June 10th, 2015
The Inaugural Early Learning Institute: Day One
June 5th brought us a little over 100 participants and tons of exciting sessions. The morning began with registration and tour sign ups, as well as getting acclimated with the conference program and L&N Station. Participants enjoyed coffee while getting to know one another. Several people commented on the good energy they could feel pulsing through the building- conference organizers felt it too! We loved seeing people network and engage with the Hawkins exhibit while waiting for sessions to begin.
Session blocks began with a variety of topics and rooms were packed! We were so pleased to see so many people with so much excitement about the morning ahead. Session topics spanned age ranges and interests including sessions about kindergarten science inquiry, using looms to build community in toddler classrooms, documentation, toddlers in the woods, connecting literacy and gardening, among others. The morning sessions were a success!
The afternoon brought more in depth, thought provoking sessions. Participants attended sessions by both ELC educators and presenters from a variety of backgrounds and organizations. Some sessions were outdoors, making use of the natural spaces around the L&N Station. Session topics included project work with preschoolers, building community with families, gardening with infants and toddlers, birding with young children, building a sensory garden with families for infants/toddlers, nature-based lesson planning, and more!
After the two afternoon sessions, we made our way to the keynote address at the World’s Fair Park Amphitheater. Richard Louv delivered a talk calledThe Human Right to Connect with the Natural World: How Children, Families, Schools, and Communities Can Build Nature-Rich Lives for a Nature-Rich Future.
Louv shared recent research in the field as well as what we can all be doing to help advance efforts in creating a nature-rich future for the next generation. He spoke highly of a few programs currently underway that not only support children’s interest in nature, but native plant and animal/insect development. He shared about a program the National Parks Service is launching to get every fourth grader and their families into a National Park. After the talk, Mr. Louv took questions from the audience and then signed books.
The energy amongst the crowd at the end of the first day was contagious and we were ready for day two!