Are You Ready to Make 2020 the Year of Early Childhood Education?

A black girl with a green shirt and curly hair stands next to three other children in a preschool

It is a new year and we at Defending the Early Years are excited to continue our work promoting policies and practices that promote a just, equitable, and quality early childhood education for every young childhood. In addition to preparing for the 2020 election, we want to share with you some of the many events happening across the country and in the world related to early childhood education. We hope you will join us this year in making 2020 the Year of Early Childhood Education!
A black girl with a green shirt and curly hair stands next to three other children in a preschool

  • Global School Play Day February 5th

The Global School Play Day began in 2015 without over 65,000 children participating in a grassroots effort of educators to support unstructured playtime in schools around the world. The goal is to reach 1,000,100 kids on February 5, 2020. For more information and to join the movement visit Global School Play Day online here.  

  • Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action February 3-7

This is the third year the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action will take place in multiple cities and schools across the country.  What began as a one-day event in 2016 in Seattle was turned into a weeklong curriculum and events in Philadelphia, is now a national movement of educators, parents, and students supporting Black Lives in schools. A national curriculum is set to be released on MLK Day Monday, January 20th that includes resources for teaching the 13-guiding principles in K-12 classrooms. Groups across the country are planning events related to the four demands throughout the week of February 3-7, 2020. This year the Bank Street Center on Culture Race and Equity is planning their second Black Lives Matter at School Week Early Childhood Symposium: Exploring the Intersection of Gender and Race for Children Ages 0-8 on Wednesday, February 5, 2020. For more information including videos from the 2019 symposium visit here

  • Network for Public Education Conference March 28-29

The 6th Annual NPE/NPE Action Conference: Neighborhood Public Schools The Heart of Our Communities will take place on March 28-29th in Philadelphia. Founded in 2013, NPE is “an advocacy group whose mission is to preserve, promote, improve and strengthen public schools for both current and future generations of students”. The conference will include several panel presentations with a focus on early childhood education. For more information and to register, click on this link

  • US Play Coalition Conference March 29-April 1

The US Play Coalition will host its annual conference 2020 Conference on the Value of Play March 29-April 1, 2020 at Clemson University. “This annual conference brings together leading play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the country.” You can find more information on keynote speakers, presenters, and how to register here. 

  • Play emPowers Retreat April 24-26th 

Are you an early childhood provider committed to play as the best way for children to learn? If so you should consider joining the Play emPowers community organized by Kisha Ried and attending the Play emPowers Retreat 20/20 Vision April 24-26, 2020 in Jefferson, Maryland. The PEP retreat is not a conference, it is a meeting of the minds of early childhood play providers to find support as they engage in the power of play to meet the needs of all children. For more information visit Kisha’s Facebook page

  • 2nd Annual True Play Conference July 10-12

At the end of the First Annual True Play Conference in Anji, China, it was announced that the 2nd Annual Conference would be held at the University of  Wisconsin-Madison July 10-12, 2020. “A gathering devoted to sharing and extending a community of practice founded on joyful engagement and reflection on learning. Plus a chance to play with Anji materials!” For more information including a list of speakers, click on this link. #TruePlay2020 

  • Empowering Teachers Conference July 13-16th

The Child Development Institute at Sarah Lawrence College recently announced its Empowering Teachers Program will take place July 13-16, 2020 on the SLC campus in Bronxville, New York. “Empowering Teachers is a 4-day intensive program for educators and graduate students at any stage in their careers who are working with children in early childhood, elementary, and middle school settings. The program’s general focus is on shared experiences, reflection on one’s own practice, mutual support, and exploration of ways to maintain the child as the center of the educational process through experiential workshops and discussion with experts and colleagues in the field.” For more information click on this link or email 

  • DEY 2nd Summer Institute July 19-21

DEY is pleased to announce that registration is available for our 2nd Summer Institute on July 19-21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Once again, early childhood advocates from across the country will convene at the Eaton Hotel for three days to develop an advocacy platform that supports the whole child, respects child development, and recognizes the importance of play for all children. Between 25 and 40 participants will hear from a panel of early childhood experts, listen to keynote speakers, and participate in hands-on working groups. For more information including early-bird registration, click here

  • NAEYC Annual Conference November 4-7

The NAEYC Annual Conference will take place on November 4-7, 2020 in Anaheim, California.  In addition to a variety of workshops and keynote speakers, we hope you will attend the annual DEY Organizing Meeting held at the NAEYC conference each year.  For more information on the NAEYC conference, click on this link

  • International Play Association Triennial Conference November 4-7

The International Play Association will host its triennial conference on November 4-7, 2020 in Jaipur, India. “The IPA Triennial conferences bring together hundreds of delegates from several different countries to celebrate play, understand its many benefits, exchange ideas and inspire action to provide all children with the chance to engage in rich, meaningful, free play.” Visit the conference website for more information.  

As you can see, there is so much happening to support Early Childhood Education in 2020. We hope to see you at these events! 

Are you planning an ECE event in 2020? If so, send the details to

Have you seen DEY’s new video series Defending Play? If not check it out here.