I attended my first Valley AEYC Mini-Conference in 2000. I ejoyed it so much I offered to help plan the next one, and have been co-chair of the conference since.
This year our theme was “Creating the Future,” which was a really fun theme to plan.
The day started on a positive note – Dorothy, the director of director of Young Child Development Center brought Starbucks for the committee members.
Usually we put a committee member in charge of the food but this year Nicole – the other co-chair – decided to do it herself.
We covered the tables with rolls of paper and put out colored pencils so conference attendees could doodle during the sessions.
One of our goals is to have enough door prizes so one in four attendees wins something and we try to have most of the door prizes fit the theme.
This year it was so easy to find things to fit the theme we had to rein ourselves in so we wouldn’t go over budget.
The “grand prize” was free registration for one day at the statewide conference – worth over $100!
Usually we have one keynote presentation in the middle of the conference and several workshop choices scheduled before and after, but this year we decided to do something different. We were fortunate to have Julia, the president of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, as our keynote speaker, and she was gracious enough do two keynote presentations for us which filled the entire morning.
Julia’s first presentation was about process art vs product art. Books have been written about the subject but to explain it briefly, process art emphasizes the creative process over the finished product while product art expects a certain result. For instance, finger painting is process art – unless you ask the child to paint something specific. The easy way to tell the difference is to ask yourself if there was a specific end result – if there is you’ve got product art but if not you’ve got process art.
Sorry, I’m passionate about process art and tend to get carried away…
During part of her workshop we each had paint and a different tool to create with.
Julia encouraged us to “paint like a child” without an end result in mind.
Everyone got right to work and started creating.
Some attendees got into the painting – literally!
Even though the emphasis was on the creative process, the end product was beautiful too.
Julia’s second workshop was an overview of the new YoungStar quality rating program. I haven’t decided if I’m going to participate in the program or not; it’s only mandatory for centers serving children who receive tuition assistance from the state. I’ve got several months yet before I have to decide so I’ll continue to do research on the pros and cons.
The mini-conference officially ends at noon, but we offer an optional afternoon session for people who want to stay and get an additional hour of continuing education.
One of the afternoon options was “Customer Service in Child Care” by the director of 4Kids Childcare and Learning Center. He did a great job making a rather dry subject interesting, and applying it to our everyday lives at work.
The other afternoon option was “Puppetry and Literature” by Hands 2 Grow.
They are a lot of fun and VERY creative – they see puppets in everything around them.
I couldn’t believe how quickly the day went by; before I knew it, the conference was over!
I think everyone had a good time and hopefully took at least one idea home with them.