As early education professionals, we appreciate the value and necessity of lifelong learning. In order to maintain quality of practice, we absolutely need to stay on top of our game by attending early childhood conferences. Research is always changing the way we understand young children and how we approach their care and education. Not being up-to-date with the latest news and teaching approaches not an option!
Continuing education has both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, since by advancing our professional development we can benefit our careers and better serve the children under our care. For example, attending conferences, taking the necessary hours of training each year and even pursuing a CDA® Credential or renewing one, are ways we can maintain quality in our practice as early educators. In return for our efforts, we meet requirements, validate our licenses, get a promotion, or are awarded a credential.
However, there are also intangible benefits to our professional development as we learn new information at conferences we attend, since learning can build on what we already know and give us a boost to our classroom performance. We then bring back these exciting new ideas and put them into immediate use with the children.
Attending an early childhood conference is a great way to acquire valuable information, as they offer a multitude of presentations on a variety of topics. Usually, the conference program is available in advance online, so you can look over the topic choices and presenters before you even get there.
As a registered attendee, you can take in as many of these presentations as you like over the course of several days. There are often well-known children’s book authors and early childhood experts presenting workshops or keynotes. It’s exciting to listen to them in person and perhaps even meet some of them!
Keep in mind that many presentations will provide continuing education units (CEUs) for attending, which can be used to satisfy continuing education requirements for licensing or count towards obtaining or renewing a CDA®.
Most conferences also provide a marketplace with a wide variety of vendors offering books, learning materials, and other products for early childhood programs. There is always something wonderful to see and learn by attending.
A conference is also a great place to network with other early childhood professionals like yourself to share ideas, practices, and email addresses to stay in touch.
The benefits of an early childhood conference is well worth the money spent to attend. Often, the host organization will offer scholarships that will pay the registration fee, and every early childhood professional should set aside funds each year to attend at least one conference. In fact, many times you don’t need to travel far to attend a good one. For instance, every state has a NAEYC affiliate that will have a conference for you to attend, and you may only need to drive across town or a couple hours within your own state.
You owe it to yourself to attend an early childhood conference. It’s a day for you to step out of the routine to be refreshed and revitalized, and to bring wonderful teaching techniques, resources, and even materials to the children in your care.
Don’t miss out on the Council’s 2016 Early Educators Leadership Conference, which will take place from October 12-15 in Leesburg, Virginia. For more information and to register, please visit the website.
Debra Pierce is an educator, CDA trainer, and CDA Professional Development Specialist. She is currently professor of Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana.
One of her interests includes early literacy and she serves on the Board of Directors for the Indianapolis chapter of First Book. She has spent the past 16 years dedicated to the success of CDA candidates and hosts a website, easycda.com, offering help and support, and distributes a digital monthly newsletter to subscribers nationwide.
Professor Pierce is a frequent presenter at national and state early childhood conferences and also conducts workshops for early childhood instructors and child care providers across the country. She was awarded the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award by the University of Texas.