LEGO Prize recognises Dr Jack Shonkoff for deepening understanding of the early years
The Sector > Research > LEGO Prize recognises Dr Jack Shonkoff for deepening understanding of the early years

LEGO Prize recognises Dr Jack Shonkoff for deepening understanding of the early years

by Freya Lucas

April 23, 2019

The LEGO Foundation has awarded Dr Jack Shonkoff, widely known in early childhood education and care (ECEC) circles for his work as Director of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, with the 2019 LEGO Prize for his “outstanding achievement in deepening the world’s understanding of the importance of the early years”.


Since 1985, the LEGO® Prize has been awarded to individuals or organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to the lives of children and are champions of learning through play. The prize is accompanied by a cash award of US$100,000 to support the further development of the work of the award-winning individual or organisation.


Dr Shonkoff is the Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Graduate School of Education; Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital; and, Director of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.


He has been honoured numerous times for his contributions to the ECEC field, with distinctions such as the C. Anderson Aldrich Award in Child Development from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children from the Society for Research in Child Development; and, elected membership to the Institute of Medicine. He has authored more than 130 publications, including nine books, and served on the editorial board of a number of scholarly journals, including Child Development and Infant Mental Health Journal. Dr Shonkoff has been a visiting professor and delivered named lectureships at 29 universities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Israel, Australia, Japan, and China.


Within the Australian ECEC context, Dr Shonkoff is perhaps most widely known for chairing the committee which produced the landmark From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development report, one of the reference points used in the creation of the Early Years Learning Framework.


Dr Shonkoff, LEGO said, in awarding the prize, has raised awareness about how young children’s brains develop and about the critical role that parents and caregivers play in supporting and nurturing their children’s growth and learning. He has “educated, inspired and motivated the world to think differently about young children and what they need to thrive”.


Dr Shonkoff said he was deeply honoured by the prize, and “humbled to be included among its long history of worthy recipients,” adding “the LEGO Foundation is shining a bright light on the wide range of skills that young children build through play and the importance of unlocking the power of parenting to nurture that development around the world. I’m excited to be a fellow traveler on that compelling journey”.


The presentation can be viewed here.