I wrote this a few years ago.  I’m proud to be presenting this year (2020) at the Region IV Head Start Association (Feb), the NYS AEYC conference (April), and the NAEYC Annual Conference (Nov).  This content is still accurate.  Check the Wizard Gallery for some of my conference friends.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC)Annual Conference is in November every year. The NAEYC conference is the largest education conference in the world. There are more than 1,000 presenters offering information on every possible theme in and around early childhood education, child development, staff issues, parent and family issues, etc. There are also many other national conferences of other organizations affilitated with Early Childhood organizations. The NACCP conference is usually in the spring. So is NCCA. NHSA holds several conferences throughout the year. If you haven’t been to a conference recently, please find one to attend – there are national, state, and local conferences, and there is so much great learning and sharing happening – both in the workshops and in the exhibit areas. You also meet people from other areas, or even in your own town that you may not have known before the conference. Friendships begun at conferences can last a lifetime. Try it!

Sometimes, I ask questions and get strange answers.  In a recent workshop series I asked what I thought was a simple question.  Some didn’t answer and others told me things that seemed unrelated to my question.

The problem, as it usually is when the answer doesn’t “match” the question, is the question itself, often combined with the listener’s understanding of what is behind the question.  An example – “Do you want chicken for dinner?” is answered by “Are you saying you want to go out for dinner?”  Or the same question is answered by “What? Leftovers again?”  More clearly, I could have asked, “Do you want chicken or fish?”  or “We have chicken vegetable soup and roasted chicken in the fridge.  Would you like one of those for dinner?”

In classrooms, when teachers ask questions and children’s answers are not what the teacher expects, the teacher often thinks the student doesn’t understand the subject matter.  I’ve seen this when I supervised student teachers.  They would ask a question that I had trouble following, and when the child couldn’t come up with the answer the student had in mind, the student teacher told me that the child didn’t “get it”.

The more clear the question, the easier it is for the person being asked to come up with an answer related to the question.

Preparing for a workshop on science for infants and toddlers, I asked some colleagues for input.  Some suggested I bring special items to teach how to teach about certain aspects of science.  MY point is that special lessons are unnecessary and interfere with little ones’ exploration.

Lots of things go in the mouth. Are they hard or soft, bumpy or smooth, and which ones feel better when teething? 

They push and throw things and find out if they push something off of a table, it will fall.  After many, many tries, they find that the item always falls down – not up, not sideways.

Some things do come up again, such as balls.  But when balls finish bouncing, they are down and stay down until someone bounces them again.

These and thousands of everyday explorations are real science learning.

Adults can help by giving them materials, time, and space to explore. Adults can sportscast – “You threw the spoon. It fell onto the floor.”  Science words would be,  “It was UP on the table, now it’s DOWN on the floor.”