The Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC)’s annual conference, held on March 20 and 21 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, drew nearly 14,000 participants.
This year’s theme, “Early Learning: What’s Play Got to Do With It?” featured presentations and workshops that explored innovative ways to help children learn through play. From four square to jump rope to a huge light-up beach ball toss in the dark, attendees were encouraged to rediscover the joy of play as adults.
The keynote speaker was Steve Gross, chief playmaker of the Life is Good Kids Foundation, a nonprofit that partners with frontline professionals such as teachers, social workers and child life specialists, who dedicate their lives to helping children overcome poverty, violence and illness.
During his presentation, “Lead with Optimism (and the Results Will Follow),” Gross emphasized that all children have superpowers such as creativity, curiosity and imagination and that parents and educators have a responsibility to help those superpowers flourish.
“You in this room are protectors of civilization,” Gross said. “You are all in the life-changing relationship business.”
The annual conference also featured PNC Grow Up Great, a multi-year bilingual initiative that began in 2004. The conference was sponsored by PNC and Southeast Regional Key at Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC).
Through the PNC Grow Up Great initiative, PNC provides leadership, advocacy, funding, tools and volunteers to help educate parents, caregivers and communities on how to prepare young children for success in school and life. Jean Canfield, senior vice president and director of client and community relations for PNC, highlighted the Grow Up Great Lesson Center, a free and online resource containing 58 theme-based lessons on a variety of topics, at the conference. Each lesson plan has Spanish and English printable worksheets that parents can use in the home.
Gov. Tom Wolf also spoke at the conference, emphasizing that an investment in early childhood education is an investment that benefits the Commonwealth.
Wolf also talked about how his budget reflects a $120 million increase in high quality early childhood education; a down payment on what Wolf said he hopes will reach $2 billion over the next four years.
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“I want to make early childhood education a reality in Pennsylvania. If we get this right all of us are going to have a better economy. We’re going to have better lives. We’re going to have a better future,” Wolf said.
Image via Mary Anna Rodabaugh-30-
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