ELN Studio: National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Annual Conference, 2019 - Early Learning Nation

ELN Mobile Studio: National Association for the Education of Young Children's Annual Conference, 2019

The NAEYC Annual Conference—the largest gathering of early childhood educators, researchers, leaders, activists and more—is held so all can connect, collaborate and learn together. Attendees and speakers discover the latest research, best practices and tools as they share fresh ideas and insights with a goal to promote and deliver high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy and research. 

On November 20-23, 2019, ELN took our mobile studio to Nashville to interview 24 speakers and attendees at NAEYC. We offer our thanks to NAEYC and to the wonderful city of Nashville for hosting the ELN Studio.

Watch and link to each video individually:

When Diane Trister Dodge began working with Head Start, she created her own learning materials with mimeographs and homemade filmstrips. That creative focus on training teachers helped Diane become founder of Teaching Strategies and now President of the Dodge Family Fund, promoting the early childhood profession and programs that help children in poverty to be successful.
Among the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) many roles: Bringing together a range of professions – and perspectives – to reach consensus on important issues affecting early childhood education. What are these position statements, and how do they get created? NAEYC Senior Advisor Barbara Willer explains.
Early childhood education is imperative and challenging under any circumstances. Families formed through adoption, families with LGBTQ members, and children who are gender fluid bring their own unique challenges – and opportunities. Robin K. Fox, Interim Dean of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater College of Education & Professional Studies, discusses what teachers, parents, and children need to know – and how they can apply that understanding every day.
When most people talk about designing an early childhood education program, they mean the curriculum, the funding, or the program. Not Dr. Sandra Duncan. When the Design Consultant for Early Childhood Classrooms and Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University talks about designing, she means it literally.
If education is so central to American success, why – as a country – don’t we invest more in the ones doing the educating? Sue Russell is Executive Director of the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Center, which, among other efforts, provides comprehensive scholarships to the incumbent early childhood workforce – a program that has delivered more than $540MM in grants to some 165,000 educators.
It’s the not-so-secret secret: Higher rates of poverty occur for U.S. children in rural communities rather than urban ones. Yet delivering the benefits and tools of brain science to these areas is difficult in terms of cost, location, infrastructure. As Senior Specialist Lindsey Lockman Dougherty, Save the Children – in partnership with the Vroom Initiative – is doing something about that.
How do you build leadership in early learning? According to Maurice Sykes, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Leadership Institute, it goes beyond the usual skills and benefits from an eye towards equity and social justice: “[making] sure that children, regardless of zip code or surname or gender, have access to high quality programs.”
As Manica F. Ramos, Senior Research Scientist at Child Trends notes, we often forget that parents are the first and primary teacher for their child – from the moment they’re born, through their school experiences, and until the end of the day. Which is why helping parents learn how to teach in every day moments is such an important piece of a child’s early learning experience.
Edward Manuszak wears many hats, but the two most important are Superintendent of Dundee (MI) Community Schools and as the AASA Early Learning Cohort Co-Chair. In both roles, he works to deliver excellent learning opportunities. So why is Manuszak among the first to say that “Early Childhood Matters Most?”
The high costs of early learning presents one of the biggest obstacles to accessing childhood education. It’s a challenge Amy O’Leary is attacking, not only as NAEYC Governing Board president, but also as director of the Early Education For All campaign of Strategies for Children, which seeks to make publicly-funded, high-quality early education available for all Massachusetts three, four and five-year-olds.
As the National Association for the Education of Young Children, two strategic policy priorities NAEYC faces are ensuring access to “high quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood education” and, relatedly, working to ensure the practitioners gain proper recognition – and support – as professionals. NAEYC CEO Rhian Allvin explains how the group will do it.
How do can the children’s individual identities evolve naturally and fully in the face of stereotypes that can often plague our communities and societies? As Julie Olsen Edwards, author ‘Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves’ explains, some of that help can come from teachers – and how they think about their curriculum.
How do you know if you’re part of an early learning community? Cailin O’Connor, Senior Associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, introduces the Digital Progress Rating Tool, a new ELN offering [or new offering from ELN, CSSP and the National League of Cities] that helps stakeholders evaluate their efforts, chart progress, explore tips, and create a step-by-step action plan to create a thriving Early Learning Community.
As the importance early childhood learning becomes more widely understood, so, too, does the importance of early learning educators. As she describes, that’s just part of what inspired Clinical Associate Professor Tonia R. Durden to help design and launch the inspiring Birth to Five Program at Georgia State University.
What are the skills – the tools – children should learn to make it easier to learn to their personal ability, remember on purpose and pay attention? Deborah Leong, Co-founder & President of Tools of the Mind, explains the “Vygotskian tradition” and how young learners can extend their mental capacities the same way physical tools extend one’s physical capacities.

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