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International Initiative

Providing an intensive study of early childhood education models in the U.S.



Strengthening Early Childhood Professionals Globally

Professionals receive online and in-person training in Chicago and their home countries, and gain an in-depth understanding of childhood development and hands-on experience in the field.

Among the ways we reach these global professionals is through partnerships with providers of early childhood education in countries including China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Ghana.

2000 +
Early childhood professionals have been trained in 6 years
200000 +
Families served weekly by our collaborators

Learning the Culture

Our International Initiative is more than just a professional development program.

It’s also a cross-cultural exchange, offering opportunities for international educators and American professionals to learn about different approaches to common challenges in early care and education. These cultural exchanges offer opportunities to learn from experiences that highlight the differences among cultures.

During one site visit in Chicago, a Chinese educator watched a child put on her shoes, but, she put them on the wrong feet. When the Chinese educator asked why the teacher didn’t correct this, the American teacher said the child had just learned to put on shoes, and it was more important that she feels good about herself than to correct her. We then also invited visitors to explain what was the common practice in China and what were the assumptions behind that. The conversation continued and helped all participants to gain a deeper understanding of child development and apply this knowledge into culturally responsive teaching practice.

Barbara Bowman on Culture and Language

“We highlight the role of culture in helping teachers think about how to teach young children.”

Erikson co-founder and professor Barbara T. Bowman discusses the role culture plays in children’s lives and learning, using the development of language as an example.

Jie-Qi Chen
Jie-Qi Chen, PhD
Barbara T. Bowman Professor Of Early Childhood Education, Founding Executive Director, Early Learning & Teaching Academy
“America and China are both major players in world affairs, so this is an opportunity for a cross-cultural exchange and to understand child development in different cultures.”
Yinna Zhang, PhD
Director, International Initiative
“The organizations we work with around the world are in fast-growing regions and touch many lives. Working with them will have an enormous impact on the next generation and their parents.”

3 Types of Professional Development Training

Drawing on its 55-year history as a pioneer in the early childhood field and a deep understanding of child development, Erikson provides three types of professional development training.




Professionals visit the United States to take part in Erikson workshops and observe child-caregiver interactions at Chicago-area preschools, museums, and infant-toddler centers. Afterward, small-group seminars allow participants to discuss what they have seen with one another and with Erikson faculty mentors as well as with teachers and leaders at the sites visited. In addition, Erikson instructors travel to our partners’ home countries to provide training and visit early education sites to observe and learn.


Educators from abroad take four online courses, each lasting about three months. International educators can earn Erikson graduate certificates in infant studies or preschool teacher development.


Erikson works with a small group of professionals who, in turn, train educators in their programs on an Erikson approach to early childhood education.

Current Collaborations

Rebecca Mermelstein
Rebecca Mermelstein, PhD
Erikson Instructor, International Initiative
“There has been an openness among the people we have met both in terms of welcoming new people and taking in new ideas. Teaching was much easier than I expected because of this.”
Jean Robbins
Jean Robbins, PhD
Former Head Of Early Childhood Education Catherine Cook School (Chicago Host Site)
“The observations and conversations with the visiting teachers helped to reflect on our beliefs about children and learning. This is the value of meeting people from other cultures: We see our own practice more clearly and discover new ways of thinking.”
Yanlai Shi
CEO, RYB Education, Inc
“We wanted to partner with the best. Erikson has an incredible reputation in the field of early childhood for its unique approach and expertise in preparing early childhood professionals.”

Previous Collaborations


Early childhood education has become a priority in China. As a result, there is a high demand of high-quality professional development for teachers.

Serving hundreds of thousands of families across China, Erikson provides in-person and online training to educators through these organizations:

  • Red Yellow Blue Early Education Technology Development Co., Ltd.
  • Shenzhen Great Foresight Education Investment Co., Ltd.



West Africa

International Initiative, Ghana, West Africa

Erikson partners with International Community School – Ghana (ICS-G) to provide in-person professional development training to educators and administrators serving families in Ghana and the West Africa region.

Today the school -which opened in 2000 with just seven students- serves more than 1,400 students in prekindergarten through high school representing more than 30 nationalities on its 20-acre campus.

Middle East

International Initiative Middle East

Through the International Initiative, Erikson instructors provide in-person professional development opportunities to Arabian Child trainers, who in turn bring that knowledge to educators in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.