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Eastern's preschool staff present on dramatic retelling

Published on November 27, 2023

Eastern's preschool staff present on dramatic retelling

leisha and niloufar
The CFDRC's Leisha Flynn (left) and Niloufar Rezai (right) present in Nashville, TN. 

Two representatives from Eastern’s Child and Family Development Research Center (CFDRC) recently presented at the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Nashville, TN. Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC, and lead teacher Leisha Flynn discussed the child-centric curriculum of Eastern's on-campus preschool.   

“The attendees at our session left feeling very enlightened and felt like they could bring back some of our presentation to their programs and utilize portions of it,” said Rezai. “We spoke a lot about child- centered curriculum and our philosophy and Eastern Connecticut State University.” 

Rezai found that the center's teaching styles have built a name beyond Eastern’s campus; attendees at the conference recognized her, she said. 

“There were several attendees who were familiar with the videos posted on our website. In fact, one attendee pulled me over during the conference out of a crowd and said she recognized me and my colleagues from our videos because the state of Tennessee's early childhood division utilizes them to train teachers.” 
Leisha Flynn has a background in theatre, which she incorporates into her teaching methods to make a learning experience for her students. Her annual “dramatic retelling” project was the one she drew from in her presentation. She recently had the children tell and re-tell the story of “The Three Little Pigs” in an experience that increased their comprehension skills and motor abilities.

Leisha teaching
Leisha Flynn works with a child at Eastern's CFDRC

“The collaborative retelling supported all of the children’s developmental stages and abilities,” said Flynn. The conference presentation was broken down into ‘bite-sized’ pieces that served as a guide for teachers to create a retelling play in their own classroom.

The child-centric approach lets the children lead, enabling them to think independently and develop individual perspectives. Children have the opportunity to pitch ideas on props, costume design and the course of the story’s retelling. This encourages children to collaborate productively with each other and learn how to mesh different ideas and perspectives for a common goal. The process lasts several months, and then the final performance is recorded and shared with families and with other classrooms at a watch party. 

“The key experience is comprised of several intentionally planned experiences,” said Flynn. “The experiences spanned over the course of nine weeks and across all content areas including and not limited to art, math, technology, science, literacy and motor skills.”

Written by Elisabeth Craig