Childcare centres, preschools and schools are designed to provide children with safe environments to learn, grow and develop. Unfortunately many children arrive carrying an overwhelming burden, which if not understood and managed, impairs their capacity to learn and to benefit from the rich possibilities that the environment can provide.

This review focuses on the impact of trauma and concepts from neurobiology. It is written for early childhood educators who encounter infants and children, from newborns to 8 year-olds, who have suffered the effects of significant trauma in their young lives. It aims to enhance existing knowledge of child development by focussing on those issues that are most relevant to understanding the impact of trauma. This is explored through concepts related to attachment, neurobiology and the impact of trauma on learning.