Conestoga news

March 25, 2008 7:30 AM

Early Childhood Education Event to Focus on Professional Directions, Skills

Southern Ontario's largest conference for early childhood education practitioners, administrators and future professionals takes place at the Doon campus of Conestoga College in Kitchener on March 28-29.

Education in the early years is, as much as ever, a topic of concern and debate locally, provincially and nationally. The March 28-29 event will look at specific approaches, initiatives, programs and professional considerations associated with innovative and effective early childhood education.

More than 600 participants are expected for Early Childhood . . . Where It All Begins. The event is sponsored by kidsLINK Preschool Support Services, the Region of Waterloo Children's Services Division and the Early Childhood Education program of Conestoga College.

This is a landmark event - the 20th annual professional development conference for early childhood educators presented by kidsLINK.

The Friday evening session opens with remarks from three distinguished individuals: Monica Collins, Director of Services - Early Intervention, kidsLINK; Nancy Dickieson, Manager of Children’s Centres and Quality Initiatives, Region of Waterloo; and John Tibbits, President, Conestoga College.

Also featured on Friday night is the conference keynote address by Dick O'Brien on "Raising Resilient Children". O'Brien is a professional speaker and human relations consultant, as well as a therapist and trainer. He has delivered presentations and consulted on topics such as stress, wellness, counseling and leadership. A graduate of the University of Waterloo, he draws upon his wealth of work and life experiences to deliver his message about the natural resilience of individuals. His presentation starts at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Saturday consists of 37 workshops, presentations and seminars, from which participants choose. The day begins at 8 a.m. and concludes at 3:30 p.m. Topics are varied, reflecting current issues, techniques and approaches relevant both to the practice of early childhood education and to the personal and professional development of practitioners in the field. Examples of this year’s agenda include character development, the virtues of storytelling, multicultural issues in the ECE setting for children and practitioners, the professional value of mentoring, assisting families experiencing life transitions, laughter as a teaching/learning and professional tool, autism, environmental health for children and formulas for fitness.

A feature of the Saturday program is a resource and retail display, scheduled for 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m. On hand will be representatives of numerous manufacturers/suppliers of early childhood education books, toys and products, and of community agencies associated with early childhood education. These displays will be set up in the E Wing foyer of the main building at Doon.

CONTACT: Debbie Engel, 519-741-1122,

A complete schedule of workshops and descriptions is online at: