Thursday, July 31, 2014

Professional Conferences

For me, summer is the season of conferences. Each June, the organization I manage hosts a state-wide conference for family child care providers in Alabama. In July, the National Association for Family Child Care has their conference. This year it was in Florida. Both events take a tremendous amount of effort to put together, but the benefits are amazing!

Focus on Family Child Care Conference 2014

Research examining the benefits of attending workshops clearly shows that participants do not retain the information nor put it into practice. So, why attend a conference? Isn't it just a bunch of workshops all concentrated in one space? Well, yes, but..... Research also shows that being part of a professional network impacts caregivers in positive ways. For example, self-worth, professionalism, leadership, and intentionality have been shown to increase when caregivers are part of professional development programs and networks. Conference participants get a different sense of connectedness and involvement when attending sessions in this larger venue.

Often preschool educators are limited to the same-old-same-old when it comes to getting those required training hours. Conferences provide opportunities to network with a more diverse group of people with common work environments, exposure to new ideas, and access to new resources. Conferences also provide opportunities for professional growth. Not only can you attend a conference, perhaps you would like to present at one! Here are some of the benefits of attending a professional conference.

Wide Variety of Workshop Topics

Creative Movement & Active Play

Natural Science on a Shoestring Budget

Building a Creative Curriculum

Leadership and Association Development

Networking Opportunities

Vendor/Exhibitor Hall

Meet New People
Vermont, Alabama, Vermont

Alabama Friends

Opportunities for Professional Advancement (be a presenter)
First time co-presenters at state conference.

High Quality Keynote Speakers 
(You never know who you might make a life-long professional relationship with!)
Debbie Clement & Alabama provider Patricia Frederick

Jim Gill

Win a Prize
DCI gifted $500 to a state association at NAFCC's conference this year. Alabama won!

50-50 Raffle winner!
Be Recognized for Achievements
Alabama's accredited providers at the Accreditation Celebration June 2014

Have Fun and Be Happy!

There are several conferences that happen each year that you might consider attending:

Zero to Three
National Head Start Association
Your Regional or State NAEYC Affiliate
State Conference
Local/Regional Conference

I encourage you to seek out and actively participate in conference experiences. You can google child care or education conferences or the an acronyms listed above to find a conference near you. NAFCC even has a new "sponsor me" program to help you get funding to attend! What conferences have you attended and what benefits have you received from participating?

Dr. Ellaine B. Miller, PhD, is the Managing Director for the Family Child Care Partnerships program at Auburn University.

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