Investing in School Readiness
A Deeper Dive in Childhood Resiliency: Early Childhood Educators Enjoy Opportunity to Expand their Learning

A Deeper Dive in Childhood Resiliency: Early Childhood Educators Enjoy Opportunity to Expand their Learning

December 13, 2021

One of this year’s highlights for Fairfax Futures included an opportunity for early childhood educators to dive into the topic of childhood resiliency.  This summer Fairfax Futures hosted the 17th Annual School Readiness Symposium, their signature event for the early childhood community. The topic was Fostering Joy in Young Children … the Road to Resiliency. Keynote speaker, Dr. Nefertiti B. Poyner, Ed.D, from the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, shared how early childhood educators can create positive experiences for young children that nurture confidence and build resiliency. Her presentation focused on:

  • Making connections between adult-child relationships and self-regulation;
  • Defining and providing examples of risk and protective factors;
  • Suggesting intentional, developmentally appropriate experiences that can promote joy and resiliency in young children.

Following the virtual event, participants were invited to continue exploring the topic by participating in small group breakout sessions. The sessions, held virtually throughout the summer, were facilitated by early childhood educators, and explored five unique topics:

  • Risks and Rewards: Building Resiliency through Age-Appropriate Risk-Taking - This group explored the importance of healthy, age-appropriate risk-taking in the development of a child’s self-confidence, resilience, executive functioning abilities, and risk management skills.
  • Using Allyship as an Educator - Participants discussed allyship and the ways they could use their power and privilege to support marginalized children and their families.
  • Now and Forever...The Power of Partnering with Families - Co-facilitated in Spanish and English, this session discussed the Now and Forever books and explored six strategies adults can use to strengthen children’s protective factors.
  • Early Childhood Educators Are Planters of Dream Seeds… Let’s Celebrate! - “Dream seeds” are opportunities and experiences that build resilience and change lives. In this session, participants did a shared reading of Because by Mo Willems and discussed their role as planters of “dream seeds.”
  • Reimagining Equitable Early Childhood Learning Environments for Young Children and Families - This session explored the potential gains children may have experienced from being home with their family during the COVID pandemic and how educators can help to strengthen more equitable learning environments for children and families.

The opportunity to explore topics in a small group setting with peers was an enjoyable and illuminating experience for both participants and facilitators. “Providing the opportunity for Fairfax County’s early childhood educators to share their knowledge and to celebrate their important contributions to our community is an honor. Sharing a learning space with such committed educators is inspiring and transformative,” said Bernice Mayfield, Office for Children facilitator of the Dream Seeds session. Educators shared their “because”, inspiring reasons that brought them to where they are today and illustrated how each person’s story has an impact.

Tara Macbeth, director of Mount Vernon Presbyterian Preschool and participant in the Risks and Rewards session, shared, “The class itself was very well planned out, well presented and the content very informative. I love learning about things that are new to me! I'm always seeking ways to build our students’ resiliency. Risk taking was not something I had really connected with resiliency, but it makes much sense after taking this class!”

Fairfax Futures also received positive feedback about the way the facilitators conducted the sessions. “Sometimes we look outside of ourselves for the answers to many questions, worries, doubts and fears. This amazing experience took us on a journey of self-care. On the end of this journey, we found love, peace and happiness within ourselves,” said Sandra Barksdale, a family child care educator, who participated in the Allyship session.

“We are grateful for the PNC Foundation’s generous sponsorship of this year’s Symposium and breakout sessions,” said Fairfax Futures Executive Director, Sallyann Bergh. “Our goal this year was to both celebrate the hard work and creativity of early childhood educators as they cared for young children during the pandemic, while also providing strategies related to the topic of resiliency to support children and families moving forward.”

Fairfax Futures is grateful for the PNC Foundation’s generous sponsorship of this year’s Annual School Readiness Symposium.

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