Once a year, thousands of early childhood educators and advocates from around the world join together for the Annual Conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This week, the 2010 annual conference is happening in Anaheim, California and I am right in the middle of it. If you know me personally, you know that to me this is about as close as it gets to Utopia! I love every part of it, from the long lines at Starbucks in the mornings to the engaging sessions and the massive Expo introducing any and every product and service available for early childhood educators. The best part of this experience is that I have opportunities to hear the latest research in early childhood, engage in conversations about improving early education in our country, and receive validation for the work that I believe in passionately. Today I sat in one session in which Rosemary Wells (author of the Max and Ruby books) shared her passion for reading aloud to children from infancy and another session in which four very active, nationally recognized play advocates shared thoughts and posed questions about balancing play and instruction in early childhood. No one has all of the answers, but the freedom to have discussions about critical issues in early care and education is just that….freeing!
In the Expo Hall, I did craft projects at the Discount School Supply booth (a company I help keep in business) and met Rosemary Wells as she autographed her newest Max and Ruby book for me! I also heard a giant in the field of project work, Sylvia Chard, speak with co-author Yvonne Kogan about their book of photographs of children from around the globe called From My Side: Being a Child. I don’t know of any other place where I can feel so exhausted and so energized at the same time! This is my annual professional protein, some substance to keep me going for another year.
Tomorrow I present for the first time at this conference. I am thrilled to be part of the dialogue going on at this event and I am excited to share what I am doing in early childhood education. So, my next few posts will be about topics addressed in sessions here at NAEYC. Stay tuned for more in a couple of days!