6th Annual Childhood Conversations Conference
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6th Annual Childhood Conversations Conference

 - a unique opportunity for parents as well as professionals!

brochure and registration

Paige Bray, assistant professor in the Department of Education, ENHP, has been involved in the annual Childhood Conversations Conference since its inception in 2007. To provide some historical perspective, Bray, agreed to answer the following questions about Childhood Conversations:

What makes this conference unique? 

The Childhood Conversations Conference started out as an idea in 2007 to provide parents with the same access to professional development and speakers that we as educators, child advocates, and social service professionals have at our annual professional conferences.  The first conference was held in April, 2007, and attracted 84 parents and some professionals.   The audience was primarily parents from Windsor, Conn as that was the scope of the marketing efforts. In our first year we captured the vision of giving parents a day “away” and access to cutting- edge thinking by attending relevant presentations and workshops.

In the five years since, we have used our evaluations to drive the planning process for the next year and have attracted between 200 and 250 people from 46 towns across the state. The partnerships have grown from the original 3 agencies to 11 agencies spanning multiple disciplines. We have also expanded our audience to include professionals in early childhood, social work, and education while at the same time maintaining our parent base. In 2009 the conference began offering CEU’s and CEC’s to participants through the University of Hartford.  Each year there is a keynote speaker, between 15 and 24 workshops, networking opportunities at lunch, and time with vendors.  Inquiries regarding the next conference are beginning to come in as early as June.

Who is responsible for determining conference content?

Childhood Conversations has been able to bring several agencies to the table to work collaboratively. Partners for the conference include: Windsor Early Childhood Council (Discovery), Windsor Social Services, Windsor Family Resource Centers, The Alliance for Bloomfield’s Children (Discovery), Connecticut Parents as Teachers, CT Parent Educator Network (CTPEN), the Children’s Trust Fund, the University of Hartford, SERC/PIRC, and the Connecticut After School Network. We expect to include three new partners: the Connecticut FRC Alliance, The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, and Keep the Promise.  These partnerships assure diversity among the workshops offered and access to keynote speakers from a variety of sectors involved in the partnership. The planning team meets monthly and one representative from each agency sits at the table to help develop the next year’s conference. Likewise, the strong partnerships facilitate contact with thousands of people across the state.

What is the future for Childhood Conversations?

Childhood Conversations is committed to maintaining a high quality conference experience for parents and professionals. We work collaboratively to bring in speakers whose expertise is relevant for parents and professionals working with children.  Looking forward to the 6th Annual  Childhood Conversations Conference, we expect to continue to strengthen meaningful dialogue between parents, educators, providers, community-based organizations, public entities, and business.  We need all parties at the table to create a shared vision and help our children learn, thrive, and succeed.

Conference Presenters from ENHP

Paige BrayPaige Bray, assistant professor of early childhood education in ENHP.  coordinates the graduate program in early childhood education which includes an option to pursue a Montessori concentration. She will present on Parent Information and Community Action: Parents Helping to Bring Positive Change – Bray and Parent Co-Researchers from five Connecticut communities will offer insights in this engaging workshop. Participants will learn how to identify a community need and bring it into an action plan. This is for every parent and community advocate. The Parent Information Action Research Project is funded by the Graustein Memorial Fund.

Heather LagaceHeather Lagace, a highly respected and long-standing adjunct faculty member in ENHP,  will give two presntations. Understanding What a Child Is Growing Through - As parents and care providers of children, we often wonder if their behavior is “normal.” This workshop will explain the common experiences of preschoolers through adolescents and how you might assist them in meeting their developmental needs. Empowering Optimism – Do you often wonder: How do I help a child think “the glass is half full”? This workshop will help you develop children’s sense of optimism. Participants will be taught strategies to empower children’s sense of resilience, hope, and gratitude.