Education conference turns early childhood teachers into student - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Education conference turns early childhood teachers into students

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The tables turned for more than 300 teachers Monday.

They became the students at the 43rd annual Early Childhood Education Conference, which the Arkansas State University childhood services department held in Jonesboro.

The theme for the conference this year is called Extending the Center of Learning. During the 2.5-day conference, organizers hope to share some ways that can help teachers improve their classrooms.

"Preschool children, infants and toddlers certainly don't learn as well if we try to teach them," said Diana Courson, associate director of the ASU childhood services department. "We have to have conversations and interact with them to extend their learning."

Courson says many of the ideas shared this year will focus on creating what are called learning centers, or engaging spaces that teachers can set up in their classrooms.

"Monday's focus is on how do you set up a good inviting, engaging classroom environment," Courson said, "and then Tuesday's session is okay, we've got the environment set up, now how do we interact with children so that we extend their learning?"

The keynote speaker Monday, Dr. Rebecca Isbell of East Tennessee State University, discussed the benefits of learning centers. She says most teachers have traditional set up in their classrooms, like a library or block area. She, however, asked them to consider installing some more nontraditional options, like a dance studio or fitness center.

"We know one out of four children is obese in this country," Dr. Isbell said. "We want to be sure that they're involved in more physical activities, so we will set up an area of the classroom where they can participate in physical kinds of activities."

Hearing suggestions like those made preschool teachers, like Carolyn Sanders of Mountain Home, excited to get their rooms ready for the new school year.

"As adults we can either break the child's spirit or we can set them out for a great adventure," Sanders said.

ASU is hosting different sessions through Wednesday this week at the Fowler Center and the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.

Contact the ASU childhood services department for more information.

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