Education conference turns early childhood teachers into students

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

They became the students at the 43rd annual EarlyChildhood Education Conference, which the Arkansas State University childhoodservices department held in Jonesboro.

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

"Preschool children, infants and toddlers certainly don'tlearn as well if we try to teach them," said Diana Courson, associate directorof the ASU childhood services department. "We have to have conversations andinteract with them to extend their learning."

Courson says many of the ideas shared this year will focuson creating what are called learning centers, or engaging spaces that teacherscan 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 isokay, we've got the environment set up, now how do we interact with children sothat we extend their learning?"

The keynote speaker Monday, Dr. Rebecca Isbell of EastTennessee State University, discussed the benefits of learning centers. She saysmost teachers have traditional set up in their classrooms, like a library orblock area. She, however, asked them to consider installing some morenontraditional 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 physicalactivities, so we will set up an area of the classroom where they canparticipate in physical kinds of activities."

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

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

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

Contact the ASU childhood services department for moreinformation.

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