by Ellen Walters, Director, Learning Initiatives in Early Childhood Education

This year’s Early Childhood Yom Limmud (Conference): Creating Successful Environments was held last Tuesday at Adath Jeshurun. Three hundred fifty educators and presenters, representing 22 institutions and many facets of early childhood education, came together for the day of learning.  Teachers of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarten gained skills that will energize their classrooms.  Attendees learned how to incorporate new music and art activities through movement and materials.  Looking at nature and the great outdoors, several presenters encouraged staff members to see the outdoors as an extension of the classroom.  In a session on nature activities for young children, teachers touched feathers and other materials and thought about an appreciation for the natural world.  Playgrounds were also studied in two workshops as ideas were shared about transforming outdoor space.

Directors had a separate session with DJ Jensen, Director of the Early Childhood Center of the Washington Hebrew Congregation and author of “Monday Memo.” DJ helped directors to vision a learning environment not only for their learners and families but for their staffs, and to identify strategies for making change to create that environment.

Comments after the conference included:

  • “I will make more time to have the children be more creative and confident in their own body”
  • “So many great ideas!”
  • “I hope to make the Thanksgiving curriculum meaningful to kids, developmentally appropriate, and connected to Jewish values and ideas”

We look forward to hearing about changes in classrooms as a result of the sessions attended at the conference. Please share your feedback with me!

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