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Ooey Gooey, Inc. » Notes from Workshops I Attended » LEAD Conference, Yale, 2010 (multiple topics)

LEAD Conference, Yale, 2010 (multiple topics)

Friday October 14, 2010

LEAD Conference

New Haven, CT.





Marcy Guddemi, Ph.D.


child development is not a theory, it is a law.

sooner is not better, nor is it even possible.


what do we call early childhood? birth – age 8?


SIDEBAR/OPINION: the notion of “of what age?” is early childhood came up again through the day


the return of investment: for every $ invested we have a $ 4 return (original data)

NOW: return of $ 14 to society (Heckman)


what is the rate of return on social skill investment?

there was supposed to be a video welcome from James Heckman, but there were tech problems, so we didn’t see the video.


Zigler has 2 new books: Hidden History of Head Start and The Tragedy of Childcare.




The Touchpoints Approach: Building Partnerships with Families

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, MD and Dr. Joshua Sparrow, MD


we forget the importance of listening to the children, “do you want to talk to me?”

we are in a hurry and do not wait for them to answer.  watch the baby and see that the baby is our teacher. don’t forget the importance and influence of the parents. our efforts will go astray if we do not include them.


the impetus for TOUCHPOINTS was the “break down” spots that kept appearing in the developmental trajectory of his clients.  We are the least family/child oriented society in the world.  time for major changes.


Stressors for Parents:

  • change of family structure
  • change of women’s roles
  • feelings of loneliness/isolation
  • lack of time for family rituals


Stress of Poverty:

  • no “papers”, no English, no home, no health insurance, etc.
  • trauma of immigration, displacement, separation & loss
  • unspoken grief/hopelessness especially when they have a new baby
  • we have not done anything to support women in the workforce: health care, family leave time, etc.  we have not supported either choice, staying home, or reentering workforce


Over 50% of women in US are depressed

he (Brazelton) stated that he can ID a “stressed out” mama when the baby is 2 weeks old, said that baby won’t look at mama if she’s depressed



  • media is competing for our children’s attention


Stress for parents:

  • educational system is broken
  • failing systems of care, diversity is treated as a negative


what is the future for our children?


he shared some cultural specific differences in infants:  Guatamala quiet, Africa active motor,  etc.


we are wrecking their futures – PAY ATTENTION to what the babies bring to the culture.


Teach children on their feet!


stressors of child care providers:

  • low wages
  • inadequate benefits
  • no job security
  • no respect
  • not enough time for selves
  • he had more power point slides, but they changed the screen



“he never does that for me” vs. “he has been waiting all day for you!”

  • providers need to stop this behavior
  • stop tearing down the parents


Look for opportunities to support parental mastery


He offered that we (as providers) should not look a baby in the eye, we need to look beyond the baby.  baby wants to be looked at… she will then seek  you out.


as providers we need to value passion


children don’t have a smooth linear developmental trajectory.  they develop in spurts, then level off, then spurt… before each spurt the child/parents fall apart. increased anxiety, etc.  this is when the TOUCHPOINTS intervention(s) happens.


There are 6 “touchpoint” interventions within the first year:

  • pregnancy touchpoint
  • newborn touchpoint, etc.


80% of the newborns recognize the daddy’s voice… and the other 20% (comic relief) he said: “I tip their head.”  Fathers will come to the dr. visit after the voice “test” bc they feel VALUED


infants present with a “flat face” with objects & a mobile/engaged face with humans


daddy’s poke, he said, 3 times, from the bottom to the top. (of the baby)


babies of depressed mama’s will only try 3 times to “get mama back”

non-depressed mama babies will try 15 times to get her back


that few minutes of film (that they showed us) got the parental leave act funded.


an icon is someone who splits time. a time PRE and a time POST





From Observation to Understanding: 

Respecting child development at home and at school. 


Moderator: (Stanley Finkle)  ** NOTE:  he stepped in when the originally scheduled moderator (Audrey Skrupskelis, PhD) was called away for family emergency

Panel Members: Martha Garcia-Sellers, PhD; Stanley Finkle; Dorothea Marsden, MEd; Sally Millaway & David Mooij


commentary on the disconnect between research and practice.


Superintendent Mooij (on the panel) was talking about changing the tools of the mind (T.O.M.) themes to match the JumpStart HS “themes” (what he currently uses) and said that he is meeting with T.O.M. founders to discuss this “request”


Triangular relationships between parent/child/teacher, but each sees the child with a different LENS.


T.O.M. (very basic nutshell)

what’s your plan

play plan

then get them back on track if they move “off” their plan


draw the plan, write the plan


how do we work solutions to some of the (implied on-going) stress points in our design of buildings?


what are the assessments telling us?  when the teacher gives the assessment and the child can or cannot do  XYZ  what does that tell us?


What does it mean when teachers say: “we give the screening but I don’t know why, or what good its for” and “well, (children) they can do the square but not the diamond, so we have to work on that.”   We focus on what they are NOT doing “yet” instead of what they are doing NOW.


They’ll get to the 5 year old level when they are 5.


when we push it, children learn:  “I’m not good enough for school”  “it’s too hard.”


not until 5 can kids “do” diag lines

5 year old diag at the top

6 years old diag line on top and bottom (diamond)


Testing encourages the development of “splinter skills”


Race to the Top: teacher evaluation based on evidence of student growth, progress within the curriculum.


SIDEBAR/OPINION: Good Vygotsky analogy scaffolding example about Thanksgiving dinner.  


lots of reinforcement here of the WOLF (“wolf” references some of my personal research and work) aspect of what we do and that the standards in and of themselves are not bad, once again it is the methodology of how they are being implemented.  “Learn letters” out of context and just using sentence strips is not DAP.  Noticing that the kids are building an airport and need to make some signs for the airport, etc. then again the standard is being met through a DAP vehicle of “play”.


After sharing a DAP preK story and a non-DAP story (”the teacher next door”) Finkle stated that we (teachers) need intensive training of child development.  And implied that we just can’t “expect” people to know this stuff.


I would argue (SIDEBAR/OPINION) that we SHOULD be able to expect that they know it.  However, idealism aside, it need also be expected that if and when such intensive training is offered and certain teachers still don’t implement DAP methodology that they will AND should be (hold on, wait for it) FIRED.


reinforcement of the different “style” vs. different philosophy/framework/ideology.


SIDEBAR/OPINION:  WHY DO WE TOLERATE SUCH SUBSTANDARD TEACHING WHEN NONE OF THE DATA SUPPORT THE METHODOLOGY? Why do we let teacher A do a “good” (DAP) circle time while turning a blind eye to teacher B who “makes” 20 kids sit on the carpet for 20 minutes while she “teaches” the letter of the day, number of the day, etc. ?????


Why is it so hard to change practice?


First do no harm.


standards vs. goals


a goal of “observation” of the various science activities that I am providing, magnets, sinking, floating, etc. vs a standards of “all 3 year olds will observe”


goal = range

standard = absolute


how do we “get them ready” while still being DAP.




Mind over matter: 

How structured and free play scaffold development, experience and learning


Moderator: Rae Pica

Panel Members: Carla Horwitz, PhD; Danielle Marshall; Rhonda Clements EdD; Bill Crain, PhD


intellect vs. academics

play at a crossroads… yes play is good, but now we are thinking more “directed” play… T.O.M.

we do a lot of learning but we don’t call it “academics”

we can find content in all areas of the classroom


“academics” is cognitive child labour (B.  Sutton-Smith)


we have trapped ourselves by saying that play = their work.


play = their learning


“kids learn through play” is a cop-out.  There is at this present time a collective understanding that we need to be able to articulate what they are learning when they are playing.  (emphasis mine)


if they play they will be engaged in the actions and activities that ultimately will lead to that which produces higher test scores.





value of play

intellectual context of play


this does not happen just standing by and watching the kids play dress up.






not a free for all

allowing for spontaneity



The SPLIT of the body and the mind


we have been entrusted with the whole child

not just their brain


physical activity

need outlets for anxiety and stress

difficult to learn while fidgety

adults find a way to redirect the stress

kids have not had that opportunity: temper tantrums, bite nails, etc.


we produce more when our efforts are distributed – i.e.: breaks


children’s play is richer outdoors.


From Crain:

nature is outdoors, and children need rich contact with nature.

powers of observation



decrease of attention deficits

creativity increases

make believe play increases

3/4 of the poems written by children were inspired by something in nature

sense of wonder


start to feel calm

being a part of something bigger

larger than the classroom

a part of the “web of life”


children’s happiness should count for something





(but it sounds like Piaget)




(Piaget whittled down to 2 things)


kids are still connected to the nature – adults have trouble with remembering the connection.


importance of loose parts, that are accessible and that are NOT BROKEN


for those who need to justify the play: negotiation = “the coordination of perspectives”




free play is a source of intellectual development.

arguing = resolution


what about the kids who “don’t know how to play”

imagination has been compromised

when you put them in a play environment they don’t know what to do.

we worry when children do not know how to play


nobel laureates are born from fiddling around with stuff, they allow themselves to think, “let’s pretend that this is NOT that, but it’s actually this…”  education can be either liberating or domesticating.

(this goes back to the Jones & Cooper book, play’s the thing)


We have done a great job in domesticating children, but not at liberating them


In 10 years this conference should be filled with PLAY LEADERS like in Europe.  They add the missing element of play facilitator… the space for play has shrunk.


it is our responsibility to make sure that children have an opportunity for PHYSICAL PLAY


is there a way around the FEAR of kids playing outside (this leads into Free Range Kids)


Perceived Fears vs. Actual Fears.


differentiated instruction in regard to each neighborhood so that kids can go play outside.  remind that some are playing IN THE BACK YARD.


stop using a deficit model.  they don’t have this, they don’t have that. what DO they have? we are protecting THIS space.  Occupying the space, ownership of the space, protection of the space.


parks and playgrounds need an adult who has an unobtrusive presence


adults gravitate towards greenery.



fly kites

race up hill

roll down the hill

jump rope

wheel barrow races

hide and seek


HIS WORDS: I understand that some of this will disappear, but would still rather the child have a handful of marbles than a gameboy in the pocket.


follow the child

respect the child

play is deeply rooted in our biological heritage

there is a natural, healthy impulse to engage in spontaneous play – respect it


be the change that you seek


make the appeal that we need to help parents in supporting play.



swimming lessons





they need to slow down and to know that it will be all right. ease up on the rat race.


we have middle school kids ready to kill each other because they were never allowed to “lose” in elementary school.


if children were having trouble reading we would not take away the books, but we take away the recess when they have trouble getting along.


consumer technology/electronics is second hand knowledge and is NOT direct experience.  it needs to be limited if not prohibited in the early years.


parents are suffering from mis-information, education of the parents on our subject matter!


policy makers don’t keep up with ECE research any more than they keep up with kidney research.  The difference is that policy makers are not telling doctors when to prescribe dialysis, but they are telling US how to do our jobs.


This links DIRECTLY back to Ready or Not and taking OWNERSHIP OF OUR PROFESSION.




Joan Almon: Crisis in the Kindergarten, Alliance for Childhood


the lady intro-ing her said, “Joan manages to ‘do’ ” and that she is a bridge between organizations


the tip of the iceberg: obesity, asthma, allergies, autism,

culturally induced illness


a culture and educational system that doesn’t fit the kids.

then we take away that which assists them in managing their stress – play – we wonder why johnny can’t read.


open classrooms (chaos) went away because it was obvious that it was not working.

but the worksheets stayed.  WHY? (I would argue that the perception of child-centered stayed too…)


we need more research the compares play based and academic/cognitive oriented kinders.


she overviewed the German “switch” (from play to cog and then back to play)

briefly mentioned British school not starting school (formal academics) until 7


we pretend that all the programs are the same, they are not.  we ignore the fact that the play based programs have long term gains.


truthfully, American’s don’t care so much about evidence


SIDEBAR/COMMENT/OPINION:  I would say that as “young americans” we still want it all to be our idea.  Therefore, we throw the baby out with the bathwater and think that WE must generate all the ideas INSTEAD of learning from already existing policies (other countries) that support DAP.  It’s like we refuse to learn from others.  We insist on re-inventing the wheel.


advocate for play in general, then we can advocate play in schools

public opinion of play needs to increase

the public view in general about PLAY is getting stronger, that will allow it to shift and apply to the schools


public opinion:

play in kinder = chaos


when really a REAL play based/balanced kinder = NOT chaos and NOT didatic/scripted, but finds itself in the middle


children know what they need for play, we just don’t (refuse to?) provide it.


everything that comes in comes out in their play. children use play to work things out personally and socially.  a safe spot.  you can’t script it, you can make room for it.


a play space should offer as much risk as the children can handle. we don’t tell them to go higher, but we don’t tell them to get down. WE TRUST THEM TO KNOW and they DO.


The education of ece teachers needs a reassessment.

the students in ece programs didn’t play themselves


how does one come back into play?

  • how does one start to play if they never got it? *


is it always possible to restore it?


she mentioned that the current crop of congressional aides don’t get it…

yet last time, even with NCLB, they “got it”


our mission?  to look for every opportunity to speak out on the importance of play… find the crack in the foundation and insert a wedge.  Start busting it apart.


It is up to us to place wedges in the cracks that appear in the bunker….




Stages of Life and Learning: How a Century of Research Shapes Our View of the Child


Moderator:  Ashley Merriman, JD

Panel Members: Joan ALmon; Robert Emde, MD; Walter Gilliam, PhD; Charles Super, PhD

*commentary about “Child Development” vs. “Human Development”




MERRIMAN**: what’s out there that NO ONE knows about that we SHOULD know about because it would change how we do/do it?


** Merriman is the co-author of Nurture Assumption



  1. GILLIAM: it’s not the program, it’s the relationships WITHIN the programs that really determine quality and predict success.  it’s not about building a building, or funding the budget, but putting in the active ingredients and supporting those who DO that job
  2. SUPER: 4 ideas: all important: are we looking for a silver bullet? 1) temperament, 2) mechanics of learning, behavior management issues, 3) ages/stages, 4) content of recognizing that there will never be a child like this, cultural context which affect “meaning” systems.
  3. ALMON: children are still children, they come with different bells and whistles, but at their core “childhood” has not changed.  We have forgotten the “individual” piece and the “child development” piece.


MERRIMAN: are we distracted by “hot topics” & media hype?


  1. GILLIAM:  small corrolational studies that make a connection between something that happened ONE TIME that scare the heck out of parents…
  2. EMDE: over importance of early cog dev at the expense of other areas ie: soc/emot/play etc. More is better, earlier is better, DISTRUCTIVE to the development of children. Prediction is over played, assessment is not prediction.
  3. SUPER: over stimulation:  Netherlands, babies sleep 2 hours MORE than our babies.  We need to assist young kids in learning how to relax and appreciate calmness
  4. ALMON: short term research. we honor short term research.  we get excited about 1st grade results WHICH DISSAPPEAR by 4th grade.



MERRIMAN: how do we distinguish between normative dev and pathology?


  1. EMDE: is there suffering? is there lack of ability to adapt to new situations and circumstances?
  2. GILLIAM: functional impairment, inability to function within the environment they are in. Functional impairment for the CHILD not the TEACHER.  There is a big difference. “Inability to function” does not mean “how much aggravation are they causing?”
  3. SUPER:  a child’s failure to adapt to a situation that should not have been asked of the child in the first place does NOT indicate pathology.
  4. ALMON: parents need a reminder that childhood stages are a range, and they need to know it’s ok to be earlier or later. Normal range and out of the normal range… assisting them in thinking about ranges and NOT “this is NOT ok”.  Breathing is getting harder.  Need to relax it a little bit.



MERRIMAN:  what is something in the prototypical prek that SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be in there that we think should or should not be in there?


  1. GILLIAM: misapplied science: letters flashing on the screen of computer
  2. SUPER: blocks have to be put back in order, sorting, practice and science married together (oops – I forget if he was PRO or CON the matching the blocks on the shelf business)
  3. ALMON: the simpler the materials the higher the creativity.  the more electronic the toy the more scripted the play


autonomy and cog skills… can they go hand in hand

never seen a child’s brain explode!


American children are lopsided.

we have a discrepancy…


we have inappropriately high expectations in some areas, ie: cognitive, academics, and then on the other side we have the apron strings that are staying tied until they are in college.


who is the assessment for and how will it be used?


ALMON said that American’s don’t care what the research says, it doesn’t break through people’s values and ideology of child rearing expectations and education.





High quality learning programs: A new focus at the US Dept. of Education

Jacqueline Jones, PhD (Secty to Obama’s Arnie Duncan)


need a focus across many domains

physical development

soc emot development

approaches to learning

lang lit

cog skills


From cradle to college and career: Race to the top:  “by kindergarden children arrive ready to succeed”


SIDEBAR/OPINION:  Children were actually born ready to succeed.  “School” strips the innate levels of curiousity and wonder from the children.




Education Department’s Four Assurances:

  1. raise standards and improve assessments (documentation)
  2. recruit, retain and support effective educators and ensure equitable distribution
  3. build robust data systems that track student progress and improve practice
  4. turn around low-performing schools, focusing on dropout factories and their feeder schools


she said that there is a lack of understanding not a dilberate attempt to be difficult


SIDEBAR/OPINION: I would love to get Alfie’s (Alfie Kohn www.alfiekohn.org) comments on this statement…


Joan Lombardi is her self stated “partner in crime”


SIDEBAR/OPINION:  she keeps saying DAP but only “grabs” K – 3.





Bottom Up Top Down: what we can do to bring about change for children


Moderator:  Janie Gruendel, PhD

Panel Members:  The Honorable Rosa DeLauro; Jacqueline Jones, PhD; Sharon Lynn Kagen, EdD; Tina Mannarino, PhD; Edward Zigler, PhD


SIDEBAR/OPINION:  I would say LOTS.  We just are not willing to do what is required to make it happen.


ECE =  0 – age 8

across the country we are talking about EC systems = health, ec and e, ec and e, what do we call ourselves?


SIDEBAR/OPINION: this reinforces one of the questions that was “called” in the book “Ready or Not” – we don’t even know who we serve.


Is it:

early education and care? EEC

Or is it:

early care and education?   ECE


early childhood is a system of systems


SIDEBAR/OPINION: and yet the upcoming Gen X, Gen Y “leaders” in the field of ECE are characteristically identified as “system busters”


policy means different things to everyone on the panel


Question to the panel:  what top policy issues are YOU working on NOW?



coordinated system delivery of care pre-natal to grade 3

ongoing training of teachers

policy is slow, increasing complex, we can’t move the agenda in entirety

international policy, understanding what other countries are doing in regard to ECE and child rearing

differing definitions of “quality”

rethinking dogma

do we have a right to impose Western values on other areas? is there only one right dimention? (offered the example of in the Swaziland kingdom… how do we teach witchcraft??

improving head start

tragedy of child care

lack of training and entry level requirements


SIDEBAR/OPINION:  still a lot of BUZZ WORDS being used without a collective spoken, articulate definition of them.  Implied, sure.  But  has our industry adopted shared definitions? no.


From Zigler:  “some of these things I’ve been working on for 35 or 50 years….”


SIDEBAR/OPINION: high quality pre ks are great, but then they funnel into non DAP K, 1, 2 and 3 then when testing 3rd we say, hmmmm doesn’t relly look like it worked.  when really the preK worked just fine, it was what followed.  again the LACK of developmental continuity… lack of understanding of WHO WE SERVE lack of knowing WHAT WE ARE CALLED… this all comes back to “Ready or Not”


working on a 6 mos paid leave bill


who do you serve?

“conception to age 5 or age 8, something like that, we are working it out.”



why can’t we agree on a collective definition and implementation of best practices?


the story of human development is the story of human relationships, especially the first ones.  next, the relationship with the caregiver/provider.  And an understanding of child development must infuse anything.


2014 must have a Bachelors degree/head start


Zigler’s new book:

Debates and Issues in PreK and Early Education in our Country


child care is seen as a service to parents, not for children.  the cc system… IS doing harm.


Edelman said we need to start a movement…

SIDEBAR/OPINION:  (but then Bush stole her slogan)


we know how to do it, we just don’t. 

we have gotten lazy

We don’t move forward on it.

GO BACK TO Children of 2010 book



the future of our children is NOT partisian

congressional baby caucus


if every child is a national resource then the children should be a national priority

(paraphrased ZIGLER)


Sometimes you have to shame people into doing things.

- Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro


Legislation should not dictate pedagogy.

-Lynn Kagen



has a policy that children should find school enjoyable

and they don’t teach reading until age 7

and they have high(est) scores


“they aren’t simple issues”


SIDEBAR/OPINION: no they aren’t, but we refuse to accept other countries findings and use them ourselves.  it’s almost like we need/want it to be “our” idea.


change K-3 to be in sequence and DAP to the preK system/model. not modifying 0 – 5 to meet the non-DAP expectations of K-3.


SIDEBAR/OPINION:  good point:  making an announcement that US will teach reading at 7 doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility of providing the experiences that serve as precursors to reading. 


from Zigler: knowledge is power.  don’t let it stop here.  keep it moving ahead.


SIDEBAR/OPINION:  (weren’t these Tom Hunter’s words as he passed?  Keep it moving?)



(which really was just a wrap up and summary of what we had heard all day!)


Led by Martha (Marti) Zaslow, PhD


she literally was reading her bullets of the main topics presented thru the day.  It was a great sum up.  A lot of it included:


  • identified a lack of infant focus and conversation at the table
  • who do we serve?  will we adopt a “en utero” to age 8 at some point?
  • expanding our definition of who we serve
  • nutrition
  • pregnancy touchpoints
  • thinking in “ranges”
  • play is not a “free for all”
  • move away from performance outcomes
  • clarification of the purpose of assessments
  • play outside/taking back the space
  • basic needs to be met – sleep
  • culture is a filter that gives meaning to activities
  • there was a “cultural” gap in the presentation today = our culture sees a dual language learner as a deficit


When she opened the conversation up to the audience she asked: 

“What is your next step as a result of this meeting?” this is what they replied:


  • putting more effort in creating a clearer definition of our profession and clarity of the age group we serve.
  • calling congressman
  • meeting of supt’s
  • learning about DAP as relates to other cultures
  • speak out, write, articles, everyone I meet is going to hear about the importance of play
  • open the doors of our Natural Playscape
  • repeat the message that children are our teachers
  • seeing children as ICONS
  • pay it forward
  • babies aren’t just blobs, diapers and spit-up
  • revitalization of the Gesell ideas
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