DEY’s Third Annual Summer Institute took place on Monday, June 28 to Wednesday, June 30

Where we had three days of theoretical, practical, and inspirational discussions with some of the leading voices in early childhood education and early childhood advocacy.

Day 1

Began with an introduction to DEY by our co-founder and senior advisor Nancy Carlsson-Paige, followed by a visit with Dr. Susan Linn and her puppet Audrey Duck.  Kathy Hirsh-Pasek’s keynote  discussed the research she has conducted on children’s learning and guided play,  and the reality that we have to overcome a lot of hurdles to have play-based classrooms. 

Her talk and her research (along with her recent book, Becoming Brilliant: What the science tells us about raising successful children) was a clarion call to action.  This talk was followed by a panel discussion featuring Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin,  Dr. Kaliris Salis-Ramirez, and Wendy Cole.

Day 2

We heard a  conversation with the co-authors of Let the Children Play: Why More Play Will Save Our Schools, William Doyle and Pasi Sahlberg. 

Perhaps if we viewed PLAY as a basic human right for all children and we embraced a cultural philosophy of what childhood should be for all children, we wouldn’t be forcing standardized testing on our kids or removing recess from the day or be so narrowly focused on math and reading skills, but instead focusing our educational system on allowing children to express their individuality and their individual intelligence, in order to be well-rounded individuals.  We must not narrow our definition of what intelligence is, but respect that intelligence expresses itself in different ways in different people. 

We learned how Cassie Creswell has shepherded a bill in IL to mandate 30 minutes of unstructured play a day in K-8 schools.  Finally, we heard from Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D, NY), a former public school principal, about the importance of play and how we, as early childhood advocates, can inform and influence our legislators.

Resources: Defending the Early Years provides parents and educators with various resources to help with build your advocacy efforts. One such resource that all local, state and federal representatives should be using to guide their policy decisions about education is our Six Principles to Guide Policy.  Another resource to help parents and educators understand what early childhood educational policies should take place is our Advocacy Platform

On our final day

We heard about the incredible work of Takiema Bunche Smith, our keynote, and her framework that allows for a more conscious and thoughtful move toward equity and justice for all children. 

Her talk was followed by an inspired discussion by our panel about  building an early childhood education that represents and respects all children from all walks of life and the importance of encouraging joy among our children of color.  She was joined by a panel that included Megan Madison, Ashley Brailsford, and Lalena Garcia, moderated by Dr. Denisha Jones.

Resources:   Part of grounding our early childhood classrooms in equity, justice and inclusion is to first recognize our own implicit biases.  A good tool to help identify one’s own biases is Harvard University’s Project Implicit.

See the videos of each day’s session below.