Sunday, March 14, 2010

Early Childhood Conference pt.2

Ok, the Excellence in Early Childhood Education Conference was held at The Calvery Church, right outside of Charlotte, NC. They run a wonderful program, offering everything from Infant/Toddler care to Kindergarten. They have amazing playgrounds, and their classrooms are beautiful and well stocked, but that didn't happen overnight. They have been working on it for over 30 years. You can go over to their website to learn more about Calvery Church and The Child Development Center.

Like I said in my last post, I went to the conference with Science and Cozy Spots on the brain. I also tried to learn more about my younger kids. I set out work that all the kids can use in some capacity, but I wanted to see what others did with their 2's and 3's. So, I signed up for "I'm 3 and It's All About Me!" "Spotlight on Theme Days for 2's" & "Early Learning Einsteins."
The presenters were great!! In the I'm 3 session I learned so many ideas on the logistics of a Early Childhood Classroom, things I have forgotten. My favorite idea was... getting a basket ready for the week with all the things I will need for Circle. This way it is right at my fingertips and I'm not running to the bookshelf to get the book I told myself a hundred times to get that morning :)

They also had classroom layout plans set up... how to produce a workable layout to cut back on traffic areas and bottle necks... I realized that some of their classrooms are the size of our playroom and they are getting 8 to 12 kids in them, and they all use the space correctly (as correctly as a classroom full of 1-5 yr olds can). I learned that I could use my own space more efficiently, by using my tables and shelves to produce more concrete centers and areas. Also, I definitely don't have enough shelves to hold all our work and manipulative's. My wide open spaces leave to much room for rough play and running. Being in a home I have other rooms we can utilize and the playroom doesn't have to be so open.

Today I am going to concentrate on the Cozy Corners I saw... The first session touched on the importance of having a Cozy Corner in a 3's class (or any class for that matter, but we happen to be concentrating on 3's at the time). That sometimes kids just need that time away from other kids, so I was surprised to see that their Cozy Spaces were relatively small for the amount of children they have in their classrooms. Some were spaces only 1 child could use... and I didn't see any that more than 2 children could use. I guess our "Book Nook" is used by so many kids I forget it should be a quiet, calm area. Or I could have a Book Nook and a Cozy Corner?? In the Smilebox below you will see some of the photos I took. The Nooks I saw were all pretty much very similar to the ones in the photos. Although, a lot of the classrooms did take 2 tall cabinets and positioned them to come out of the wall length wise. They used the area in between as their cozy spot... they were all beautifully decorated with murals, pictures and/or 3-D scenes. They had a chair or soft couch to sit on (or a crib mattress it looked like), their books, puppets, a flannel board (in some), and some quiet toys. I liked that idea the most and think that may be what I do here. I guess I have a picture in my mind of a burro of sorts for the kids to cozy into to read their books, so I will have to try out some different combinations to come up with what is settled in my head.

Along with the Cozy Corner this session talked about other area's in the classroom, like the Housekeeping Corner. During the tour I saw the Housekeeping Center usually near set up by the Cozy Corner. In the younger rooms this area could be quite large. As I saw some of the older rooms, the housekeeping got smaller as work space got larger. In my experience it is these older children that enjoy this area the most, but a lot of preschools/daycares don't put enough emphasis on this messy, make believe play. There is always so much "work" to be done and the clean up in the housekeeping area can be very time consuming :) I did love the equipment they had... the wooden appliances, the bins of food and shopping accessories. I didn't see many carts or strollers though, probably the size of some of the rooms couldn't accommodate the pushing around of those. The variety of dress up clothing was excellent. I find myself lacking in the area of boys dress up clothing. We have a fire outfit and Swat Team outfit, but that is about all. I saw Daddy outfits... vests, wallets, suit jackets, brief cases, sweaters, and construction worker stuff. I need to get on that.

The presentation of the Housekeeping area was great also. Each little area was set up like there was company coming over. One of the teachers said that it doesn't always look like this, it was set up so we could get a good picture of EVERYTHING they do. But, they do take a lot of time with presentation. That the teachers work hard to present the materials in an inviting way. When kids come in, in the morning or after a special, they are excited to see what is out on the tables or which Bear is ready to have tea at the Housekeeping table. It was very cute and well thought out.

You know, I know all these things. I went to school, I go to in service trainings... yet even the best of us get into a rut sometimes. Something happens... illness, travel, visitors... and I get off track. I let the drudge of daily life get in the way of what I'm trying to do. Provide the best, quality care and education to young children and their families. Conferences let me connect with other people in the same field as me, and the exchange of ideas provides more for the families I serve, and makes me a better provider. I encourage any one who has the oppurtunity to go to an Early Childhood Conference or Class to do so. It is just so motivating and inspirational.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Cozy Corners
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  1. Michelle , one of my favorite parts of conferences are the tours that usually accompany them. For our Family Childcare Conference almost every year we have a tour of homes. I LOVE IT! I learn so much from other people. Thanks for sharing the pics!

  2. Oh, have the best possible source of boy's dress up clothes...4 sons!!!! Church clothes are the best! I see the girls wearing the little suit jacket, sweater vest, and black shoes as much as the boys wear them. Also, I pickd up a ton of stuff at Walmart on Halloween clearance. I was getting $20 costumes for $3 and $4. I would love to have a housekeeping setup like in those pics...I'm just so lacking the space!
    My Cozy Corner, which is room for 1, was put together with the purple canopy and body pillow that my daughter decided she didn't want anymore. Two days after she asked if I wanted it for something, I attended a training that talked about cozy corners. It's a hard area to achieve in a small space, but all the kids understand that only one child can be there at a time, and that they must leave that child alone when they are there. It has worked really well. I have been, however, scheming a new idea for this area the last few days. Not quite ready to discuss it yet, though, I'm stil trying to determine if it will work!
    Oh, I wish we could do a tour like that or like Debbie's. What a great resource to see what works! Our conferences are usually in a church or hotel, and we don't get to venture out. I should suggest this. I can't wait to hear more about your experience!