, although we hope to expand our supports to include young children in community and home settings in the future. We work to promote participation and equitable inclusion through investigating instructional practices, effective coaching partnerships, and meaningful assessment procedures. 

Areas of Focus

  • Identifying feasible and effective evidence-based instructional practices to promote children’s engagement 
  • Identifying environmental and instructional supports for children displaying challenging behavior
  • Coaching educators to implement evidence-based instructional practices in inclusive educational settings

Services Offered

  • Consultation with schools and districts to increase inclusive opportunities for young children in inclusive classrooms
  • Coaching and training staff to implement evidence-based instructional practices
  • Methodological support for single case research design studies and syntheses

Current Projects

  • Enhancing Engagement in K-2 Classrooms for Students with Challenging Behaviors
  • Comparing Coaching Feedback Methods for Pre-Service Special Education Teachers
  • Mapping our Progress: Meta-Synthesis of Published Single Case Research Design Syntheses and Meta-Analyses
  • Identifying Adaptations to Visual Support Interventions for Diverse Young Children 


Kathleen Zimmerman

Kathleen N. Zimmerman, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is the Institute Director and is excited to be starting an early childhood institute at KUCDD. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education and received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University with an emphasis on Early Childhood Special Education. Kathleen was a classroom teacher in community childcare and public elementary schools for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary students. Her work focuses on supporting educators in implementing effective instructional practices to improve children’s engagement in activities and routines in inclusive classrooms. While Kathleen’s primary focus is supporting children exhibiting challenging behavior, she also works to support educators in implementing effective and engaging instruction in academic and pre-academic domains for all children in inclusive settings.


Evidence-based Instructional Practices
Early Building Blocks for Learning
National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations
Juniper Gardens Children’s Research Project


Connect with the Institute

We are looking to build partnerships and new relationships! If you are interested in partnering with the Early Childhood Institute please email Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman at kathleen.zimmerman@ku.edu.