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Eastern Hosts Early Childhood Education Conference

Written by Ed Osborn

child care- speaker.jpg Judy Harris Helm discusses how engaging children in meaningful, child-initiated projects enhances their congnite development

Willimantic, Conn: -- More than 125 students, faculty and other early childhood educators attended Eastern Connecticut State University's Early Childhood Investigations Conference on April 27.  The conference theme was "Using Projects to Foster Children's Cognitive Development."  Visitors from across the state of Connecticut attended the day-long conference, which was co-hosted by the Center for Early Childhood Education and the Child and Family Development Resource Center.

The conference was designed for preschool and toddler teachers, administrators and teacher educators who are interested in learning more about using projects with young children.  Presenters came from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Illinois.

child care - diverse image.jpg"Hosting the conference enabled us to provide professional development to early childhood teachers throughout Connecticut, and also gave Eastern students the opportunity to experience a professional-level conference," said Julia DeLapp, program coordinator for the Center for Early Childhood Education.  "Thirteen Eastern students gave poster presentations during the conference, and 18 other students attended as participants. What a fantastic chance for our students to interact with and learn from a diverse group of early childhood professionals."

Judy Harris Helm, author, early childhood consultant and president of Best Practices, Inc., delivered the keynote address, "Projects That Power Young Minds: You Can Do It and Here's How."

The conference also introduced participants to the "Investigations Curriculum," developed by Eastern faculty and child development center teachers, which includes video examples of young children engaged in project work.

child care three females.jpgEastern students majoring in early childhood education presented professional posters about their work with young children in the CFDRC; their attendance was made possible by the sponsorship and financial support of the ECSU Foundation, Inc.  Seven students from Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) also attended in part due to support from ACC's foundation.

The conference featured a number of hands-on workshops, including "Listening to Children's Voices:  A Year-long Investigation of an Artist's Work"; "Balls: Projects, Inquiries, Investigations"; "Building a Preschool City"; and "Going Green: Reconnections, Collective Actions and Investigations."

child care wide shot.jpg

Conference attendees enjoy lunch and peruse poster presentations by Eastern students in the Child and Family Development Resource Center.

"The Investigations Conference was part of the center's mission as the model laboratory program in Connecticut," said Niloufar Rezai, director of the Child and Family Development Resource Center.   "Early childhood educators and faculty from around the state attended workshops to learn about our research-based teacher-and faculty developed Investigations curriculum and its application in real-life classrooms.  Our teachers also had the opportunity to attend sessions by colleagues from other laboratory schools.  This exchange of ideas is an integral part of a model lab school program."

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