About Simple Interactions

Fred Rogers believed that human relationships are essential to children’s development at any age. Through television, Fred provided and modeled the kind of human relationships that fostered trust, provided support, and inspired respect. Fred’s message to parents and professionals alike is that they are already capable of building and sustaining a beautiful relationship with the children in their care.


The Simple Interactions approach, developed by Dr. Junlei Li, is grounded in this particular aspect of Fred’s legacy as well as in the convergence of developmental theory and research evidence. In this work, we reaffirm the importance of human interactions in children’s lives. We capture and build on what professionals already do well as the basis for their learning and growing. Our approach is based on the understanding that the “active ingredient” in a child’s growth is the developmental relationship between the child and another human being. The basic building blocks of such relationships are the day-to-day interactions between children and the adults who teach and care for them.


Simple Interactions was selected in May 2019 as one of the twelve best innovations in education in the Pittsburgh region with the ability to be replicated and promote change worldwide. The Simple Interactions team, represented by Director of Simple Interactions and Academic Programs and Assistant Professor of Child and Family Studies Dr. Dana Winters, will be honored in Helsinski, Finland in October.


By using the 1-page “Simple Interactions Tool” along with learning sessions based on authentic field videos, we help professionals build and sustain a “community of practice” across a wide range of child-serving settings, from child care to classrooms, from out-of-school time programs to orphanages.


Simple Interactions engages children’s caregivers through strengths-based, practice-focused, and community-supported learning sessions. By its very nature, Simple Interactions is unique to each site and setting. Through this participatory and practical approach, the Fred Rogers Center has the long-term goal of having participants sustain this learning and to grow independently.


We have worked with practitioners in numerous organizations and areas of focus.



Simple Interactions is a partnership between the Fred Rogers Center, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the University of Pittsburgh. In the past year, the SI team has provided professional development in 13 different states.

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